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About ClemsonDana

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  1. I offer small amounts of extra credit in my class - generally enough to replace one of the weekly quiz grades or bump up a test grade by a few points, so it accommodates students having a bad day or brain glitch on a test, but doesn't cover for a semester of not doing the work - over the course of the class it would be less than 1/2 of a point on the final grade, so it would only help a student who was VERY close to the next higher grade. For my extra credit work, they have to learn something - research a disease related to a topic we're learning about, watch several videos with animations of a process and describe them, etc. I could also see a place for retesting or applying knowledge in a different context. In other words, the extra credit has to meet a legitimate learning objective (ie they may not have known 5 points worth of topic X on the quiz, but they now know about topic Y).
  2. Could you supplement with primary document analysis and/or Great Courses lectures to add more depth? If you treat the text like a spine, you could add a lot of content and analysis.
  3. Workbooks from the Critical Thinking Company could supplement various language arts subjects - they have grammar, editing, root words, reading comprehension, analogies, etc. You don't need all of it, but choosing a couple at the grade level of each student would be an easy plan. Programs like Growing with Grammar/Winning with Writing are very formulaic, but they are written to the student and have a daily plan. You could also multitask by having the students write (at an age-appropriate level - maybe a sentence or 2 for the younger and a paragraph for the older) about what they are learning - summarize science or history, write a book report, plan or describe their next craft project, etc. You could make notes on the writing and have them sometimes make corrections or have them revise/recopy the next day, or you could check over it all on the weekend. If you want more time for discussion, would it be possible for the kids to start the bathing routine before you get home? It gets dark earlier now, so this might work in the winter. Back before our extracurricular schedule exploded (and even now on the rare days that we're home early) I sometimes try to have everybody clean and in PJs by the time I had dinner on the table so that we didn't have a big bedtime rush. If you wanted to incorporate poetry, classic short stories, or literature read over time as part of your language arts, maybe you could pick a book and read a small bit at the start of dinner, or have the kids read to you while you fix dinner or clean up, or read at bedtime, whatever would work for your family.
  4. If your kids have a math that works, I'd stick with it unless there's a reason to change. We used Singapore Math through 6th and then picked a prealgebra (I'll make different choices for my 2 kids, who are very different personalities). If you wanted to combine SOTW with the K-12 HO so that both kids cover the same topic, that should be doable - one is a 4 year cycle and the other is 3, but you can align content. We actually use SOTW as one of our other resources when using K-12. I don't know your writing program. My older kid is advanced in most subjects but struggled with writing, so I didn't push it until middle school. For him, one thing that helped was combining history and writing because it was 'double dipping'. Around that age we found the Michael Clay Thompson series and it's been a great fit (I'm not advising you to change - just letting you know where some of the assignments come from). If the writing program said to write an essay about a specific topic, I'd modify it to fit with something in history and we'd write about that. Some history writing assignments are things that I design, but others are adaptations of assignments in our ELA curriculum. Is your program adaptable like that? It might help an overwhelmed kid to have fewer subjects to do. At this point (older in 8th grade) it's not as big of an issue, but I've already started doing it with my 5th grader (although those assignments are shorter - a sentence or 2 or maybe a paragraph). Alternatively, when writing for history doesn't fit, I've been known to go minimalist - to compare things, fold paper into 2, 3, 8, or more sections and have the kiddo compare things like Native American tribes, world religions, Athens and Sparta, etc with words, phrases, or even drawings. It can be less daunting than an essay. If you wanted to go in a different direction, the Critical Thinking Company has a workbook called World History Detective. It's pretty comprehensive, and the workbook format might be less overwhelming. Prior to 6th, science for my older was mostly picking a topic (we used Hirsh's Core Knowledge series to get suggestions) and then checking out a bunch of library books to read. That approach did not work for my younger, so last year in desperation I got the Critical Thinking Company Science Detective for her grade level and this year added their book of science experiments. Either would be a good choice, but they are very different. My older has used his studies in preparation for Science Olympiad, so, while it's worked for us, it's definitely not a traditional approach that I'd advise people to try. 🙂 We also use an assortment of puzzle books, analogy books, etc, depending on our schedule. I'm not sure that I addressed everything that you were asking about, but maybe some of this will help.
  5. We've used it as a spine. Some sections are just read, and for others we add extra resources. I wanted to work on writing and felt like my kid had a decent grasp of history before starting middle school, so we do writing assignments over different topics. It depends on the section, but sometimes I'll have him write a short paper with a 1 hr time limit over a week's worth of material, while other times he'll spend a few days writing a few pages. Sometimes I'll ask for a compare and contrast (maybe between 2 civilizations), sometimes a simple report, and other times an essay. For a big topic like WWI he might read from a variety of resources for 3 weeks or more and then spend a week outlining and writing. I adapt it based on what other writing he's doing at the time and what points we want to make with the topic.
  6. I take deviled eggs to gatherings and people scarf them down because nobody wants to make them. 🙂 Recently I took veggie pinwheels and they were quick and popular. I used flavored garden vegetable cream cheese, spread some on tortillas, topped with shredded carrots (bought already shredded), chopped celery, and cucumber (cut out the seed part, cut up the hard part, and then drain/squeeze with a paper towel or it makes a watery mess). Roll up, chill, and slice.
