In which the reader is regaled with tales of the fantastic, the amusing, the disastrous, the educational.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What we're doing this year

This is the post where I set out all my big plans. I wonder how long it'll take before things start to crumble!

US History: A Patriot's History of the United States by Larry Schweikert and Michael Allen. It's about 20-25 pages of reading per week and discussions. Not a lot on the big scale of things.

We'll also be checking in with source documents, watching movies and documentaries, and hitting the History Museum for a couple of their displays.

And we're reading Cokie Roberts' Founding Mothers for fun. :)

American Lit: It occurred to me that this was the perfect opportunity to do an almost-unit-study by studying some great literature in concordance with our History lessons. Hence, we'll be working our way though Total Language Plus' American Literature: Short Stories study, and reading The Scarlet Letter, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and To Kill a Mockingbird. I haven't nailed down our fourth quarter novel or play study on modern/post-modern lit, but it's a ways off yet.

We'll also continue with Daily Grammar, work on Greek and Latin roots, and write a research paper.

Algebra II: We're using Teaching Textbooks. And I'm crossing my fingers because I royally stink at math. If she has any questions, at least she can ask DH the engineer.

Chemistry: I'm still stuck on this one! My homeschool co-op may or may not be teaching Chemistry this year, but I can't get anyone to answer my questions via e-mail. I may have to actually pick up a phone and talk to someone (horror!) If they're not doing it, then I need to get DD signed up for a local Christian school that will do part-time homeschooler enrollments per class. But they start in just a couple of weeks and I've got to know ASAP!

Spanish III: My mother lives with us and she's a native Spanish speaker who is also a former Spanish teacher. We totally have this covered.

Art, Music, Gym: Still working on these.
Need to find a piano teacher who doesn't cost a fortune.
Need to figure out what the local arts center is doing for classes this fall, but those won't start until after Labor Day.
And the YMCA doesn't start their next set of actual classes until Labor Day, as well.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July update

It's been over two months since I've updated this blog. I apologize for the infrequency of my entries, but life has this nasty habit of happening while I'm planning for other things!
It's been a terrifically busy summer. We went on a family trip to Cedar Point in Ohio and she went back to Chicago with her cousin for a couple of weeks after that. What with trips here and there, still fixing up the other house for sale, and just general busyness, we're only just now finishing up the Poetry class.
Every time I start to freak out about it, I take a deep breath and say, "We're homeschooling. Not doing school at home." She's learned a fair bit about American poets and exceeded expectations on the essay she wrote about "The Bells" by Edgar Allan Poe. At least, I hope she did. It's due tomorrow, but it was only supposed to be three pages. I think she ended up with more than that, and volunteered to do two drawings to illustrate the poem. That's the stuff I'm looking for with homeschooling! Now all I have to do is see how well she did on the analysis. Her previous efforts have been seriously lackluster, but when she finally dug in and started writing this, she seemed pretty enthusiastic.
This week is Art Camp at the local college and I know she's excited about that. I am, too. Aside from her trip to Chicago, she's been pretty isolated here.
We did go to a Park Day with a local secular hs group and she talked to one or two kids, but was otherwise shy. This is normal. I'm hoping that as these kids become familiar, she is drawn to interact more.
Geometry was...ok. She did really well on the final except for the Trig segment. It was totally over her head, even though she insists she understood the work while she was doing it. Eh. Next year is Algebra 2, so we have time to work up to Trigonometry.
We still need to finish up the Biology labs. I've been a little lax about getting her working through the notes. No worries. It'll get done. If the homeschool co-op does Chem this year, it won't start until after Labor Day anyway, so we've got time.
I'll make sure she has Gov't down during US History and the elections this year. Nothing like keeping current to hammer home those lessons.
I'll do a separate post for our curricula for the fall, even though there are still a couple of question marks. But it's only July and some things don't start until Sept, so there's no rush.
Her depression has been...okay. She's not sparkly outgoing, but she never will be. It's just not how she's built. On the other hand, she hasn't cried in months and she seems generally even-keeled. We do have the occasional bad day, but as long as it's acknowledged as just a bad day, it's easier to move past it. She's not taking her depression medication with the approval of her therapist, but she's still taking Concerta. Overall, not bad.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Minor obstacles

I'm getting mixed signals from Claire. She sounded so much like she was utterly miserable at school, had given up, didn't bother trying, that homeschooling would be the best option for her. But at her dr's appt yesterday, she said she wanted to go back in the fall. She won't be ready! Either academically or socially. I know that in my heart...or do I?

