Do your kids love taking photos but are not quite ready to handle a real camera yet? If so, then they will love this adorable DIY toy camera! This toy camera can be made with basic household supplies and will inspire your kids to take pictures of their favorite things. This camera is easy to make, and your kids can express their creativity by coloring and adding extra decorations. They can make it as decorated or as simple as they like! Watch this video for the full tutorial. The materials and instructions are listed below. Read full tutorial…
Trying to understand testing norms can be confusing. Thankfully, norms are not too complicated! Norms can be a great resource to help you identify your children’s educational needs. Our testing specialists have heard a lot of concern about testing norms being affected by COVID-19. We worked with Grant, one of our testing specialists, to put together some helpful information about testing norms and how to interpret them.
What are testing norms and how are they created?
Norms are the average results from a group of students using the same test. The publisher of each test or form gathers scores from a comparison group to create a norm group. This comparison group typically includes thousands of students, with the best norm standards coming from tens of thousands. Norm groups for most standardized tests are composed of a representative sample of students from various educational contexts across the United States. This diversity creates a balanced representation of students’ abilities to use for creating norms.
Creating norms is an expensive and time-consuming process. Because of the expense and time, the publishers update norms when new samples are necessary. For example, the original 2011 norms for Iowa Assessments Form E were updated in 2017. If they measured norms each year, it would increase the wait time for scores while norms are created. Also, test prices would rise to pay for the resources and personnel needed to create the norm.
A norm update does not mean that the test has changed. When publishers revise a test’s content, it will have a different copyright date and will generally have an updated name or form number.
Why are they important?
Test scorers, like the Testing and Evaluation team, compare the data for different students’ performances on the same test. Achievement test scores allow us to calculate two numbers. The first number is your student’s percentile rank, or what percentage of similar students your student has performed better than. The second number is the stanine, which quickly determines your child’s percentile ranks and makes it easier to see where your child’s scores fall. Both of these numbers show how your student compares to his or her peers and helps you understand your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
Testing norms create a benchmark to which you can compare your child’s scores. Without norms, achievement tests would be a single pass or fail grade. Also, they would not be as useful to organizations like honor societies, which need to know whether a student is in the top tier nationally.
Will COVID-19 affect norms?
Because testers don’t gather norms on a yearly basis, COVID-19 will not affect norms for Iowa Assessments or the Stanford 10. The Testing and Evaluation team is committed to providing accurate and reliable test results; if you test with BJU Press this year, you will receive the same precise scores you have come to expect from us.
Remember that testing norms do not reflect a standard that your child has to meet. You know your children and their needs better than any test. While test scores can be helpful, they are not authoritative. Testing is just a tool to track your child’s progress and identify areas for growth.
As a homeschool parent, you want your children to grow in discerning between good and evil. As you evaluate your curriculum for the year, it’s important to consider not just your children’s learning styles and preferences but also how their curriculum is shaping their worldview. Biblical integration within the curriculum is an integral part to developing a Christian worldview.
With so many secular voices in education, how can you determine the quality of the Christian education you’re giving your children? We’ve created a scale to help you evaluate the quality of biblical worldview integration in your curriculum. You should be able to use your curriculum to capture your children’s minds and hearts with a love for God and His Word.
Level 0 – No Biblical Integration
Level 0 does not mean that there is no mention of the Bible. Rather, there is no connection between the Bible and the lesson materials. Curriculum at this level include Bible reading and prayer separate from the lesson, and so claim to give your children a Christian education. Since a biblical worldview has no influence on the lesson itself, it’s not really a Christian education.
Level 1 – Referencing the Bible
In this level, the Bible may be present in the lessons, but it doesn’t change or reshape learning. It primarily just reminds children that the Bible is there. It doesn’t help children to think more deeply about biblical principles or to consider how they can live out the Bible today.
1a – Biblical Analogies
Curriculums at this level look for areas where a biblical concept and a subject overlap. This desire for overlap creates analogies like a butterfly’s metamorphosis to illustrate a believer’s sanctification. Another example is using a plus sign to represent the cross because Jesus’ righteousness is added to our account. These analogies have no inherent connection to the materials. With only Bible analogies, children will never understand how Scripture is relevant to everyday life.
1b – Biblical Examples
Level 1b looks for instances of various subjects in the Bible. A curriculum might ask students to look for evidence of pi in the building of the temple during math class. They might even use the story of Joseph and Judah to study dramatic irony. Using this sublevel shows how the Bible is relevant in various areas of study. However, if a curriculum never goes deeper than this level, the Bible has not yet influenced your children’s real-world learning.
Level 2 – Responding with the Bible
This level involves using Scripture to shape the way your children interact with and study the world. The Bible becomes essential in their critical-thinking skills. Children will need to apply what they know about the Bible to their studies and their everyday choices.
2a – Serving with the Discipline
God issued a command in Genesis 1:28 to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” He also commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves in Matthew 22:39. Curriculums at level 2a show children how to follow these commands in each subject. Dominion Modeling segments in BJU Press math materials open doors for you to discuss how to live out God’s Creation Mandate. For example, in chapter 4 of our Algebra 1 textbook, these questions will prepare your children to be good stewards of money by teaching them to understand interest rates. To serve others, your children might also learn how to apply linear functions to build a wheelchair access ramp.