  7. As somebody whose kids have always had a 1x/week co-op and who has been a paid teacher at that co-op for 8 years, I agree with SWB. If the co-op is not adding a benefit to your family's homeschool experience, it's certainly not a necessity. At our co-op, elementary classes are all enrichment, middle school is a mix of academic and enrichment, and high school is mostly academic although it includes classes that would be electives. In elementary school, my kids took/take arts classes, hands-on crafty classes, and PE. These are things that I want my kids to have but I don't like doing - it takes something off my plate that I don't enjoy (my daughter LOVED a lapbook-based class...chances that I would ever do a lapbook are 0%) and leaves me free to focus on core subjects with the kids the other 4 days. But, if you're wired differently, that wouldn't be the case. As they get into middle school, they take their foreign language from experienced teachers or native speakers. They take the occasional writing class, and otherwise they continue with arts and enrichment. They took/will take a dissection class at co-op because it seems wasteful to me to dissect something with only 1 student at home when a whole group could learn from 1 organism. I would far rather grade 20 biology tests than try to learn a foreign language with my kids (and, starting next year, likely 2 different ones, one for each kid). But, it's a preference, not a requirement. I love teaching biology and love working with high school-aged students. I do not love languages and, especially when my kids were younger, enjoyed the break from the 'cute ages' to teach the 'almost adults'. That's why I'm not quite on board with her idea that if you put the time into your kids that you do into teaching a co-op class, you'll be just as well/better off. It can be true, but preference also matters. I'm now looking at high school classes for the next 4 years and am intending to pick a few academic classes to do but also plan to take a few things off my plate in the 'weird graduation requirements' category. We have to have a certain amount of PE. If my kid takes fencing at co-op, I know that's 32 hours/year - 2 years is approximately 0.5 credit. There are a couple of credits that I plan to handle this way, and I'll continue to do the foreign language and possibly some literature at co-op. We'll also do a lot of credits entirely at home, continuing as we have done through elementary and middle school. That being said, I couldn't handle outsourcing all classes, going to multiple co-ops (especially for little kids), or having our entire school plan dictated by outside sources. That inflexibility would add a lot of stress to our family and defeat one of our purposes for homeschooling...but families who homeschool for other reasons obviously don't have that perspective. If co-op is adding more stress than it relieves, it's time to opt out. One interesting thing that we're seeing, possibly why SWB is posting this now, is that folks sometimes come and want a laid-out plan. Our co-op doesn't do that - you can come from 1-6 hours and take the classes that will help your family. Parents have the plan and pick what they want/need for their students. We choose to be there for different reasons, but we didn't arrive with the idea that we had to have a co-op in order to homeschool - it was more of a 'try this and see if we like it' thing. If for some reason we had to leave our co-op, my kids would be very upset because we have good buddies there, but academically we'd be fine.
  8. I have a younger student who has a similar disparity in scores - this year we're emphasizing spelling and grammar based on last year's results. One book that I liked for my older and am planning to use next year with my younger is Halverson's 'Spelling Works'. It's not lists of words, but work with some of the common rules, with mention of the exceptions. Something that I did with my older but haven't tried yet with younger is to do a vocabulary program (vocab with classical roots, wordly wise, MCT's vocab books, or pulled from literature if you're interested in doing that) and then using that as a spelling list. Older liked that it efficiently combined 2 subjects.
  9. I would say that we do 6ish hours each day, but it's hard to assess. We have co-op one day, so we fit everything else into 4 days. Co-op is mostly fun classes (chess, etc) but my 8th grader takes a language class and a writing class there. At home, we do science, math, history, and MCT language arts. We have done Bible at home, but this year my 8th grader is taking a class called Storied Scripture at co-op - it's a high school class that discusses Biblical themes and we're counting the reading for that as his Bible. He's also doing an online Scratch programming class. Some days seem to go from 9-4 or later, but some mornings start late if we're out at a ball game. We also have some daytime activities like Science Olympiad practice. My 8th grader has also arranged his schedule so that some days are shorter than others, and sometimes he's done by 2. He also likes to avoid stress by working ahead - there are times when he's been working forever, or will get up and work on a weekend, and it will turn out that he's working on an assignment due in 2 weeks. On the other hand, he's learning to judge how long things take and often underestimates how long it will take to write...not a problem if it's for me, but something he needs to work on for co-op classes. This kid has also learned to take advantage of short bursts of time - he does online Latin assignment or scratch work sometimes while having a pre-beditime protein shake, and always takes certain subjects to do in the car because he can read while I drive. We rarely have the 'work at home all day' routine that I imagined.
