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swimmermom3

"Outside the box" for high school?

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So we had a very out-of-the box math lesson today.  It's kind of embarrassing, but I wanted to share it because it was kind of one of those hit yourself on the head d'oh moments for me.  Shannon was working on a Fractions-as-ratios-word problem in MM6, and she got stuck on one.  I looked at it.  I had no idea what to do.  I worked on it for a few minutes.  Got nowhere.  Checked the answer.  Ok, once I saw the answer, I was able to work backwards and figure out how it was derived but . . . . I couldn't look at the problem and explain how to move forward.  It drove me nuts.  I was feeling really stressed and inadequate - as I tend to do when stymied by a 6th grade math problem - but it hit me that this is *exactly* the kind of experience I want my kids to have:  I have a problem, I have tools that should help me solve it, and I need to get from here to there.  I grappled with that problem, I talked through it out loud, we worked on it from different angles . . . . and finally we figured it out.  We spent a long time.  We didn't "get through" as much math as I had planned today - but we learned more than we have in any other single day since . . . forever.

 

This was stepping outside of a box for me.  I have been struggling so hard to try and embrace the AoPS idea of the tyranny of the 100%, that if you can solve all the problems you are wasting your time and you aren't actually learning anything . . . . I *say* all these things to my kids, but I haven't really believed it deep down inside.  Well, today I did.  And it was amazing.

 

Just wanted to share - it was not out of the box in the way we've been posting about here, and it's probably something you guys do every day, but for *me* it was a clawing, struggling, scrabbling out of the box moment that I'm going to try to hang on to, because it was totally wonderful.   :)

 

I'm glad you had this experience! Clawing, struggling, scrabbling - that's about right. Feels good afterwards, doesn't it?

My son spent two hours yesterday on one single geometry problem.  It was a very tough problem (challenge problem with a star and 3 hints!), and he did not quit, refused to look at the hints, did not stop when math time was up... he clawed and struggled and scrabbled until it was solved. So, those were two hours of hard thinking, brain completely engaged. Much more valuable than two worksheets of easy problems.

(As an off-topic aside: this is exactly why I find it futile to schedule AoPS.)

 

 

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So we had a very out-of-the box math lesson today.  It's kind of embarrassing, but I wanted to share it because it was kind of one of those hit yourself on the head d'oh moments for me.  Shannon was working on a Fractions-as-ratios-word problem in MM6, and she got stuck on one.  I looked at it.  I had no idea what to do.  I worked on it for a few minutes.  Got nowhere.  Checked the answer.  Ok, once I saw the answer, I was able to work backwards and figure out how it was derived but . . . . I couldn't look at the problem and explain how to move forward.  It drove me nuts.  I was feeling really stressed and inadequate - as I tend to do when stymied by a 6th grade math problem - but it hit me that this is *exactly* the kind of experience I want my kids to have:  I have a problem, I have tools that should help me solve it, and I need to get from here to there.  I grappled with that problem, I talked through it out loud, we worked on it from different angles . . . . and finally we figured it out.  We spent a long time.  We didn't "get through" as much math as I had planned today - but we learned more than we have in any other single day since . . . forever.

  :hurray:

 

You are not the only one.  I wrote this last year about helping my son in math:

 

"I told someone last week that I could only go through this process once because what I am giving my son is not a knowledgeable tutor, but rather a skilled learner who is at his exact level in math. If I ever go through this material again with a student, I would be much much more knowledgeable and I would loose the confusion that has been so critical in helping him battle through this material. What I am finding is that because I don't know the answers and I cannot teach him how to do it, I am instead teaching him how to learn problem solving -- what questions to ask, what answer to hunt for, how to compare problems, how to really interact with this material. No tutor who knows the material well could do this as well as I can, because once you have the knowledge, it would be virtually impossible to relive the confusion."

 

Keep it up!

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(As an off-topic aside: this is exactly why I find it futile to schedule AoPS.)

 

This.

 

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Yes, but it is what we do with those boxes!! Do we stack them up and stand on them to see beyond or do we climb inside and shut the lid??

 

Does the box become a tool, a means to an end? Or, does it become a confinement that causes one to feel hedged in. Yes, we all have boxes! Some of those boxes contain beautiful gifts....some of those boxes need to be left at the curb for the the next pick up. I tend to choose my boxes carefully :-)

 

:wub: Thanks, Faithe. I needed to hear that.

 

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There is no hard and fast rule how college classes "translate" into high school credits. The topic is discussed frequently on this board. Some posters reported that their states have specific rules how certain courses translate. It seems to be fairly typical to award a full high school credit for a one semester college class.

 

As the principal of my home school, I reserve the right to assign high school credit as I see justified. A four hour college class with a work load of two hours outside class for every hour in class, i.e. approx. 192 hours over the course of a 16 week semester, does, in my opinion, merit one full high school credit.

 

So yes, I would definitely give one credit for the biology course and a separate credit for the marine science course.

 

Thanks again. We have been pondering what to do with  ds's biology requirement next year as a junior. Unless the local high school has upped the difficulty of their standard biology course since my older kids took the class, ds will be bored. Our chemistry course at home this year is far more demanding. I talked with ds about the possibility of taking biology at  university downtown. He loves the idea. As the youngest in our family, he is not bothered by doing things with people older than he is. In sailing, he often crews for adults.

 

Anyway, after we talked about it, he offered up a proposition that he take an introductory biology course at the university with a good Sailor Girl friend (truly just a friend) of his. She is a sophomore in ps, loaded with AP courses and still bored. My dh thinks that it would be really good for them both. He thinks if there are two of them, older students will be more comfortable talking with them and he figures they will be competitive with each other and will work hard to do well in the class. They are both kids that want to do what everybody else their age isn't doing.

 

We are going to check in with a former swim club parent who is a biology professor at the same university and see what he recommends.

 

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I live in a place where homeschooling is legal but oh-so-rare. Therefore, IRL I always feel like we are out of the box!

Carry on...I am enjoying the thread :)

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I live in a place where homeschooling is legal but oh-so-rare. Therefore, IRL I always feel like we are out of the box!

Carry on...I am enjoying the thread :)

I was thinking of this yesterday. I understand what we're discussing here, but there is something funny in a sweet way of pondering if you're out of the box enough when you're a homeschooler.

 

I'm not sure outsiders would get it. Simply because homeschool on its own departs from the norm.

