Friday, May 2, 2014

8th Grade Binder Update

As we are winding down the year (I consider a school year July 1 through June 30) Grace’s 8th grade binder needs some attention.  I have not been as diligent as I need to be about recording hours and activities every single day.  For example, yesterday Grace spent an hour streaming The Weather Channel live to track the severe weather outbreak in the southern states.  

Streaming The Weather Channel

We looked up local Alabama news and streamed that as well.  She was looking at radar, updating me on torcon values in the Birmingham area and is fluent in the weather speak that meteorologists used (rain wrapped tornado, debris field on radar, how storms to the west will increase the rotational flow of the storms to the east, etc).  This is her thing and while it fascinates her, it worries her because she is aware of the human element and the heavy toll on life and property these storms take.  Technically this could be counted as science.  It should be counted as science.  Too often I forget to record these spontaneous learning opportunities and tend to consider only the structured learning that we do.  My goal is to record daily, every learning opportunity that takes place during the day, whether it is Lilah making homemade bird treats (nature studies) or Grace watching an hour of weather (science).  

Lilah's fine art!

I am aware that the hour values on her subjects are not entirely accurate.    Language Arts looks light because I did not record the hours she spent reading the books for book club, because I am not sure if this “counts” but I have kept an accurate book list.  I also realized that not every subject has to hit 120 hours.  If the goal is for 1 credit in fine arts, 30 to 40 hours per year over four years is fine.  Music instruction should technically fall under fine arts but that needs its own category due to the hours she has spent on instruction.  Here again, I did not count hours of practice. Should I?  I really don’t know.  If I do it would be much, much higher.  

Math and sign language are not hour based, they are content based.  She has earned a credit of foreign language as an 8th grader and this will be counted on her high school transcript.  She is still working on Teaching Textbooks Algebra I and this will not be finished for several more months.  She will get credit for this as a “freshman”.  She has 47 hours of volunteering or community service.  I am not sure how to record this.....what class would this be in school-talk?  From my research it is not really a class, just an accomplishment.  Many schools would honor a student who has reached 47 hours of service in one year.  Perhaps next year she will strive to achieve the President’s Award for 100 Hours of Community Service.

I don’t have all this figured out yet.  I have areas of improvement, especially if I am going to begin a 7/8th grade binder for Lilah next year.  But this is where I am now.  I will post back with an update in a few weeks with how this binder will look when class descriptions are added, and it is prettied up a bit!

This begins my binder.  Sometimes I need a reminder that you can unschool to college!

I am keeping all outside documentation of classes and beginning to ask for course descriptions and letters of recommendation.


dstb said...

Thank you for this update. I started the year strong with a free on-line scheduler to keep track of things and by January, my recording things had fallen apart. I think an "analog" system of just writing in a notebook is what would work best for me.

As far as community service - Go Grace! It is a requirement for graduation at our high school, but it is not a "class". Like you said, more of an accomplishment. My public schooler did just over the required minimum because he didn't find anything that really hit home with him. My homeschooler, on the other hand, has well over 100 hours for this school year, because he found one thing that he could do consistently and really loves. And that's the key. He has found something that he really enjoys doing. Also, just to dispel the idea that he can do that many hours because he is a homeschooler, his service is 3 hours a week in the evening. Three hours a week, every week, adds up!

As far as music, I am giving my son 1 credit/year. He probably does more since he has lessons for both cello and guitar, plays in an orchestra and in the youth group band, but he certainly doesn't practice every day (shh...sometimes I think the cello lays there all week until his instructor arrives).

Math, history, English, science will all receive 1 credit. For Math, it is content based rather than hours. I have not done a great job counting hours, but in English he is probably over 120 because he has a writing class every week, which he then has to write for, we have done grammar, we have done literary analysis (I mean, Homer's Odyssey alone was probably 120 hours, right?), and he has read on his own. I have had him keep a book log. History and science I should have tracked better, but he has been covering the content by reading, field trips, video lectures, and assignments. He is in the midst of doing a class with Coursera for science. It is good for him to have a schedule that he has to keep track of and is not dictated by Mom. I will print off the descriptions of the course and assignments to keep in his record.

I'll be giving him a 1/2 credit for a homeschool architecture course that he is taking. He has to email his instructor his assignments including pictures of his projects, so I am printing off what he sends to keep as part of the record.

He is also taking Spanish, and I am not sure what to do with this one. He has a tutor, but I am not sure that I can count 1 credit because I am not sure he will have completed what I consider to be Spanish I. I am okay with spreading it over two years, but I need to figure out how I would gauge what level he is at. Something to think about.

PE will be 1/2 credit. He participates in a ski group during the winter. He rides his bike a lot the rest of the year.

Sorry for the lengthy story. I am really interested in how you are handling the record keeping, so please keep posting! Thanks for the book recommendations in your last post. The Llewellyn books look especially helpful.


Jessica said...

Thank you! I asked my girl's sign language teacher how their class compared to a ASL I class because I looked at how much they learned and even though they were not going to get to the 120 hours it seemed like they learned so much! She said she was able to take them past what would be covered in ASL because of the extra small class size (just three kids). When I heard that, I immediately switched this to content based mastery. When the teacher tells me they have the material mastered, they will receive a credit and it will be counted pre-high school as a foreign language credit. Ask your tutor and see what they say!

Sandra said...

I'm so impressed with your level of record keeping. I also sympathise with your struggles to maintain it, to know what counts and where certain things should go. Homeschooling is great but when you have to or want to hook back with "the system" eg potential university admissions that's when things can get tricky or at least feel like they could get tricky. Sometimes it feels like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Jessica said...

Yes! You captured how I feel exactly. I guess there will be no perfect way to record all we do, and how we do it, but if I am able to translate it in a way that others understand and can use to evaluate my girls as applicants to whatever program of study they are applying for, then I have succeeded.

Karen said...

I love this update. I started out strong but haven't kept up. But I know what to do next year. I am so impressed with your record keeping Jess. You are truly inspiring.

Post a Comment

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...