Monday, May 5, 2014

Creating Course Descriptions

One day when Grace was at her class in New Haven and Lilah was immersed in projects of her own making, I took a few hours and went through all the data I collected in Grace’s 8th Grade Binder.  I wrote down everything chronologically, and I was able to see trends or concentrations in what we were learning over the course of the year.  History fell into mainly three categories: Irish Immigration, World WarII/Holocaust and Civil Rights era.  Science was mainly marine science and chemistry.  

The next step is to summarize this information into class or course descriptions that speak the language of traditional academia.  A high school or a college does not have the time to read through 4 pages of detailed daily notes.  What we did in a very nontraditional way needs to be summarized in a way that Lee Binz describes as college-talk.  

At first this felt overwhelming, but with a model provided in the book The Homeschooler’s Guide to Portfolios and Transcripts by Loretta Heuer, M.Ed., I set out to try my hand at it.  Before I pay for a service to do this for me, I wanted to see how complicated it is and if the time and effort would be worth the cost to outsource to someone else.  One thing I know for sure is that I do not want to do this four years from now with four years worth of information, projects and classes to sort through and determine importance and relevance.  I would much rather put in the effort periodically over the course of four years than cram it all in and not be sure I am producing a product that will accurately reflect the amount of effort that went on behind the scenes.  

Some of Grace’s 8th Grade work can count for high school credit, provided the class was content worthy.  I knew this, but hearing it from Lee’s webinar somehow made me feel validated in counting it.  For example, Grace’s piano can be counted at Piano V since this was her 5th year of lessons.  It makes no sense to call it Piano I just because it is her first year in “high school”.  The same is applied to sign language.  She successfully completed ASL I in 8th Grace.  This will be a pre-credit on her transcript and her “freshman” year will show ASLII.  Lilah, should she stick with ASL, would enter “high school” with ASL IV which may by then be called Conversational ASL.  

One issue I have run into is what to do with things that don’t quite fit into a class, because it was a one time class or workshop or the class ended with fewer hours required to give it 1/4, 1/2 or full credit.  Last fall we participated in a Bible Study class and we made the choice to leave after the 6th week.  It just so happened that the 6th week was a perfect stopping point because our learning focused on the Old Testament and the 70 year Exodus from Jerusalem.  The 7th week began to cover the return to Jerusalem.  It was 18 hours, not including the homework. We spend about an hour a week on homework, which would bring it to 24 hours.  This was valuable learning.  We still reference what we learned often.  But how does it fit in to our big picture?  Where does it go?  Is it just left off?  Since this is 8th grade, I am just going to leave it off.  

This is where I am at now.  We still have two more months of learning to record and evaluate.  I want to have all the course descriptions complete by the end of June so that July 1st, we can turn the page to the start of her “high school” experience!

These are rough drafts.....

History: Credit Earned 1

20th Century History: 

Survey of Immigration.  Content included book So Far From Home: The Diary of Mary Driscoll, an Irish Mill Girl as well audio visual content of the movie adaptation of before mentioned book.  Viewed Out of Ireland, a documentary including archival information of the plight of the Irish and the reasons behind their immigration to America.  Visited The Great Irish Hunger Museum at Quinnipiac University to view similar archival information as presented in documentary as as well as sculptures depicting the famine, the fatigue, and the journey of the immigrant masses.  Attended workshop offered at Yale University’s Splash Program titled Kiss Me I’m Irish; an overview of Irish culture and history.

Survey of Civil Rights Movement. Content included book With The Might of Angels: The Diary of Dawnie Rae Johnson.  Viewed the first installment of documentary Eyes On The Prize.  Viewed the movie Ruby Bridges.  Compared and contrasted what we watched to what was presented in Eyes On The Prize. 

Survey of WWII/Holocaust.  Content included book Hannah’s Suitcase, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, biography of Maurice Sendak and Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli.  Maurice Sendak lost family members in Poland during the occupation.  Later he designed sets for the opera Brundibar, originally performed by the children interned at  Theresienstadt Camp in The Czech Republic.  Visited gallery showing of Maurice Sendak’s original works at New Britain Museum of American Art.  Compared the suffering of the Irish Potato Famine to the Holocaust Victims and learned that the sculptures at The Great Irish Hunger Museum were based on victims of the Holocaust.  Discussed the concept that suffering is universal. Viewed Little House on the Prairie Season 5: The Craftsman, dealing with a Jewish immigrant and the prejudice he faced due to his race and religion. Viewed PBS documentary Irena Sendler as well as historical fiction movie Miracle at Midnight and the based on true life events movie, The Monument Men.