2b – Worshiping with the Discipline
This level turns learning opportunities into worship opportunities. You might implement worship during schoolwork time by having your children write poems praising God. They could follow the example of the authors of the Psalms, or practice a poetry form they learned recently. Teaching that God is creator of everything allows us to see His handiwork in every field of study. Once we can recognize His work, we must point the glory back to Him.
Level 3 – Rebuilding with the Bible
Level 3 is the deepest level of biblical integration. In this level, the Bible becomes the standard for how your children will study and understand every subject. Taking a secular curriculum and making it Christian by pointing out the errors can never be a level 3 biblically integrated curriculum. A secular curriculum begins with the premise that God and Scripture must be absent from education. In order to have a level 3 curriculum, the materials must be built on the premise that God is the ultimate standard for education. Materials designed with this level in mind help alleviate the burden on you to constantly help your children separate the lies from the truth while they are learning.
3a – Evaluating the Premises
A curriculum incorporating level 3a compares the content of each subject to the standard of the Bible. This process helps your children to question what is accepted as truth in secular thinking. For example, the Bible challenges the assumption that math is completely objective and certain. In science, the Bible also challenges modern scientists’ assumptions of uniformitarianism. When the Bible becomes the standard of the curriculum, your children will learn to reject the modern premise that humans are the ultimate standard for truth.
3b – Rebuilding the Discipline
The most important step of biblical integration is starting with the Bible as the foundation for learning. For example, by making the Bible the foundation, we can affirm the historicity of Genesis 1-11 as the beginning of our world and human culture. We then can build on the philosophical basis of Genesis as we study history and science. Because we begin with the truth about Creation, Fall, Redemption, we can place each subject your children study in its proper sphere, neither unduly elevating or neglecting them.
Many people in our culture want to downplay the relevance of Scripture in every sphere of life. They believe that religion is okay as long as it stays at home and at church on Sundays. At BJU Press we design our materials to show your children that the Bible is the foundation for all of life, from family devotions to playtime. Each product we produce is built from the premise of the truth of God’s Word in order to help you shape your children’s minds with a biblical worldview.
Keeping your children on task in their schooling can be a challenging job, but there are ways to encourage productivity that will help both you and your children. A couple weeks ago, we asked moms on our Facebook page to share their tips for encouraging their kids to stay on task during the school day. We thought we’d share some of their suggestions with you here!
Keep Them Accountable to Each Task
Some children may struggle to focus if you are not beside them. One mom commented on our Facebook post that her daughter works better when she is not alone in her room. She says, “Mine usually does her work . . . with me while I am working and she zips right through it. In her own room she gets distracted and it’s harder.” Another way to help them be responsible for their own time management is to schedule checkpoints throughout the day when you will review their progress. You can set specific goals for them to work on in between check-ins so they know what to expect. If they’re not making those goals, you can also see if they’re struggling. You’ll know when they need help and encouragement to continue.
We all know that distractions eat away at a productive school day. Electronics, toys, siblings, pets—all of these can become distractions. How do you eliminate screen-related distractions if you use screens for schoolwork? One way to remove distractions for children who do school on electronic devices is to block pop-up notifications on the screen they are working on. You can also add accountability by making sure the screen they’re working on faces the center of the room. Other distractions such as as toys, games, siblings, or pets can be just as disruptive as electronics. Instead of removing these distractions entirely, offer them during breaks as rewards for hard work. Some moms encourage these other interests by incorporating their children’s favorite games or topics into their lessons.
Offer Regular Breaks
We’ve all had that day when things never seem to stop or slow down. At the end of the day, we may actually scream if anyone asks us to do one more thing. Children will feel the same way when endlessly confined to school work. Downtime is an important part of everyone’s day. One mom shared how she breaks up her kids’ days, “For every 3 items on their list (they have a daily checklist showing all the school they need to do that day) they get a break to play. They seem to focus and stay on task so much better knowing exactly how much they have to do before each break.”
Try setting goals and tasks to work on in short intervals and then give a short break before working again. One productivity method recommends 25 minutes working hard without distractions and then a 5 minute break. During breaks, encourage your kids to stretch, eat a snack, go to the bathroom, or anything else that makes them get out of their seat. I use this method frequently to stay on task and get more done in a shorter amount of time.
Offer Encouragement for Completing a Task
In addition to suggesting frequent breaks, one mom recommends “words of affirmation and snacks they enjoy during the hard parts of the day like Math and Science.” Encouragement can be a powerful tool for keeping your children on task! My piano teacher would give prizes after her students gained points from practicing, passing songs, and playing in front of people. I looked forward to reaching those prizes and would work harder to get there. Remind your children that you recognize and appreciate their hard work. Along with verbal affirmation, rewards like snacks will encourage them and help them focus! Another mom told us she gives her daughter something to look forward to at the end of the day. She says that, during the winter months, getting “to play outside—sledding, skating, skiing, building snow forts, etc.—when the work is done” is “good motivation.” Setting specific goals for your children to meet and then giving them incentives for reaching them can be very effective.
Children may struggle to stay on task no matter how hard we try. But don’t be discouraged! You know your children and their needs. Embrace the journey and remember that homeschool education is about your children and not a to-do list.