We’re fully into spring here, and I confess, only a couple of weeks are left before we declare this year complete! What a wonderful and rich year this has been! I thought I’d review a few things we covered last year for you – the delights and the duds! Thankfully, the duds were quite minimal, and didn’t really impact us as we escorted them off the daily lesson plans!
Curious? Let’s get started then!
First, here’s a link to the 9th grade plans. I’ll only review those things that were HUGE hits, and those that were duds! Of all the books we used this year, the only real dud came from the science plans!
Everything here was wonderful! We both delighted and learned so much from Father Clarence Elwell’s Our Goal and Our Guide high school religion series! These are gems! In addition to being treasures all by themselves, the additional book recommendations yielded some other treasures we were glad to add to our shelves.
History & Literature:
Again, everything we selected was very much enjoyed! Favorite reads were Joan of Arc by Mark Twain, Outlaws of Ravenhurst by Sister Imelda Wallace, Emma by Jane Austen (of course!).
All of the countries of Europe were mastered, and we reviewed and reinforced mastery with the countries of Africa and the states of the United States. One book that I didn’t mention in our initial plans has become a true favorite of ours: Mark Twain’s The Innocents Abroad which recounts the author’s journey to Europe and the Holy Land. It’s just so characteristically *Mark Twain* humorous, and I have enjoyed the narrations of this book just as much as my daughter has enjoyed reading it! It makes a wonderful living geography book for a high school student!
Natural History/Nature Study:
No surprise that everything here was a delight! Especially enjoyed were the Ernest Thompson Seton books and the Edwin Way Teale books! Edwin Way Teale is a wonderful American naturalist, and a wonderful read for the high school student.
Every single living book here was a delight. The book my 9th grader most enjoyed (and is still enjoying) is The Flying Circus of Physics! This book lends itself so well to a slow and careful reading and is truly *living*! We attempted to use a textbook as a spine for the year (a reflection of my own insecurity about approaching high school science exclusively with living books?? Maybe. Why did I do that?!! Argh!!!!!) It didn’t take us long to consider this text (1) written too young for a high school student, (2) too awkward and forced in terms of its approach to including a mention of religion/the Creator in every other sentence (please don’t misunderstand, I do wish to credit the Creator for His amazing Creation and as the Author of life, but forcing this recognition in awkward ways in the middle of every other explanation is just…well…awkward and feels forced), (3) too text-y for us. So, we gave ourselves permission to shelve this one. My son (the science kid) consumed all the *good stuff* (read: experiments) within the covers of this book almost as soon as it was within his reach, so I guess all was not lost. Lesson learned: stick to Charlotte Mason’s plan of living books….EVEN for high school science! Good thing I had a rich line-up of living books already planned out. These worked out so well, and our year of Physical Science moved wonderfully and was richly supported by these living books and the labs and projects that naturally sprung from them!
We really enjoyed Julie Bogart’s program, Help for High School, and both my daughter and I highly recommend it, especially if your student is used to a Charlotte Mason approach to writing. This program really gave the tools and confidence to simply and naturally transform what were already fantastic written narrations into more formal essay work. Non-fiction writing is NOT my daughter’s forte, but she thoroughly enjoyed Help For High School because it encouraged her individual voice, even in her non-fiction writing. Highly recommended! **Note – if you are looking for detailed lesson plans and step-by-step format you will not find that in any of the Bravewriter programs, please be aware of that as you consider this program. This high school program best fits the self-educated student that enjoys writing for writing’s sake, and needs tools and direction for more formal non-fiction high school essay writing. It acts as a guide and support with tangible tools, help and support for both student and Mom in evaluating writing. We didn’t get to Jensen’s Format Writing because we really enjoyed Help for High School and just doing lots of writing!
Dictation work went so well this year! My 9th grader’s spelling is so improved and quite impressive (considering that her early writing pointed to some dyslexic tendencies), and her command of grammatical usage is quite good! I credit consistent dictation and reading vast amounts of great literature. This last term, I added Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss to her reading and she has really enjoyed it!
My daughter’s written narrations are really progressing at this point. She writes 2 narrations a day, that’s 10 written narrations a week. These are enjoyable for me to read! I suppose each family does this in a way that fits them best – my daughter enjoys typing up her written narrations and emailing them to me. And, I must say, I really enjoy this! I read them, and then I’ve created a special file for them in my mailbox. I save all the written narrations in this file, and this spares me of having to keep up with a gazillion more pieces of paper!
Saxon Algebra I is DONE. In reviewing what I said about it in my original post at the beginning of the year, I can say that I stand by every word of it. Is it a perfect program? No way! But, it works. My daughter has an A average this year, and that has taken some effort and hard work on her part. We continue to learn how to work this program to our advantage and to fit our unique needs. This year we included the DIVE CD to the line-up and found it to be a good tool in our corner.
Well, we ended up really enjoying The Art of the Argument by Classical Academic Press!! It was a great introduction to logic and identifying common fallacies! It’s not what I would consider really meaty, serious logic, but it was a perfect introduction for my daughter and she learned a lot. It has prompted some critical thinking on her part.
Whew! We’re done with Latin! We finished up the year with The Book of Roots and my daughter enjoyed it.
This has always been my daughter’s niche, so I really don’t have to provide too much direction here, just a generous supply of good tools and some inspiring ideas to build on. Artistic Pursuits continues to be a favorite program, and my daughter enjoys music and has taught herself piano and how to play an Altus Soprano recorder, using Penny Gardner’s Nine Note Method.
Managing the Day Delights:
I know…this isn’t really a review of a book or curriculum, but I couldn’t resist mentioning a few things that worked out so well in terms of logistics and made our year so workable, flexible, and enjoyable!!
- Building weekly lesson plans each term – I just can’t tell you how useful and helpful building lesson plans in this way has been for me! It fits my planning methods perfectly! I build a master booklist for the year, and from there, break that booklist down into term booklists. We take a weekly break between each term, and during that week, I can easily build the weekly lesson plan for that term. This weekly lesson plan undergoes very slight changes from week to week. This format is easy to understand, and expectations are clearly communicated. My older children are self-propelled with these lesson plans! I simply print lesson plans on Thursday or Friday afternoon each week – no major reworking, no flipping through every single book to gather page numbers, no re-re-re-re-considering the approach, book, idea, project, and NO MIDNIGHT SUNDAY writing of the plans. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you? It’s been fantastic and a true delight! Care to see a term of 9th grade weekly lesson plans? Schedule-9th-Term1. Enjoy!
- Weekly Meetings – My older children and I started doing this a few years ago and it remains one of the best ways we’ve found for communicating together individually about lessons, books, ideas, and lesson plans! Each Friday, my older children pull a chair up to my desk (one at a time). They bring their lesson plans for the week on their clipboard and I set up my laptop open to their lesson plans. We discuss challenges, things they’re enjoying, problems and delights. They let me know if they’re unable to accomplish their work in the time set aside for them. We discuss time management and clearly define discipline issues, providing tools to improve in self-discipline. I make changes that we both agree to right on their lesson plans and print their plans for the next week right after our meeting. Simple. Workable. Delightful!
So…that’s a wrap-up of the year! Plenty of delights and only one real dud! I’d say we did fantastic! The year itself was a true delight – our first year of high school!
Coming up next…I’ll review our 5th grade year of delights and duds!