Monday, August 1, 2016

Welcome to High School, Freshman!

Welcome Back, Kotter!
Welcome back,
Your dreams were your ticket out.
Welcome back,
To that same old place that you laughed about. 

So I’m heading back to high school!  Ooh!  Ooh! Ooh!  Mr. Kotter, Mr. Kotter?  HELP!

This will be our 8th year homeschooling and our first year homeschooling high school. I have no idea who set the clock to fast forward, but it was only a couple of years ago we were just starting our homeschooling journey and Punky was an adorable 2nd grader; but alas Punky is a Freshman and she chose to remain homeschooled rather than her original plan of returning to public school. So, I’m back to that same old place that I laughed about...the dreaded high school years. Of course, I went to public school so this is going to be different – a lot different. Yet, I’m still the teacher and now I have to teach a high school student.  *Gasp*

During Punky’s 7th grade year another homeschooling mom offered to teach a few of the kids from our secular group Biology with labs (using Pandia’s Real Science). The class was held once a week for a year and the kids liked it and did well.  So, last year that homeschooling mom and I banded together and ran a small ‘co-op’ of five homeschoolers grades 6th, 7th, and 8th. We taught Literature, Composition, Social Studies, and Chemistry. 

It was successful enough that we decided to do it again, with some major tweaks and minor changes. We also picked up a new student. So this year we have 6 students, all Junior High (7th, 8th, and 9th grades). We also school year round; we rather enjoy taking the month of December off, so the new school year started in July for us.

We attend 3 hours of classes twice a week on a 5 week rotating subject loop with at home assignments requiring 12 hours of continued work. Each subject has one loop in the Fall Semester and one in the Spring. This will produce a total of 180 hours for each of the subjects taught.
2016/2017 Classes are:
Intro to Physics w/ lab
Literature & Composition            
{Taught in combination with Philosophy/Critical Thinking}
Philosophy & Critical Thinking               
US Government & Economics

The first loop of the Fall term is Physics. Here is a list of resources we are using:

Main Reading:
Physics of the Impossible: A Scientific Exploration into the World of Phasers, Force Fields, Teleportation, and Time Travel by Michio Kaku

Students Choose one:
  • Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics: Hollywood's Best Mistakes, Goofs, and Flat-Out Destructions of the Basic Laws of the Universe by Tom Rogers or
  • The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakailos

“Curriculum” for spine and lab/activities:

Bite-Size Physics and Bite-Size Force by “Science Jim” Mueller
Our sequence for Physics will mainly follow the order of the Bite-Size Physics/Force. 

Fall Semester sequence (approximately):
Week 1         Scientific Methods
Week 2         Force  
Week 3         Mechanics
Week 4         Friction
Week 4 & 5     Energy Part 1

Our main goals this year are to teach/guide the students to develop stronger comprehension skills for deeper meanings in their reading, develop analytical writing abilities, and use, recognize, and respond academically with logic and critical thought. Every subject being taught is a mechanism that will be used to attain the three main goals. We are also infusing concepts from the ‘Writing Across the Curriculum’ approach in all the subjects. (More on this in a future blog).

During the first Physics loop students will be given in class lessons on the sequences, vocabulary lists, and provided with in-class labs so they have the opportunities to use real world application for the abstract theories they are being taught. They will be provided with extension assignments and projects to develop and complete at home during the week to further reinforce the lessons from class and their reading as well as weekly, written lab reports to turn in for grading.

On the ‘home front’, Punky will be using the ‘Key To’ series for her Algebra 1 curriculum and she and I will be engaged in reading literature that both she and I have selected to use to further the goals of increasing reading comprehension for deeper meaning, developing analytical writing skills, and engaging in thoughtful, logical, rhetoric. We have reached that stage in Punky’s education where grammar is an extension of the writing process rather than a stand- alone subject; but we have purchased a few resources to support grammar in writing:

The Elements of Style, Strunk and White, 2011 (Kindle Edition)
The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation

Our reading list is longer than we’ll have time to get through, but I like options – some I chose and some Punky chose. Each semester will contain at least one biography, one non-fiction, one “classic” fiction, and one other fiction of any style, genre, era. The ones that don’t get read this year will be moved to our “Summer Reading List”.
In no particular order, the list (so far) includes:

*‘I am Scout: A Biography of Harper Lee’, Shields 2008
I required Punky to pick a biography to read and her love affair with ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ that began the moment she was cast as Scout in 2013 is ongoing, so she selected this biography. For added good measure, we totally plan on watching the movie ‘Infamous’ to culminate the end of this unit.

