What We’ve Chosen for 9th & 7th Grade Homeschool Curriculum

When we first began our homeschool journey, my eldest was just entering primary school while my youngest was toddling around after her. I had done a lot of research in the early years and had selected curriculum that remarkably worked very well for us during the elementary school years.9th 7th curriculum

As they approached middle school, I made a few adjustments but essentially we stayed on the same path. Our curriculum choices have always been inspired by Charlotte Mason, with leanings to Classical Education and Unschooling. I am really excited about this new school year (2016-17). It brings the biggest changes to our curriculum choices as well as our schedule and approach to schooling at home.

Curriculum We Use Now for 9th & 7th Grade

Language Arts

Until this year, the kids have always done their language arts studies together. We have used Writing with Skill, Brave Writer, and most recently, Cover Story.

Jeffrey is excited to begin One Year Adventure Novel, developed by the same author as Cover Story. The video-based, self-paced writing curriculum guides students step by step through the process of writing a compelling, fully structured novel in one school year.

Geneva will be going in a new direction. After much research, we opted to try Excellence in Literature series by Janice Campbell. She will begin with Literature and Composition: English 2 as she is already a strong writer. We also purchased the Handbook for Writers as a guide along the way.

math curriculaMath

This is the area that is perhaps undergoing the biggest change. Jeffrey will continue with Life of Fred as the format works well for him and he is having success. While Geneva has worked through most of the Life of Fred books (through Advanced Algebra), there are still concepts that are difficult for her. Read more of our experiences with Life of Fred here.

Recently her girlfriend informed her that she had taken the math placement test at the local community college and encouraged Geneva to do the same. While she had had success with Mr. D’s Math and we’d considered pursuing this further, ultimately she wanted to be with her friend. { I’ll address this again in extracurricular activities below. }

History & Social Studies

We are taking a major step away from our usual world history. In preparation for a family trip to New England later this fall, we’ve jumped into a fully immersive program, focusing on All American History. We are very excited as it provides opportunity to explore American Art History as well as American government.

As a part of the Scouting merit badge system, we are also working through the requirements for the three Eagle required citizenship merit badges: Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, and Citizenship in the World. Even if you are not members of Scouts, you can download the workbooks and work through the assignments independently. They are great course outlines and enrichment activities.  { I’ll further discuss Scouting in extracurricular activities below. }

Science

This year, we are using the NOVA awards program and Scouting merit badge system as an outline for our studies. It allows us to design a program specific to our interests and skills level. I will also continue to write my own science curriculum and seek out a variety of citizen science opportunities for us as a family.

Foreign Language

We will continue to work on developing their fluency in Mandarin. Our tutor is AMAZING and we’ve all learned so much from him. He uses Better Chinese curriculum but often supplements with materials he develops himself.

Geneva has opted to begin a third language. She hasn’t quite settled on one yet and thus I have encouraged her to study Latin for at least one year – mostly for familiarity with word roots. She has a passion for natural sciences so an understanding of Latin will help her as she pursues higher level biology courses.

fall recitalPerforming Arts

The kids have had some experience with theater and dance. While they enjoyed it, it is not a passion or an area they intend to pursue. We thereby focus on instrumental music. Geneva plays violin and Jeffrey piano.

They work with a private instructor once a week and beginning this year, they will take part in an ensemble. We are very excited about this opportunity because they have not had previous experience playing with others. They struggle to play pieces together so this will provide them the skills they need for success.

Passion Projects

As the kids have gotten older and more independent, they have begun to pursue topics of interest to them individually. We call these passion projects. What they learn and how they choose to develop their skills in this area are entirely up to them. I do try to encourage them to keep a log or record of the books they read and the tutorials they watch, however. They are also beginning to document their growth in an online portfolio.

Fine Arts

Geneva is most interested in art. She wants to combine her passions for art, nature, wood working, and architecture. She dreams of converting a shipping container into a mobile tiny house / art studio. To pursue her goals, she takes many art classes, volunteers at the art museum, visits with artists whenever possible, and has even helped her grandfather build her bed (with dimensions specific for the loft in her tiny house).

