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Looking for books, articles, experiences that describe non-traditional high school


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I'm not talking about completely avoiding textbooks as has been discussed in other recent threads. I'm not sure what I'm looking for exactly. I guess I just want to explore approaches that don't look like school at home and read some success stories. We are feeling a little burned out on the school at home mode. If you have used an out of the box or non-traditional approach or know of books that describe such an approach please post. Whether you have stepped away from texts (or have stepped away from a particular approach), have an unusual approach to grading, don't follow a typical daily schedule, use community resources or mentors, gear education toward special interests or talents (like music) I'd love to hear your Dc's education looks like.

 

I'm asking for myself and a friend who is pondering what her Dc's educational experience in high school should look like. She is a little worried about stepping away from the traditional route. I'm not sure I can do it either, but I'm interested in hearing about those who do or have.

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Are you referring an unschooling approach? You can glean some of this from the Colfax's Homeschooling for Excellence and John Taylor Gatto books.

 

Lisa

 

Depends on what you mean by unschooling, but no, I wouldn't say unschooling--more like any type of non-traditional approach.

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You can look for my posts. We've taken a fairly non-traditional approach based on TWTM. I think if you read TWTM with the idea that it teaches the student to teach themselves anything they want (in an academic way), then it is easily adapted to non-traditional. It tells you how to do independent projects, how to learn any subject (in an academic way), and other things like that. A good bit of the book is about how to lay in the foundation for being able to learn from books, any books. That part might look rather school-y, but the rest is very un-school-y. We used travel and gymnastics and hands-on building and sailing as non-academic (mostly) parts of our children's education. Anyway, if you look at my posts, it might give you some idea of what we did. Because we wanted our children to go to college, we spent the last bit of high school on the transition from our type of learning to the more traditional classroom and textbook type of learning. I would hesitate to drop a child straight from what we did into a full load of university classes.

 

Nan

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How far you go really depends on the dc. I'm right there where you are, so I'll just throw out a couple tidbits.

 

Morning by Morning: How We Home-Schooled Our African-American Sons to the Ivy League This book is interesting as an example of one way it can go. I recommended it to someone else, and she took it as this dire warning of setting your kids up for failure (the boys dropped out of the Ivy League schools they got into) by getting them used to always having their own way. So there you go, can't win, lol. Seriously though, I think it's good to think from both sides of it, both what works now and what prepares them mentally for the future. I'm not saying how FAR you need to go with that (I'm NOT saying you have to turn high school into college or be mean about it or something). It's just something to think through. It seems like most of the comments people talk about with homeschooled kids in college are related to time management, deadlines, uncompromising assignments, etc.

 

Two, you can research writing a transcript showing units (time spent) vs. credits (material covered). This gives you a LOT more flexibility with a non-traditional approach and allows you to quantify work done over a number of years or other non-standard way.

 

Home Learning Year by Year: How to Design a Homeschool Curriculum from Preschool Through High School A friend keeps reminding me to consult this book, because she has specific recommendations for every subject, all the way through high school.

 

There are way father books out there. We've had some lists on the SN board maybe? But they get much farther out there than many people are willing to go. You know, this is just me, but I don't think you can take what you've been doing through 8th grade (hopefully successfully!) and just have some RADICAL SHIFT to some other style and expect it to go well. I think you have to cast off the high school cloud and be very true to who you are, how you work well together, and how your kid really learns. My kid learns well when the material engages her and when it hits her at just the right time. She's happiest with clear structure. She needs very clear writing assignments. These are just inviolables of how we work, and I can't change that. I need a lot more time pre-planning to have a successful year. Non-traditional especially can take some real planning to pull off, even if you're compiling resources and not trying to plan specifically per se. So when things fall apart or feel like they're too hard, could it actually be there wasn't enough *pre* planning to pull it off? Preplanning when I feel well is what covers my butt when I need to go on auto-pilot. Non-traditional is not easier in that sense but harder.

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If you have used an out of the box or non-traditional approach or know of books that describe such an approach please post. Whether you have stepped away from texts (or have stepped away from a particular approach), have an unusual approach to grading, don't follow a typical daily schedule, use community resources or mentors, gear education toward special interests or talents (like music) I'd love to hear your Dc's education looks like.

 

I successfully did all of the above with both my kids, to one degree or another, and it worked wonderfully. I have fond memories of the high school years and my kids both appreciate their unique education. My really outside the box ds is graduating from college in early June and my more academic ds is thriving in a traditionally academic LAC (liberal arts college).

 

I'm going to try to give examples some of the particulars you mentioned in your post.

 

1. Stepping away from textbooks. Absolutely. The only text books or prepackaged programs I used in high school were for math, Latin, logic and science. Most science was actually outsourced, and I only prepared one complete homeschool science course where I used a textbook, Teaching Company DVDs, some prepackaged experiments and lots of on-line resources. They instead read literature and nonfiction, watched lots of Teaching Company lectures and PBS documentaries, and listened with me to NPR while in the car. We attended lectures and plays, went on docent led tours, and as a family we discussed everything. Learning wasn't something that was confined to school hours -- it is what we did and still do as a family.

 

2. Unusual approach to grading. Well, here's the cold truth I've never admitted on this board. I didn't grade! They worked until they achieved mastery. When they took a math chapter test they had to find their mistakes and fix them. If they weren't getting it, we'd work until they understood, then moved on. Every paper they wrote had to be edited and rewritten. In fact they usually didn't start writing an essay without us having first discussed the thesis and supporting arguments. More often than not their topics arose from discussions we were having anyway.

 

They took tests in outside classes, but because mastery was ingrained in them from our homeschool culture, it wasn't a terrifying or bewildering task. They both are A students in college with the occasional B on a test or paper to keep them humble.

 

3. Daily schedule. They got up when they got up. It was usually by 9, but occasionally 10. They had to do math and Latin each day before any outside activities. They scheduled their own reading, writing and project time. We'd sometimes have our discussions in the car, but I'd make a time for us to sit together and go over whatever they were reading or doing in, say, history or science. Both kids had large outside commitments, which leads me to the next point...

 

4. Community resources and mentors. Which ties in with

5. Gearing education towards special interests.

 

My most outside the box son started volunteering with the tech department at church when he was 13. Before long he was working there 10 hours a week learning about lighting and sound and projections and the powerpoint lyrics presentations. He also was heavily involved in a community youth theater both on stage and back stage or in the tech booth. By the time he graduated he was being invited by local schools and by other theater groups to design the lights for their shows. Each time he comes home from college his old mentors are begging for him to come help with one thing or another.

 

I incorporated all of this into his high school transcript. He had courses titled "project based learning", and "Technical Theater" and your basic Theater. His American history course was full of plays and playwrights, and the PBS series on the history of Broadway. A project for his science course was a video he made, Mythbusters style, demonstrating the science behind the theatrical magic of having "ghosts" in the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. For a senior project he wrote a stage manager's handbook for his youth theater group. For health he did a final project that was a public service video on the health benefits of coffee!

 

My more academic ds had a semester's "career exploration" course where he worked with an engineer friend, testing electrical equipment and soldering circuit boards. He also had an internship at the zoo where he blogged about interviews of zoo scientists and keepers. He pretty much unschooled all his literature and history courses but took math, science and economics at the community college, all while working 10-20 hours a week at a local science museum.

 

 

We talked about their homeschool careers over Christmas dinner, trying to figure out what specifically worked. Most of their college success is due to their own hard work, their desire to be doing what they are doing. I can take some credit that they know what they want because they were given the time during their middle school and high school years to explore. Our reading and discussing and sharing really did instill that love of learning that had been my idealistic goal when we started homeschooling.

 

Hope that helps get you started in your thinking!

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There is a book with a title something like HOmeschoolers Guide to Transcripts and Portfolios. I think it is out of print so you will have to look used. This might help you with the structure part. It has a section that helps you to define your goals and others that help you to decide what sort of record-keeping you want to do and what sort of end of year package you want to put together (portfolio or transcript).

 

Having your goals clearly defined is really really important if you are going to do anything non-traditional. Otherwise, you might find yourself blowing in the wind and not actually accomplishing what needs to be accomplished. Teenagers create a lot of wind lol. That is good. You need to listen to them. But you need to be able to make sure that as they go this way and that, they are also learning what needs to be learned. Worry creates wind. Looking at what other people are doing creates wind.

 

If you divide your goals into skills and content, it makes you more flexible. You can work on the skills part explicitly and leave the student to cover whatever content is of interest within some rough categories. Or if you are clever, you can teach the skills within the context of the interests. Or you can teach the skills in a lump (except math - that has to be done every day) and then turn the student loose to use those skills to teach himself. Or... Hopefully you get the idea.

