I wrote yesterday about the publication of Hollenbeck Home Learning: 2010-2011, the portfolio blog I've made for the year of home learning we just completed.
This is something I'm not required to do - in fact, I am beyond grateful to live in a state that has one of the nation's most reasonable homeschooling statutes (i.e., our only requirement is to annually submit a brief, non-invasive notification form). It's ironic to me that the agency we're required to notify is the Department of Public Instruction; after all, independent, home education has nothing at all to do with public schooling, and the DPI would seem to already have its hands more than full with just the students under its actual, legal jurisdiction. Thus, if there's even a need to "keep tabs on" homeschooled students at all - a requirement that research such as this calls into question - it seems more appropriate that there exist an Office of Alternative, Non-Public Education to handle such matters - and such offices do exist in other states. However, if this is the extent of the demands placed upon home educators here in this state, I'll just chuckle each year as I digitally send the form and be done with it.
But back to my portfolio blog. I started making portfolios because, as I said in my original post, I enjoy having a hard-copy record of our home education progress each year - for our personal use and to show family and friends when appropriate. I also love scrapbooking, and making portfolios seemed kind of like scrapbooking our academic endeavors.
When I first made a portfolio (for our 2007-2008 academic term), I simply typed it in Word, inserted pictures as best I could, convinced my husband to make color copies, and compiled three-ring binders for each of my daughters. It turned out just fine and served its purpose. But I'd started blogging at the end of 2008 and subsequently discovered Blog2Print, a service that converts blogs into bound books. So when our 2009-2010 term came to a close, I took the plunge into a portfolio blog and was quite pleased with the results. The blog book wasn't quite as pretty as the blog itself - the blog background didn't print, of course, and there were some formatting issues. But, in addition to being able to share the blog online anytime, I had hard copies that looked at least as good as my Word effort in a nicer format (i.e., bound books instead of binders).
I did that first blog chronologically, writing one post for each month of our academic term and then listing what we did in each content area every month. I make my scrapbooks that way and thought it would be a good format for a portfolio. But I didn't like the results as much as I thought I would so I changed things up this year - writing topically instead - and now I'm convinced I've hit on the correct, more engaging method for this "genre."
The topics for our 2010-2011 blog - any of which you can see individually by clicking these links - are:
- Cutting the "ECC Dress" Down to Size
- Our First Day
- Bible/Christian Education
- Geography/Cultural Studies
- Language Arts
- Foreign Language
- Field Trips
- Curriculum Bibliography
Obviously, it's just a simple, straightforward listing of what we covered in different academic areas, but it's comprehensive and descriptive, and I like how things came together with this format much more than with the chronological effort. I also made changes to my page layout that, while still interesting on the blog itself, helped alleviate some of the formatting issues I had with the first blog book.
So I finally feel as if I've got the right structure for future portfolio blogs - and, in fact, I've already completed the skeleton and introduction for this coming year's blog! So now my next goal is to prevent the mad rush I've felt the last two summers (and even in the years with the portfolio binders) by working on the blog all throughout the year, not just once the term is done next June. I've got my framework, and I can make the time. Now it'll just be a matter of using that time for its intended purpose!