Coding & Programming

Jeffrey is a gamer and he absolutely LOVES Minecraft. Through this platform he has custom coded his own online server, developed websites (one for his server and another for his Scout troop), and has a growing YouTube channel whereby he edits a variety of gaming videos. It is no wonder that the programming merit badge was one of the first he earned.

independentstudyExtracurricular Activities

We live in a small coastal community. While there are homeschoolers here, we have connected with only a couple of families. In our previous two communities we had built connections with a large circle and enjoyed numerous social outings – field trips, lake days, enrichment classes, and nature outings.

While many of these were in fact organized by me – my kids have insisted they do not want me to take on so much. On top of that, I have returned to work part-time as a substitute teacher so I just don’t have the time.

Swim Team

Both kids continue to take part in swim team. While we enjoy athletics for the fitness and connections we build with others, we don’t schedule our lives around sports. If a swim meet works in our family calendar, we may take part. We have noticed a significant difference between our SOAR team and our new team, however. This may be due in part to the fact that our head coach retired earlier this year and thus our team is undergoing a major transition.

Scouts

What is most exciting is Scouting. I had long desired Jeffrey to join Boy Scouts but intentionally waited until he turned 11 years. So many boys who are active in Cub Scouts do not continue when they enter middle and high school. Granted, this is mostly due to a heavier course load and interest in sports and cars. I was more fearful that he may get burned out.

He thereby joined in February and is now official Tenderfoot Rank. Our troop is small which is both a blessing (more opportunities for leadership) and a curse (most of the other boys are 15 years or older, Jeffrey is one of only three in middle school).

As he has worked through the rank requirements and merit badges, Geneva has often expressed interest. She has also taken part in many of the outings. I thereby began to research Venturing and Explorer Scouts. As we learned more, it became clear that Venturing was the perfect fit for her.

Her crew is also small and though we haven’t yet met the other girls (though it’s a co-ed program, her crew is all-girls), as the lead advisor described the personalities of each, we know it will be a good fit. We are both very excited. In fact, the girl friend I mentioned above will also likely be joining. 🙂Service Learning

Volunteer experiences have always been a major component of our homeschool. Scouting provides many more opportunities to serve our communities. Geneva will continue to volunteer at the art museum. Jeffrey will continue to volunteer at the retirement home and has encouraged his sister to join him. As a family, we will continue to partner with the estuarine research reserve.

Why We Homeschool @EvaVarga.netCurriculum We We’ve Used Previously

Last year, I outlined our curriculum plans for 8th and 6th grades. Just two years ago, Geneva was entering 7th and Jeffrey 5th. Our Curriculum Choices for Middle School were similar.

 

In the earlier years, our approach was much more relaxed. While we used curriculum in some subject areas (math, Mandarin, language arts, and history), we followed more of an Unschooling approach.

I am surprised I didn’t share more frequently what curriculum we were using. I wrote a little about our goals for 5th and 3rd here and 3rd and 1st here. As I didn’t make too many changes as the years progressed, I suppose I didn’t see the need to revisit. I regret this now.

backtohomeschool bloghop

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop Schedule

iHomeschool Network Wishlist Cash Giveaway

Homeschool Wishlist Giveaway 2016Who’s ready for the homeschool cash giveaway? We’ve got a sweet surprise for all of you homeschooling families out there! iHomeschool Network Bloggers and Friends have teamed up to bring you the Homeschool Wishlist Cash Giveaway! One lucky family will win $800 (paid via PayPal) to put towards your homeschooling needs!!! How neat is that?! Woot!

To enter, follow the directions below:

1. Follow me on Instagram (if you aren’t already). Then like this giveaway image.

2. Tap on the image to find the next person in the loop. Tap on their name to go to their profile.

3. Find this same image on their Instagram page.

4. Repeat steps 1-3 on every photo/profile until you make it back to the profile you started with.

When you make it back to the person you started with, you’ve completed the loop.

This Giveaway will run for 10 days (September 5th – September 14th midnight your time). The winner will be announced by @marlenegriffith within 72hrs of the giveaway closing.

*Money will be sent via PayPal (this giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or affiliated with PayPal.)

RULES: All entrants must make their account public for the duration of the giveaway. This is to verify entries and ensure that you are following all of the participants. The winner will be chosen at random and will have 24 hours to claim the prize after being tagged in this post. If within 24hrs we do not hear from you, another winner will be chosen. Account to contact: @marlenegriffith

DISCLAIMER: This giveaway is in no way sponsored, endorsed, or affiliated with Instagram, Inc. By entering, entrants confirm that they are at least 13+ years of age, release Instagram of all responsibility, and agree to Instagram’s terms of use.

