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  1. Another pre-algebra program to consider is Larson's Big Ideas (red accelerated) Math or his Pre-Algebra book. (The Pre-Algebra is an older book and the red aligns to common core standards, but they both cover the pre-algebra topics.) Larson was the guy who put together Chalkdust math. What I love about the red book is there are worksheets that go along with it. We never use the problems in the book (there are too many -- like 75 each lesson) but on Day 1 we do the lesson and the Practice A worksheet (about 25 problems). On Day 2 we go over corrections, then do the slightly harder Practice B worksheet (also about 25 problems). I find that's a really good pattern of new and review that gets remembered (kids are not mathy). The Red book also has "Puzzle Time" worksheets that I assign on the Practice B days -- full of more entertaining, puzzle-like problems that go along with that lesson. We did the Key To books (fractions, decimals and percents) and loved them, but I want to transition to more traditional programs from here. We also do Jacobs' MHE on Mondays which is fun.
  2. Excellent response -- just what I was looking for. Thank you!
  3. Looks like there is a lesson with a few exercises to do together. Then there are practice sets A, B, C and then Review Exercises...? How did you all structure your class and is there enough practice (looking for 20-25 problems per lesson / total time about one hour). Is there a difference in difficulty between A, B and C sets? TIA
  4. I have the OM Civics course on hand but I also really, really like the looks of the iCivics program and I am having the hardest time deciding between the two. I hear wonderful things about both so I suppose neither is a bad choice, but OM seems to be more of a commitment in terms of time and teacher involvement/preparation. iCivics seems worksheet-based, but super easy to implement (ie independent work) and covers a lot of ground in a fun (games) way. Can anyone give further insight? How much of a time commitment is the OM Civics course? We have a pretty hefty load as it is. We do have room for this to be an all-year course, but can only spare about an hour every other day. Thanks so much!
  5. Try the Stock Market Game. I was doing similar research and heard such great things about it that we decided to move things around to fit it in next year. They have levels for elementary, middle and high school. It has lessons and simulated trading and is a competition. (Stockmarketgame.org)
  6. Have a look at Larson's Big Idea math. Based on what you described, it sounds like a great fit. Look at the 2012 version though; probably the red accelerated.
  7. Thanks for all your feedback. I am going to try to do all of the books next year. Each one recommends 40 hours to complete -- that's 240 hours and I have 88. I am so bad about over scheduling. Wish me luck!
  8. Thanks for the heads-up. Did you only use the 50s book? I am hoping to use several -- all the way to 2000s if they are good.
  9. Yes, that's exactly it! I forgot I posted this. Spent several hours a few weeks ago re-researching. These books are amazing. We are going to do a Pop Culture history next year, using these books and starting with 1950s. : ) Thanks for responding.
  10. I remember reading about an American History (modern era) text or program that was really fun but also rigorous -- focused mainly on American culture, 1950s+. (There might have been several books in the series focused on different eras.) There were fun projects for each chapter; one that I remember was students had to come up with a list of guests for a TV talk show in the 50s and explain who each guest was and why s/he ought to be on the show. What are the chances any of you know what resource I am trying to find? (Middle/High School)
  11. Thanks for asking the question! I deal with this as well. I wanted to add that I think there is a difference in understanding the math and having the maturity to execute it correctly on paper. My students are fantastic during our class -- they pay attention, give me the correct answers, work problems out on the whiteboard and explain things back in a way that makes me think they get it. Then as soon as they start working on their assignment, it's almost as if their brains melt away. It truly is a wonder. We also have our fair share of surface issues -- sloppy handwriting (more like resistance to handwriting), distractions, aversion to doing hard things, and general dislike of numbers and mathematics -- and I would say these things account for more than half of their errors... which means their grades are technically low but I still believe their understanding is fairly sound. So it is a balancing act between what they show they know verbally and what they write on paper. I have noticed that they always get easier math right (85% and above) more consistently on paper, which might mean that they are in over their heads right now. (But then they complain the math is boring, so go figure!) But maybe it means those surface skills need more time to develop and catch up with their math and thinking skills. Who knows -- I seem to have a thousand theories on what's going on at any given moment. Some days I am convinced we are doing it all wrong; other days I think we are miles ahead. Either way, I think my next move (along with implementing many of the ideas presented here) is to put our current book aside and pick up the prior year's book instead (same author / format). I want to focus on them getting the right answers more consistently and cleaning up all those surface problems. My thinking is that easier math = less pressure and increased ability to focus on the details. I am also hoping for increased confidence, which should lead to being able to move faster on down the line. Anyway, good luck to you guys; let us know how it all works out.
