9th Grade – Delights and Duds

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!

9th grade delights and duds

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.

Physical Science:
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!

Language Arts:
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.

Fine Arts:
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!

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  1. Based on the description (Ideal for grades 5-6 but can be used for grade 7 if your children have not had much science instruction. Grades 5-7.) I can see why it was too easy for high school.
    Now if a child had a LD, this might be a good fit.
    Have you looked into Apologia Science books? I know you don't care much for textbooks but they prepared my children well for college

  2. Thanks Renee! The description on the Castle Heights website is different than the one at Home Science Tools, and made it seem like the book might work well for a 9th grader. Clearly the review at Home Science Tools was more accurate!

    I'm not a fan of the science or approach of Apologia textbooks so we probably won't be using those. Thanks for the recommendation though – I know a number of homeschoolers really enjoy using the series!

  3. Thank you, thank you, thank you! As someone who is staring down the barrel of that gun known as high school and feeling a little faint about it (actually, we still have one more year of denial before we start) you have given me so much to think about!

  4. I was glued to your post in the beginning of school year and here I am again LOL.

    We officially enter high school this coming year, GULP!

    But thank you! I am using your advice on planning to clearly outline our coming year(s). Have a list of sites, books and blogs to look through too 🙂

  5. I'm a long way from a high school aged child, but your thoughts on weekly planning were timely for me! I'm doing pretty well at the big picture planning, but I'm definitely falling down on the term and weekly planning. I did it for the first term and I've just been limping along, trying to sort of keep that going but with new material as we finish things. As you can probably imagine, it isn't working as well as I'd like! We still have about six weeks to go, but I'm trying to reboot a bit to make sure we finish strong and so I can set up some good habits for going into the next year… especially with a baby due in mid-Sept!!

    Thanks for your post, I always enjoy reading what you have to say. 🙂

  6. Thank you for the inspiration!! I really needed it today. :o) What program do you use to make the lesson charts on your laptop?


  7. Oh, I'm so glad you all enjoyed this little review/reflection!

    I build my lesson plan chart using *PAGES*, a word processing program for macs. You can do the EXACT same thing with Microsoft Word though. Just drop a chart into a document and build from there! Or….you can always build a spreadsheet version in Excel.

    By the way, if anyone uses PAGES for mac, and you'd like the PAGES file of the 9th grade lesson plan I shared so that you can tweak and build from there, I'll be happy to send you a copy if you email me. 🙂

    Mary Ellen,
    Grab your cup of tea and come on over! LOL!!! Wouldn't that be fantastic??!! If only we weren't separated by half a country! One day!

  8. I'm curious about “Our Goal and Our Guide.” I saw that OLVS starts this series in grade 8. I have never seen it and so I'm wondering if you think it could be started one year earlier.

    I was also wondering which level of Artistic Pursuits you are doing. Did you do one or two books for grade 9?

  9. Hi Eva!
    Thanks for your questions! Let me see….

    Yes, this is the same series that Lepanto Press/Our Lady of Victory has republished and uses for their high school religion beginning in 8th grade. I was gifted the set from a dear friend and have always thought they looked fantastic. After researching a bit more, I realized that the originals contained (a few) color pictures of the art and original diagrams/illustrations as well as a bit more text AND an amazing scope and sequence that covered the entire 4 year series (this scope and sequence chart fits on one page and the same one is included in each of the 4 books). Additionally, the older versions contain a chart of parallel readings from additional religion books/texts that pertain to that specific unit at the end of each unit. The older versions can still be found through used book vendors. Check AddALL.

    LEPANTO PRESS REPRINT – is the revised version with a 1954/55 copyright/Imprimatur and is still available for purchase through OLVS.
    FIRST/ORIGINAL VERSION – will have copyright dates from about 10 years prior.

    Also, check out this informative thread discussing the series: http://4real.thenetsmith.com/forum_posts.asp?TID=36088&KW
    I think you'll find a great deal of information on that thread to help you discern if this series is a good fit, and if so, which version you'd like to acquire – the reprints or an original.

    As to your question about whether you could start this series in 8th grade, I think you could, but that may depend on the student (maturity level, earlier preparation). This is a meaty series!

    Now, you're next question *ARTISTIC PURSUITS* —

    My daughter finished up the Jr. High book in the beginning of 9th grade (just a function of us moving at a relaxed pace and we didn't finish the Jr. High series IN JR. HIGH….there's nothing juvenile about the series or anything that precludes one from using the series out of order even – esp. in the upper grades) For the majority of the year, my daughter worked through HIGH SCHOOL BOOK 1. She's halfway done. We'll continue to work through the series. I can't say enough about the program! I love it and use it with all my children. My rising 2nd grader will start with them next year.

    Hope this has been helpful, Eva! You always ask really great questions!

  10. I have to say, of all the blogs out there that offer homeschool planning advice, you have some of the best! I love to see how you pull the Charlotte Mason experience together and execute it in reality – my oldest will be in 7th grade next year, thanks for sharing your plans so freely as they are a real inspiration to build upon.