The 2016 Homeschool Omnibus is Here

Last week I shared with you how I excited I was for the 2016 Omnibus. I know that the experience of the homeschool moms who’ve shared their expertise will provide comfort as we begin to homeschool through the high school years. I have really enjoyed listening to the MP3s while I run.

In addition to the MP3s, there are many wonderful PDF resources in the Omnibus. I know the $25 price may seem a little steep at first glance but when you consider all that is in the bundle – over 90 titles valued for a total value of $420 – you’ll see that it is well worth it.
omnibussamples

Free Omnibus Samples

Even better, several contributors have offered free samples of their products so you can see the quality of their work.

If you already bought your Omnibus, then you won’t need to download these samples because you have the full products in your $25 purchase. But if you haven’t bought an Omnibus yet, be sure to get these free downloads. These excerpts from Omnibus titles won’t be available after the sale ends at 11:59 PM Pacific Time, May 8, 2016.

  1. Yearly Personal Planner by Jolanthe Erb of Homeschool Creations
  2. All About Leaves Printable Pack by Selena Robinson of Look! We’re Learning!
  3. 2016 Grace Filled Planner by by Kathy Gossen of Cornerstone Confessions
  4. Love Rebel – Reclaiming Motherhood by by Bonnie Way of The Koala Mom
  5. Master the ASL Alphabet by Rochelle Barlow of RochelleBarlow
  6. Poem Collection Copywork by Adelien Tandian of Blessed Learners
  7. Teaching Music in Your Home (MP3) by Mary Prather of Homegrown Learners
  8. The Organized Homeschool Life by Melanie Wilson of Psycho With Six
  9. Vintage Kids Modern World’s Homeschool Naturalist Planner by Kelsi Rea of Cheeky Bums Blog
  10. Would You Rather – History Questions for Kids by iHomeschool Network

Homeschool Omnibus

Facts About the Fifth Annual iHomeschool Omnibus

Take a peak to see everything included in the 2016 Omnibus and get your own copy.

  • 90 total resources
  • for homeschoolers by homeschoolers
  • total value is $420
  • cost is $25 (with $9 DVD add-on)
  • cost is just 6% of the value
  • PDFs also come in Kindle/mobi format (where appropriate)
  • sale runs until 11:59 PM Pacific Time, May 8.

 

Yes! We DO Intend to Homeschool High School

My friends will frequently ask, “What is your plan for next year? Do you really intend to homeschool high school?”

This question is often a disguise for their doubt or unfamiliarity. My answer is always, “Yes! We DO intend to continue along this journey. We discuss it a lot actually. Neither of my kids have any interest in going to school.”

We Do Intend to Homeschool High School

I don’t generally elaborate unless they inquire further. I thought I would take some time now, however, to explain in more depth our decision to homeschool high school. At least that is the plan currently. It is always open for discussion.

Homeschool High School

As a substitute teacher in the same school district where my husband and I graduated and where I taught full time for six years, I love my local schools. I love the teachers with whom I work and who would be my children’s teachers if they were enrolled. I even use the district’s scope and sequence as a guideline to help me develop courses for my own kids.

In Oregon, we are fortunate to have the option to enroll part time. If my son wanted to take Jazz Band or Drama, he would simply need to fill out the registration form, talk with the instructor, and begin attending classes. The same is true if my daughter wanted to enroll in Art or Spanish.

Thus far, however, neither have expressed any interest in doing so.  They have both explored their respective areas of interest via online tutorials and materials I have purchased on their behalf that they haven’t felt a classroom experience would benefit them. They have become quite adept at evaluating the syllabi. Homeschooling has provided many blessings – the least of which is instilling a love of learning.

Eighth Grade Test Run

My daughter is presently in eighth grade. We have looked upon this past year as a trial year – much the way we looked upon her Kinder year as a trial when we first began on our homeschool journey. Using an online homeschool planner provided me the tools to provide letter grades for the first time. I was able to stay focused on what lessons I expected to be completed.