American Sign Language I (ASL) Credit Earned 1  This credit will count for High School foreign language requirement meaning she will have capability of 5 credits in foreign language.

This course focuses on beginning ASL communication skills both receptive and expressive as well as vocabulary and grammar in a cultural context.  American Deaf history and culture is covered.  Student has mastery of the sign alphabet, finger spelling, numbers, colors, time of day, food signs, animal signs, 70+ vocabulary words, and is able to sign a book.  Has mastered signing of simple nursery rhymes.  Class supplemented with documentary viewing: Sound and Fury, Sound and Fury 6 Years Later, Cecelia’s Story.  Grace attended Yale Splash’s workshop on Introduction to Sign Language.

Marine Science Survey. 
 30 Hour course provided by SoundWaters Organization in Stamford, Connecticut.  Long Island Sound Watershed Runoff, Point source/ non-point source pollution, Rivers, streams, tributaries, agricultural areas, urban areas, Brackish water, salt water, fresh water, surface water/ ground water, Estuary.  Students tested water quality including: salinity, pH,turbidity, temperature,nitrates – different sources.  Students were introduced to different Sampling equipment: Population survey, Random sampling/ quadrants,Transects, Water quality, VanDorn/ LaMotte Bottle, Turbidity tube/ Secchi disk, Hydrometer, Thermometer,pH colorimeter, pH/ nitrate strips.  Students used various nets such as dip net, seine net, plankton net in Long Island Sound. Labwork included use of microscopes, compound and dissecting.  Students were introduced to animal adaptations of the Diamondback terrapin, Horseshoe crab,Spider crab, Hermit Crab, Seastar, Flounder, Oyster toadfish, Bivalves: Clam, oyster, mussel, Chocolate fingered mud crab, green crab, Lobster, Asian shore crab (invasive species).  Habitats of these sea animals were investigated: Salt marsh (Spartina grass), Peat, Ribbed mussel, Buffer/sponge for coastline, Rocky intertidal zone, Sandy beach.  Students became familiar with the food chain/web: Plankton, Phytoplankton – oxygen production – primary producer, Zooplankton – mero/holoplankton – primary consumer, Scavenger, predator, consumer, decomposer
Yale Girls In Science Investigations Physics Survey.  Classes consist of physics of the invisible world, the material world and the chemical world.
Yale Splash Science Workshops: Chemistry of H2O, Deadly Microbes and Viruses, Oxygen 
Attended Chemistry of Hydrogen workshop at Beacon Self Directed Learning Center
Books included Fizz, Bubble and Flash including completion of corresponding lapbook
Visited Yale Peabody Museum to view Hall of Rocks and Minerals.  
Completed Herbalism Curriculum Herb Fairies.  Attended two homeopathic workshops presented by Dr. Yashasvi Jhangiani, B.H.M.S.

Fine Art.  
Curriculum Mapping The World With Art Completed.  
Live Performances at:
Lincoln Center Avery Fisher Hall: World Peace Orchestra
Peter and The Starcatcher on Broadway
The Piano Guys in concert at Jorgensen Hall University of Connecticut
Piano VIII
Piano Performances: need to be added

8th Grade Language Arts  
Weekly participation in peer group writing workshop. Monthly participation in peer group book club. Book Club Book list: Milkweed, Jerry Spinelli, Coraline, Neil Gaiman, Baby, Patricia McLaughlin. 
Curriculum: Wordly Wise 3000 Book 6, Spelling-U-See level 5, Writing Strands Book 3.


dstb said...

Thanks for the motivation! I had done some preliminary work on a syllabus at the beginning of the year, but you know how things change! I have been going back now to fill in what we ACTUALLY did, not what was planned. The problem I have is I get sidetracked by ideas for next year! It is always more fun planning than summarizing.


Mary Prather said...

it's interesting to watch your investigate all of this, Jess. I have also heard a lot recently that when our kids get just a bit closer to college age to start investigating schools they MIGHT want to attend and find out the specific requirements for those colleges/universities -- many homeschool friendly institutions will work with you on transcripts, etc... I thought that was interesting.

I'm always inspired when I read your blog!

Karen said...

Another book you mention that I need to check out. I am not familiar with "The Homeschooler’s Guide to Portfolios and Transcripts". I love all these posts about Homeschooling high school. They inspire me too. I didn't do a very good job keeping up with Keilee's because I kept telling myself, "She is only in the 8th grade". I will do better, I will do better! :)

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