  11. Thank you so much Jen for your detailed reply and compliment. If you compared “Our Goal and Our Guide” to the Laux books, what are the major differences? I was also wondering if you would mind sending me a few sample pages of “Our Goal and Our Guide.” If I contacted you via email, would that be a possibility?

    We have been using “Artistic Pursuits” form grade 1 on, but somehow my children are getting stuck in book 4. They are not making any progress and don't like that one particularly. So I was wondering if I should just move on to a higher level. They are also getting plenty of drawing/painting instructions elsewhere.

    Thanks again for sharing your experiences with resources you have tried.

  12. HI Eva!!!

    You are welcome to email me and I'll see if I can get some samples to you. There is a sample of the scope and sequence page that has been scanned in – that's on the 4Real thread I linked you to in the earlier comment. Definitely download that! UNFORTUNATELY, my printer is on its last leg, limping along….and my scanner doesn't work. sigh. So that means I can't just scan some samples and send it to you. However, I'd be happy to snail mail you some copies of pages for you to take a look at as you consider.

    The Laux books are fantastic and we use them as well during high school. They were actually my first choice for high school religion until I started seriously looking at the *Our Goal and Our Guide* series and found that at the end of each unit, *O G and O G* actually cross-references with several other religion series that relate to the topics just discussed, the Father Laux series being one of them referenced. So, I use the Laux books to reinforce the *O G and O G* lessons and this has worked out well.

    In terms of comparison of the two series – it's hard for me to. They're so complementary. Father Laux's series follows the Baltimore Catechism, and could certainly stand alone without the *O G and O G* series. Both series work well in suite with:

    ** the Baltimore Catechism (#3)
    ** the Bible
    ** a missal – we use the St. Andrews for its rich discussion of liturgy and liturgical history.

    I personally find the Father Laux books to be a little more “blurby” than Our Goal and Our Guides, which is written in a more narrative style. When I say “blurby”, I do not mean to imply a lack of substance or meat, but more of a summary style. If you have a student that thrives on a meaty summary of Church teachings, this series works well! This is one of the reasons I think it works so well IN CONJUNCTION WITH Our Goal and Our Guide. I have my daughter read the more narrative and explanatory *O G and O G* first, and then follow up with the coordinating Father Laux summaries as indicated at the end of the unit in *O G and O G*.

    **NOTE** the page number references to the Father Laux series in the end-of-unit cross referenced table will be somewhat off if you have current editions of the Father Laux series, but older copies of Our Goal and Our Guides. Volumes and Topics are given and these are accurate. I haven't had trouble finding the readings with this information, but wanted you to be aware.

    **ALSO NOTE** The Lepanto press reprints DO NOT contain the table that cross references with the Father Laux series (and other older oop high school religion texts). This end-of-unit table that cross references topics from Our Goal and Our Guides with other Catholic high school series is ONLY in the 1943/1945 copyright editions.

    Alright…it's clear that I just need to do an entire post on this series…with pictures so you can see side by side comparisons! I'll work on that, Eva! It would be much easier for you to see and to explain in a post and with pics!

    If the kids have hit a wall at the end of book 4, I might just set it aside and pick up with the next book and come back to the end of book 4 later. Many, many times I've put what I consider a very good book or program on the shelf for a variety of reasons (just tired/doesn't fit the season we're in/unexplainable atrophy) and invariably find that later (sometimes years) it can come back out owing to its good/living approach, enjoying new life and a fresh approach because of a different perspective/season. For this reason, and because of this experience, I generally give myself permission to step back/away from a book and breathe a little when something isn't quite working. I know I'll likely see it again.

    Hope this helps, Eva! I'll work on that post for Our Goal and Our Guides.

  13. Your blog is always my first stop for inspiration and ideas. I'm wondering if you've ever done a post on your own personal daily/weekly schedule. I am finding it very hard to get through each day and find that I often choose between housework and homeschooling. You seem to accomplish so much and I'd like to be there by the time I have a 9th grader. I'd also love to know where you find all your wonderful living books. Thank you for your generous offering of ideas.

  14. I'm preparing for a day of homeschool planning this week & stopped by your blog to get some inspiration — thank you for this post! I have always enjoyed your planning & review posts on homeschool. Grace as you wrap up the year.

  15. Your blog is my favorite homeschooling blog! You'll never guess what I fount at the used Homeschool book/curriculum store today- an old copy of”The Diary of an Edwardian Lady”. I think I quite literally squealed with delight! Grabbed it off the bookshelf and didn't care a bit about the cost.

    I hope you post again soon!

  16. Laura,
    I apologize for taking so long to answer your questions!!

    >> I'm wondering if you've ever done a post on your own personal daily/weekly schedule. << I did write a post a couple of years ago on the organization of my day that might answer some of your questions:

    Beyond that, I frequently write about the flux and give of our days, so hopefully just popping around on here a little bit will give you a sense of the order of our days.

    >> I'd also love to know where you find all your wonderful living books. << Hey – that's a fantastic question and you're not the first to ask it! It sounds like it might make a good future post so that I can share some helpful links with you to help you find living books! I'll write that one soon I hope since I know so many people are planning!

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