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A Comprehensive K-12 Curriculum Framework


How to Use K12Together

After you have gone through the steps listed in “Is K12Together right for you?” you may be saying “Yes! This is what I have been looking for!” If you want to use the K12Together Curriculum the way it was designed, to educate one or more children, this page is what you need! (Before using K12Together as written, or in bits and pieces, or to design your own curriculum, please read and agree to the public license agreement).

STEP 1: CLARIFY YOUR CLASS-TYPE

K12Together can be used for either one student or up to 20 students of different ages and abilities. K12Together is designed for turning small, multiage “one-room schoolhouses” into learning teams. Before you start, you need to clarify what type of class or school you will have. Some large schools have chosen to use K12Together as a basis for their age-graded classrooms too.

STEP 2: CHOOSE YOUR CURRICULUM YEAR

As you look through the The Curriculum, decide which year (I, II, III, or IV) you want to start with. We recommend starting with Year I and progressing through the curriculum years in historical order. Each curriculum year is designed to work with any age student, Kindergarten through 12th grade (5 to 18 years old). Skim the topics and content objectives for each unit, as well as other things like the recommended books and activities, to get a “feel” for the year.

STEP 3: PLAN YOUR ACADEMIC CALENDAR

Each school year consists of SIX units. Each unit is designed to last about six weeks, thought they can be adjusted to take five or seven weeks. All six units take a total of approximately 36 weeks of schooling per year. Look at your calendar and figure out how to distribute each of the six units throughout the year. Take into account normal school holidays—both those from your home country, like Thanksgiving, and those from the country you are living in, if you are living overseas. Some people like to take a break between each unit; others like to do two or three units and then take a longer break. Write down each unit and each break or holiday onto your calendar.

STEP 4: ASSESS YOUR STUDENTS

You will need to assess your students’ skill levels before you can gather or purchase materials for the school year. In most skill areas you can evaluate each of your student’s skills by using our different skills development lists. If you do not know what skill level a particular student has, you can guess based on their age and previous schooling/learning experiences, and then make adjustments to pick up necessary skills as the school year progresses. However, you will need a more accurate assessment of their reading and math levels before the school year begins.

Reading Assessments

The reading skills of each student are assessed to figure out if he or she is a beginning reader (not knowing even the alphabet), emergent reader (still needing phonics instruction), an independent reader (able to figure out new words alone by sound and context), or a mature reader (able to read and understand higher level books). Students reading levels can be determined even if no reading assessment tests are available, by starting with the easiest level of books and having the student read a paragraph from each reading level. If a student knows the sounds of the alphabet, and can read some words on sight but still has to figure out most words by saying the sound of each letter, he is considered an Emergent Reader (ER). An Independent Reader (IR) may still struggle with some words, but does not need help to figure them out. Give the student progressively more difficult books to read from until the student gets to a level where he is mis-reading several words in a paragraph or slows down significantly. This level is too hard for him and he should begin using books at an easier level where he can quickly read all but a two or three words on a page.

If you have children that have not yet begun to read or who are Emergent Readers, still needing phonics instruction, purchase a “learning to read” program. We recommend simple phonics programs with simple phonic readers coupled with reading a lot to and with the child. No student should ever be shamed for not reading well. Children learn to read over a wide age span (ages 4 to 12), but once they have learned to read, their abilities are similar regardless of when they achieved mastery. It is worth checking the eyesight of all students, but especially those struggling with reading.

Math Assessments

You will need to assess the mathematical skills of each student in order to pick a mathematics curriculum at an appropriate level for him or her. This step is best done well before the school year starts if you have to order books, but can otherwise be done during the first week or two if you have books on hand.  Have the student work on some pages from the math books you have, starting with review pages from the easiest level and moving up. Students that place below grade level will need to be given a chance to explain orally what they know or don’t know, in case they are not good at taking paper tests. After you have assessed the appropriate math level for each child, you will be ready to choose math books and order them. There are several good math curricula available through Sonlight Curriculum (Sonlight.com) or Christianbooks.com (in the homeschooling section), some of which come with a placement test that be ordered and given to the students.

STEP 5: LIST YOUR RESOURCES

First, review the topics and books recommended for the first few units you will be covering. Then, write down lists of resources on those subjects available to you: people, books, internet, libraries (public or of friends). Compare what you have with K12Together’s recommended booklists. Decide which books you would prefer to buy. Sources for the books listed, or similar books, include Amazon.com and Sonlight Curriculum (see Sonlight.com). Figure out when to order the books you need, allowing plenty of time (at least 6 weeks) for delivery. You do not need a complete set of books, but it is helpful to have real books especially for younger children, rather than to rely on the internet for information.

STEP 6: PLAN YOUR UNIT

The students become learners when they take ownership of their own education. So, at the start of each unit use the scope and sequence unit descriptions to give the students an overview of what they are going to learn and what activities they can choose from.

Before meeting with the students, go over the content objectives yourself for your unit, focusing on the learning levels you have in your class. Roughly divide up the content objectives into six weeks. Some units have suggested breakdown charts as examples that you can either follow or alter.

Then, show your students what they will be covering in the next six weeks and encourage them to help you to plan when to learn what, to split up topic objectives between them according to their interests, and to choose the books they want to read from libraries (on topic). Students can choose or invent their own activities, but the teacher must make sure that the activities are an effective means of learning the content and advancing the students in their skills. Be sure to check out the recommended poetry, art or other activities for that unit under the scope and sequence section.

Remember, the teacher does not need to know the content being covered but must be prepared to help the students find it out. Remain flexible, as the students may want to spend more time on one area and show less interest in another. If you are having trouble getting them to engage with a subject, try telling them to write down what they already know about that topic and what they would like to know. Whenever possible, introduce a new topic by telling an interesting story or fact (e.g. “Did you know that no one knows how the Egyptians built the pyramids?”).

Also, be sure to check out the Teacher Resources section of this website. It will help you to manage and promote exploratory and multiage learning, and facilitate the recommended activities with multiage teams. How to Plan a Unit in the Teacher Resources section is a detailed explanation of how to set up week by week assignments.

STEP 7: GATHER YOUR MATERIALS

Once the students have helped plan out the unit and the activities, encourage the students to brainstorm about what they will need to accomplish their plans and where to get those things (e.g. “Where can we get a worm to dissect?”). Consider this step part of the educational process for each unit as it develops problem-solving skills and initiative. Then, ask the students to gather all needed supplies, including paper, paints, pens, scissors, tape, and items for specific activities. You may need to order some materials from a distance.

STEP 8: SET UP YOUR CLASSROOM

Next, the students should help set up the classroom in a way that will facilitate exploratory learning. Instead of each student having an assigned seat, it is better to have a number of group learning stations, as well as a library area and a computer station with one or more computers. These can be large tables surrounded by chairs, or rugs and floor pillows where students can read or discuss topics. Students can decorate and arrange the classroom, leaving plenty of space for putting up things created during each unit. Each student should have a part of a shelf or a box where he can keep his own books, papers, lunch or other materials. For more insights into how to set up and run a multi-age classroom, consult the Teacher Resources section of this website.

STEP 9: PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT

After you have planned the unit with the students, arrange for a time in the first week of each unit to meet with the parents of the students. Let some students volunteer to explain their learning goals for the year and the unit to the parents. Others can show the parents how they have set up the classroom and explain what materials they still hope to acquire. Ask for the parents help in gathering resources or in finding people that can come into the classroom to talk about certain topics or be interviewed by the students. Explain to the parents that they too are part of the K12 Together Learning Team, and can help the students find answers as much as they are able.

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