At least two basic requirements were met: quiet, and an uninterrupted stretch of time for the mind to dwell on, and bend to its own variations, any event, catastrophe, or idea presented to it.
~ Sheila Ballantyne
Thank you, Sheila; I needed to read this. I crave such time and yesterday I indulged for 8-10 hours! Really. I did. Time spent in this manner lets you sink deep into a project so it swallows you up whole. The reason for the cloistered existence yesterday? HOMESCHOOLING HIGH SCHOOL, the three little words that can strike fear into the hearts of many.
I decided to pay some serious attention to the task at hand with uninterrupted time off. Funny how much a mom is 'needed' in the daily running of a household. Everyone survived and somehow managed to get nutrients into their bodies without me. Pretty sure teeth didn't get brushed or any clothes got changed, though. If anyone came near me, I growled :).
As much as I've tried to wrap my head around the big picture of what homeschooling high school CAN look like, I've so far just succeeded in a bunch of random writings and ideas scattered all over notebooks and sticky notes. The day arrived when something had to be done to conceptualize the entire plot of the story, or I was going to "lose the plot" as my friend, Caity, is fond of saying.
The above picture represents a technique that works for some people when conceptualizing or planning. It sure works for me. I am a huge fan of project boards wherein you can see everything in front of you, everything is at your fingertips, and you can move items around as you change your mind (which happens frequently). The blue painting tape saved the day in this respect!
I brought everything into the office yesterday, jumped on the Internet and got down to the task at hand. I plan to hang out in there today, too. The poor teenager was on his own with respect to food yesterday, but that's good for him. He can take care of himself pretty well when he has to.
What you see on the wall is ideas for 9th grade. English, social studies, science, history, electives, and math. I am working off of state graduation requirements as a guideline and working backwards, but am also keeping in mind his learning styles and preferences. I hope we can nail a balance of unschooled subjects alongside the exposure that I feel will broaden his worldview (like, um, math).
Here's how it's looking so far, but I reserve the right to change it all up when I get back in there today ;):
This is the year to fine tune some basic writing and grammar skills. He's an avid reader, so I'm not concerned about vocabulary; that and grammar seem to fall into place if you read a lot. Reading will be a cornerstone for the year.
We're going to do an online basic paragraph/essay class (BORING) for some structure. He'll probably hate it, but he can tough it out. This will be spread out during first and second semester.
I hope that we can read WIDELY and WILDLY all year long and incorporate his readings into other subjects like history and science. My heroine, Grace Llewellyn, gave me a lot to think about along these lines, so a good part of yesterday was spent researching literature options based on the teenager's interests and favorite genres. I also referenced The Reader's Odyssey by Dena Luchsinger as a guide (which is excellent, by the way.)
He's going to hit grammar a few times a week using Grammar Made Easy by Connie Schenkelberg, just to solidify all those participles and dangling things. I may jump in for a review since I have a habit of writing using incomplete sentences. Probably because I can't be bothered and that's the way I think - short and sweet, to the point.
I found a science fiction literature class for high schoolers through Brigham Young University which will last one semester. He will really enjoy this class.
Textword Press and Excellence in Literature both offer some cool literature courses, but in the end, I think they will not be a good fit for us.
We'll be utilizing Chalk Dust Math to finish up pre-algebra and move into the algebra realm. You can find the used curricula on eBay for much cheaper.
Schmoop has an online biology class I thought he would find interesting. It's a great overview of cells, chemistry, genetics, evolution, ecology, microbiology, plants and animals. The intent here is to expose him to different disciplines to see if he sparks on them. When the spark catches, watch out! That's the way it is with many unschooled kids.
I also grabbed a copy of Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos on DVD. We'll watch those for fun and see where they take us. Many other resources will likely pop up over the year.
Still working out the details for history, but want to take a look at a world history perspective as an overview and see how everything fits together over time. I find that stuff fascinating and am hoping he will, too. Dr. Eugen Weber offers fifty two free lectures on world history called The Western Tradition at www.learner.org, and they are fantastic!
Here is where literature comes into play, again. We can read broadly and deeply within history. I will encourage him to keep a running timeline on index cards so he can get the big picture. Books like Eyewitness to History by John Carey are fantastic to have on your shelf. Listening to great speeches or reading the works of Studs Terkel are stimulating activities, too. I listened to a speech given by Senator Nixon yesterday and tried to put myself in the teenager's shoes to see what he might think about it.
Some lit picks might include: Up From Slavery, Night, Hiroshima, The Education of Little Tree, The Jungle, Apollo 13, Across Five Aprils, The Scarlet Letter, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, The Great Gatsby, Death Comes for the Archbishop (one of my favorites), My Brother Sam is Dead, etc.
Movies can be a nice adjunct, too. There are innumerable history resources that could intrigue him. Even The Concord Review could be a fabulous find (compilation of essays written by high schoolers about history).
My job will be figuring out how to assign credit to such activities and encourage further use of resources or study on/write about the subject matter.
He can go hog wild here. A study of music and musicians using free Coursera courses, documentaries and biographies might happen. The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix come to mind since he is obsessed with the guitar right now.
He wants to pick up some computer programming, so will work through the tutorials on Khan Academy for Java Scripting.
I found some speech resources, too, if he wishes to go there. Speech is a requirement in our state for graduation. It's an online class wherein you send in audio recordings of your speeches. We'll try to assemble some folks from the neighborhood so he can get some public speaking practice.
That's where I am at as of today. Our calendar will be a six week on/ one week off revolving calendar; six week bites have worked for us in the past. We will start at the end of August.
If you have any questions about these resources, send me an email or leave a comment. I am still on the high of the quiet of yesterday!