 

Some ideas. Maybe people will add to this list? I think it works best if your student puts lots of time into a few of these things rather than dabbles in many. Most of these require time and commitment in order to get the most benefit out of them. If, as your student is doing them, you think about what academic skills are involved, you can help your student practise and develop those skills - things like presentations, research, foreign languages, math, or designing an experiment.

 

Reenacting - everything from volunteering for living history museums to do-it-yourself to society of creative anacronisms to Revolutionary War re-enactment groups who tent out weekends and fight mock battles and have marching bands with fifes

Travel - family travel, year abroad, language schools, Europe-with-a-backpack-and-Eurail-pass summers, save-the-world volunteering - this gives meaning and purpose to language study and sometimes even desperation lol

Science Fairs - there is a great website which gives some idea of why this is such a cool thing to do. If I get a minute, I'll look for it. Basically, it is a chance for students to do their own scientific research projects and show them off.

Science Competitions - ditto

Math Competitions

Chess and other gaming clubs

Rhetoric competitions

Toastmasters - don't know much about this but it shows up every once in awhile

Sports

Scouts - lots of opportunity to develop leadership skills, hobby skills, future career skills, outdoor skills, living skills, etc.

Internships

Environmental organizations like Audubon

Rescue organizations like your local animal shelter

Elder care

Religious organizations - music opportunities here as well as opportunities to volunteer

Child care

Homeless shelters

Soup kitchens

Museum volunteers

YMCA

Job skills (getting certified in CPR, lifeguarding, computer tech, master gardener, etc.)

4-H

Music

Art

Theatre

Dance

Local clubs like the astronomy club

Politics

Own small business

Boating - sailing club, racing, fishing, kayak camping

Pilot's license

Civil Air Patrol

Sea Scouts

Home ed/shop skills

 

Have fun!

Nan

 

 

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I can't remember when I first read Nan describing "skills and content" goals, but it was one of the d'oh! moments because it is exactly what I was doing without ever describing it nearly as succinctly. Same with her description of "input and output".

 

Skills for us was reading, writing and math, and those were worked on in a mindful, regular way. Content -- the input -- was anything and everything. Reading, tv, being out and about in the world, pursuing interests and making connections to other fields and subjects. Output could be tailored to the kid, such as my oldest's videos, but writing had to be mastered.

 

And here I thought I was all done talking about homeschooling. You drew me back in!

 

ETA There was a thread, years ago (2008? 2009?) about senior projects our kids were doing that year, and it was fascinating to read about all the interesting things going on. Making Jane Austen period costumes, for instance, or working in living history museums. I'll try to make some time today to dig it up and link it.

 

ETA number 2. I found it!! What a walk down memory lane... Senior projects

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Shannon, thank you so much for starting this conversation! I am gradually realizing that there is So Much dd can do in high school...

 

Glad to know I'm not the only one thinking this way. I may be sorry though--so many options, so little time, too many choices. I should not have picked a day when I have a raging sinus headache to post about this! :rolleyes: Partly I was prompted to post this after sitting and reading Ds's Biology text, feeling like we are so far behind b/c of extracurriculars and out of the box things we do while trying to combine with a traditional approach. That worked fine in the younger years, but high school materials are such a step up that it seems like I can't do both approaches any more. It seems like we are going to have to make some choices and I'm wondering what others have done.

 

I feel like a yo-yo b/c I go back and forth thinking they have to learn this certain body of material and they have to learn how to learn it the traditional way. Then I get annoyed by the confines and think life is too short. But, when I think about a less traditional approach and how to structure it, well, I feel just plain exhausted at the thought of pulling it together. As I said, bad day for me to even be contemplating these things---raging headache and exhaustion today are bad enough that I can't see beyond them!

 

I'll be reading replies later, when I'm done meeting with Ds for writing, biology, and geometry. Hopefully I'll feel better then.

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I can't remember when I first read Nan describing "skills and content" goals, but it was one of the d'oh! moments because it is exactly what I was doing without ever describing it nearly as succinctly. Same with her description of "input and output".

 

Skills for us was reading, writing and math, and those were worked on in a mindful, regular way. Content -- the input -- was anything and everything. Reading, tv, being out and about in the world, pursuing interests and making connections to other fields and subjects. Output could be tailored to the kid, such as my oldest's videos, but writing had to be mastered.

 

And here I thought I was all done talking about homeschooling. You drew me back in!

 

This is kinda what I'm talking about. Can you give me an example of what you might have written on the transcript and what your Dc actually did to earn credit?

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In reply to my loose description of what input and out put were, Shanvan asked:

 

This is kinda what I'm talking about. Can you give me an example of what you might have written on the transcript and what your Dc actually did to earn credit?

 

They got credit for American History, World History, English 9, 10, 11, 12 and so forth, because the courses had BOTH input and output. The scope of the course didn't have to be all inclusive -- in history we focused on a shorter span of of time, for instance, or on several short periods. The scope for the science course I created was based off of a SAT II prep book. Literature was whatever I wanted it to be, though it was generally tied in with history so that they read American literature while studying American history, and read literature related to whatever period and region we were studying in world history.

 

The input was varied and generally selected by me, with some regard to their interests and strengths. The output was also varied, but there had to be output. Sometimes it was a final project for a semester course such as health. Sometimes there would be an essay or research paper, perhaps a paper per subject per month, so 1 science paper, 1 history paper, 1 essay on literature. Or a series of short research topics.

 

The bottom line was that they were exposed to the subject, absorbed a fair amount of the information, and demonstrated their thinking on the subject primarily through writing, but also through video projects or powerpoint type presentations. It was just not prepackaged by the pointy headed editors of some random curriculum company!

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In reply to my loose description of what input and out put were, Shanvan asked:

 

 

 

They got credit for American History, World History, English 9, 10, 11, 12 and so forth, because the courses had BOTH input and output. The scope of the course didn't have to be all inclusive -- in history we focused on a shorter span of of time, for instance, or on several short periods. The scope for the science course I created was based off of a SAT II prep book. Literature was whatever I wanted it to be, though it was generally tied in with history so that they read American literature while studying American history, and read literature related to whatever period and region we were studying in world history.

 

The input was varied and generally selected by me, with some regard to their interests and strengths. The output was also varied, but there had to be output. Sometimes it was a final project for a semester course such as health. Sometimes there would be an essay or research paper, perhaps a paper per subject per month, so 1 science paper, 1 history paper, 1 essay on literature. Or a series of short research topics.

 

The bottom line was that they were exposed to the subject, absorbed a fair amount of the information, and demonstrated their thinking on the subject primarily through writing, but also through video projects or powerpoint type presentations. It was just not prepackaged by the pointy headed editors of some random curriculum company!

 

Thank you! So, no tests, the projects, or papers determined the grade? Or did you make up tests for the material you covered? I'm really unhappy with tests made by publishers currently, though I realize they need to learn how to take them.

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Thank you! So, no tests, the projects, or papers determined the grade? Or did you make up tests for the material you covered? I'm really unhappy with tests made by publishers currently, though I realize they need to learn how to take them.

 

You don't need to do tests, but don't forget that "tests" can take many forms, including open book tests and oral exams. It's also easy to make up a test with 4-5 discussion questions (which can cover topics you've already discussed), each requiring a paragraph or so to answer. An essay can count as a test, too.

 

Also keep in mind that some textbooks are less "texty" than others. For science, some that I can think of off the top of my head include Exploring the Way Life Works (bio), How Things Work (physics, & there's a Coursera course that goes with it), and Caveman Chemistry (there are also various Kitchen Chemistry type books). You can also do less common sciences, depending on student interest, like Field Biology or Geology, Equine Science, Astronomy, etc.

 

I'm currently trying to figure out how to reconcile our rather out-of-the-box approach to school with the new NCAA requirements. :glare:

 

Jackie

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I love you all today. My life is currently in upheaval and some of our schooling will need to change. skills vs. content, input vs. output. I so need this conversation today. Thank you. Jenny in Fl also has some great posts on approaching school in unconventional ways. Also check out Jackie's posts, she has some wonderful ideas.

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This is kinda what I'm talking about. Can you give me an example of what you might have written on the transcript and what your Dc actually did to earn credit?