We chose her coursework together and she even began earning a few high school credits. Our collaboration helped ensure she was personally invested and interested in the coursework, not just dragging through the material because it was a requirement.

Another exciting component we discovered in the midst of the year is that keeping a digital portfolio was a huge motivating factor for her. She loves it when here Mandarin teacher says, “You have done a remarkable job on this project. I recommend keeping this in your portfolio as a sample of your work.

She has spent hours tweaking her digital portfolio to best represent her passions. I love how she has combined her interest in art with her love of nature. With her strong talents in math, science, and languages, I am confidant that she will be successful no matter what path she may choose to follow.

Homeschool Omnibus

Resources & Help for Homeschooling High School

I am also confidant that she and I will find the resources we need to successfully homeschool through the high school years. There are so many resources available online today. I have already purchased some of the curriculum we will use – literature, biology, and personal finance.

The 2016 Omnibus is also full of resources for homeschooling the high school years. I’ve already downloaded the podcasts and am excited to pop in my ear buds on my run this afternoon. There is just so much wisdom and inspiration to glean from these seasoned homeschool moms. Here’s a few on my playlist:

  • Advanced Placement or Dual Enrollment by Connie Albers
  • College Admissions for the Homeschooler by Kendra Fletcher
  • College Alternatives for Homeschool Graduates by T.K. Coleman
  • College Prep – Is Writing on Track by Kim Kautzer
  • Facing the Giant – Homeschooling Through High School by Terri Johnson
  • Homeschool Transitions from Elementary to Middle to High School by Megan Zechman
  • Homeschooling Your Teen the Charlotte Mason Way by Sheila Carroll
  • Project-Based Learning in the Middle and High School Years by Cindy West
  • Putting Together a Four Year Plan for High School by Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau
  • Seven Secrets of High School Transcripts by Vicki Tillman
  • Unschooling for High School by Joan Concilio

You can purchase all of these bundled with 79 additional courses, eBooks, and MP3s for just $25 (optional $9 DVD or $11 thumb drive add-on). It’s an amazing bundle valued at over $420! Take a look at the full catalog to get a better idea of all that is included.

Don’t delay! The sale runs only from April 29th through May 8th.

 

Others have already traversed the homeschool high school journey. I know I can reach out to my friends near and far for guidance along the way. My wonderful Finishing Strong co-hosts are always inspiring me with activities, lesson plans, and sharing their experience with curricula that may use in the near future.

Once day at a time” has always been our motto. I will thereby continue to confer with my children individually. Together, we will make plans that are suited to their individual learning styles and personal interests. And I will enjoy each moment along the way.

 

Misconceptions in Biology

In a series of posts this week, I will be sharing 5 Misconceptions in Science and providing lessons and activities to help dispel these conceptual misunderstandings. Today’s post focuses on common misconceptions in biology.

misconceptionsbiologyMisconceptions in Biology

Misconceptions abound in all science disciplines, even in biology. Some of the misconceptions in biology that I have encountered include:

Coral reefs exist throughout the Gulf and North Atlantic waters.

Dinosaurs and cavemen lived at the same time.

Acquired characteristics can be inherited.

Houseflies live for only 24 hours.

Winter weather can be predicted by studying the thickness of the fur of some animals.

Humans are responsible for the extinction of the dinosaurs.

Why I am not able to dispel all of these in a single post, I’ve selected a couple that I think will work well in a middle school setting.

How to Dispel Misconceptions

As I stated previously, students should be encouraged to ask questions given ample opportunity to engage in hands-on experiments or demonstrations designed to test hypotheses.

In my post, Misconceptions in Astronomy, we explored using demonstrations to dispel the myth that the seasons are caused by the Earth’s tilt. Today will will explore how we can use hands-on inquiry activities and our own observations to dispel a couple of myths in biology.

MISCONCEPTION #5

Houseflies live for only 24 hours

The common housefly (Musca domestica) tends to live for about two to three weeks once it reaches the adult stage. The fly does move through all four of its life stages fairly quickly, 6 to 42 days for an egg to transform from larva to pupa to adult.

Eggs take a few hours to hatch into larvae, which in turn take a couple days or weeks to develop. Once the larva becomes a pupa with a protective case around it, it takes 2 to 10 days to emerge from its shell as an adult. Even after adulthood, it takes a few days for it to be able to reproduce.