I know she won't be ready academically because we have a lot of work to make up from this semester. But I'm not sure how she thinks that she's going to make it without friends, or the knowledge of how to make friends. She's only just started opening up to the girls in Sunday School and we've been there for 3 or 4 months.

I'm just going to keep going as planned. She may change her mind from day to day, but I see the destination.

She was on one type of medication for her depression, but it made her twitchy and fidgety and really interfered with her concentration. Thankfully, the dr changed her prescription, so we'll see how she does on this new medication.

I had hoped that we'd be able to come off the Concerta for her ADD, but I'm not so sure about that yet. She was having such a rough time yesterday just sitting down for more than a few minutes that I had to change the due date on her essay to tomorrow instead of today. The nice thing about homeschooling is that I can do that.

I'd actually been stressing about how we "shouldn't get behind!" But then I realized that if it took us 9 weeks to do an 8-week course, the Mayan apocalypse was not going to come early.

Yeah, still getting the hang of this.

DS (Aaron) is just finishing up 5th grade and I think he's exhausted. He told me the other day that he wants to be homeschooled. I know some people who think it's weird to have one in school and one at home, but this is the kid who actually succeeds at school. Plus, DH is still iffy about the whole homeschooling thing and I hesitate to change a system that seems to be working for him.

I haven't done any writing, but I'm almost done with the batch of ms's that were sent to me. I have some financial paperwork to finish up and the basement's still a wreck.

A bunch of small things are adding up and I'm feeling a little ... squashed.

Friday, May 4, 2012

First test!

She's taking her first test right this minute. It's over literary and poetic terms and vocabulary...and it's almost all long answer. Long answer questions have always been her downfall because she either didn't know the material deeply enough to do the analysis or she couldn't organize her thoughts well enough to answer completely.

But you know what? Life isn't all multiple choice.

She made an 89%!! Pretty good for less than a week of study. The one question that she totally screwed up will show up again as extra credit on her next test. It was about the difference between analogy and allegory, which, believe it or not, are concepts I come across regularly in my work. Knowledge doesn't occur in a vacuum, even the stuff we assume is uselessly esoteric.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

First day review

Whew. That was easy! (Someday, I'm going to come back and look at those words and laugh until I cry.)

But yesterday really was easy! She did 10 lessons in her Daily Grammar book - and did NOT do them all perfectly, so she has to re-do the ones she missed.

Then she read the intro to the Poetry class and started writing definitions. She got halfway done, and she'll finish them today, plus start the next lessons.

In writing news, I need to get back to my stories. I'm working on a novella right now and would love for it just to be done. Unfortunately, I'm barely 3K into it, so there's a way to go yet. That damn novel is ... not stuck, I just keep waiting for the characters to say, "Yes, go this way!" and they've gone mute.

Starting a new job today doing some reading for a small pub. Here's hoping that nobody makes my eyes bleed!

And laundry. Today is Big Laundry Day since I didn't really get it done last week and we're down to the dregs. Yikes. But at least I don't have to leave the house today and that's awesome. I'm tired of constantly running around. I like my house and I'd like to spend some time in it. Plus, it's going to rain all day. Home is better than rain.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trying to learn how to pull lback

I've been saying all along that except for English, we really only need to finish up 9th grade. Not much work, just finishing things.
Then I freaked out and started writing lesson plans for Geometry and Biology that were going to take all summer.
Breathe, Susan. Breathe.
This morning, though, I woke up with my head on straight and realized that I was pushing too hard, too fast and that 90% of it was totally unnecessary.
She was so close to finishing Geometry that I can probably just have her study up a little bit, give her the CA Standards test - basically, a final exam - and call it good.
Government is the same way. The major part of the class was aimed at having them pass a US Constitution test. Pass the test, pass the class. I have access to the study guide, so I can create the test in just a couple of hours.
Biology did still have some work to do, but not as much as I was freaking out about. She needs to cover Taxonomy and the Animal Kingdoms, do two dissection labs (frog and fish), and that's pretty much it.
Whew. Our summer just opened right up.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Poetry is here!

There hasn't been much to say until now. I spent a long week waiting for e-checks to go through and materials to arrive and lo and behold, today's mail brought our Poetry course from Total Language Plus!

Claire and I flipped through it and were easily able to figure out how to follow the lesson plans. Thank goodness! Being a first-timer, I'm so glad I didn't have to struggle to figure out what they wanted me to do.

The course can be taught on three levels.
Level 3 is the basic overview. It's not sufficient for an entire quarter of study, but can be used as a supplement over 6 weeks.
Level 2 is a regular high school Lit course that covers 10 weeks.
Level 1 is the Honors English/AP level class that is done in 8 weeks.