 

 

Here is what our high school looked like:

 

Remember that we did enough WTM when they were younger that this was possible. For example, Writing Strands laid the foundation for being able to do literature a la TWEM. Years of natural study laid the foundation meant that when they did natural history as high schoolers, they already knew many plants and trees and birds, some basic tracking, lots of basic vocabulary (crepescular, for example), knew how to draw, knew how to hold still and watch something, and so forth. The younger one did Conceptual Physics and the first bit of Conceptual Chemistry before high school, so he had enough basis to be able to do an independent project on quantum physics and to be able to be dropped straight into calculus-based physics at the community college without ever having done high school physics. Youngest had enough French to spend a summer in Switzerland. Previous years of TWTM meant that they entered high school reading at an adult level. I'm not saying that only students who have done TWTM for elementary and middle school will be able to do something interesting for high school. I'm saying that if you don't have good academic skills, you probably will need to work so hard on those that you will not have as much time to do the interesting things, whereas if you start with some of those skills in place, it will be easier to practise and develop them while doing the other interesting things.

 

Unless they were traveling, until they started community college, we did school from 7 until 2. After that, they did gymnastics and "homework". Homework was writing papers, Latin excersizes, math excersizes, and reading. They worked really hard to make room for the interesting things and the traveling. They did some reading (the most fun stuff that we weren't going to do together), sometimes some art, and finished their math books over the summer. Without the mosquitoes, I doubt we would have gotten the math books finished, but there isn't much to do on a boat once they drive you below. We sacrificed a lot of domino games for their math.

 

Youngest is more academically able (TWTM from the beginning), so he has independent projects that he worked on. These are things that he was curious about and chose to study. None of them started as official independent projects. I tried to make sure he had enough spare time to play. This was really really difficult but crucial. What happened was that I would suddenly notice that he was spending every second he could spare and some that he couldn't (grrrr) working on something. He'd start asking me to order books for him, or asking me questions about something, or asking me if we could stop by Radio Shack on the way home, or making long phone calls to relatives who had the information he wanted. He'd spend hours on the internet or building something. At some point, I would realize that he had been working on the same thing for months. I would make a few enquiries, get him to list out the books he'd been looking at and the things he had built and name the project, and we would discuss what sort of output he was going to produce. "Output" meant "writing" in most cases, although in a few, he did some sort of oral presentation and we put his notes and his book lists in his notebook. In a few cases, I looked at what he had done and tell him he also had to read about this and do that. For example, for electronics, I made him do something with a controller (controler? I can't spell.) In all cases, for it to count as an academic project, it had to involve research, reading, and output. If none of those were involved, it counted as an extracurricular activity instead of a class for credit. The independent projects were truly independent. Most of the time, I had no idea what he was actually doing. I never walked him through the research process. I never specified the number or type of sources. There are directions for doing a less independent independent project in TWTM. If your student isn't ready to do this totally on his or her own, then you might want to follow those directions.

 

Math - NEM then pre-calc (and for my youngest, calc) at the community college. I was totally petrified of messing up their math. We didn't do this informally. I watched them like hawks, worked with them, and then put them in a classroom.

 

Language Arts/Literature/History - We followed TWTM directions (more or less) using TWEM. This gave us lots and lots of flexibility. It was lovely. I highly recommend it. For us, it was the perfecct mix of structured and unstructured. It gave my sons a framework, a way to think about their reading. We did the reading aloud together, for the most part. It was slow that way but it suited us. We worked on writing seperately, usually in intensive bursts (skipping literature to do it). Mine didn't write easily so we worked and worked and worked on this. The older one did some vocabulary at first but there wasn't really time to do it. They got their grammar from Latin. The youngest did a history book series from France, in French. At least, he did it to the best of his ability, considering my weak French. This was very efficient because it covered French and history at the same time. Besides, it is almost all primary sources and as such, very WTMish. For US history and government, they read spines, some of the founding documents, and lots of fast-read extras (mostly from TWTM logic stage list). They finished up with speech, drawing, and composition classes at the community college.

 

Foreign Language/Travel - We did some Latin, with a textbook. They did a crash course in Japanese and then went to Japan for a few weeks or months. They did some French and then went to a French speaking country for awhile.

 

Social Studies - Through traveling and some reading, they got credits for Japan Studies, Native American Studies, and Peace Studies.

 

Science - They did two years of something we called Natural History. The first year, we used MODG's Natural History curriculum as a spine, with a ton of additional reading and projects. The second year, they read the Biology book with the dragonfly on the cover, answered some of the questions in it, did lots of extra reading, and concentrated on learning to design an experiment. Natural History sounds like science-lite but this really was the period of time where they learned to BE scientists, not just STUDY science. Then we dumped them into the community college to get some textbook science. (One of my regrets is that youngest never got a chance to do The Illustrated Guide to Home Chemistry Experiments. At least, I think I regret this.)

 

Their transscripts are ungraded and undated, organized according to subject, with fairly descriptive course titles. I used a combination of time spent, input, and output to guage how much credit to give each course. I kept track of everything they did by writing everything down in a spiral bound notebook that I had divided into subjects (math, bio, chemistry, physics, Latin, French, Great Books, Writing, World History, US History, Art, Music, PE), leaving room to add other subjects as they arose. This let me keep track of how much work they had done in area. I could look and see that if they did one more book and one more paper, they would have a credit in blank, and I would add those things to their to-do list. In the end, I divided everythign they did up into classes and made a transcript.

 

As we went along, I did keep in mind the statement I had made with my husband of our educational goals, the fact that they were going to have to transfer to a traditional classroom some day (college), the list of things our state requires be taught, and the list of things the more selective colleges want, including standardized testing, advanced courses, four years of math, science, English, history, and foreign language, some way of comparing my student to other students, and some way of validating my transcript. For this last, I chose community college classes but AP or SAT2 tests, outside high school classes, and some other things are other options. I chose community college classes because I wanted my children to have some sort of transition from our loose homeschooling to formal classroom/textbook/laboratory learning before they went to university.

 

Ok. So now I've about written a book. Hopefully, that will give you an idea of how to combine the traditional and untraditional. The untraditional is scary, but it doesn't have to be as scary as completely unschooling. We did a nice mix, I think. Despite all my care, the first classroom textbook-based science class was a ton of work for my chidlren as they worked out how to study, how to answer textbook questions (this is really tricky unless you have grown up with it or the questions are really well-written), how to take notes, how to follow a syllabus, how to take tests, etc. Just be aware of that and try to teach good study and academic skills as you go along, things like how to read something really difficult and how to pick out the main point. Make sure you teach different sorts of academic writing including how to write a lab report, and how to site your sources, and how to find information. Some test prep before taking the SAT (or ACT) is something to consider as well.

 

Nan

 

PS - Both mine got into the colleges they wanted.

 

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Nan, you may have written a book of a post---but it was good book! Thanks! I'm still processing all of this and it will probably take me quite some time to figure out how I want to approach things next year. I'm not going to make a lot of changes all at once.

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Our life is about to turn upside down (again) in a few months, so I'm following this thread... :)

 

I'm pretty sure that we would be known around here as eclectic in our approach to learning. Somehow both of my girls ended up having very unique interests, so this does play a role in our eclectic style.

 

My older dd is the high school student, so I can share a few things we are doing:

 

Math-She's behind in math...she just needs more time with it than most do....We're very traditional here....Jacob's Algebra I that is going well so far. I don't have any problems with breaking away from tradtional school years. (In fact, lately, I've gotten very good at it...lol!) Our plan for now is to add geometry light (Patty Paper) to our work now and when she's about 1/2 to 2/3 the way through algebra we will begin Jacob's Geometry. (This will hopefully get her caught up...my overall goal is for her to complete through pre-calculus before graduating.)

 

English-We're a bit all over the place with this subject. We're using many resources and she's reading a wide variety of books. My biggest focus is to find a method or approach to writing that works for us. I still cannot find the right book or resource for this. Reading is her passion, so I don't have to push very hard in this area. I put books she doesn't pick up on her own in front of her and we discuss and read together. She's a chatty kind of girl and loves this!

 

I divide our books into three categories:

 

independent reading (some of these I pick out and some she picks out...and she reads from these each week....I created Book Notes for some of these and she picks two narration ideas from my list and writes her narrations in a notebook...this is all done independently. I usually read and edit her narrations once a week. Her assignment sheet has these on it and most of her assignments are due by the end of school on Friday. This gives her the flexibility to work on these assignments as she wants.)

 

free reading (completely up to her...we don't even really dig into these)

 

books for literature (I pick and we read together and discuss. These are the books from which I would like to draw her essays.)