They mayfly, which belongs to a different order of insects, also goes through multiple stages of development that lasts about a year. Mayflies lay their eggs in a body of water, where they typically gather on the bottom. They hatch into nymphs, which then undergo a number of molts before they make their way to the top of the water’s surface as a “pre-adult” with wings.

They eventually molt once more before final adulthood. Adult mayflies are not very long-lived as the digestive system stops working with the final molt, and the flies tend to die within a couple of days.

Try It :: Consider rearing housefies or flightless fruit flies in a terrarium to observe the complete life-cycle. How long do they live on average? Does their life-span differ by species?

BONUS MISCONCEPTION

Worms are found in apples

The ‘worm’ frequently featured in cartoons is actually the larva of the codling moth, Cydia pomonella. Female moths lay eggs on small developing apples or leaves. The larva tunnels through the skin and feeds on the seeds. Worms do not have legs, insects do. It would be very difficult for an earthworm to climb a tree or fly.

Try It :: Consider gathering a few apples from an orchard – a few picked from the tree and a few that have fallen on the ground. Place them in a small terrarium and observe what critters emerge from these “nurseries” as the apple decays. Use a hand lens or microscope to closely observe the anatomy of the larvae.

5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them @EvaVarga.net

Don’t miss the posts I shared earlier this week:

Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them (series introduction)

Misconceptions in Geology & Meteorology

Misconceptions in Chemistry & Physics

Misconceptions in Astronomy

This concludes my 5 day series featuring common misconceptions in science. If you have enjoyed the series, I encourage you to check out my Science Milestones series that focuses upon the discoveries and advancements of scientists through history.

This series is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing.

Hopcotch2015

Misconceptions in Chemistry and Physics

In a series of posts this week, I will be sharing 5 Misconceptions in Science and providing lessons and activities to help dispel these conceptual misunderstandings. Today’s post focuses on common misconceptions in chemistry and physics.

Misconceptions in Chemistry @EvaVarga.net

Identifying & Dispelling Misconceptions

The first step in dispelling misconceptions is to identify them and to recognize their sources. To identify misconceptions, homeschool parents and teachers can:

  • use open-ended questions to assess what students know about the topic of a lesson.
  • listen and observe students’ answers
  • use direct questioning to discover the students’ reasoning process

Simply correcting a mistaken impression through discussion,  however, may not work. Instead, provide an opportunity for students to test out their theories. This is not only more convincing but develops their scientific reasoning skills.

  • First, help students to verbalize their understanding and thereby formulate a theory.
  • Secondly, guide them to set up an experiment to test their theory.

By using inquiry to test misconceptions, teachers can also foster respect for people, ideas, and scientific inquiry. Teachers can use misconceptions to provide unique opportunities to practice science process skills and interest students in scientific exploration.

Misconceptions in Chemistry & Physics

MISCONCEPTION #4

Comparing and contrasting physical and chemical changes, students may believe that because physical changes are often reversible, chemical changes are irreversible.

Many chemical reactions are NON-REVERSIBLE CHANGES .You cannot turn a baked cake back into its raw ingredients. Some chemical reactions can be reversed, and re-formed into the original substances. These are REVERSIBLE CHANGES.

A reversible change is a change that can be undone or reversed. Sometimes we also call these physical changes. A reversible change might change how a substance looks or feels (changing the physical appearance), and it is easy to turn it back again, but it doesn’t produce new substances.

For example, to demonstrate a reversible chemical change: Dip a heat-sensitive baby spoon and other objects that might change color into a beaker of hot water. Ask students to record their observations or results.

Students might notice that a baby spoon turned white when it was dipped in hot water and returned to its original color as it cooled. Ask students questions that will help them evaluate the results and draw new conclusions: “Did the baby spoon undergo a reversible chemical change?”

5 Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them @EvaVarga.net

Misconceptions in Science & How to Dispel Them (series introduction)

Misconceptions in Astronomy 

Misconceptions in Geology & Meteorology

Misconceptions in Biology (coming Friday)

You might also be interested in my travel hopscotch,  Discovering Peru, where you’ll have the chance to win a travel guide of choice from DK Publishing.

My post is one of many hopscotch link-ups. Hop over and see what others are sharing.

Hopcotch2015