  10. Several years ago I might have described our situation the same way. My kids are now 5th and 8th grade and things feel very different, but not in the way that I expected. Now, my kids have buddies at our co-op. It takes a while - many public school kids wouldn't make good friends in the first week or 2 of school, but because co-ops only meet once/week it takes a while to have more than 1-2 weeks worth of 'school days'. After a couple of years of being in the same co-op my kids have great co-op friends, but this doesn't always translate into getting together much outside of co-op. We live almost an hour away from some of these folks, so we aren't likely to do weekly play-dates. As the kids get older and can be dropped off at things, or talk on the phone, text, or chat online these friendships change. My kids and a subset of the co-op friends are involved in an academic competition team, and they have really gotten to be friends with those kids...but they see each other twice/week for much of the school year. One other thing that has changed for our particular family is that my kids are involved in some time-consuming activities that involve practices or games several days each week. At younger ages, these activities were just once/twice each week and left us with plenty of time to wish that there were other kids aroud, but at this point my kids are around other kids at some sort of practice or game almost every day. These other kids aren't necessarily 'best buddies' but there is definitely plenty of social interaction and it adds to the large group of folks in the community that we now know and enjoy bring around. One of my kids has a good buddy at church that she gets together with occasionally outside of church (they see each other Sun and Wed), while the other gets along amicably with the kids his age but doesn't have any particular close church friend. One is only sometimes involved in youth activities due to sports schedule conflicts, while I imagine that the other will strengthen her friendships at church when she goes all-in with the youth next year because her activity schedule won't conflict with youth activities. I would suggest looking for things that your kids might enjoy, not as a way to find friends, exactly, but as a way to learn a new thing and be around folks. When mine were little, we unexpectedly met somebody at the mommy-and-me swim lesson that led to weekly outings for 2 years until they moved. And, while my older doesn't have any 'best buddies' in scouts (which isn't his main activity), he enjoys socializing with the other boys when they hike or camp. Other than co-op/science competition team, most of my kids' social time is with kids who go to traditional schools in activities that take place in the evening. Very little of this is what I imagined our life and schedule would be like as homeschoolers, but the kids are happy, if busy, so for now it works for us.
  11. Cookie dough, scooped into balls and frozen or chilled until firm and then put in containers, freezes very well. You can bake fresh cookies as needed.
  12. The Critical Thinking Company has all sorts of workbooks that might be a good fit. Some are regular school subjects and others are critical thinking puzzles. one year my m mom made arrangements with my teacher for me to go to the school library every morning and get a book to read during my spare time each day - would that be an option?
  13. @daijobu there are a couple of reasons. I know some local homeschool families whose older kids are in or through college, and while several of the kids did well on AP exams none of them got approval for their syllabus - in their experience, the colleges cared about the exam score, not whether they were allowed to put the AP designation on the transcript. Also, once I had an approved syllabus, I'd feel bound to stick to it - it would feel dishonest to do something different - but I've always enjoyed being able to adapt if we don't like how things are going. This could be a holdover from my days teaching at a community college, where a syllabus is treated almost like a contract. 🙂 I also know that, while this kid would work through a couple of practice exams and the reviews in one of the prep books, he's unlikely to do more than that so I don't know that we'd benefit from having access to more practice. This particular kid is my Science Olympiad kid whose team has been to nationals twice - he has a lot of practice at taking tests. Finally, there are a lot of AP syllabi available online, so I know that I can find one to use as a starting point - I was just wondering if anybody here had a favorite, or if I should look for one that used a particular textbook. I'll check out Zumdhal and see if there's an AP syllabus that uses it, and I'd love to hear about any other favorites!
  14. I always found writing to be fairly easy, and I assumed that my kids, advanced in several subjects, would be the same. Older is a voracious reader of all sorts of things, fiction and nonfiction. But, writing was a challenge. I was fine with a kid who didn't do creative writing very well, since this kid, like my husband and I, is STEM-oriented. But, it wasn't until somewhere in 7th grade that we started getting decent reports instead of brain-dumps of facts. For us, the Michael Clay Thompson language arts series has helped, along with the occasional co-op writing class so that kiddo could see that this wasn't some weird hang-up of mine. For all of middle school, I have also had test-free history. I had no concerns about this particular kid's fact knowledge, so instead, we do a variety of writing assignments. Sometimes I'll say 'You have 1 hour to write 3 paragraphs about topic X' which prevents staring at the screen without writing, and other times he'll do a 1 page summary written over a few days, or a bigger production that he writes over a week. In the beginning, I'd start by doing an 'oral outline' - What is the main point? What ideas will support that? Do we do one per paragraph? At this point, in 8th grade, I've seen dramatic improvements. We are now working on removing wordiness from sentences, but the last 2-page-single-spaced report had a thesis and each paragraph had one topic with supporting details, so I'm pleased.
  15. Next year I'm planning to do chemistry at home with my 9th grader, with an eye towards taking the AP test in the spring if I feel that student is ready. I do not plan on doing the 'register your syllabus' thing - we'll just do chemistry and make our final decision after Christmas, although I know I'll have to deal with the stupid 'early AP registration' and finding a possible location earlier than that. There are lots of posted syllabus choices and a couple of text options, but does anybody have a favorite? Bonus if it comes with decent tests, although that's not a requirement. My husband is using my old college text as one of the risers for his computer monitor and I may even have my old college chem tests in a file drawer somewhere, but I was not a fan - surely there is something better out there now!
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