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So we had a very out-of-the box math lesson today. It's kind of embarrassing, but I wanted to share it because it was kind of one of those hit yourself on the head d'oh moments for me. Shannon was working on a Fractions-as-ratios-word problem in MM6, and she got stuck on one. I looked at it. I had no idea what to do. I worked on it for a few minutes. Got nowhere. Checked the answer. Ok, once I saw the answer, I was able to work backwards and figure out how it was derived but . . . . I couldn't look at the problem and explain how to move forward. It drove me nuts. I was feeling really stressed and inadequate - as I tend to do when stymied by a 6th grade math problem - but it hit me that this is *exactly* the kind of experience I want my kids to have: I have a problem, I have tools that should help me solve it, and I need to get from here to there. I grappled with that problem, I talked through it out loud, we worked on it from different angles . . . . and finally we figured it out. We spent a long time. We didn't "get through" as much math as I had planned today - but we learned more than we have in any other single day since . . . forever.

 

This was stepping outside of a box for me. I have been struggling so hard to try and embrace the AoPS idea of the tyranny of the 100%, that if you can solve all the problems you are wasting your time and you aren't actually learning anything . . . . I *say* all these things to my kids, but I haven't really acted like I believed it deep down inside. Well, today I did. And it was amazing.

 

Just wanted to share - it was not out of the box in the way we've been posting about here, and it's probably something you guys do every day, but for *me* it was a clawing, struggling, scrabbling out of the box moment that I'm going to try to hang on to, because it was totally wonderful. :)

Actually, this was exactly what I was talking about. Idea grappling is a wonderful thing.

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He thinks if there are two of them, older students will be more comfortable talking with them and he figures they will be competitive with each other and will work hard to do well in the class. They are both kids that want to do what everybody else their age isn't doing.

 

 

Unless things are radically different there, no one will know you ds is dual enrolled or a high school student, not even the professors, unless your ds tells them. Ds avoids telling anyone if possible. Last yr at the end of the spring semester he told two of his professors bc he asked them to write his LOR, but prior to that no one knew except admissions.

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So we had a very out-of-the box math lesson today.  . . .

 

This was stepping outside of a box for me.  I have been struggling so hard to try and embrace the AoPS idea of the tyranny of the 100%, that if you can solve all the problems you are wasting your time and you aren't actually learning anything . . . . I *say* all these things to my kids, but I haven't really acted like I believed it deep down inside.  Well, today I did.  And it was amazing.

 

Just wanted to share - it was not out of the box in the way we've been posting about here, and it's probably something you guys do every day, but for *me* it was a clawing, struggling, scrabbling out of the box moment that I'm going to try to hang on to, because it was totally wonderful.   :)

 

Which brings me back to "define box." ;)

 

Unless we've clearly defined the boxes we're trying to get out of, finding a means of egress may prove needlessly difficult. Further, asking others to help us out of a box we haven't clearly identified might lead to some attempts to pack us in more tightly.

 

What exactly is it that is confining about a certain box? What does freedom look like? It goes beyond switching out the word box for "norms" or "what is typical." These aren't set either. Each one of us comes with different backgrounds, environments, and kids. Even saying "not doing school at home" isn't clear enough for me. Schools vary wildly.

 

When we try to identify and articulate exactly what we do and don't want-- what is and isn't helpful in our journey--it becomes at least a little easier to get to a better place.

 

It goes beyond understanding a cultural phrase; it's about getting to a deeper understanding about what that phrase means to you personally. Granted, that might be a little tougher and might not come out packaged in three tidy words. The roots of the "box" problem might even surprise us.

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Actually, my middle had a very out-of-the-box high school experience.  He was never homeschooled, but I hope you can find the story relevant anyway :)

 

When the (unexpected) opportunity came along for our family to move overseas, he was a junior in high school.  Can you imagine the endless discussions that occurred in our house?!

 

After exploring many, many ideas, we worked out a plan for him to come to Europe for a semester as an exchange student at the local IB school.  May I point out that this endeavor involved countless administrative hours on my part?  Lol.

 

After that, he was supposed to return to the U.S. for his final semester.  He was going to stay with friends / family.  This would be followed by a summer in Europe with us, then off to college.  It seemed like a solid plan that would not disrupt his future / life.

 

Well, after three months here...he decided not to go back!!  He decided to stay and finish out the IB program.  He took a very big risk.  While I was thrilled that he would not spend the last segment of his high school life half a world away from us, I was really nervous.

 

End result?  Being willing to be out-of-the-box really opened him up to some exciting opportunities.

 

 

 

 

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Unless things are radically different there, no one will know you ds is dual enrolled or a high school student, not even the professors, unless your ds tells them. Ds avoids telling anyone if possible. Last yr at the end of the spring semester he told two of his professors bc he asked them to write his LOR, but prior to that no one knew except admissions.

 

Interesting. At our school, the electronic class roster contains information about the student's major/academic program. So, if the professors were looking at the roster in its entirety, they would see that the dually enrolled student is listed with no major. But maybe most don't bother (I do know my students' majors, and I do know who is dually enrolled or non-degree seeking)

 

Not that it matters. All my DD's professors do know that she is in high school; it has never been a problem.

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I've created an "out of the box" tag.  If you've mentioned a thread that describes some cool, out of the box thing you've described elsewhere on the board, maybe you could go back and tag that thread as "out of the box"

 

Only the original poster of a thread can add tags. To add tags, open the original post to edit it. The tags box appears right under the title box.

 

I've also added a new thread on the Roots of Steampunk literature that we're doing this year.

 

 

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Someone may want to post links to other threads too.  Wasn't there a massive discussion last year along similar lines?  I'll see if I can find it.

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Interesting. At our school, the electronic class roster contains information about the student's major/academic program. So, if the professors were looking at the roster in its entirety, they would see that the dually enrolled student is listed with no major. But maybe most don't bother (I do know my students' majors, and I do know who is dually enrolled or non-degree seeking)

 

Not that it matters. All my DD's professors do know that she is in high school; it has never been a problem.

 

He just shows up as undeclared.   Yesterday he did have his modern professor ask him why he hadn't declared a major.   Most professors never ask.   He had to talk to his modern professor anyway bc he is going to miss class for a high school physics competition in a couple of weeks.   When he told him, he said the reaction was rather hilarious.  ;)   The professor then invited him to his office and they talked for about an hour.   This professor is a theoretical physicist (right up ds's alley) and was telling him about the huge project teams he is part of (2000 on one and over 600 on another).   He gave ds great insight into why the field is so difficult to get employment in since the research is being conducted by these teams worldwide vs. being a single location, etc.

 

in response to Woodland,  when I think about "in the box" vs. "out of the box"  I typically think about is someone attempting to replicate what their local ps are doing or ps in general.   So is literature American, British, World, etc.   I really don't care whether what I do is considered in a box/out of a box/or simply defined as school.   My goal is to meet the academic needs of my kids and how I go about that is different for every child.

