Monday, August 4, 2014

Better Than High School

A favorite read of mine is Better Than College by Blake Boles.  I felt very rebellious defacing this book and retitling it "Better Than High School".  The girls and I are going to explore this book together.  Much of it truly does pertain to college, but if you read it from the perspective of unschooling high school, it gives you a framework to begin thinking of how to create a unique, fulfilling, academically diverse high school experience.  
I told her that no matter how they receive their education, the experience should be memorable and I could sit down and design it and force feed it to them, but if that is the case, they could go to school and get all they need in one location.  The next four to six years will be more meaningful if they help design what they will look like. 
I have spent the past year reflecting on how I can simplify our curriculum getting back to the structure we love which is all things through history, except for math.  I think I have found a way to incorporate most of our learning across the curriculum by using Diana Waring’s History Revealed: Ancient History text and activity book.  Through this we can tie in art and language arts.  We are spiraling back to ancient history, where we began five years ago.  Grace missed the ancient Egyptians because she was still in school.  When she joined us we were up to the Greeks. This will be new material for her and she is excited to jump in.  The resources we have with the Peabody Museum and the The Met, will help bring this time period to life.  
Last year our science was delivered through Soundwaters and we adored our weekly classes with other homeschoolers.  Taking classes at Yale and at Soundwaters gave my girls unique opportunities to study scientific concepts such as ecology, marine biology, introductions to physics and more.  Yet, they have gaps in their learning that we need to fill in.  We need to go deeper with our studies of the geology, ecology and life science.  To fill in these gaps we are using Science Shepherd's Introductory Science and the accompanying workbook.  I realize this is below grade level on paper, however, when I watched the sample video on geology, I realized there is so much that I do not know.  This online video based program will cover these concepts and more over the course of 35 weeks.  My goal is to accelerate this program and cover two lessons a week to make this a one semester course and supplement it with additional reading and viewing to increase the level of difficulty.
Both girls will use Teaching Textbooks for math instruction.  Grace is completing Algebra I and Lilah will move into middle school math having completed the Life of Fred elementary series.
Foreign Language will be ASL II for both girls.  We are still working out who will deliver the lessons.  I have three options, but I am waiting for their teacher to confirm her availability for this upcoming year.  
Grace is pursuing an independent study in the care and keeping of canines.  This included an volunteer opportunity at a local privately owned kennel, extensive research, possibly a paid working opportunity, and the raising of her own puppy.  To date she has over 20 hours invested in this project and it is just in its beginning stages.  

Other things take up a significant portion of our week and they are all interest led activities.  They will include but not be limited to:
  • Monthly teen book club
  • Online book club through Instagram (Literary Tour of New York City)
  • Weekly teen writing group
  • Bi-Monthly teen social activities 
  • Bi-Monthly drawing club (Lilah)
  • Lilah’s Cupcake Club
  • Piano lessons
  • Piano performances
  • Horseback Riding Lessons
  • Recreational Basketball League
  • Cooking and baking for church sponsored dinner at homeless shelter

We are looking into the possibility of:
  • learning to snowboard
  • becoming a volunteer for Samaritan’s Purse
  • forming a teen piano “club”
  • continuing LCC (Lilah’s cupcake club)

Curriculum to us is never something that is set in stone.  It is fluid, shifting with the girls interests and abilities which is why in the past I have not posted a back to school curriculum list.  I enjoy posting as we go, sharing the cool things we discover along the way.  What I share today is a starting point from which our year will begin.  Where it ends may look quite different, as I think it should!


Sandra said...

Best wishes for a great year. Planned starting points are great. So too is maintaining the flexibility to change as the year progresses. Some of our best things this year have been things I didn't even know about at the start of the year when we made our plans

Jessica said...

My word this year is "simplicity". I have to keep organized and keep our fall low-key. We are adding a puppy to our home in September and it is going to require all our attention. I have a tendency to get caught up in curriculum only to have it sit unused because it never quite fit into how we learn best. This year I am NOT doing that!

Best wishes to you too! Do you start soon or do you go year round?

Diane Knecht said...

I always enjoy reading what you are doing with the girls. Looks like you have lots of great choices already planned out for the year. I am also looking forward to this being a much more simplistic year as far as curriculum goes. I think finishing Algebra and going with Personal Finance for 10th grade was a good choice for us. It will take so much of the pressure off.

Sandra said...

Simplicity is a great word. I always struggle to get find the happy medium between planning enough (we do best with some structure) but not too much (or it sucks the joy out of learning and life). Although we learn year around (don't all homeschoolers) our formal structred learning is more tied to the calendar year since that is also the school year in this part of the world. Normally we start late January or early February and carry on until finished. This year it looks like we'll be done by late September .

Joan Otto said...

Sarah and I had a great time checking out what you ladies are up to! We are also VERY much claiming the goal of "Better than High School" here! :)

Karen said...

I can not wait to see this year unfold for us both. Your plans are wonderful. Full of such amazing opportunities.

Jessica said...

I would like to do a year of finance too. In so many ways it is far more valuable than algebra.

Jessica said...

I am looking forward to seeing what you two are up to! Enjoy the rest of your summer!!

Jessica said...

We'll see how many of them unfold. The potential is there but we have some work to do to make them a reality. The email to organize the drawing club should be sent any day now. Thankfully I am not the point person for this!

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