May 8, 2013

The National Geographic Bee

Homeschoolers in our neck of the woods here in Kentucky are thrilled that a local homeschool student won the state-level Geographic Bee in April and is advancing to participate in the national competition in Washington, D.C. later this month!

Participation in the National Geographic Bee is a wonderful educational experience that is open to homeschooled students. This past January it was my pleasure to serve as Moderator at the school-level Geographic Bee organized for homeschool students in our area, and I look forward to serving in that capacity again in 2014. Here are a few tips to help your homeschool support group organize a school-level Geographic Bee in your area.


In early September, a letter and registration fee are sent by your homeschool support group to National Geographic requesting contest materials and designating a teacher (not a parent of a participating student) to be the recipient of the contest materials. The recipient of the contest materials must be the one who directs the Bee and later administers the qualifying test to the winner. There is a minimum participation requirement of six students in grades 4 through 8 for the 2013-14 school year in order to conduct an official school-level competition. The registration fee for the entire group is $100 and is due in October of 2013. This amount can be divided up equally among all participants, so the more participants, the better!

Date and Time

Announce to your homeschool support group that plans are being made to hold a 2014 school-level Geographic Bee, begin a sign-up list, and later schedule a date and time for the event (probably early January 2014). Working around the schedules of several students to set a day and time for the event can be tricky, so begin working to pin down a date and time as soon as the time frame for holding the school-level Bee is announced. 


Secure a location well in advance for holding the event. You will need a large room with tables and chairs placed in the front of the room for the participants, a podium for the Moderator, and seating for the audience. A name card placed on the table in front of each participant adds a nice touch. A large community meeting room, school classroom, or church class/fellowship room should work well. When reserving the location, allow a couple of hours for the actual event, plus ample time to set up and later clean up the room. 

Get Started!

With this much advance notice, students have plenty of time to study and prepare for the 2014 school-level Geographic Bee... maybe consider having a special focus on geography during the summer and/or the fall months. Click here for complete details about the National Geographic Bee, as well as study tips, resources, and more.

May 3, 2013

Report Cards and Grading for Grades K-8

Report Cards and Progress Reports

Report cards, sometimes referred to as progress reports, function as tools to monitor student academic progress and to document the subjects and courses taken by each student each school year. Initially used by school teachers to communicate a student's progress with his/her parents, report cards may appear to be redundant for homeschool teachers/parents to use, but the maintaining of report cards and/or progress reports are nonetheless required of homeschoolers in many states. Progress reports written in paragraph or journal form are an ideal way to record observations, progress, strengths, weaknesses, and interests of your student, which may be extremely interesting to read later as your child grows and matures. Regardless of the format, continuous updating of report cards and/or progress reports can work as a valuable tool in helping you to identify trends in your child's work, indicate areas where more work may be needed, and give insight to future educational plans. Be sure to check if report cards or progress reports are required by law in your state, and act accordingly. Keep report cards and progress reports with your homeschool's permanent records.

Our Homeschool's Grading System

In our homeschool, we adopted a simple grading system based on 10. My husband, having grown up in Italy, suggested that we use this scale based on the grading scale that he was familiar with that his school used. This scale easily converted to 9.0-10.0=A, 8.0-8.9=B, and 7.0-7.9=C. A grade of 10 was only given in our homeschool for exceptionally good work, and our boys understood that it was generally difficult to earn a 10. While they did not work just to get a "10", they did realize that if they saw a 10 at the top of the page they had the satisfaction of knowing that they had made a remarkable accomplishment. Being both homeschool teacher and mom, I did not want to fall into the trap of giving 10's for everything the boys did. I wanted to be as objective as possible in documenting the boys' work and progress. When grading papers, I used the Original E-Z Grader which has been an extremely useful tool throughout the years. The boys realized that I was not simply giving them a grade; the grade was earned based on their actual performance.

Grading Scales

Some schools use 94-100 for an A, while others use 90-100 for an A. Since grading is very subjective, there is no standard grading method, curriculum varies from school to school and from class to class, I suggest not losing much sleep over which grading scale you use. Simply be consistent with the grading system you choose, allow your children to be aware of it, and be diligent about maintaining any required documentation. 

Report Card Forms

Listed below are blank report card forms you may download, personalize, and print out. You are welcome to use these forms as they are or copy and modify them in order to customize for your particular needs. Print report cards on card stock for durability. Fold them in half to keep them conveniently in a small manila envelope with your homeschool's permanent records.

Elementary Report Card Forms
Middle School Report Card Forms