Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Year Is Slipping Away From Me.

I started this post last April!  I abandoned it, but it has a lot of good info so I will update and post it.

What we did/are doing:

Math: We did Oak Meadow 7th Grade Math and 8th Grade Math. We chose to do two years of math last year so that T-Guy could work at his true grade level. We (did) do math daily now rather than in blocks and it has made a difference in how well the boys retain their new skills.  Both of them really love math. This year we've switched to Teaching Textbooks for Algebra I and it is going really, really well. In the space of 14 months I went from having math reluctant children to having kids who count math among their favorite subjects.

Language Arts: We read, discussed, and wrote about The Giver, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, A Wrinkle in TimeBridge to Terabithia, Johnny Tremain, and several other books that I can't think of right now. We enjoyed The Giver so much that we read the rest of the books in that series, and J-Baby also read all of the Hitchiker's books. We started and abandoned Lord of the Flies as it wasn't grabbing any of us. Many other books have been read for pleasure rather than by assignment.  This year I have chosen our literature based on common 9th grade reading lists; so far we have read and discussed My Antonia and are finishing up Great Expectations, with more classics to come throughout the year.

We used the spelling/vocabulary lists from Oak Meadow 8th Grade English; I input the words into Vocabulary Spelling City and the boys learned and tested on the words using the VSC iPad app.  This year we are combining a book called SAT Vocabulary Lightning with the VSC app.

I had high hopes for The Write Foundation but it didn't work for us; the content was too religious with a decidedly creationist slant. Instead, last year we focused on solid paragraph writing with the boys answering questions in their subject journals. The boys took a Brave Writer online course last spring and we got so much from it that I bought their program and that is what we are using this year, along with continuing with subject journals.

We're still using Daily Grammar off and on.

Social Studies: The main spine for this subject was the Oak Meadow 8th Grade Civics syllabus. I found it uninspired and too heavy on the written work, so we adapted it for home use. We also watched several PBS/BBC series that brought various historical time periods to life for the boys, including Colonial House, Frontier House, 1900 House, and 1940s House. We tried Manor House but gave it up as it wasn't nearly as good as the others (something I recall from when Papa and I watched them the first time around).  This year we are using Short Lessons in World History; our intention is to switch to the Big History Project next fall, so this is just a brush up.

Science: We started with Oak Meadow 8th Grade Physical Science, but switched to Classic Science Elementary Physical Science as Papa didn't really have time to work the Oak Meadow with the boys on a daily basis and he felt it was poorly written and difficult to understand. The Classic Science program is more student directed and I was able to manage the experiments. The boys liked it so well that we are using Classic Science Elementary Chemistry this year. Papa also took up teaching the boys electronics, which they have continued this year. J-Baby is still learning to program on both the Mac and the iPad.

Physical Education: We decided not to do the same program we did in 2011 - 2012. The boys enjoyed it but it was scheduled in the middle of the afternoon and I had tired of the interruption it caused in our day. We focused most of our joint PE work on mountain biking; there are always new skills to be learned. In addition the boys worked on strength training using body weight only, and T-Guy had baseball. This year the boys have joined the area high school and middle school mountain biking teams, which comprise a full physical education curriculum.

Health: We focused on healthy bodies last year and will continue this year. We have ongoing discussions and learning about the role of exercise on the body, plus healthy diet and other habits such as ample sleep, fluid intake, and stress reduction. We continue to address the topics of puberty, teen sexuality, substance abuse, anger management, and healthy relationships.

Foreign Language: The boys elected not to study a foreign language last year, although we offered Spanish. J-Baby did dabble in Spanish using various resources. They began focused foreign language lessons this fall with Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish.

Fine Arts: Both boys made significant progress in their musical pursuits. J-Baby continued with piano lessons and T-Guy made a concentrated effort with guitar. This year J-Baby is again taking piano lessons and we found a great guitar teacher for T-Guy. Both boys work on music appreciation and have been learning the works of famous composers. In addition, J-Baby pursues drawing and other art endeavors, including modeling and mixed media work.