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SWR Learning Logs – Part 2

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We’re continuing to answer the common questions our SWR users have about the Learnings Logs.

Did you miss Part One of our SWR Learning Logs series? You’ll want to start there.

Formatted Ready-made Learning Log vs. a Blank Composition Book

Q: Can we simply use a blank composition book or paper instead of buying the SWR Learning Logs?

A: You could use a blank composition book or paper for recording the spelling words, but when working with classroom, co-op, and my own homeschool students, I found it essential that we kept everything together. Papers all over the place was a time waster. Also, you’ll have to build your Reference Pages, which are a key ingredient in the student’s log. The ready-made Learning Logs include everything you’ll need in one nice, neat package, AND you won’t have to take up your time “reinventing the wheel.” Everything is already done for you.

If you decide you must use a composition book, then look at the instructions on SWR pp. 46-47 for how to build the Black Log Reference Pages if you’re using a blank book. If you’re using the formatted log, you’ll only complete steps a. and e. from pp. 46-47; ignore everything else on these pages. This means with the formatted book the student will merely:

  1. write his name, grade, and year on the front, and
  2. put a tab on the first spelling list page. (Find the staple in the middle of the book and turn back one page.)

My experience is that MANY teachers avoided using the Black Log for years because they didn’t want to build the Reference Pages from scratch; the process intimidated them. Once I did it with my own students, I found it wasn’t difficult, but it did require more instruction, and that the students had to have good listening skills. When I saw the Formatted Black Log in 2012, I breathed a sigh of relief! It’s so easy to use with the fill-in-the-blank chart format . . . AND there are pages in the formatted book that you won’t find explained in SWR (more on this later). You will love this book!

Transitioning Into or Between the Logs

Q: When should a beginning student move from penmanship to the spelling lists in the Learning Log?

A: This video will explain what to look for in your student’s penmanship skills to know when it’s time.

Q: When should a student move from the Primary to the Black Log?

A: In Spell to Write and Read you’ll find instructions to use the Primary Log with a student in Kindergarten through 2nd grade whereas you’d use the Black Log with a student 3rd grade or above. I actually recommend something different, and after checking with author Wanda Sanseri, she agrees.

A student in Kindergarten or 1st grade will be starting at List A and hopefully getting to either List I-4 (K) or L-6 (1st) by the end of the year. Most of the Reference Pages you need for this material are found in the Primary Log, and there are instructions in the SWR book for how to work on concepts elsewhere when the Reference Page is not in the book (e.g. ED Past Tense Ending). However, when you’re starting at List J-1 or higher (a possible starting point for a 2nd grader), there are far too many of the Reference Pages that are needed that just aren’t in the Primary Log. It’s time for the student to be in the book that will provide all the tools you need for teaching at this level.

Here’s the rule of thumb we recommend you follow:

  1. If you’re working with a beginning student AND you’re starting at List A, you’ll want to use the Primary Log.
  2. If you’re working with a student who is starting at List J-1 or higher (regardless of grade level or age), use the Black Learning Log.

Fast forward this video to 3:50 to hear this explained.

Learning Log Reference Pages

Q: How do I know when to use a Reference Page in the Learning Log?

A: Start in the SWR book and work your way through Steps #1-11. Steps #8, 9, and 10 involve work in your Learning Log before starting your first spelling list (Step #12). After that, simply follow the Wise Guide as it’ll tell you when to complete a Reference Page.

Q: What if you’re directed to use a Reference Page that is not in the Primary Learning Log?

A: We answer this question for you in this “Tools in Your Books” blog post.

Q: What should the Reference Pages look like after you’ve been working through the year with SWR?

A: Take a look at Appendix C in the back of your SWR book. Wanda Sanseri has included sample pages for both the Primary (pp. 208-211) and the Black Learning Logs for you (pp. 212-219). Keep in mind that these are just samples; your logs will very likely look different because of where you start in the Wise List and the particular lists you cover that year. You never want to teach from these sample pages. Instead, they merely provide guidance to the teacher for working on these pages.

Keep in mind that the samples for the Black Learning Log (SWR pp. 212-219) are from the “build-from-scratch” version, not from the formatted log which we HIGHLY recommend. Adapting the samples from the “build-from-scratch” to the formatted version is pretty easy.

Did you learn something new or has this helped answer some of your questions? Comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Read Part Three.

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