 

Science- We're very traditional right now...she's working through Prentice Hall's Physical Science book right now...I don't intend for her to complete every chapter. I'm very unsatisfied with our approach to science and am looking at changing it. I'm still considering an integrated approach. Right now, in the midst of our unendingly chaotic schedule and life, I'm keeping her stable with a textbook approach (which for now is at least exposing her to the traditional textbook approach) and we are taking our time with it. My ultimate goal, as always, is that she understands what we are learning.

 

History-We're just beginning to venture into a new time period in history, the ancient greeks, and will be taking a humanites approach with this. My dd is a humanities loving kind of girl and is happy with this approach. This is our plan:

 

History spine-Book of the Ancient Greeks

History supplements-primary source readings and excerpts from Herodotus and others as they are needed

History video/audio-Teaching Company lectures

 

Art History spine- History of Art for Young People (only the section on the ancients)

Art History video/audio-lectures from Khan Academy(only the section on the ancients) (I'm going to have her take notes on some of these lectures and then write some summaries from these...)

 

Philosophy spine-Story of Philosophy (again, only the section on the ancients)

Philosophy supplements-we'll read additional book or two...I'm still working on that list

 

Literature-

Iliad, Odyssey, 3 Theban Plays and the Oresteia Trilogy (She's reading Age of Fable for independent reading right now.)

Literature video/audio-lectures by Vandiver for Iliad and Odyssey

Literature supplements-Fran Rutherford's guide and various other guides and resources

 

Geography-

First, she'll just do mapwork as it corresponds with history but as she gets to reading the Odyssey we'll add this book:

Halliburton's The Glorious Adventure (the author travels the same path as Odysseus)

 

We have lots of other topics the girls study together or each at their level, but I won't list all of this too... :)

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...Halliburton's The Glorious Adventure (the author travels the same path as Odysseus)...

 

 

Richard Halliburton? I read his adventure books growing up and loved them. My grandfather had a bunch of them from when he was a child. I haven't seen them as a grownup. I bet they are like my grandfather's Rover Boys books and Boy's Book - a sea of political incorrectness and maximum impact camping lol. I'd love to read the Odysseus one. I don't happen to remember that one and I'm rereading The Odyssey right now. I wonder if our library has it...

Nan

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Richard Halliburton? I read his adventure books growing up and loved them. My grandfather had a bunch of them from when he was a child. I haven't seen them as a grownup. I bet they are like my grandfather's Rover Boys books and Boy's Book - a sea of political incorrectness and maximum impact camping lol. I'd love to read the Odysseus one. I don't happen to remember that one and I'm rereading The Odyssey right now. I wonder if our library has it...

Nan

 

 

 

LOL! You're probably right about that. I haven't read the book myself, but my dd read his Complete Book of Marvels and really enjoyed it.

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English- ... My biggest focus is to find a method or approach to writing that works for us. I still cannot find the right book or resource for this...

 

We struggled with this, too. The only thing I found that worked was picking one particular problem with their writing, learning how to do that myself using a variety of resources, and then reteaching it to them. In other words, we did it the hard way. We made a huge amount of progress that way but not until they were able to write something - anything - fast and easily enough that they could get enough practice to improve. It was a vicious cycle that held them down for quite awhile. I put a ton of time into this. A high school English teacher popped in here once and suggested using the Schaffer method. I bought the book and spent a few weeks working on teaching that formula (and it is a strict, sentence by sentence formula) to my youngest and that solved his organizational problems. He was able to depart from the formula without losing the organization after writing about three papers using it strictly. Bravewriter courses helped, too. And the book Powerful Paragraphs. And that handout on spelling rules from that site. And working on storytelling and nature journals and travel journals. The French history curriculum didn't hurt, either.

 

Low level academic writing is really stupid, in my sons' opinions, and I tend to agree, which didn't help us at all. They were reluctant to write stupid things and they couldn't write good things and they wound up refusing to write anything. Ug. Somehow, we had to get past that. Part of getting past it was making sure that the writing I required them to do, except during our intensive "learn to write" sessions, was real writing, not assignments to teach them to write.

 

This was actually one reason we wound up not doing a curriculum in some subjects, or doing things TWTM style. That way, they got to pick their own form of output and write about what THEY had learned, not what somebody else thought they should have learned. They were much more willing to write when they had something to say. It is like the difference between doing an experiment to figure out something that you want to know and then telling somebody about it, and being told to write a paper about why one should wear a seatbelt.

 

I tried to have their output be something real, something they thought up themselves, something that began with a blank piece of paper.

 

I think sometimes people hesitate to follow TWTM method of learning something in high school because it tends to involve doing the same thing over and over again, doing a horrible job at it at first and then gradually getting better at doing it rather than assigning tasks which gradually get harder and harder, each of which can be done well. Either you have to have some idea of what "well" is for this particular age, or you have to abandon the idea of grading every assignment and instead critique every assignment so that the next one will be better and then at the end of the year write a narrative assessment talking about what the student has learned to do and how he has improved.

 

Nan

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LOL! You're probably right about that. I haven't read the book myself, but my dd read his Complete Book of Marvels and really enjoyed it.

 

Ooh - I think I had that one. I loved it. I'd rather my boys didn't imitate him, but I loved reading about somebody else doing it.

 

Nan

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Low level academic writing is really stupid, in my sons' opinions, and I tend to agree, which didn't help us at all. They were reluctant to write stupid things and they couldn't write good things and they wound up refusing to write anything. Ug. Somehow, we had to get past that. Part of getting past it was making sure that the writing I required them to do, except during our intensive "learn to write" sessions, was real writing, not assignments to teach them to write.

 

This was actually one reason we wound up not doing a curriculum in some subjects, or doing things TWTM style. That way, they got to pick their own form of output and write about what THEY had learned, not what somebody else thought they should have learned. They were much more willing to write when they had something to say. It is like the difference between doing an experiment to figure out something that you want to know and then telling somebody about it, and being told to write a paper about why one should wear a seatbelt.

 

I tried to have their output be something real, something they thought up themselves, something that began with a blank piece of paper.

 

Nan

 

 

I wanted to like this post multiple times! LOL! :)

 

Everything you wrote makes sense, but this part really connected with me. I've looked at so many writing programs and there are so many that I want to use but for only bits and pieces of it. I want a program that uses classic literature because my dd doesn't relate to most modern, textbook style examples. Does that make sense? She actually wants to learn from authors such as Scott (for some), Dickens, Sutcliff, Tolkien, Bronte sisters, etc. She did recently read a short novella by D.H. Lawrence (yes, I was careful with her with this author...lol...it was St. Mawr) and one by James Joyce (The Dead), so I she can say she does enjoy some authors outside of her favorites, but she really connects with the style of the former authors. I am feeling very frustrated with this, but I'm so overwhelmed with things going on here that I've taking a light attitude with it for now. She is working in a grammar book that I think is very good for her. At least we have this part right. I think I will save this thread and can come back to your words in a few months (after the move back to the states). I think you're exactly right about how I'm going to have to do this...it will be the hard way too. :)

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I wanted to like this post multiple times! LOL! :)

 

Everything you wrote makes sense, but this part really connected with me. I've looked at so many writing programs and there are so many that I want to use but for only bits and pieces of it. I want a program that uses classic literature because my dd doesn't relate to most modern, textbook style examples. Does that make sense? She actually wants to learn from authors such as Scott (for some), Dickens, Sutcliff, Tolkien, Bronte sisters, etc. She did recently read a short novella by D.H. Lawrence (yes, I was careful with her with this author...lol...it was St. Mawr) and one by James Joyce (The Dead), so I she can say she does enjoy some authors outside of her favorites, but she really connects with the style of the former authors. I am feeling very frustrated with this, but I'm so overwhelmed with things going on here that I've taking a light attitude with it for now. She is working in a grammar book that I think is very good for her. At least we have this part right. I think I will save this thread and can come back to your words in a few months (after the move back to the states). I think you're exactly right about how I'm going to have to do this...it will be the hard way too. :)

 

I know I've read your posts before but I can't remember if you use TWTM or not. If not, you might consider reading the section on high school literature in that and using TWEM. You can use TWEM method to analyse any literature you want. Believe me - it worked just as well for Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as it did for Beowulf and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and The HItchhider's Guide was definately not on TWTM book lists LOL. It is a method, a list of steps on uses when reading whatever book one wishes. The output for each book is an historical background (more like a list than a paper), book notes, discussion, and a project or paper. The project or paper is anything your student chooses. There is a general set of discussion questions for each genre (novel, etc.) that are worth their weight in gold, in my opinion. Because they are general, not specific to a particular book, eventually your student will remember them well enough that they think about them as they read, making the whole process easier. The questions sank in well enough that my engineering-minded child actually told me all about a movie he had seen with the scouts in these terms. It was spectacularly successful and sounds just like what your daughter wants.