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Because Woodland Mist mentioned it and because it's true and just because, I wanted to post that we do school inside the box if that means using prepared curriculum.  I often wish I was creative like other mothers on this board, but I am not.  In addition, when I see the materials and textbooks prepared by people who know their subject, I realize that it isn't worth my time or energy to design courses.  I don't even think about getting outside the box.  Since we have graduated two dc with one going on to college, I have been able to assess what we did previously and find curriculum that will help dd be even better prepared for college.

 

I guess I am posting this for all the moms who might read this thread and begin to question their path and feel they need to come up with something new to engage their children or help them love learning or ...  Fwiw,  dd doesn't see her work as drudgery unless she is studying for comprehensive mid-terms or finals (Oh, well.).  As with anything, she loves some of her courses, likes some of them, and doesn't like others at all.  I haven't disappeared from her life because she uses prepared curriculum.  I check her work; I teach at least one subject; I provide help for some subjects; I read aloud to her; and I am her support, which is very important during audition prep and for Lukeion Latin's infamous PSQ's (Nailed that one this morning after three tries!!!). 

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Woodland Mist Academy - By box, I mean classroom structure - teacher/prof, textbook or reading list, assignments with due dates which are passed back with a grade and (hopefully) a few comments, periodic exams for which one has to have both memorized material and thought enough about the material that one can do something new (well, new to you) with it, the need to be able to demonstrate what one has learned (or already knows) to someone else, and the need to juggle a number of these classes at the same time. By out-of-the-box, homeschooling-wise, I mean something other than the full home version of that. Non-homeschooling-wise, I mean my husband lol. If you ask him to think about designing a human-powered helicopter, he will ask you if the human needs to be alive. Or my father, who isn't quite so startling but who customizes everything he gets near.

 

Lisa - I think of us as a quiet, conservative, conventional family. Compared to most of our friends, we are boring and mediocre. Homeschooling is not something I did on purpose and it isn't something that my extended family thought was the best educational option. They have been extremely supportive because we were doing it and they wanted it to be successful. Because they love me, they have been comforting when I worried, pointing out the flaws in their own more conventional education that we have avoided and the good things we have accomplished. At best, they blame it on my husband's genes lol. Once we were homeschooling, it turned out that I didn't actually have much choice about whether I would homeschool in the box. We wound up homeschooling because the children were ALREADY outside the box, enough outside that even their public school teachers thought homeschooling would be better for them. I didn't feel like I had much choice, especially after a year or two of passive resistence, misunderstood directions (Does the human have to be alive?), constant "negotiations", and very good alternative ideas, all from children who were almost always trying hard to do what I asked. It is much easier to "step outside the box" when you have tried every way you can think of to contain your children in a box and failed because they aren't really children but clouds. I don't really have any advice on how to come up with the courage to step out of the box because I didn't really have much choice. I do have some advice about safety nets and about getting back into the box.

 

We used the community college as a safety net. This was easier to do for my children because both of them were a year "behind", gradewise, due to starting first grade a year "late". That meant that nobody started community college classes before they were 16 or 17, and the year they had lots of classes (senior year) they were 18. My family isn't very academically oriented, we aren't brilliant (just brightish), and we are late bloomers. It took a fair amount of preparation to get mine to the point where they could survive a college science class, even an intro community college science class. If I had better understood why those TWTM skills were important, they might have been ready earlier, but I didn't. Fortunately, I did enough of them just because the book said to that we didn't get into real trouble. (http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/255839-why-you-should-work-on-twtm-skills-copywork-narration-dictation-outlining-etc/) I think it is a really good idea for your son to take that bio class. Our public high school guidance counselor (whom I called in a panic during the college application process) told me that one semester community college classes count as a full year of high school. I didn't actually do that on my children's transcripts but I not have hesitated to do so if necessary. It would have given a much clearer picture of how my children's time was spent if I had.

 

Transcripts - I gave up trying to make the credit part of their transcripts reflect how much time they had spent on something. Some of their education was amazingly inefficient when it came to learning the material which would be covered in a normal class. I tried to assign credits compared to what a conventional class would cover, since the only people really using their transcript would be colleges and I didn't want to mislead them. As a result, they never received credits for great swaths of their education. I tried to make their transcripts reflect their educations but at the same time not mislead colleges. It was tricky. I compromised by calling the community college classes "honours". I also called any class that required extensive travel honours because those were grueling and I wasn't involved and they learned a ton. (There was also an academic componant (component?) to those classes.) I organized the transcript by subject so that the weird titles made more sense, and I gave any home class a pass/fail grade and any community college class the 4.0 scale grade the college gave them. The pass-fail part was just so I would have something to put in the grades column that I had to have because of the cc classes. It looked neater that way. Instead of listing a high school gpa, I listed a cc gpa. I tried hard to give descriptive course names that were along the lines of those given in an ordinary school. I did a bit of research to make sure that we had covered more or less what anyone would expect given a particular name. We sent colleges SAT scores, home transcript, cc transcript, school profile, guidance counselor (me) recommendation, outside recommendations, the four letters from the school department giving us permission to homeschool each year (a Mass. thing that helped with federal financial aid), and a "partial reading list". Some schools required an essay (or essays) and course descriptions/narrative assessments. This last was a huge document which described some of our educational strategy (in other words, why my sons did the things they did), what was done for each course on the transcript, and what was learned (the assessment part) and what was still a struggle. One of the less conventional colleges my youngest applied to asked for this in lieu of grades so I took the end-of-the-year assessments I wrote for our school department and reformatted them into one long document organized by course (rather than subject). Anyone wading through that document would emerge with a pretty clear picture of what my son could and could not do and what his education looked like.

 

I'm going to post this and come back, in case it doesn't go.

 

Nan

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Content wise, I see absolutely no downside. I see the main disadvantage in the lack of materials for integrated science studies in the US. You would have to design your own course, pull together resources, combine them in a suitable manner. Very time consuming, and requires expertise to know what builds on each other, where to begin, where to omit and postpone. Also, it limits the opportunities for outsourcing. But you could absolutely do it and organize the transcript by subject and find some box at the end to describe the out-of-the-box studies.

 

 

Thanks, regentrude.  This actually does help a lot.  I will confess that in my "free time" I am working on doing just the bolded!  Luckily, I have several years to figure it out.  :lol:  It's nice to hear one of my science mentors say that it doesn't sound completely nuts, though.  ;)

 

As a bit of an aside, Ontario has integrated science for Grades 9 and 10.  If folks aren't adverse to using Canadian resources :P, here are some links:

 

This is a text for Grade 9 Academic Science (students who are 4-year university-bound take this):

http://www.mcgrawhill.ca/school/products/0070726892/on+science+9+academic+student+resource/

There is a table of contents you can peruse and samples of both the text and the student workbook you can check out.