I asked Claire if she wanted to do the regular or the Honors course and she didn't even hesitate before picking the Honors course. Good for her. But I will say that she was a little surprised at the depth of the study. She said it looked like even more work than the Honors English class she took 1st semester.

I told her than even if she only homeschooled for 9th and 10th grade (something she brought up today), then at least I'd be sending her back as an upperclassman ready to take on any AP class they offered!

As I read through the course, I found a few things I wanted to do differently. First, the biographies they include for each poet are pretty scanty. For her to do Level 1 work, we'll need to use outside sources to complete the Analysis Worksheets effectively. I'm going to look at this as an opportunity to work on her library and research skills - not just how well she can use her Google-fu.

Also, some of the poets they've chosen are obscure and take up space that could more profitably be given to other poets. So I changed things. :)

Instead of reading James Whitcomb Riley (Who? That's what I said, too.) in the Transcendentalist unit, we'll be reading Stephen Crane. Not as moralistically friendly - this company operates from a Christian worldview, which is fine as long as you don't under emphasize philosophically oppositional work - but with infinitely more to say about Naturalism and social commentary.

In the Modern Poets unit, African American poetry was noticeably lacking aside from Countee Cullen. So instead of reading Edwin Markham, I substituted Langston Hughes.

In addition, they end their study of Modern Poetry at WW2 so there are no Post-modernists in the course. I'm not sure how to remedy that, but I may just make it required "extra" reading without attaching schoolwork to it. Sylvia Plath, Jack Kerouac, Allan Ginsberg are unaccounted for, as well as Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni. We're not AA, but great poetry crosses cultural boundaries. I should probably find some current Latino poets to throw into the mix since that's a little closer to home.

The other thing I'm changing is that several of their unit activities include a performance option where she would have to present 2-3 poems orally with appropriate voice and gestures. I'm making some of those non-optional. She insists she has stage-fright, but I think it might be more of a leftover from her difficulty with any kind of regular social interaction. Either way, tough tomatoes, kid. Public speaking is a necessary skill.

At least I'm not making her memorize them. She can arrange them in a folder and have the folder with her, but she has to be familiar enough with them that she's not just standing there reading like she's never seen them before.

The one thing she has requested is a syllabus for each class, so I just finished typing up the entire class schedule, plus substitutions and expectations. I still need to narrow down the selection of Hughes' poems and I need to snag a writing rubric she can use to gauge her own skills, but other than that, I'm done.

Of course, it's 2 a.m. and I just finished writing a 3-page syllabus for a class that's only a quarter long, but my weekend is already scheduled out the wazoo, so if we're going to start on Monday, it was now or never for the pre-planning.

I'm still waiting on our Grammar stuff to arrive, but we'll just add that in whenever, as well as her Vocab work.

I'll chime back in when there's something new to add!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I'm Susan and in this blog, you'll get to hear about my adventures in homeschooling my high school daughter, Claire.

Claire is identified as gifted, but was also the poster child for the underachieving child. Learning wasn't hard, but I didn't realize that school itself had become unbearable until we got a terrifying wake-up call one morning.

My husband and I were compelled to find a new way for Claire to do school, so here we are.

It's been a week since our decision. Claire is officially unenrolled from her high school where she was a struggling freshman. When I told her that she wouldn't have to go back, I think she started to heal.

So far, we're taking it easy. This week has actually been chock-full of errands and chores and housework and neither of us have had much time to draw breath. But the best news is that my child is suddenly very different. She's not hiding in her room, she's responsive, she's very present with our family.

She seems to want to work on something academic, so I let her choose which subject she wanted to keep going with. She chose English. After some brainstorming, we put together a list of eight semesters worth of 'concentrations' that should cover everything she needs for a college-prep course of literature.

Genre studies: Mystery
Genre studies: Sci-fi
Gothic Lit
World Lit

We're starting with Poetry and I decided to use the Total Language Plus: American Lit - Poetry curriculum. It contains about a quarter's worth of material including writing assignments, so I still need to plan another quarter of lessons, but I really wanted to use a curriculum for this first time out. I've read really great things about TLP and it seems like it'll work with her learning style.

We're using Daily Grammar for grammar studies. Since we're keeping it low key, two lessons a day will take about 10 minutes and it'll last for two years!

TLP contains a vocabulary study, but we're also going to go over a long list of roots and prefixes that will help if and when Claire decides to take some AP level classes.

That's where we're starting. Nothing overwhelming, just one subject.

Welcome to our homeschooling journey!