 

Both of mine write in a style that is very like P. G. Wodehouse, one of their favourite authors growing up. We were all miserable until I realized I could "fix" a lot of their writing errors by teaching them to punctuate in a much more sophisticated manner than most writing books tackle with high schoolers. They needed semicolons lol. They needed to be able to write sentence fragments. They needed to be able to start their sentences with And or But. Your average set of high school punctuation rules murdered their writing. This is where copywork and dication were helpful lol. We did copywork and dictation using the authors they were imitating and their punctuation improved drastically. It also taught me, without too much effort, how to correct their punctuation. That and this list of spelling rules fixed LOTS of problems. Put together with the Jane Schaffer stuff (which you might not need but which taught mine to write the "fluff" that makes up the part of a paper that isn't quotes or references), it made a reasonable writing program. We worked on technical writing using Powerful Paragraphs and their father's paper format (based on the standard 5-paragraph paper format). We continued to work on story-telling. I taught them to write a precise (sp?). I did something with both of them that involved looking at a number of primary sources, drawing a conclusion, and writing about it, siting the sources (in other words, guessing - this was one of the stupid-at-a-low-level writing things). I taught them to draw and tried to teach them to make an oral presentation without it being half ummms. The book Writers, Inc, left over from when my oldest was in public high school, had directions for citing sources and for writing different sorts of school papers. TWTM site has good directions for writing a research paper. Those were the most useful things I found. The rest we could have skipped. We wasted SO much time trying things that didn't really work. I had to be careful to avoid anything that tried to teach them "style". That was a disaster.

 

The next step would have been to work through how to make a good adult-level argument and properly prove something. We did that at the middle school level but ran out of time. I also would have had them outline something well written and rewrite from the outline then compare the two. They did that for science articles, doing an oral presentation instead of a rewrite, but we didn't get to doing it for anything else. Have you seen the writing book TWTM recommends? That might be worth looking at. I looked at it and liked it, but by the time mine were writing well enough that it would have been useful, we were concentrating on other things like science/tech and I shifted the focus to technical writing.

 

I found that a major problem with teaching high school writing was that my children had no examples of certain kinds of academic writing that I was asking them to do. Fiction, yes, oodles. Technical writing, yes. But good examples of writing ABOUT literature? Good argumentative essays? No. How on earth were my sons supposed to learn to write those without having read lots of good ones first? I never did solve that problem. I had them read some essays from a site someone here recommended and that helped a little, but it was still a problem. If we hadn't decided to concentrate on technical writing, I would have set about finding well-written examples for them.

 

My children still aren't very good writers, but they both wrote MUCH better than their peers when they took Comp 1 at the community college and youngest's speeches in community college speech were such a raging success that the prof told him he had to wait until last to give his and he was asked to repeat one of them. Their profs liked their lab reports. They write fantastic travel journal entries and emails from the other side of the world that really tell me what they are seeing and thinking. They can draw, not fantastically well but well enough to tell people that yes, they can draw, if asked. (I lump drawing in with writing and speaking as an essential form of communication.) Youngest managed to write a startling college application essay that made my mother, who majored in English, just say, "Wow." They can tell a story well enough that they are willing to do it for friends (watching their French and Native American aquaintances tell stories to entertain each other didn't hurt). They are well-spoken enough that they can get their point across without people getting annoyed with them. They can knock out a paper fast enough to survive college (I hope). They know how to tell a good source from a bad one and how to cite them. We met our basic English communication goals. My point in writing all that out is to try to give you an example list of goals, in case it is helpful. If you make a list of writing goals, it is MUCH MUCH easier to teach writing piece-meal.

 

Hopefully something in all that will make your path shorter than mine. Ug. LOL.

 

Good luck with your move!

 

Nan

 

 

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Shanvan -

 

Here is the spelling rules list:

 

http://www.dyslexia.org/spelling_rules.shtml

 

You might want to look at Correlano's posts (might not have doubled the letters in the right place in her name) and lewelma's posts about doing science in a non-traditional way. They are EXCELLENT.

 

And I just wanted to add a warning - I think it is fine to do high school in a non-traditional way, but in every case that I have heard of in which the student went on to study something academic at a good college, the student finished at least one math book every year (unless they were ahead of their peers), read lots of non-fiction, and learned to write. In fact, non-traditional high school actually looked more like true academic work than traditional high school work, which meant that the high school student had to do research and write about it in a MORE grownup way than the average high school student. This doesn't mean the student has to do those things perfectly at the beginning of high school, but it does mean that both student and teacher/facilitator keep that in mind and work towards that goal. It means that the early output efforts might well be marked 'F' if compared to the end goal rather than some sort of mid-point. That mid-point is difficult for the average mother to figure out, a problem if you are grading by grading every assignment and averaging them. You might need to hire a teacher who is familiar with what is "good" for a particular age to grade any output. Or you might need to find a different method of assessing output. Correlano has a post somewhere which makes suggestions of other ways to make tests. It means that you are going to try lots of input only to discover that the level is too low to be useful or too high to be comprehendable and you have to be careful to keep trying to raise the level of input. And that means you need to teach your student how to read something paragraph by paragraph or even sentence by sentence, putting each paragraph or sentence into his own words, and to keep reading something over and over, making sure you understand what each word means. It means you have to keep your eye on the student's problem solving skills (math word problems and other sorts of problems) and make sure they are tackling harder and harder problems. Once a non-traditional student grabs hold of his education and runs with it, this usually isn't a problem lol, but they need monitoring. And you have to make sure they have the writing skills to produce the output that will allow them to succeed in college later (which comes in handy to justify your educational methods to the rest of the world). I've skipped all the part about how it is alternately wonderful and worrisome and frustrating to see them take charge of their own education. With any luck, once they get the hang of it, you will be negotiating for the steering wheel the whole rest of high school. At times, I wondered why on earth I thought it was a good idea to teach them to teach themselves. You sort of create a monster. The things they choose to learn aren't necessarily the things you would choose to have them learn lol. Make sure their morals are well nailed in place. On the other hand, it is THE BEST thing you can do to make sure you don't wind up with one of those sad, apathetic teens who just want to lie on the sofa smoking pot rotting their brains with day-time tv. Better to be arguing about how long this paper is going to be or why they can't read this book rather than that one than arguing about why they can't quit school. My other bit of advice is to be sure to look carefully at your real reasons for needing your students to do something. If you can't explain why, or you don't tell them the real reason, they probably will refuse to do it. They are good at figuring out other ways to accomplish whateveritis that you are trying to get them to learn, but only if you can tell them why. Because-I-won't-be-able-to-sleep-if-you-don't is a perfectly good reason, as long as you don't use it too often. It acknowledges that you might be over-whatever-ing and just need them to do it, even if they don't agree with you. And don't worry. It isn't as though you have to have all this figured out before you begin. You have to have your general goals figured out, or you won't go in the right direction, but you can figure the rest out as you go along. If you can't, ask your student to help you figure it out lol.

 

Nan

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Connie - I don't. Tulia might have suggested it? Maybe? Sorry not to be more helpful. I checked my links and I think it must have been lost when my computer crashed awhile ago. I moved on to teaching other sorts of writing so I didn't try to find it again. I suggest you NOT use examples of supposedly good college application essays. Bleck. -Nan

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Nan, you are fabulous. In fact, I think I am going to load Sailor Dude on a plane and send him your way. He'll do just about anything you tell him for boat time and you'll know him at the airport by the weird mid-ankle tan line.

 

Seriously, every time I am in the process of making school too like school and he is in the process of rebelling, I read one of your posts, do a course adjustment, and it is all so much better.

 

ETA: Is it the Jane Schaffer writing course that you are talking about?

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I love this thread and I've followed many similar threads over the years hoping that I continue along a non-traditional route for my family.

 

Any way of teaching is fine, but if I keep in mind my goals for education, skills, character, etc. traditional school doesn't often meet my family's goals.

 

I can wrap my head around some things, but others elude me on how to teach. The biggest things that I have a hard time figuring out is economics and government. These should probably be pretty easy, but since I view things from a math/science perspective I have a hard time envisioning how my kids are going to learn this.

 

My hardest goal in high school is going to be teaching my 13 yo writing skills that will serve him well into college. He is my math boy and he spends hours daily doing math "for fun". I often hear, please mom, will you do some more math with me for a special treat. :closedeyes: He's already getting collage scholarhsips based on his math but he has huge struggles with language. I try to meet him where he is and keep tackling the writing. I will pick through some fo the above mentioned resources and see if any strike me as fitting him.