Here's a link to buy it at Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/ON-Science-9-Leesa-Blake/dp/0070726892/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389885228&sr=8-1&keywords=9780070726895

In Grade 9 Science, there are 4 strands that are each given equal time:

Biology - Sustainable Ecosystems

Chemistry - Atoms, Elements, and Compounds

Earth & Space Science - The Study of the Universe

Physics - The Characteristics of Electricity

 

This is a text for Grade 10 Academic Science:

http://www.mcgrawhill.ca/school/products/9780070722224/on+science+10+student+edition/

Here are some links to purchase:

http://www.alibris.com/search/books/isbn/9780070722224

http://www.biblio.com/9780070722224

The 4 strands in Grade 10 Science are:

Biology - Tissues, Organs, and Systems of Living Things

Chemistry - Chemical Reactions

Earth & Space Science - Climate Change

Physics - Light and Geometric Optics

 

Grade 9 and 10 Science are also offered as Applied courses.  Those would be for students who are headed to trade schools or two-year college programs.  They are more practical and less theoretical.

 

After Grades 9 and 10, students would move on to 11 and 12 sciences.  Biology, chemistry, and physics are each offered as a Grade 11 course and then as a Grade 12 course.  Grade 11 would be sort of the equivalent of the first half of an honours course and Grade 12 would be the second half.  Students in Ontario almost always have more than one science course per year in grades 11 and 12.  A STEM bound student would have bio, chem, and physics in Grade 11 and bio, chem, and physics again in Grade 12.  They could also take Environmental Science or Geology as electives in Grades 11 or 12.  This could mean 4 out of their required 8 courses in a year would be science.  It also helps IMMENSELY to keep ALL of the science fresh in the student's mind - right up to when he/she leaves to go to university.

 

Just thought I'd share some of the links.  Maybe folks looking for integrated sciences for Grades 9 and 10 don't have to reinvent the wheel after all. :)

 

I'm glad you had this experience! Clawing, struggling, scrabbling - that's about right. Feels good afterwards, doesn't it?

My son spent two hours yesterday on one single geometry problem.  It was a very tough problem (challenge problem with a star and 3 hints!), and he did not quit, refused to look at the hints, did not stop when math time was up... he clawed and struggled and scrabbled until it was solved. So, those were two hours of hard thinking, brain completely engaged. Much more valuable than two worksheets of easy problems.

(As an off-topic aside: this is exactly why I find it futile to schedule AoPS.)

 

One of the course I'm teaching this semester at the college is Instructional Methods: Math.  We were just discussing this the other day.  The term used in the text is "productive struggle".  I liked it. :)  Productive struggle is always beneficial and I wish more students now-a-days were allowed to experience it instead of having a well-meaning adult "step in front of" the struggle.  Non-productive struggle is virtually never beneficial - that's when we need to step in front of the struggle and give some assistance.

 

Just some thoughts for today.  Now I need to go back to course prep. ;)

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Connie, thanks so much! Those look awesome.  

 

I kind of like inventing wheels, I'm weird that way, but this does look pretty great.  Looking at your siggy, it looks like you are maybe doing another thing I've thought about - covering texts, but covering parts of multiple texts each year?  I see you have Biology w/ the Dragonfly book plus Earth Science using Tarbuck.  I'm assuming you aren't covering both of these in their entirety?  Will you cover them over more than one year?

 

And, if you don't mind the question, what are you planning for 9th & 10th? Will you do an integrated approach like the texts you mentioned?

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Science - I suggest that anyone who wants their children to go straight to a four-year college and is doing something outside the box for science get hold of a science textbook and take a look at it. Have your student try to read a chapter (not the intro one), take notes, and answer the question set. You do the same thing. Time it. What happens? Does it take them more than twice as long to read a chapter and take notes? Do their answers look like yours? Do they actually answer the question, fully answer the question, answer nothing but the question? If not, then you probably need to spend time on those WTM skills before you try to put them in a college science class. Some students seem to be born being able to do this sort of thing. Those students are the ones who do something unconventional for high school and then hop easily into a nursing or engineering program. Others do not. Mine were the do not type. I had to work rather hard to teach them to deal with a science book efficiently enough that they would be able to take science and something else at the same time. And there still was a fairly steep learning curve once they got to community college. "What Smart Students Know" by Robinson does a good job (I think, anyway) of explaining the sort of study skills needed to deal with a college level science textbook.

Why is this in an out-of-the-box thread? Because I think there are ways of dealing with science that don't involve four years of bio, chem, physics, advanced something textbooks used daily, but I think that if your student ever might possibly want to become something that requires learning science in a classroom (like nurse, doctor, biologist, physicist, or engineer), it is important that you teach them how to learn something from a book. I think that skill is an essential part of an ACADEMIC education, no matter what. If you choose to give your child a non-academic education, that is fine, but I think it is important to think about the difference between these two. You can give an academic education out-of-the-box. In fact, I think it is rather a waste not to do so. There are disadvantages and advantages to homeschooling, and disadvantages and advantages to a conventional education. If you are going to be stuck with the disadvantages of homeschooling, I think it makes sense to balance that with some of the more extreme advantages as well. Otherwise, you just wind up with the disadvantages of both systems. But I think it is altogether too easy to take for granted what we (as parents) already know about learning and assume that our children can do the things we do so easily. That's why I suggest getting hold of a science textbook and trying a chapter. If your child can't manage the chapter, then you have to spend some time on study skills. We did it as part of English and practised a bit with the chapters of the dragonfly bio book that I couldn't cover easily by what we were doing for natural history (the chapter on chemistry comes to mind). I took the bio book and looked through it and realized we had covered or were going to cover about half the book with what we were doing. Much of the other half had to do with human biology, which I decided not to cover (or cover as a different course). I split what was left into must DO and must READ. That left about three chapters to do. Mine also learned some classroom science skills when we studied for our ham radio licenses.

Don't skimp on math unless you have a lopsided child, the sort that does nothing but make music or draw or something non-mathy, no matter what. And even then, I would make sure they made it through Algebra 2, just in case. I think everyone else is probably going to be closing doors if they don't make it through pre-cal AND have four years of math on their high school transcripts. Close the doors if you want, but KNOW you are closing the doors. The people that worry me are the ones who think about how much math they use in their daily lives and decide that they are doing really well to get their children through algebra 1. Their children, having trusting their parents to give them the education they will need as adults, are not exactly happy to discover that they can't get into college without more math. It can certainly be made up later in community college or by other means, but if you don't know that it happening to you, you might be less than pleased to discover that with the remedial classes you have to take, you will be 25 before you can work as an engineer. Not the end of the world from a 50yo's point of view, but it might be pretty upsetting when you are 18 and are looking at a lot of school loans.

