So…apparently I just plain stink at blogging…it’s been a year…
But in my defense it was a hard year. Homeschooling high school is no joke. Plus a middle schooler and a kindergartener last year…I felt stretched very thin. My oldest’s freshman year was kinda brutal for all of us but we have re-grouped and re-structured and have tackled her sophomore year with way more confidence and planning and so far things are going smoothly.
The biggest takeaway from last year: online classes rule. My daughter’s favorite classes were the ones she took online, and I loved that I could select the curriculum & instructors and then be pretty much hands-off. So, for the remainder of high school, online learning is the name of the game.
10th Grade Curriculum Choices 2017-2018 (15 year old girl)
Morning Time/Humanities (not pictured)
This year morning time is much more laid back as my older girls require a lot more time to complete their school work. We are still focusing on memorizing scripture & poetry, as well as learning a few hymns. Then on Mondays & Wednesdays we focus on literature (we’re reading aloud The Odyssey first semester & Hamlet 2nd semester) and logic (we are using the James Madison Critical Thinking Course and really enjoying it). Tuesdays we are finishing the second half of The Art of Poetry and nature study/journaling/art with Nature Anatomy (see our nature journals below). Thursdays my youngest daughter and I are gone all morning at our local Scholé Group (which we LOVE!) and Friday we all meet to let my youngest teach her older sisters about the artist or composer she studied at Scholé and then we do a little geography review (still loving Seterra for this) as well as an advanced spelling review for the older girls (we use a combo of a list I created as well as Phonetics Zoo and Advanced Spelling and Vocabulary – both IEW) then we spend some time in a group socratic discussion for history, science, and literature. We also watch CNN10 a few times per week. (0.5 credit)
We are continuing our journey through Latin together this year with Latin Alive 2. We love the way the program is laid out and the instructional DVDs are super helpful to clarify everything. She will be taking the National Latin Exam again this year as well. In hindsight I wish I would have signed her up for an online class for Latin because, as much as I love Latin myself, it has been really hard to find the time to keep ahead of it enough to facilitate the lessons and help with any struggles. But, this will be her last Latin year (unless she surprises me and wants to go for Year 3) so I will just grin & bear it and plan to sign the other two up for the online courses when the time comes. (1 credit)
After meeting Señor Gamache at the Great Homeschool Convention earlier this year, I immediately signed J up for his La Clase Divertida Spanish I course online. It meets for 3 hours per week, Sr. Gamache is SO personable & engaging, and the kids are speaking Spanish constantly in his class. This is one of her favorite classes so far this year. The book required (Vistas) is a college text with all the online bells & whistles so it was pricey, but it is good for all three years of HS Spanish, so it evens out as a pretty good deal. (1 credit)
Last year Algebra I started out rough. My daughter HATED the Jacob’s text and we got pretty behind trying to catch up in the Foerster’s text because of the way the Jacob’s text was structured (we had to basically start back at the beginning half-way through the year). Then Foerster’s got too deep for her to be able to “teach” herself and since it’s been firmly established that I absolutely suck at teaching math (I “get” math intuitively so unpacking it in a way that I can teach without getting frustrated at my own limitations & my kids’…not my strong suit) we needed help. Well thank God for the wonderful Mr. D. For the first time ever my daughter is actually finding ways to *like* math. Mr. D really breaks it down to basics, offers lots of practice, has the kids correct their own work (which my daughter loves, but may not work for all kids), provides computer-graded quizzes and tests, and is so enthusiastic about math that you can’t help but enjoy it with him. The cost of the self-paced courses is a super-value, and with the very generous returning student discount they offer it is an absolute no-brainer. He also offers extra help/q&a sessions twice a week and their staff is super responsive to any email/question. As a bonus, check out his podcast. Being able to find wonderful, inspiring educators who love what they do is one of the most beautiful gifts of homeschooling! We are a lifetime Mr. D family now.