 

I think it will be fun to watch where high school takes my kids. I can forsee a pretty mathy path for my oldest, but my second will be more creative. He's the 11 yo that finds academics easy and spends much of his time reading "how to" books and physics books. I give him a lot of open time saying he can count most any tinkering/building as school, assuming he's also done the basics that I assign. I tell him if he's learning something that is great, otherwise I'll find something for him to learn. I can easily see this turn into some kind of independent engineering projects for high school credit.

 

My other two will be completely different by the time they get to high school.

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Lisa - Yes. I have the nine weeks one. You are probably going to hate it lol. It was the opposite of how I wanted to teach writing. It did, however, fix the tangle that my youngest wove whenever he tried to write about something, and it taught him how to put in the commentary, the fluff between the examples. Before you spend money on it, look it up on wikipaedia. I think I remember there being a pretty good explanation of what it is about there. At one point, I had my son cut out each of his sentences and reorganize them. That was useful. I was despairing and ready to try anything.

 

Julie - You remind me that one thing I did was protect my sons' project and reading time by letting it happen within our designated school hours. That was SO important to the success of our non-traditional approach. Given a choice between writing up their lab report and working on their independent project, they chose the project, but given a choice between their independent project and a computer game or youtube video, the game or video tended to win. Not always, especially with youngest, who once started on a project, tends to throw all his free time into pursuing it, but it was something I could do that helped encourage them.

 

I also want to remind everyone that we weren't unschoolers or non-textbook people. We didn't go the non-traditional route for everything. Mine did their Latin out of a textbook. They had history and science textbooks (although sometimes they didn't use them the way they were designed to be used). If your student is totally uninterested in a subject, then you have two choices: try to make it more attractive or get it done quickly. Mine tended to choose the get-it-done-quickly approach for things they hated. Sometimes, a textbook was the most painless way to get through something that they didn't really want to learn. More attractive usually involves more time and energy and they tended not to want to spend their precious time and energy on their own projects.

 

Nan

 

PS - Lisa, I bet your son would fit very nicely into my family. : )

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Julie - You remind me that one thing I did was protect my sons' project and reading time by letting it happen within our designated school hours. That was SO important to the success of our non-traditional approach. Given a choice between writing up their lab report and working on their independent project, they chose the project, but given a choice between their independent project and a computer game or youtube video, the game or video tended to win. Not always, especially with youngest, who once started on a project, tends to throw all his free time into pursuing it, but it was something I could do that helped encourage them.

 

Wow! What a gem! Why have I not come up with this on my own? I'm going to discuss this idea with Ds tomorrow.

 

I also want to remind everyone that we weren't unschoolers or non-textbook people. We didn't go the non-traditional route for everything. Mine did their Latin out of a textbook. They had history and science textbooks (although sometimes they didn't use them the way they were designed to be used). If your student is totally uninterested in a subject, then you have two choices: try to make it more attractive or get it done quickly. Mine tended to choose the get-it-done-quickly approach for things they hated. Sometimes, a textbook was the most painless way to get through something that they didn't really want to learn. More attractive usually involves more time and energy and they tended not to want to spend their precious time and energy on their own projects.

 

Nan

 

PS - Lisa, I bet your son would fit very nicely into my family. : )

 

Yep. And that's one of the issues I struggle with b/c non-traditional does require careful forethought --well, for me it does, maybe not for everyone. I have no problem picking literature here and there to read and discuss, but making a plan for the year out of so many choices is overwhelming to me. Then we have the issue you mention above. Ds might enjoy a more out of the box science year, but does he want to spend lots of time on science, or does he want that time to devote to his own projects and interests? I think I know which he'd pick.

 

I'm not looking to eliminate math texts. I'm not nearly comfortable enough with math to put together my own approach, though some practical application is not beyond my abilities--if we have the time.

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Shanvan -

 

Here is the spelling rules list:

 

http://www.dyslexia....ing_rules.shtml

 

You might want to look at Correlano's posts (might not have doubled the letters in the right place in her name) and lewelma's posts about doing science in a non-traditional way. They are EXCELLENT.

 

And I just wanted to add a warning - I think it is fine to do high school in a non-traditional way, but in every case that I have heard of in which the student went on to study something academic at a good college, the student finished at least one math book every year (unless they were ahead of their peers), read lots of non-fiction, and learned to write. In fact, non-traditional high school actually looked more like true academic work than traditional high school work, which meant that the high school student had to do research and write about it in a MORE grownup way than the average high school student. This doesn't mean the student has to do those things perfectly at the beginning of high school, but it does mean that both student and teacher/facilitator keep that in mind and work towards that goal. It means that the early output efforts might well be marked 'F' if compared to the end goal rather than some sort of mid-point. That mid-point is difficult for the average mother to figure out, a problem if you are grading by grading every assignment and averaging them. You might need to hire a teacher who is familiar with what is "good" for a particular age to grade any output. Or you might need to find a different method of assessing output. Correlano has a post somewhere which makes suggestions of other ways to make tests. It means that you are going to try lots of input only to discover that the level is too low to be useful or too high to be comprehendable and you have to be careful to keep trying to raise the level of input. And that means you need to teach your student how to read something paragraph by paragraph or even sentence by sentence, putting each paragraph or sentence into his own words, and to keep reading something over and over, making sure you understand what each word means. It means you have to keep your eye on the student's problem solving skills (math word problems and other sorts of problems) and make sure they are tackling harder and harder problems. Once a non-traditional student grabs hold of his education and runs with it, this usually isn't a problem lol, but they need monitoring. And you have to make sure they have the writing skills to produce the output that will allow them to succeed in college later (which comes in handy to justify your educational methods to the rest of the world). I've skipped all the part about how it is alternately wonderful and worrisome and frustrating to see them take charge of their own education. With any luck, once they get the hang of it, you will be negotiating for the steering wheel the whole rest of high school. At times, I wondered why on earth I thought it was a good idea to teach them to teach themselves. You sort of create a monster. The things they choose to learn aren't necessarily the things you would choose to have them learn lol. Make sure their morals are well nailed in place. On the other hand, it is THE BEST thing you can do to make sure you don't wind up with one of those sad, apathetic teens who just want to lie on the sofa smoking pot rotting their brains with day-time tv. Better to be arguing about how long this paper is going to be or why they can't read this book rather than that one than arguing about why they can't quit school. My other bit of advice is to be sure to look carefully at your real reasons for needing your students to do something. If you can't explain why, or you don't tell them the real reason, they probably will refuse to do it. They are good at figuring out other ways to accomplish whateveritis that you are trying to get them to learn, but only if you can tell them why. Because-I-won't-be-able-to-sleep-if-you-don't is a perfectly good reason, as long as you don't use it too often. It acknowledges that you might be over-whatever-ing and just need them to do it, even if they don't agree with you. And don't worry. It isn't as though you have to have all this figured out before you begin. You have to have your general goals figured out, or you won't go in the right direction, but you can figure the rest out as you go along. If you can't, ask your student to help you figure it out lol.

 

Nan

 

Thanks! Off to look at the list you linked. Some of what you are describing is what we are going through currently, especially grading. I have the tendency to put college level expectations on a 9th grader. Especially in the area of writing. I can't remember what a typical 9th grade essay looks like. I've been changing the way I grade and adding some assignments that Ds enjoys (like copying and drawing from his biology text). And, we've been going through how to read paragraph by paragraph as you describe b/c that has gotten a lot harder this year with more difficult material.

 

We had 2 dog classes this morning and then ended up signing up for 4H public presentations. When we got into the car Dd's form read 'illustrated talk on junior showmanship'. By the time we got to the building she was talking all about how she had always wanted to pay the piano as her presentation. The secretary at the office suggested Dd try out the piano in the building before she decided to sign up for a performing arts presentation. Then the women in the office heard her try the piano and that pretty much sealed the deal. They wanted her to play, whether it was in tune or not. I had not planned on a half hour piano practice at the 4H office this afternoon. Well, non-traditional and all that, I guess, but with the extra dog class and piano practice we had to adjust our bookwork for today. Ds missed out completely on the dog classes b/c he had so much Latin to do today and biology to catch up on. It bothers me when he misses out b/c of bookwork, but sometimes tough choices have to be made. Traditional or non traditional, either way, the work has to be completed.

 

More I'd like to say, but it's been a long day. I'll be back when I can think better. I'm still struggling with sinus issues and I'm reaching the point of not thinking clearly and needing to get to bed.

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Traditional or non traditional, either way, the work has to be completed.