I'm sorry this sounds so preachy. I have a feeling this is exactly what people said they DIDN'T want to discuss as part of an out-of-the-box thread.

If you want to know what to do for the out-of-the-box part for science, I suggest reading TWTM, which tells you how to learn how to learn anything, and read threads by lewelma (I always want to put two l's at the beginning of your name for some reason lol) and Corraleno, and regentrude. We focused on BEING a scientist the first two years, and the classroom sciences teh second two years of high school (in community college), and did a bunch of independent projects. Natural history was an easy way to BE a scientist. I also want to say that I think alternating science approaches gets you the best of both worlds. We did unconventional in elementary school, then did a year or two of content overview in middle school, then concentrated on learning to be a scientist, then did conventional stuff again. A science textbook is a really efficient way of getting a good grounding in the basic content. It isn't the only way, of course, but it is pretty efficient. If you don't like science and aren't going to no matter what the approach, I wouldn't try to go out of the box. If you have a child aimed at any sort of STEM career, then alternating is a good way to build both the skills one builds doing projects and the wide knowledge base needed to do higher level out-of-the-box science projects.

Nan

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Wow. This thread is just about to make my brain burst. Or it's frying it. Hey, I'm from the south-fried is good, right?  :tongue_smilie:

 

I want this stuff for my boys. So much. I read about these kids and what they are doing, and I really, really want it. But thanks so much to 1Togo for her post. I am a right brained liberal arts humanities person with a mediocre public education with one STEM headed 13yo philosopher and one dyslexic possibly other STEM kid (time will tell, I suppose), and I don't even feel too confident at choosing the right paths for outsourcing. I don't know if they will have the self-motivation to do the kinds of things so many of your kids are doing, and I don't have the knowledge base to build it or to give them knowledgeable outside motivation. They both have so much potential. I can see that. But . . . sometimes I feel so inadequate for making happen what needs to happen to help them reach it. Sigh. I don't want to be paralyzed into doing nothing. But resources (my own internal ones as well as financial), location that limits opportunities, and . . . okay, I'll say it, the havoc that menopause is wreaking on my ability to function  :mellow: , all those things play into a sense of frustration at the same time I read and get excited about the possibilities.

 

Sorry--nothing really to add here, just musing and throwing out thoughts. . .

 

But thank you all so much. You are such a gold mine. There are possibilities out there, just not sure how to reconcile it all.

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Because Woodland Mist mentioned it and because it's true and just because, I wanted to post that we do school inside the box if that means using prepared curriculum.  I often wish I was creative like other mothers on this board, but I am not.  In addition, when I see the materials and textbooks prepared by people who know their subject, I realize that it isn't worth my time or energy to design courses.  I don't even think about getting outside the box.  Since we have graduated two dc with one going on to college, I have been able to assess what we did previously and find curriculum that will help dd be even better prepared for college.

 

I guess I am posting this for all the moms who might read this thread and begin to question their path and feel they need to come up with something new to engage their children or help them love learning or ...  Fwiw,  dd doesn't see her work as drudgery unless she is studying for comprehensive mid-terms or finals (Oh, well.).  As with anything, she loves some of her courses, likes some of them, and doesn't like others at all.  I haven't disappeared from her life because she uses prepared curriculum.  I check her work; I teach at least one subject; I provide help for some subjects; I read aloud to her; and I am her support, which is very important during audition prep and for Lukeion Latin's infamous PSQ's (Nailed that one this morning after three tries!!!). 

 

Oh dear, it was never my intention that the thread make anyone feel bad about what they are doing.   Sometimes, changing what we do has little to do with my child. I am bored. I've already covered the standard unit on the Romantics at least twice; I can't take it anymore and moving towards something like Sebastian's Roots of Steampunk Literature offers some relief.

 

Sometimes I have a fairly standard literature course planned out and a sibling hands a book to my non-reader that ignites his brain. Suddenly, we have veered off into Dystopian literature. If you have a non-reader and you are an avid reader, you take this opportunity and run with it. The goal isn't a gold star in homeschool creativity; the goal is to educate the student in an effective manner that works towards our educational goals.

 

Many people go outside the stupid box, not because they want to, but because they have to. It's in direct response to a problem which requires a less-than-standard answer.

 

In my original post, there is no implication (I hope!) that children who follow boxed curriculum are subject to drudgery and that their homeschool teacher is a slacker. I know better than that. The year my older son did Connections Academy, I worked as hard as usual if not harder, even though he had teachers. Part of the reason is my own personal teaching style.

 

The goal of the thread was to come up with some fresh ideas for those interested in doing something different than what they are currently doing. It's not meant to be an indictment on anyone who is happy with what they are doing.

 

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Wow. This thread is just about to make my brain burst. Or it's frying it. Hey, I'm from the south-fried is good, right? :tongue_smilie:

 

I want this stuff for my boys. So much. I read about these kids and what they are doing, and I really, really want it. But thanks so much to 1Togo for her post. I am a right brained liberal arts humanities person with a mediocre public education with one STEM headed 13yo philosopher and one dyslexic possibly other STEM kid (time will tell, I suppose), and I don't even feel too confident at choosing the right paths for outsourcing. I don't know if they will have the self-motivation to do the kinds of things so many of your kids are doing, and I don't have the knowledge base to build it or to give them knowledgeable outside motivation. They both have so much potential. I can see that. But . . . sometimes I feel so inadequate for making happen what needs to happen to help them reach it. Sigh. I don't want to be paralyzed into doing nothing. But resources (my own internal ones as well as financial), location that limits opportunities, and . . . okay, I'll say it, the havoc that menopause is wreaking on my ability to function :mellow: , all those things play into a sense of frustration at the same time I read and get excited about the possibilities.

 

Sorry--nothing really to add here, just musing and throwing out thoughts. . .

 

But thank you all so much. You are such a gold mine. There are possibilities out there, just not sure how to reconcile it all.

Jaybee,

 

My ds loves philosophy. If you want to explore a philosophy course for a high school elective, using TC lectures as a springboard sort provides the firm ground footing to build around so that the confidence doesn't have to come from you.......but your sources. For example, I created a philosophy of science and religion course for my ds that he literally ate up. I used 2 TC lectures, one focusing on science and religion and another on the philosophy of the 17th/18th centuries. I incorporated some of the readings they suggested and then multiple books from my personal favorite philosopher, Peter Kreeft. I don't know anything about philosophy, but I didn't need to bc I trusted my sources and we learned a ton. A lot went over my head, but a lot didn't.

