Monday, January 19, 2015

The Drudgery of High School - What is Working For Us

Well, we are halfway through Grace's 10th grade year. I have to admit that high school work isn't very fun. Every day is like the day before. Biology, American History, Consumer Math, Spanish, Literature, CNN Student News, and Bible. A little Easy Grammar, Driver's permit prep, and Basic Math Skills Review thrown in a couple of days a week to round it out. Tuesdays are fine arts days with Girls Ensemble, Ballroom Dance, Art, and Drama. That is Grace's 10th grade year in a nutshell. No time for fun. No time for field trips. No time to relax.

Sometimes I want to go a little unschoolish, especially since Grace still has no real plans about wanting to attend college. If I knew for sure that she wouldn't change her mind once she saw many of her friends and boyfriend going off to college, then I would definitely change it up and take an even more relaxed path with high school.

Remember the quote that someone in the homeschool community coined at some point, "Don't let the curriculum master you, you master the curriculum." That is where we are at the moment. Halfway through the year I have had to tweak a few things. Here is what we have done that looks a little different than what you might find in your average high school classroom:

Biology - This year we are using High School Biology In Your Home which is a research based curriculum. The student can use books, textbooks, and the Internet to locate their answers. There is a quiz at the end of each chapter, labs, and final exams for each semester. Here is what we are doing differently. Some of the quizzes I allow her to do as open books as well as the 70 question final exam that she is currently taking for the first semester material ( yes we are about three weeks behind if you are working on a true school calendar). I am also allowing her to do all her labs virtually as she is really not into cutting dead animals up and I didn't want to go to all the expense to purchase microscope and slides. If we decide that Chemistry is in line for the next school year we will be outsourcing this to a hybrid school environment and they have a wonderful lab.

American History - Dave Raymond's American History was hands down our first choice for American History this year. I love that I can hand it off to Grace and she can finish it from there. At least I thought that would be the case. She watches five lectures and takes notes. At the end of the five lectures there are 10 questions to answer which I have been treating as kind of an end of the chapter quiz. She is having trouble deciphering her notes and answering the questions to match up with the answers in the teacher's information. Since I am not watching the lectures with her it is hard for me to decipher if her answers are even close to what was discussed in the lectures. So I recently decided to change this up a bit. Essay writing comes much easier to Grace than trying to answer questions at the end of a chapter. Each chapter she will pick one of the persons or topics covered and write a short 1-2 page essay about said person or topic in place of answering the questions. This curriculum also requires three projects throughout the year (detailed map reproduction -already done, 3-5 page essay, and a longer hands on project that has yet to be decided). Plus you keep a portfolio which is like a scrapbook of drawings, quotes, etc. from what you have studied each week.

Consumer Math - Math has always been a real struggle for Grace. She is an artist and subjects like math and science are not interesting to her and are harder. Last year was Algebra 1 and we actually got through it with a C as her final grade. This year she wanted to take a break from the hard stuff so I put together some materials to be a Personal Finance/Consumer Math Class. We did Money Doesn't Grow on Trees from Knowledge Box Central (I was kind of disappointed in this one as it didn't really delve to deep), Basic Math Skills book from Math Essentials (for review so she doesn't forget how to do all the basics), and now Consumer Math from BJU which is kicking our tail. Who would have thought that Consumer Math could be so confusing, but some of the formulas that are used for figuring taxes, etc. are just plain brain busting. Her weekly schedule for this looks like Scott helping her 3-4 nights a week with the new Consumer Math book and the other days completing a couple of pages from the Math Skills book.

These main three subjects are the only thing I have had to change up as everything else seems to be moving right along. I don't write about Grace often anymore on this blog because she is older and I know doesn't want to be the focus of my blog as she has been for the past years. Occasionally though a little update is warranted.


A Candle to Read By said...

We "tweek" all year long. Do what works!

Sandra said...

It can be difficult trying to keep the fun in learning while still maintaining the rigour needed if university is an option. Struggling with that with my 17 year old right now. Don't want to overload him with academics unnecessarily but university is still a possibility so have to make sure he is equipped to go if he wants.

LJS said...

I completely relate the the every day is the same. Our days are not the same but every Monday is the same, every Tuesday, etc. Our days have fallen into a routine and the work is work. It makes blogging a challenge, and yet my girls ask me when my next post will go live. There is not much to say. I guess we need to find more fun in our week. But math just sucks the fun out of the day sometimes....... thanks for the update. You are not alone!

Karen said...

That Amrican History looks good. I'll have to check it out. What do,you use for Math review?? It's nice to see what Grace is up too.