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

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!