 

Yes, the work has to be completed but covering those requirements can be done in a variety of ways. Some things I have learned:

 

1. I do not want to use online classes as a means of obtaining interaction/socialization with other students--I don't view online interaction/socialization as optimal.

 

2. We don't try to cover all subjects equally.

 

3. It is important to build flexibility into some classes. From this point on, we are doing free reading for English until the end of the year. This summer, dd will take a Lit Summer Intensive to see how she would feel about AP Lit next year. The summer course requires about 10 hours a week for six weeks. Along with what we've done so far, we'll have more than enough for a full credit for 10th grade English. Giving her this break now makes sense for us.

 

4. It can be good to have some parts of a course be self-directed. My 10th grader just finished a WaH research paper workshop, which we will count for part of an English credit this year. It was great because she chose her own topic, and it didn't seem like school work.

 

I don't so much mind having traditional coursework to get through, but I don't want school work to keep my dd tied to a desk/computer all day long. Learning at home can be more efficient than a school environment, and I want to try to take advantage of that with homeschooling. JMO.

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Yes, the work has to be completed but covering those requirements can be done in a variety of ways. Some things I have learned:

 

1. I do not want to use online classes as a means of obtaining interaction/socialization with other students--I don't view online interaction/socialization as optimal.

 

2. We don't try to cover all subjects equally.

 

3. It is important to build flexibility into some classes. From this point on, we are doing free reading for English until the end of the year. This summer, dd will take a Lit Summer Intensive to see how she would feel about AP Lit next year. The summer course requires about 10 hours a week for six weeks. Along with what we've done so far, we'll have more than enough for a full credit for 10th grade English. Giving her this break now makes sense for us.

 

4. It can be good to have some parts of a course be self-directed. My 10th grader just finished a WaH research paper workshop, which we will count for part of an English credit this year. It was great because she chose her own topic, and it didn't seem like school work.

 

I don't so much mind having traditional coursework to get through, but I don't want school work to keep my dd tied to a desk/computer all day long. Learning at home can be more efficient than a school environment, and I want to try to take advantage of that with homeschooling. JMO.

 

Thanks for this. Ds is having to catch up in some areas b/c of some mistakes we made earlier this year. Truthfully, they are probably my mistakes more than his. He's also taking Lukeion Latin which he is finding to be time intensive. At times I have to adjust the work he does for me so he has the time he needs for Latin, otherwise he would be chained to a desk. If I had to do it again I'm not sure I'd sign him up for Lukeion. He's doing extremely well, but it's time intensive, and it isn't him b/c I hear this from most people with kids enrolled.

 

I'm interested to know more about the Lit Summer Intensive and the WAH research paper. Do you have links for these? TIA

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Shannon -

 

I hope you feel better soon. I'm sick, too, which is why I've been writing so much.

 

I didn't do much planning ahead of time. I tried every once in a while, but every time I did, we departed from the plan part-way through and all that effort was wasted. I decided that do-the-next-thing methods worked better for us. I did investigate books and make book lists, but I didn't try to do any scheduling. I think this is what appealed to me about TWTM methods. The literature was a routine that we followed for each book. I didn't actually have to decide on the next book until we were finishing up the first one. Not that I didn't try - I had a book wish-list for the rest of high school after we finished 9th grade and I figured out what we were doing. I adjusted it constantly. The other less traditional subjects we either did as routines like the literature, or we did using TWTM spine plus extras method. I didn't decide on the extras beforehand. I just divided the pages in the spine by the number of weeks in our school year and we did that many per week. I recalculated if we got off for some reason.

 

For things like science and writing, I made lists of the things I thought they needed to learn to do. I called them skills lists. Things like "use a microscope" and "design an experiment" went on the skills list. I also made a list of books I wanted them to read in science. I took the things that were going to take a long time to learn, like designing an experiment, and thought about how to get them to learn that. In the case of the experiment, I decided that each week for a year they would design an experiment, get Dad to check it, fix it, do it, write it up, show to Dad, rewrite it, and show it to Dad. I decided they had to read a book a month. I decided they had to write in their nature journal every day. And I spent some time every week showing them how to use another bit of equipment or do another thing (like use a field guide with a dicotomous (sp?) key). I did NOT plan out which week we would do which ahead of time. That just didn't work for us. The fact that we had school hours kept me from misjudging how much work they should be doing and accidentally skimping. I left them to do the writing up of experiments and the reading as "homework" and they did the nature journal, the skills list, and the experiment during school hours.

 

With the writing, every once in awhile we would skip some other things and I would show them how to do something on the skills list, they would give it a try, and then I'd keep my eye out for some way for them to practise it. I added things or removed things from the skills list as I noticed they needed or didn't need it. I went hunting for resources as I got to them.

 

The whole process was very, very organic and shifting. I have easy access to the library, internet, and books so this sort of on-the-fly planning worked well. I had to be much more organized when we went sailing for a month in the summer. Then, I had ziplock bags of books in the holes under the bunks carefully labeled "Child name 1" "Child name 2". But even then, I just brought what I thought would be a few extra books and had them read for a specified amount of TIME every day. Because there was an ending time, mine were willing to work hard during that specified amount of time.

 

So - between the routines and the spines and the book lists and the skills lists and the time set aside for independent projects, we were non-traditional, goal-oriented, but not overwhelmed with planning. Some people love the planning part. I don't. Some people are super self-disciplined. I'm not. There is no way I could have made myself plan every day for every subject ahead of time. I had just enough self-discipline (and fear) to make us do school during out specified hours every day and just enough organizational skills to keep us working towards some sort of goal by just doing the next thing on my very rough list. This is where TWTM was worth its weight in gold. It showed me how to set up those routines and skill lists and book lists and made suggestions for what they should look like and helped with the goals. It showed me how to use textbooks and workbooks to build skills and act as spines and how to be loose about everything else. I keep saying that I love TWTM because it is tight where I want education to be tight and loose where I want education to be loose. LOL. A good fit for us.

 

I really hope that somebody who does non-traditional a different way speaks up. Some people manage to do a lovely unit-study thing where the skill building is incorporated into the content learning and the subjects all mingle together. I was utterly incapable of doing that. WAY too much planning for me and I am way too inexperienced to come up with activities that actually taught what they were supposed to teach (I tried - they never worked out) AND my children were WAY WAY too uncooperative to do that. Mine constantly altered assignments. They were incapable of following directions if I was the one giving the directions or if it was a textbook giving the directions. They had better ideas. (Fortunately, this only seemed to apply to my teaching - they were ok if somebody else was doing the teaching.) I was far more successful at devising a routine (or using TWTM one) that had them make their own assignments. I WAS successful at negotiating and altering their own assignments so they would accomplish my goals, provided I could explain those goals clearly. There was a wearisome amount of negotiating lol. Somebody here used the term "facilitator" to describe their (the mother's) job in high school. I did teach some things, like math and writing, but I made a much better facilitator than teacher.

 

Nan

 

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Thanks for this. Ds is having to catch up in some areas b/c of some mistakes we made earlier this year. Truthfully, they are probably my mistakes more than his. He's also taking Lukeion Latin which he is finding to be time intensive. At times I have to adjust the work he does for me so he has the time he needs for Latin, otherwise he would be chained to a desk. If I had to do it again I'm not sure I'd sign him up for Lukeion. He's doing extremely well, but it's time intensive, and it isn't him b/c I hear this from most people with kids enrolled.

 

I'm interested to know more about the Lit Summer Intensive and the WAH research paper. Do you have links for these? TIA

 

 

It can be hard to know what will work out ahead of time. :grouphug: Don't be afraid to make changes if you see that something isn't working for your family.

 

Dd is in Lukeion Latin 2 this year. She loves it, and I know exactly how time-consuming it is. ;) She wants to do it. If she didn't really like it, I would not expect this level of commitment for foreign language.

 

Lili Serbicki teaches the summer lit class. We had intended for dd to do Creative Writing with her this past year but another online class would have been too much. http://debrabell.com/online-classes/

 

Write at Home: http://my.writeathom...utive sessions.

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One thing I do that I find really helps me relax and let go a great deal more is I spend about $5.00 per subject to buy those laminated quick study (barcharts). Those and a TOC from a text I am comfortable with give me a sense of we want to cover within a subject in the time available. The more secure I am in that arena, the easier it is to let go.

 

There are some things that just are what they are and we march, usually it is Dd's choice. Saxon math would be a prime example of this. It doesn't leave a lot of room for being deviant or wandering. I tend to be a noncomformist and find it hard to follow a curriculum precisely as written. However, I will say that having those boundaries and that pacing for the math piece tends to keep us from going too far off the reservation in general. It provides some consistency and predictability that in turn frees us up a great deal in other areas.