 

I was listening to a debate on a podcast the other day and I immediately knew the person was setting up an argument based on Pascal's Wager. Before that course, I might have intuitively understood the argument, but I now understand the philosophical issues of the time and where it came from. I am also very aware of generational snobbery. We can't look back and evaluate in our own worldview bc we see religion as separate "from".....even as devout Christians. It is far different from philosophical debates coming through a religious prism which is historical reality.

 

It is classes like that one that make me love creating our own. But, that same yr, he used Thinkwell American gov't and econ. ;) I pick some to make our own and others we just do.

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Connie, thanks so much! Those look awesome.  

 

I kind of like inventing wheels, I'm weird that way, but this does look pretty great.  Looking at your siggy, it looks like you are maybe doing another thing I've thought about - covering texts, but covering parts of multiple texts each year?  I see you have Biology w/ the Dragonfly book plus Earth Science using Tarbuck.  I'm assuming you aren't covering both of these in their entirety?  Will you cover them over more than one year?

 

And, if you don't mind the question, what are you planning for 9th & 10th? Will you do an integrated approach like the texts you mentioned?

 

:D  I do understand.  I like inventing wheels, too. :)

 

Well, not the ENTIRE content of both texts but probably pretty close. :)  That's the plan, anyway.  We're using the Kolbe syllabus for bio (sort of - sans the religious content) and I think it leaves out chapters 6, 29, and 33.  Dd had already done the equivalent of a Reg Bio Lite in about Grade 5 or 6 so she's seen some of this before.  The plan is to revisit it again as AP Bio in a few years.  For Tarbuck, we're skipping chapters 14 & 15.

 

We did an integrated science last year.  It was mostly physics and chem (with a little earth/space mixed in) because I knew we'd be hitting biology hard this year.  I beefed it up with additional chem topics,though, so she'd be prepared for bio this year.  So for 9 and 10, we'll be into Grade 11 and 12 stuff.  I think for 9 we'll be doing honours chem with the Chang book and probably astronomy with the Chiasson book.  For 10, we'll do a really solid alg-based physics.  She might do AP Bio in 10, as well - not sure yet.  For 11 and 12, we'll focus on AP Chem and Physics.  If she wants, I was thinking of putting together an Intro Organic Chem course for an elective in Grade 12.  It would go beyond the O-Chem that's in high school or AP Chem.

 

This, of course, is all subject to change. :D  Because dual enrollment doesn't exist here in Canda and we also have no high school exit or university entrance exams, it's a little more nerve-wracking to get a homeschooled kid into university.  Homeschooling is not nearly as common as it is in the States and many universities seem to look suspiciously on homeschoolers.  For the universities that we're looking at, "mom transcripts" are NOT well received and most strongly recommend (i.e. do it or don't expect to get in) that homeschooled students go back to public school for at least for Grade 12 or take some form of distance ed courses for Grade 12 that are accredited by the province.  Unfortunately, the accredited distance ed offerings in Ontario are horrible and our local high school offers exactly 2 APs - English Lit and Calc AB.  Their standard offerings are...  Less than stellar.  I worked there.  I know. ;)  With no standardized exit exams, teachers can basically teach what they wish and, unless administration chooses to look in and actually see what's going on, students can graduate with, for example, Grade 12 Chem on their transcript without knowing a whole lot of chemistry.  I remember a student graduating a few years ago who had taken Grade 12 Chem from my colleague.  He had given her a final mark of 98%.  She took first year chem at university.  She failed.  She told me after, "I just didn't understand what they were doing."  How is that possible?!?!?  If a student understood 98% of Grade 12 chem, she should have breezed through intro chem at uni.  Sigh...  Sorry - deep breath - rant over.

 

What it comes down to, then, is that dd either needs to go back for Grade 12, take Grade 12 through distance ed, or get enough AP scores so that I essentially have all her grade 12 courses covered by APs - so 6 to 8 APs.  She can also write the SAT test - some Canadian universities are willing to look at that score.  Those are my options for her to go the STEM route to university.  I'm not really willing to consider options 1 and 2 unless I have to, so that leaves option 3.  Option 3 requires me to be very much "in the box". :)

 

Actually, this wraps back around to a few thoughts I had on "out of the box" education.  I think a lot of it depends on where you live (urban vs. rural) and also what country you live in.  I can think of one, possibly two, universities in Canada that would accept an out-of-the-box transcript for a STEM bound student.  Humanites-bound - maybe a few more.  Maybe it's our conservative nature?  (I don't mean conservative in the political sense or the socio-economic sense - I just mean "wary of taking risks or chances".)  Canadian universities are few and far between - I think there are less than 100 country-wide - and they are very "traditional", if you know what I mean.  I wonder if Europe is more like this as well?  The States seems to be much more willing to "take a chance" on unconventional students.

 

Gah.  I've now lost my train of thought.  Hopefully, there's something in all that that makes sense. :)

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Wow. This thread is just about to make my brain burst. Or it's frying it. Hey, I'm from the south-fried is good, right?  :tongue_smilie:

 

I want this stuff for my boys. So much. I read about these kids and what they are doing, and I really, really want it. But thanks so much to 1Togo for her post. I am a right brained liberal arts humanities person with a mediocre public education with one STEM headed 13yo philosopher and one dyslexic possibly other STEM kid (time will tell, I suppose), and I don't even feel too confident at choosing the right paths for outsourcing. I don't know if they will have the self-motivation to do the kinds of things so many of your kids are doing, and I don't have the knowledge base to build it or to give them knowledgeable outside motivation. They both have so much potential. I can see that. But . . . sometimes I feel so inadequate for making happen what needs to happen to help them reach it. Sigh. I don't want to be paralyzed into doing nothing. But resources (my own internal ones as well as financial), location that limits opportunities, and . . . okay, I'll say it, the havoc that menopause is wreaking on my ability to function  :mellow: , all those things play into a sense of frustration at the same time I read and get excited about the possibilities.

 

Sorry--nothing really to add here, just musing and throwing out thoughts. . .

 

But thank you all so much. You are such a gold mine. There are possibilities out there, just not sure how to reconcile it all.

 

:grouphug: There are definitely seasons for doing something "different," if that's what you want to do. I do things differently in the areas that I am really comfortable with, for the other subjects, I don't reinvent the wheel or leave the box. Some years when a family member has been in crisis, we do "business as usual" for everything and that's okay too.