*‘Wuthering Heights’, Bronte
I have never actually read it (I know, right?!) and Punky wants to read it because of how often it is referenced in other books, T.V. shows, and movies she has read or watched.

‘The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr’, George 2016
I’ve always been fascinated with the duel between these two men and Punky, who is, in case you’ve forgotten or are new here, consumed with all things acting, Broadway, musicals, etc… is totally willing to read about the real story that the Broadway musical ‘Hamilton’ is based upon.

*‘The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia’, Fleming 2014
Last year when it was Punky’s turn to select the book for literature class she chose ‘Animal Farm’. We had gone to see a community theatre production of it when she was in the 6th grade and she really liked it. She really liked the novel as well and developed an interest in learning more about the Romanov family and the Russian Revolution. This happened to be one of the areas of history I really enjoyed learning about in high school, so I’m looking forward to this selection too!

‘We Should All Be Feminists’, Ngozi Adichie 2015
Because Punky will be 15 in a few short months and it is time to purposely expose her to feminism and I want to read it too.

‘The House on Mango Street’, Cisneros 1991
     We haven’t yet read it and need to, for all the 
     obvious reasons.

‘Night’, Wiesel 1960
It was always my intent for Punky to read this. I remember the impact it had on me in high school when I read it. After Punky was in ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ last year, as Margot, she developed a bit of an obsession with the Holocaust and it was then that I actually picked up a copy of this book. We did not get to it during 8th grade yet Punky’s interest level is still fairly high and with the recent passing of Mr. Wiesel, the time seems to be now for this novel.

‘Anthem’, Rand
I read this in the 9th grade and not only did I really liked it, it stayed with me. It was also the only Rand novel I was able to get through. More than that, this year’s “themes” that can be found throughout the different subjects involve rights, freedoms, judgement, equality, injustice, oppression, the human spirit, and understanding our place in the universe.  This book lends itself well to that theme, in my opinion.

*‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’
       Riggs 2011
     Why?  Such fun! And, the movie is coming very 
     soon! (squeal)

‘Bomb: The Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon’, Sheinkin 2012
This came highly recommended and seems like a good connection between Physics and the ongoing “themes” of the year.

‘Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman’, Feynman 1998
This one might end up being required reading for the Spring semester of Physics, but either way it’s the other biography we’ll be reading this year.

‘The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time’, Haddon 2003
The reasons I’ve added this to our reading list are many.  First, it has great reviews. Second, it’s a murder mystery and Punky loved reading Agatha Christie’s ‘And Then There Were None’ last year.  Third, the main character is autistic and the more we see those who are not neurotypical the better our understanding grows. Fourth, irony is one of the focuses in our literature studies this year and the sort or irony that appears to exist in this novel will be great.

‘Sugar Changed the World:  A Story of Spice, Magic, Slavery, Freedom, and Science’, Aronson 2010
Economics is one of the classes this year and I thought this would make an interesting read for that reason as well as the title appears to touch on other themes we are exploring.

‘Why’d They Wear That?: Fashion as the Mirror of History’, Albee 2015
What can I say?  I have a teen girl and this sounds like a fun way to tip-toe through history.

‘The Outsiders’, Hinton 1967
The reasons, I’m sure, are obvious.  (Also, I will confess I’ve never read it or seen the movie.  A fact that has almost put me ‘on the outs’ with a dear friend). I just realized this book was published the year I was born.

‘Cinder’, Meyer 2012
We will be addressing Fairy Tales in Literature this year and this seemed like a fun, side-read that will tie together with the unit.

‘Reel Culture: 50 Movies You Should Know About’, O’Connor 2009
     All things acting, Broadway, T.V., and movies!

* First four selections for Fall semester

That’s it for now.  More information on the other loops and actual lessons (and results) will be forthcoming….

Happy Schooling!
~Mari B.

1 comment:

  1. Wishing I lived near simply for the science hands on stuff, lol! We're doing 9th grade this year too, and 5th grade, and I'm already burnt out getting two different curriculums together. One would think I could reuse kid 1's from 5th, but alas, not gonna happen. Ah well. ��


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