Sometimes homeschoolers ask how to use an English handbook as the core of a language arts or grammar-and-composition course. This year our main text for grammar and composition is Write Source 2000: A Guide to Writing, Thinking, and Learning, one of the Great Source handbooks. It's aimed at grades 7 and 8, but since we found a copy at the thrift store, we're using it for grade 6 (we used some of it for grade 5 as well). Here is a sample of the ways I am planning on using it this month with Dollygirl.
Weeks 1 & 2: Personal Research & Writing
1. Read sections 265-268, about how Robert Fulghum researches. "See what there is that interests you, that arouses your curiosity, that gets you wondering."
2. Look at the part of section 267 with the blue bar. What is the difference between "traditional research" and "personal research projects?"
3. Make a list of ideas that start with "I wonder." "I wonder what it's like to..." "I wonder why..." "I wonder what would happen if I..." Circle three that really get you interested. Choose one that you would most like to find out about. (NOTE: this is a SHORT report, due on Friday of the second week of school. Choose something that you can research and put together in a short time.)
5. Section 269: Selecting and Collecting. Do some personal research, including talking to at least one person who knows about your subject.
6. Section 270: Telling Your Research Story. You can do this in any way that you would like (be Kit Kittredge writing a newspaper story, do a blog post, do an oral report after dinner...).
Weeks 3 & 4: Using the Library
1. Read the introduction and section 290.
2. Sections 291-293 show you how a "card catalogue" works. What are some reasons that most public and school libraries now use computerized catalogues instead of actual cards? Would there be any advantages to a card system? Disadvantages?
3. Review of the Dewey Decimal System, sections 294-297. Re-read the online story "Do We" Really Know Dewey?. Choose one of the games or quizzes to do, or make one up for someone else to solve.
4. Go to the library and take out books that interest you from THREE different Dewey sections of the children's room (such as one from the 200's, one from the 300's, one from the 400's). Now go to the adult section (with your parent) and find books with the same Dewey numbers (or as close as possible). If you're interested, have your parent sign them out for you.
5. The Reference Section: Instead of reading this section, go to the public library and look at their reference books. (Does the children's room have reference books?) List five books you see there that might come in handy sometime. (Better write down their call numbers too.) What are the good and bad things about books being in the reference section?