 

If you look closely, many, many of our kids aren't motivated; that's why we are trying something different. My youngest has always been a very together person. By the time he was seven, he never missed a race at a swim meet and never lost his gear. He started navigating his way around downtown using mass transit when he was thirteen. Today, he is a 15 yo boy, who can barely find his own head. It makes him nuts to have an attention span of a gnat. We have to make adjustments.

 

If you think you want to do something different, start small in an area you or your kids are good at.

 

 

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Thank you, 8. I feel like I have a lot of homework to do in planning the future. It may be that a lot of my questions about what to do/how to handle high school with the 13yo will be cleared up as we head into 8th grade.  I like reading about the less conventional ways of doing things, and have felt a lot of freedom to try things through 8th, with sufficient confidence in my abilities to handle it as well, lol. However, my older kids were all in high school by 10th grade due to our having a wonderful school option for them. They were well prepared to enter the school, but it carried them the rest of the way, and they did/are doing great in university life. But this kid . . . he is puzzling me as far as what routes to take with him. He has always been way older than himself. He is bright--not profoundly gifted, that I can tell--but the older he gets the more he shines. He absolutely loved Art of Argument. He likes to write, and did Nanowrimo on his own this year. He is growing in his love of math every day. He is doing Windows to the World lit this semester, and eating it up. He designs computer games with Scratch, and has been running a football program he made for weeks now, putting in the names of made-up teams and having play-offs, which he then records into Excel sheets. He does stop-motion videos. He plays the guitar. His preferred way of learning anything is through reading; I really need to get some TC courses to see how he responds to them--maybe Vandiver next year. I'm giving him more and more to do, but it is taking him less and less time. It's exciting, but scary. I'm not as concerned (yet) about the 10yo--the next few years are pretty clear for him. 

 

ETA: Good words of encouragement, Lisa. Thank you.

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Jaybee,

 

My ds loves philosophy. If you want to explore a philosophy course for a high school elective, using TC lectures as a springboard sort provides the firm ground footing to build around so that the confidence doesn't have to come from you.......but your sources. For example, I created a philosophy of science and religion course for my ds that he literally ate up. I used 2 TC lectures, one focusing on science and religion and another on the philosophy of the 17th/18th centuries. I incorporated some of the readings they suggested and then multiple books from my personal favorite philosopher, Peter Kreeft. I don't know anything about philosophy, but I didn't need to bc I trusted my sources and we learned a ton. A lot went over my head, but a lot didn't.

 

I was listening to a debate on a podcast the other day and I immediately knew the person was setting up an argument based on Pascal's Wager. Before that course, I might have intuitively understood the argument, but I now understand the philosophical issues of the time and where it came from. I am also very aware of generational snobbery. We can't look back and evaluate in our own worldview bc we see religion as separate "from".....even as devout Christians. It is far different from philosophical debates coming through a religious prism which is historical reality.

 

It is classes like that one that make me love creating our own. But, that same yr, he used Thinkwell American gov't and econ. ;) I pick some to make our own and others we just do.

 

Eight, thanks for posting this!  The point about having sources you trust is very important. I am not much of an "original thought" kind of person, but I am an excellent adapter. I need something to begin with and TC lectures are great for that. We also use a lot from the BBC and many of those have lesson plans that I "improve" on.

 

Would you be willing to share more of how you put the science and religion course together?

 

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Is your son familiar with The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Volger?  I read an older edition many years ago. It seems like the sort of thing he might enjoy.

 

No, but that looks perfect! I know they worked the Joseph Campbell Hero's Journey into WoW in School.

 

 Then maybe a semester on Early Northern Europe to go with the Tolkein & Philology course from Signum (which covers many of the Norse/Celtic/Anglo-Saxon myths & epics, as well as the linguistics of Gothic, Old Norse, and Anglo-Saxon).

 

Wow! I see an English course coming together for my mythology-and-Tolkien-loving ds! Maybe in 10th or 11th grade, as we already have Roots of Steampunk planned for 9th.

 

Hear hear.  

 

I think that for Biology - this being the science I actually know something about - what I want to do is *not* choose, but to do two years - one year more focused on cells, genetics, microorganism, botany, etc., and then one more focused on ecology, environmental science, watershed ecology, agroecology, earth/climate science, etc.  I know I can do this within the box by calling one Biology and calling one Environmental Science.

 

The quirky one I want to do I'm thinking of calling something like Integrated Science: Origins of Life and covering things like organic chemistry, astrobiology, geology, palentology, earth systems science, evolution, and whatever else seems to fit in there.  I think this is such a fascinating area of study, and then it can spin off into cool social science topics like anthropology and on into history . . . . 

 

So what I'm thinking (and the path we are on now) is to cover conceptual physics & chemistry to as much depth as our math skills allow now, then do my Origins class, then a couple of years of biology . . . . then we can always catch "standard" chemistry and physics at the JC

 

Or everything could change.  But this is a sequence which interests me, and an interested teacher plus an interested student gets you at least halfway there, I think!  

 

I'm actually serious about that.  One of the reasons I see for outsourcing classes is that I'm not motivated (self disciplined?) enough to put in all the work to put together a course like this in a topic that doesn't interest me passionately.   So if dd stays interested in Astronomy, I definitely see more outsourcing in our future. ;)  :D  

 

I love the idea of an integrated study like this, and yes, I too plan to use the JC to fill in a couple of gaps in the long run. Ds might do higher math there as well... we'll see. I think I will need to chat with you about the integrated course idea, and possible resources.

 

 

Rose, I totally know what you mean by a more integrated approach. Not all kids do well with science material that is far removed from their everyday experience. I took this approach to help a fellow boardie whose son needed to learn the basics through more integrated topics http://forums.welltr...astronomy-help/ . Thought it might get you thinking

 

And I think you just solved my 8th grade science dilemma!

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For those of you who design courses using TC lectures, books, etc., what do you expect for output?  Has anyone posted a planned course?  I love all of these ideas, but need to see something concrete.  I would appreciate resources on planning courses.

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Here is a quick synopsis of what I did.   I ordered the 2 TC lectures.   In complete disclosure ;)  I listened to the 2 entire series while painting the interior of house over a 3 week time span.   After listening to the courses, I sat down with the guides that come with the courses and got a general idea of the resources suggested and then looked for some other options.   Since I love Kreeft, I chose many of his books for the individual philosophers over the recommended lecturers suggestions.    Then I simply mapped out a general course description/plan and estimated how much time we needed to cover the lectures and books and came up with a plan for spreading it out over the yr.