Because we got so far behind curriculum jumping she just finished Algebra I is jumping right into Geometry this week. We also have on hand the Jacob’s geometry text (😬 but I’ve heard the Geometry text is better than Algebra…we’ll see) as well as Euclid’s Elements & Mathematics for the Nonmathematician for resources. (1 credit)
World History II
History was another course that we completely upended mid-year. We started out with Notgrass World History, which we liked in terms of layout, cost, primary source exerpts, and suggested activities/projects. But, I cannot see how this curriculum is adequate for high school. The depth of the content was paltry at best. After coming from 4 years of Mystery of History my daughter missed the richness of the connections, people, and events throughout history that just wasn’t there in Notgrass. So, I found a copy of Spielvogel’s World History: The Human Odyssey (I also found a teacher’s manual dirt cheap at AbeBooks) and let her loose on that. Because of how beefy this text is I had to split world history into two years, so she will complete the second half this year. However, whereas last year I had her complete the section reviews and selected end-of chapter essays, this year we are using The Classical Historian Take a Stand! Modern World History guide as the backbone for the lessons with the purpose of an essay at the end of each unit. So, basically I just have her read the background in each Take a Stand lesson so see what she needs to focus on in her readings. Then she reads and fills it out then goes back and compiles all her research into an essay that addresses the question at the beginning of the TAS lesson (example: What was the key factor in destroying the idea of the divine right of kings?). So far the process is working, although with the amount of writing she is currently doing for English, I have been switching it up between multi-page essays with TAS and just completing the section reviews & chapter questions some weeks. (1 credit)
Lost Tools of Writing I through Circe was such a great experience last year that we have continued on with Lost Tools of Writing II again through Circe Academy, with the same instructor, Renee Mathis. I love the continuity between both courses and being able to keep the same brilliant teacher that J loves. The volume of work this year has really increased and this is where I see the real fruits of this program developing. She is now writing long, well-crafted essays with well-developed theses, proofs, and plenty of stylistic conventions to add flair and interest. She is able to maintain all of her assignments on her own and rarely even asks me for editing help any more. The course is challenging but not too much so. I love the way it has really trained her to think and the real beauty is that the priciples she is developing in this course are flowing into the writing she does for history.
For literature, the same brilliant mom from last year is leading literature discussion group again. This year we will read:
- Les Miserables (this was the first book of the year & I am so proud she got through it…and has already written her first Lost Tools II essay on it!)
- The Man Who Was Thursday
- Waiting for Godot
- The Death of Ivan Ilych
- Cyrano de Bergerac
Additionally she will also read as many of these as she can get through as lit for history:
- To Kill a Mockingbird (just finished)
- All Quiet on the Western Front
- The Hiding Place or Night
- Cry, the Beloved Country
- Animal Farm
- Brit Lit selection of choice from Dickens, Austen, or Brontë
- A Doll’s House
- SMARR Publishing: An Introduction to the Short Story
Since we are studying Latin and she’s done years of formal grammar, the only grammar work I have her doing is through the Grammar Devotional.
Also at the Homeschool Convention I had the opportunity to meet Brenda Esselman, a high school chemistry teacher from North Carolina who has started offering her chemistry curriculum online for homeschoolers at Learn Chemistry Better. She offers all her lectures (with notes), homework assignments (with automated grading), labs (kits can be purchased through her at conventions or can be performed with the assigned labs in the popular Chem1000 kit), and tests (also automated and timed). From what I can tell so far is that she is an engaging teacher and my daughter is finding chemistry much more palatable than physics was last year. Our only complaints with the program thus far are that the registration only includes 9 months (so, I had to beg the teacher for access earlier this summer just to overview the schedule so that I could plan our group labs. This may be an issue for year-round homeschoolers, as well), the videos are a little clunky, outdated, and go a bit slow, and the modules are laid out in a way that isn’t very intuitive to schedule and the homework sometimes jumps around to where certain topics haven’t been lectured on yet. But other than that I think it is working and I am happy that I found an affordable way to have self-paced chemistry lectures (aimed at the high-school level but not dumbed down) and automated grading.
Additionally, I am leading monthly lab days with a group of other high schoolers to fulfill the lab requirements. I have a science degree and studied loads of biochem in grad school and I personally love chemistry so I’m excited to get to revisit it with a good bunch of kids. For labs we will be using a combination of labs from the Chemistry Matters teacher’s toolkit I purchased, as well as some of the labs offered in Learn Chemistry Better, Off the Shelf labs (these are just very unique, applicable to real life, and fun), and the Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments (although I think “How to Turn Your Home into a Crazy-Expensive Legit Chemistry Lab” would be a more fitting title for this one because, despite the fact that this manual contains an excess of well-written, comprehensive experiments, the amount of hard to procure and expensive chemicals and equipment prevented me from making this a main lab resource). (1 credit)
This one is pretty cut & dry. We’re just using the Lessons for the Young Economist textbook from the Mises Institute in addition to a monthly economics discussion group (led by another amazing homeschool mom with a passion for economics) and a monthly meeting with an economics club (with which she’ll be participating in some economics competitions in the spring). (0.5 credit)
Again, the 6-8 hours per week dancing plus performances or competitions with her dance company easily meet our Phys Ed requirements. She does do some biking, running, pilates, & yoga for fun as well. So, she’s covered here. (1 credit)
Life Skills/Driver’s Ed
She will be taking Driver’s Ed later this year and completing all the requirements to get her license this spring
and we also plan to work through some of the projects in Life Prep for the Homeschooled Teen. I’m still sorting out if/how to award credits for these things.
Total Credits 10th Grade: 8.0
Cumulative Credits: 13.5
I’m still keeping track of grades in the 5Js Homeschool Gradebook+ which works great. Additionally, we have been working on the very important life skill of time management. Basically I just write all the stuff I want her to do in a week on her weekly assignments sheet and she enters it into her weekly homework schedule sheet. It looks like this:
I think that does it. 7th grade and 1st grade plans to follow. G’day.
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