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Beefing up a chemistry course, Spectrum

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I hope to use Spectrum Chemistry with ds15, but I need to be able to document 180 hours of work in the course. In reading old posts on this board, it seems that there are only a couple of hours of work per week. I don't think I can fib enough to stretch 2 hours of work into 5 hours for the week. What can I add to this course to fill the time?


Oh, I'll be turning in the schedule (that details what ds15 did each day in the class) and samples of work done to Keystone High School for a science credit on my son's transcript. That's why I'm worried about showing what he's done for 180 hours.

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No experience here, but I've read that 8FilltheHeart uses Spectrum Chem. along with a PH text.



Wow. Good memory. I used PH with a different dd. I had my ds use Spectrum along with Plato's chemistry. I had speculated that for my next dd I would switch to PH w/Spectrum b/c I wondered if Plato and Spectrum would be enough together b/c she does not "fill in the big" on her own like her brother but needs more direct teaching. However, ds has had such an easy transition into AP chem that I am leaning toward just sticking with the Spectrum/Plato combination. (neither one takes much time and ds insists that they complement each other very well.)


FWIW, the labs w/Spectrum are time consuming. The reading isn't much, but the labs are.

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Do you include labs in the time?

If your spectrum labs are too easy (no idea since I don't use Spectrum): we are using labpaq for chem labs and are very satisfied. Doing the lab and a proper typed up lab report takes a lot of time.


My DD is supplementing her textbook with Khan academy videos which she finds helpful for explaining difficult concepts.

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I have no personal experience with how long the lessons & labs take. I'm going only by what I'm reading in old posts on this board. I saw a few people mention they do this subject twice a week and the lessons take about 30 minutes and the labs about an hour. I need to submit my plan to Keystone for preapproval. I've got the scope and sequence for Spectrum. I thought maybe I should list something else as well, like an extra text. Maybe I'll word it this way:


Textbook lessons with exercises

Labs, workbook, lab reports (I'm not sure what the lab workbook)

Weekly essays based on outside research (they don't have to be long but I don't know if there is any writing in this course)


That sounds like it could work out to be a total of 180 hours.


I did find a Prentice Hall Chemistry (2004) textbook on Amazon that has a Guided Reading and Study Workbook. I wonder if that would be helpful, maybe in place of the weekly essays.


It's difficult to plan a program without having the actual materials in hand.

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Dd read part of http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Murder-History-Poison/dp/0192806009


I would think there would be many suitable books or articles on subjects likes explosives, everyday chemistry--like cooking/baking, etc. I don't know how Keystone would view it. Some academic research papers or college text chapters are not bad reading either, especially if the student is just writing summaries as best as they can at their level--I wouldn't make it testable material for the home school.


In addition, there is the potential for more interesting college interviews if your student has an opportunity to express an interest in a topic outside of typical high school textbooks.

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I have no personal experience with how long the lessons & labs take. I'm going only by what I'm reading in old posts on this board. I saw a few people mention they do this subject twice a week and the lessons take about 30 minutes and the labs about an hour.




I think the time for Spectrum will vary depending upon the student and how you use the program. My son and I went over the lessons together, and we often pulled in related info and used our chemical models while discussing the material. We did the course this way because he's a strong auditory learner and loves to discuss what he's learning. We probably spent 45 min - 1 hour going over each lesson and then he went on to do the problems, which usually took from 15 min to half an hour. The labs do vary in length. Some are 30 - 60 minutes, others can take a couple of hours. There are a few where you set up a condition and then check on it over a few days or weeks.


The Spectrum lab book contains all the directions for labs and also blanks to fill in the data. There are 30 labs. The program doesn't require written lab reports, although you could have your student do some if you want to. We chose not to do formal lab reports for Spectrum (9th grade). I'm working on teaching my son that skill now, and he'll do more of it in the coming years.


In early high school, I personally don't think typed lab reports are necessary. At that point, I just want the student doing and learning the science without the burden of detailed lab reports. I make them write longer reports as they near the end of high school. My older son was able to transition to college just fine, and he now has to do multiple page typed reports with research and references. He did fine with a low key approach to lab reports in high school.




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I too am interested in this thread as I love what I see in Spectrum for both middle and high school level and am ordering middle school today. We have to have 120 hours per year for a course for high school credit and I was wondering about this. I don't have any kids who might need a higher level chem course based upon where they are headed in life (one will need heavy physics), and I like the idea of the concise lessons without the garbage that Spectrum offers as it appears it will be information that will be retained well. I am big on conceptual learning for areas where a child is likely not to head for a career, and of course far more detailed instruction in areas a child is likely to head for future professions.


For a non science major, is this enough do you think? We are not classically oriented, and are working with kids who were adopted from overseas as pre-teens so we need to think more globally for their education for the next several years, while still preparing them for basic college level should they decide to go that route.





Mom to 5

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Thanks for the information. I'm really leaning towards pulling information in as needed. I like the idea of buying an extra textbook but I'll probably have him research some information at the library, a skill which he needs to work on anyway. I know I will incorporate some kind of writing component but I really need to buy Spectrum and see how it is laid out before I can decide. My son actually works slowly, especially when he has to write something. I just want him to like this course since he really didn't care for any of the Biology topics.

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