  12. Loose plans are as follows: 5-6 homeschool classes; 3 public school classes 1. Math: Larson's Big Ideas Math: finish Red Accelerated edition and start Algebra 1. Maybe some Will do Jacobs MHE on Mondays. Update: Big Ideas is going really well, and since DS is not amused by Harold Jacobs and is not enchanted by MHE, we are eliminating it and just doing Big Ideas and Math Minutes. 2. English: Oak Meadow 8, mixed with our homegrown book list/essays. OM uses Writing for 100 Days for formal writing and Strunk & White workbook for grammar. I will add some creative writing (maybe NaNoWriMo again; maybe some shorter pieces... not sure yet). Also, Evan Moor Proofreading, Spelling Power. Maybe some Spelling Wisdom to improve the speed of writing / cursive and 4-6 selections from Movies as Literature to break things up. Adding How to Read Literature Like a Professor. Update: Oy vey. I had high hopes for OM but it is so very slow and scattered. I didn't feel it was concrete enough and DS was annoyed with all the page flipping and shortness of the assignments. We are moving to Plan B: Lively Art first, then some Kilgallon and After the End. We are keeping S&W and doing one rule/day, plus grammar as needed. Keeping Spelling Power and occasional proofreading. Keeping How to Read Lit Like a Prof and dropping all OM reading titles and doing our homegrown book list. 3. History: History of American Pop Culture, 1950s-present, using the "Exploring America in the XXXXs" series. Update: Super happy with this. Only complaint is we spend too much time in this rabbit hole. 4. Civics: iCivics. Oak Meadow Civics I have OM on hand but I think I like iCivics better (+ for games!). Reading parts of Changing Tomorrow 2; skipping the essays. Update: iCivics is great. DS is not a huge fan of the worksheet format and busywork, but he is coming around. Lots of great discussion. 5a. Health: Homegrown (one semester). Mishmash, based on PBS's In Defense of Food curriculum plus readings from YOU: The Owner's Manual for Teens and Health: Making Life Choices plus other ad hoc resources. Also going to do Operation Fit Kids (three weeks). Update: Very happy with this; no plans to change. 5b. Finance: Stock Market Game (one semester). Planning to participate and use their lesson plans. Should be about 20 lessons plus time spent "playing." I think we have to play during their official season, which lasts 8-10 weeks. Geography: Zombie-based geography (one semester). Going to lighten the load and do S&V World Geography & You books, along with Maps & Charts instead. Dang it! Not enough hours in the day. Hoping to assign some of this as independent read / worksheets but we won't get through it all. 6. IT: If we can fit it in, we are going to try Code for Teens (javascript). I like the sounds of the Photoshop course CrazyForLatin listed, though. Might do a Flash class; might do a computer-based Creative Workshop. Taking a computer class at public school instead. 6. Music: Continuing guitar. 1. Science: Local public school. Might do an engineering and science co-op or Exploration Education at home if we have time. 2. German 1: Local public school. 3. PE/Art/Digital Media: Local public school (one semester each) Edit: Made some decisions... Edit 2: Made some more decisions, but still too much liberal arts... ####
  13. Great question. I often see "critical thinking skills" categorized as an offshoot of math on this forum. I suppose I can see a bit of that in terms of problem-solving and logic puzzles at a younger age, but I see it as teaching kids to be skeptical; to analyze meaning and intent; to define subtext, to evaluate details and how they relate to broad strokes; to scrutinize facts, opinions, media; to recognize agendas, spin, credibility, consistency, etc. I teach these skills mainly through history; sometimes literature and often in writing.
  14. Hakim -- condensed version. Takes two years to do all four books and they are excellent. K12 has study guides that have a variety of activities. We used these quite a bit but generally answered questions orally.
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