In the surveys a number of you asked for more posts on Beyond Five in a Row. I thought I’d start with this note from Becky Jane on how she suggests you go about your planning. ~ Melissa
Many of you have compared FIAR to Beyond FIAR and made the astute observation that FIAR neatly packages its lessons into a separate subject for each day — 5 days a week. And unlike FIAR, Beyond gives you a bevy of different subjects (some being more present in certain books than others) and no specified day on which to do them. This is true!
When you are using a chapter book unit study (and if you have chosen to purchase and use Beyond FIAR that is indeed what you are using ), there is no way to neatly extract a lesson in all five subject areas out of each chapter. I suppose it could be done, but the lessons would be forced and nonsensical. Instead, I like to take a more organic approach to unit study planning — tackling subjects and lessons as they present themselves in the text and not forcing them to the surface. If, for example, chapter five of The Boxcar Children doesn’t have any obvious science lessons leaping out at me, then I won’t write any for that chapter. But then we come to chapter six, and discover four wonderful science lessons ready and waiting to be explored!
So, how do you, as a mother, plan out your lessons using Beyond? In my mind, it’s fairly straightforward. I planned example lessons for Homer Price (in the above mentioned post) in about 45 minutes. Here are the steps I followed:
1. CREATE A SCHEDULE
Decide how many weeks you’d like to spend on the book. This can be neatly determined by the number of chapters in the story. 6 chapters? 6 weeks seems neat and tidy. 10 chapters? How about 5 weeks — with two chapters covered each week? It doesn’t matter how you divide it up, just create a plan and go from there.
2. SELECT THE LESSONS
Carefully go through each chapter’s lessons from the manual and highlight or mark which YOU want your child to study. You might pick three and your student might pick one or two himself.
3. ASSIGN EACH CHAPTER TO A WEEK AND WRITE IN THE CHOSEN LESSONS
When you’ve decided how many weeks and which lessons, jot down what you’ll be doing and when. You may not want to be so strict that you list M-F tasks — although you might. It depends on how flexible you want your week to be.
4. MAKE NOTES ON LONG TERM PROJECTS
If a project (like a model, play, speech or research paper) is going to take your student two or more weeks of preparation, make note of when you assign it and when you would like it to be due. Write in reminders to yourself to ask him how it’s going, if he needs help, etc.
5. CONSIDER POSSIBLE FIELD TRIPS
As you glance over your now well-organized Beyond plan , begin to think about field trips you will want to include. Add those in.
6. LIST AND GATHER SUPPLEMENTAL BOOKS AND VIDEOS
This is self-explanatory.
In the end, you should have a 4-10 week plan, with each week including the chapters, the lessons, the assignments and the extras all neatly recorded. This can be done in a notebook, on the computer, on your PalmPilot, or if you’re like me — a sketch pad. I like to doodle while I’m thinking.
It wouldn’t be practical for me to create lesson plan schedules for all of the books in Beyond FIAR, because I have no idea which lessons your student needs to cover — which he/she may have already spent time on — which field trips are available in your area — how long you have to spend on a given book, etc., etc., etc.
Instead, I’ve written out ALL of the lessons for each book and left the “calendar” issues up to you. If you’re used to FIAR, then you already know that you sometimes chose 1 of the Social Studies activities — and on other Mondays you chose all 3. The same applies to Beyond. Pick and choose carefully the things you think are most important. Give your student a choice or two himself. And then organize it all to suit your personal schedule.
Teaching is a dynamic, exciting dialogue between instructor and student. It is a lot of fun! It also requires some good ole’ fashioned, not-so-dynamic pencil/paper moments. Spending an hour planning out your next unit in Beyond will be some of those boring moments. But the organization and freedom you feel when you see it all come together will make it worth it.
Blessings to you,