Skills are abilities or competencies that a student is expected to develop as the material for a course is covered. HomeSchool Minder allows you to associate skills with a course and to track your students' progress in acquiring these skills by means of Skill Assessments.
Skills are associated with courses, but, unlike events, assignments and lessons, they are not specific to a term or year. Related skills are grouped together under a Standard. A standard may be one that you create and tailor to your own teaching philosophy, or one that is defined and recognized by an external educational institution or authority.
Adding a New Standard
When a course is created initially, no standards are associated with it. To create standards and related skills, navigate to the Skills module and select a course from the course tabs. Then click on the Add button in the Standards header. An entry form will appear; enter the standard name (for this example, we'll enter a fictitious curriculum standard called the “Thompson Literacy Assessment”) and click Save.
To enter the skills related to this standard, click on the Add icon in the row for the standard we just created. An entry form will appear, where you can enter the name of each skill and click Save.
Entering Skill Details
After creating the skill, a detail view will appear beside it. In this view, you will be able to enter the skill's description as well as select the assessment scale that defines the grades to be used in evaluating this skill. Click anywhere inside the Overview section in the right half of the screen, enter the information, and click Save.
Initially, HomeSchool Minder defines a skill assessment scale (called “Default”), which allows you to assign proficiency grades of “Above grade level”, “At grade level”, or “Below grade level.” If these assessments do not fit your needs, you can always define additional skill assessment scales or modify the default scale in the Skill Assessment settings page.
Selecting a Skill vs. Editing a Skill
Note that when there is more than one skill, the Overview and Assessment sections display information for the currently selected skill only. To select a different skill, simply click on its row in the left half of the screen. The row for the currently selected skill will be highlighted to show that it is now the currently selected skill.
In most screens, HomeSchool Minder allows you to edit the information for a record simply by clicking on its row. However, in the skills page clicking on the row for a skill selects it rather than opening it for modification. If you wish to edit a skill in order to rename it, place your cursor on top of the drop-down icon in the row for that skill and click on the Edit option from the drop-down menu.
Entering Skill Assessments
Whenever you evaluate a student for proficiency in a particular skill, you can enter the details of the evaluation, including the date of the evaluation, the grade (assessment) assigned, as well as comment indicating the circumstances of the evaluation (for instance, the evaluation method, or aspects of the student's performance that should be taken into consideration during the next evaluation).
If the outcome of the evaluation suggests that the student is fully proficient in the skill and does not need to be evaluated further, you can indicate this fact by clicking on the “Completed?” checkbox. Skills that have been completed are displayed with a check mark, and the completion date is shown in the skill overview section.
Skills and Lesson Plans
You can associate the skills you have defined with one or more lesson plans, to indicate that the activities for those lesson plans teach or test those skills. See the Lesson Plans module for more information about how to do this. Once a lesson plan has been tagged with a skill, you will see a link for that lesson plan in the Skills module in a section titled Related Lessons. You can navigate directly to that lesson plan by clicking on the link.