Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Combining Book Shark and Brave Writer Boomerangs/Arrows

Last time, I shared our curriculum picks for the upcoming 2019-2020 homeschool year. Summer is in full swing, but I'm already planning for next year. (Planning may be one of my favorite parts of homeschooling!)



In that post, I mentioned that we would continue using Book Shark this coming school year, but that we'd be switching things up a bit. We have used Book Shark (and before that Sonlight) for years. I love it. I love the plans all laid out for me. I love checking the boxes. And most of all, I love reading all the books.

But this year I wanted to try something different and make more of an effort to streamline our read-aloud time. I spend a lot of time reading aloud, and I wouldn't have it any other way. But I also know my limits. We are getting into heavy high school math and more organized science, and these things take up a lot of time. My kids are heavy into sports. I started working from home last fall and will need even more time for that this fall. In short, I need to maximize the read-aloud I have!

Books we read last year for Book Shark World History Part 2


I also want to get more into discussing books with my kids—talking about the writing (not just the content) and playing around with the titles a bit more. And it's just nice to explore and try something new from time to time. That's where Brave Writer comes in.

This year, I got subscriptions to the Boomerang for my older two homeschoolers and a subscription to the  Arrow for my youngest. I am super excited to dive in come September. But I didn't want to just add these plans on top of an already full year of Book Shark, so I needed a simple plan to accommodate both.

Basically, my plan is to:

  • Explore the Boomerang/Arrow selection of the month—with this program we'll read, discuss, and explore one title per month. Both include literary analysis, copywork and dictation, discussion ideas, and ideas for book club parties (how fun is that!?). 
And then we will:
  • Use Book Shark as independent reading—but not in a scheduled way. What I did is to go through each Book Shark (or in the case of my 11th grader, Sonlight) Core and pick and choose from the titles. I left out some books—though really, not very many. And I added in a few others that looked good to create a list of fabulous titles to choose from. Choose from, not complete!

My plan is to take each booklist and fill up a milk crate of titles for each child. (And I'll post my lists to the blog soon!)

Books we read last year for Book Shark History of Science (with some additions)


Each day, I plan to have a set time for everyone (including me!) to just read quietly. Remember silent reading in school? It was my favorite part of the day. 💗

I'm planning for perhaps 30 minutes or so after lunch, to start, and maybe longer if all goes well.  During that time, they can pick whatever they want from their crate to read—whatever piques their interest and looks good. They can read one book at a time or have several going at once. Anything goes.

There are several titles from their lists that I want to read, so I'll be joining in too! We'll also likely read some books together in the evenings, since we've done that since forever. Then, I'll either use Book Shark's provided questions from my Instructor Guide to talk about what they read— or just make a point to discuss what they are reading a couple of times a week.

I think this will make several things easier:
  • I won't feel pressure to get to each book. 
  • But everyone can still read books within "their" time period. One thing I love about Book Shark/Sonlight is how well my kids know history from spending a year in one time period or area of the world. 
  • No need to worry about what chapters to read— we'll just have our set amount of time to read and relax each day. 
  • It will give me a built-in time to read during the day!
  • It will save time. Instead of doing two separate Book Shark read-alouds for my high schoolers in different levels, I'll just do one Boomerang read-aloud for us to discuss together. 
  • The kids can read what they are interested in. I have always told my kiddos that they are free to drop a book they don't like, even if it's "on the list." But that's not quite the same as choosing your own book from a pile of titles. I think this will make reading even more fun and give them a chance to try things, reject things, and choose what they feel like on a given day. 

If they run out of things they are interested in from the booklists, I plan to help them search out more titles that interest them. And I am going to try to resist the urge to have everyone finish their crate—that's not the point! (At the same time, I have found that those "less interesting" books make excellent books to read aloud before bed—and they often end up being sneak favorites.)

Do you use Book Shark or Sonlight in a free reading manner? I'd love to hear about your experience!


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