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It can be hard to know what will work out ahead of time. :grouphug: Don't be afraid to make changes if you see that something isn't working for your family.

 

Dd is in Lukeion Latin 2 this year. She loves it, and I know exactly how time-consuming it is. ;) She wants to do it. If she didn't really like it, I would not expect this level of commitment for foreign language.

 

Lili Serbicki teaches the summer lit class. We had intended for dd to do Creative Writing with her this past year but another online class would have been too much. http://debrabell.com/online-classes/

 

Write at Home: http://my.writeathom...utive sessions.

 

 

Thanks, again!

 

Ds wants to take Latin. It's his choice for language study, not sure he would say he 'loves' it now, though he started out loving it. He's committed for next year and there is no way I can add teaching Latin to my to do list! We talked it over and he decided he wanted to do Lukeion again b/c he knows the routine and is really learning (which he was not with other outsourcing we tried). I will again adjust work in other subjects as needed. He just needs to get over feeling bad about not being able to do as much in other areas. I think it bothers him and he feels like he isn't measuring up somehow.

 

And, yes, I've made some changes already, and I'm looking at making some changes for the rest of this year and next year so that Ds has more time to explore on his own and, as you say, won't be 'chained to a desk'.

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Thanks, again!

 

Ds wants to take Latin. It's his choice for language study, not sure he would say he 'loves' it now, though he started out loving it. He's committed for next year and there is no way I can add teaching Latin to my to do list! We talked it over and he decided he wanted to do Lukeion again b/c he knows the routine and is really learning (which he was not with other outsourcing we tried). I will again adjust work in other subjects as needed. He just needs to get over feeling bad about not being able to do as much in other areas. I think it bothers him and he feels like he isn't measuring up somehow.

 

And, yes, I've made some changes already, and I'm looking at making some changes for the rest of this year and next year so that Ds has more time to explore on his own and, as you say, won't be 'chained to a desk'.

 

 

You're welcome! I could not teach Latin, either, nor would I want to. Dd disliked Latin before Lukeion. We used Henle for two years with another provider. It was not a good fit. She wanted to give Latin another try, and asked if she could take it with Amy Barr because she'd taken Mythology with her. She started over (because the Henle really wasn't going to help her much with Wheelock) and it was so worth it to make that change. Like you say, the time spent on Latin is definitely time spent really learning. And as long as your son is committed to it, and you're willing to make necessary adjustments in other places, I think that's great!

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I successfully did all of the above with both my kids, to one degree or another, and it worked wonderfully. I have fond memories of the high school years and my kids both appreciate their unique education. My really outside the box ds is graduating from college in early June and my more academic ds is thriving in a traditionally academic LAC (liberal arts college).

 

I'm going to try to give examples some of the particulars you mentioned in your post.

 

1. Stepping away from textbooks. Absolutely. The only text books or prepackaged programs I used in high school were for math, Latin, logic and science. Most science was actually outsourced, and I only prepared one complete homeschool science course where I used a textbook, Teaching Company DVDs, some prepackaged experiments and lots of on-line resources. They instead read literature and nonfiction, watched lots of Teaching Company lectures and PBS documentaries, and listened with me to NPR while in the car. We attended lectures and plays, went on docent led tours, and as a family we discussed everything. Learning wasn't something that was confined to school hours -- it is what we did and still do as a family.

 

2. Unusual approach to grading. Well, here's the cold truth I've never admitted on this board. I didn't grade! They worked until they achieved mastery. When they took a math chapter test they had to find their mistakes and fix them. If they weren't getting it, we'd work until they understood, then moved on. Every paper they wrote had to be edited and rewritten. In fact they usually didn't start writing an essay without us having first discussed the thesis and supporting arguments. More often than not their topics arose from discussions we were having anyway.

 

They took tests in outside classes, but because mastery was ingrained in them from our homeschool culture, it wasn't a terrifying or bewildering task. They both are A students in college with the occasional B on a test or paper to keep them humble.

 

3. Daily schedule. They got up when they got up. It was usually by 9, but occasionally 10. They had to do math and Latin each day before any outside activities. They scheduled their own reading, writing and project time. We'd sometimes have our discussions in the car, but I'd make a time for us to sit together and go over whatever they were reading or doing in, say, history or science. Both kids had large outside commitments, which leads me to the next point...

 

4. Community resources and mentors. Which ties in with

5. Gearing education towards special interests.

 

My most outside the box son started volunteering with the tech department at church when he was 13. Before long he was working there 10 hours a week learning about lighting and sound and projections and the powerpoint lyrics presentations. He also was heavily involved in a community youth theater both on stage and back stage or in the tech booth. By the time he graduated he was being invited by local schools and by other theater groups to design the lights for their shows. Each time he comes home from college his old mentors are begging for him to come help with one thing or another.

 

I incorporated all of this into his high school transcript. He had courses titled "project based learning", and "Technical Theater" and your basic Theater. His American history course was full of plays and playwrights, and the PBS series on the history of Broadway. A project for his science course was a video he made, Mythbusters style, demonstrating the science behind the theatrical magic of having "ghosts" in the Haunted Mansion ride at Disneyland. For a senior project he wrote a stage manager's handbook for his youth theater group. For health he did a final project that was a public service video on the health benefits of coffee!

 

My more academic ds had a semester's "career exploration" course where he worked with an engineer friend, testing electrical equipment and soldering circuit boards. He also had an internship at the zoo where he blogged about interviews of zoo scientists and keepers. He pretty much unschooled all his literature and history courses but took math, science and economics at the community college, all while working 10-20 hours a week at a local science museum.

 

 

We talked about their homeschool careers over Christmas dinner, trying to figure out what specifically worked. Most of their college success is due to their own hard work, their desire to be doing what they are doing. I can take some credit that they know what they want because they were given the time during their middle school and high school years to explore. Our reading and discussing and sharing really did instill that love of learning that had been my idealistic goal when we started homeschooling.

 

Hope that helps get you started in your thinking!

 

That was very helpful (I'm not the OP, btw). I've been going over and over and over lots of questions in my own head lately about burn-out, child-led vs. ridged vs. a happy median. I need to be at a happy median.

 

I too have one ds who is academically geared (he wants to be a Zoologist). I have another outside the box ds, who wants to be a Herpetologist. Getting them to these destinations is going to take hard work all ALL of our parts. Especially theirs.

 

I think my goal (as of right now), is to have them nail down the basics with math/la/science and do a more relaxed approach to the other stuff. I want them to have time in their day to EXPLORE what they're interested in, not do worksheet after worksheet of busy work.

 

Thanks for your thoughts!

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That was very helpful (I'm not the OP, btw). I've been going over and over and over lots of questions in my own head lately about burn-out, child-led vs. ridged vs. a happy median. I need to be at a happy median.

 

I too have one ds who is academically geared (he wants to be a Zoologist). I have another outside the box ds, who wants to be a Herpetologist. Getting them to these destinations is going to take hard work all ALL of our parts. Especially theirs.

 

I think my goal (as of right now), is to have them nail down the basics with math/la/science and do a more relaxed approach to the other stuff. I want them to have time in their day to EXPLORE what they're interested in, not do worksheet after worksheet of busy work.

 

Thanks for your thoughts!

 

With that orientation, you might want to do a search for lewelma's science posts. She i doing scientific research projects with her children rather than worksheets. The way she describes it makes it sound very do-able. They'll need to get (or be gotten) through the standard bio, chem, and physics texts during high school, but you might consider doing lewelma-type science the first two years and then sending them to community college to do their textbook science the last two years. My youngest did natural history the first two years (a bit differently than lewelma, but similar) and then bio, chem, and physics at the community college the last two years. It worked really really well.

 

Nan

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With that orientation, you might want to do a search for lewelma's science posts. She i doing scientific research projects with her children rather than worksheets. The way she describes it makes it sound very do-able. They'll need to get (or be gotten) through the standard bio, chem, and physics texts during high school, but you might consider doing lewelma-type science the first two years and then sending them to community college to do their textbook science the last two years. My youngest did natural history the first two years (a bit differently than lewelma, but similar) and then bio, chem, and physics at the community college the last two years. It worked really really well.

 

Nan

 

 

Thanks Nan. My oldest is going to be doing Apologia General Science for 7th grade next year. I figure it would be a good base foundation to move up on. I am all for gearing the later years towards our children's interests, but I really want the basics down before high school so that they CAN focus on their long term goals for life.

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