 

The course was built around:

  • Birth of the Modern Mind: The Intellectual History of 17th and 18th Centuries, Philosophy of Science and Religion,  God and Nature: Historical Essays on Encounter between Christianity and Science,      Socrates Meets Hume: The Father of Philosophy Meets the Father of Modern Skepticism,     Socrates Meets Descartes: The Father of Philosophy Analyzes the Father of Modern Philosophy's Discourse on Method,  Socrates Meets Kant: The Father of Philosophy Meets His Most Influential Modern Child,      Christianity for Modern Pagans: PASCAL's Pensees

And what I wrote as a course description was:

 

Modern science, representative democracy, and a wave of wars were caused by a revolution of the intellect that seized Europe between 1600 and 1800.  The goal of this course was to expose the student to the conceptual and cultural revolution of the Enlightenment which gave birth to modern thought.   The nature of the two crucial forces of science and religion and their influence on each other in pursuit of knowledge and truth was examined via many of the key thinkers who transformed the shift in European thought: Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Blaise Pascal, Isaac Newton, David Hume, Immanuel Kant, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau.

 

We spent many hours discussing the lectures and the issues brought up via Socrates in the books.   Ds researched some of the philosophers that he did not read entire books on.   He wrote about the positions of the various philosophers and how he sees their influence on modern thought.

 

That's pretty much it.   In other courses, I have used the questions in the guidebooks for essay topics/sources of discussion, etc. 

 

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Output depends on the student's skill level and my goals for the subject. I am not much into output for output's sake; every written assignment usually needs to have a solid reason for spending time on it.

 

For the last half of 9th grade, we did an ancient history class. It was the first time my ds used a college-level text. My primary concern was that he could take notes from the book and be able to use those notes to be adequately prepared for a test. The tests were nearly always pop quizzes, because I don't see the point in taking a test that requires a couple of days of preparation if your study materials are inadequate.  At the end of the semester, he and his notes were ready for a larger test.

 

This year for history, I don't care about his notebook, unless he doesn't do well on a test. He knows how to take notes from a challenging text, so we've moved on to another skill set requiring different output.

 

I routinely mine AP instructors websites for their creative projects, essay prompts, summer homework, whatever. When I am not sure about the appropriate output for one of my own classes, I try to explain here what I am doing and ask for advice.

 

 

 

 

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My posts all seem to be more full of what to be aware of than what to do.  Sorry.  I just am through the process now, having done something sort of out-of-the-box with two children, and I can see the results.  Some results I like.  Some results I don't like.  For example, I wish middle one had an easier time with science classes and I wish youngest's French grammar and spelling were better.

 

Foreign languages - This is one of those places where a good instructor is worth their weight in gold.  You can do it on your own but it is amazing how fast a good instructor can cover the same material.  If you can outsource, consider outsourcing.  If you want to really be able to speak the language, consider adding travel, a conversation partner, or lots of reading to the program.  The big difference that I can see between a language class in Europe and one in the US is the amount of reading required.  They make their students read real literature and write reports much much sooner than the average American language program.  The result is more fluency.  Unlike immersion experiences and conversation partners, it is cheap and easy to add.  Providing the writing is phonetic and there is a fairly large body of written work, you can start with a dictionary and a children's book after a few months of language lessons and work your way up from there through TinTin books, Harry Potter, and then real literature of the land.  Skype is an easy way to find conversation partners.  You can pick one night a week to use the language at supper, dictionary in hand.  You can find, via the internet, lots of input in many languages.  You can take language classes in the country, provided you can afford it, or be an exchange student.  Even a week of sightseeing is a good deal better than nothing.  If nothing else, it is inspiring.  You can decide (the way I did) that you are never going to get your children to remember anything you are trying to teach them and just switch to speaking the language.  If you do this, keep in mind that they need plenty of input from a better source than you (like books, movies, songs, and radio).  I had to get over the idea that BAD French was worse than NO French.  Bad French is a good deal better than no French lol.  On the other hand, some bad language habits can be hard to get rid of.  On the other other hand, a lot of it just goes away naturally as you get better at the language.   The other problem with learning immersion style is literacy.  In some ways, I would say that our out-of-the-box method of covering French was a huge success.  Youngest can hold a conversation in French and understand a movie (my really rough goal).  In other ways, it was less successful.  I seriously doubt he would have done well on the French SAT2 despite being able to function in a French-speaking country, because his written French left much to be desired and he didn't know some of the conventional vocabulary that everyone else learns in school.  When I was in school, I did ok on the French SAT2 but was unable to have a conversation or understand ANY real French.  I couldn't even read TinTin without looking up every other word.  Fortunately, in real life (rather than American high school lol) there are lots of people like my son.  We found the DELF to be a better test.  This is the test of French used by France.  It tests reading, writing, speaking, and listening with a more even emphasis on each and more emphasis on communication than on grammar.  If you take an out-of-the-box way of learning a language, you might consider using the country's national test.  I know there is one for German and I suspect other European languages also have one.

 

Literature - We did TWEM, but we applied that method of studying literature to our own reading list.  We did scifi instead of the moderns, for example.  It worked splendidly. : )  Just be aware that certain types of academic writing might not be getting covered.

 

History - I don't have much to add here except that with youngest, we doubled up and used a history book from France written for younger children.  This also worked splendidly despite my having to give up discussing the history in French after a certain point because my French wasn't up to it.  It was very interesting to cover history from a European point of view and it helped with his essay writing and study skills.  Youngest has commented a number of times that he is glad he did it this way.

 

US History - We covered this by driving around the country towing a popup camper staying in national parks and reading through TWTM logic stage reading list and a history spine.  It wasn't a really in depth history class, but it was great fun.  Middle one took US history in college and did not feel unprepared, so I guess it was fine.

 

Math - We made no attempt to do this in an out-of-the-box way.  I used NEM and then they took community college classes.  I tried really hard to give them problem solving skills.  Really really hard.  They watched me struggle to solve their problems.  They had lots of problems they couldn't solve.  Definately not a 100% problem there lol.  This approach was ok but we are finding that youngest (in engineering school now) is handicapped by being slower than the other students.  Community college left him with some holes, also.  Some of them were his own fault.  I KNOW I taught him trig and so did the community college but somehow he didn't remember ANY of it.  Grrrrr.  He's working hard now to fill in the holes and speed up.

 

Writing - We used a ton of different things and in the end, I had to teach them myself anyway.  This is one of those basic skills that is hard to teach yourself, I think, and is hard to learn out of a book.  It is so individualized that you need someone to look at what you are doing and fix it bit by bit.  I had specific goals, like be able to write a research paper using MLA format, be able to write a 5 paragraph essay fairly quickly, be able to tell a story, be able to describe something in detail, be able to write a lab report, be able to keep a journal, be able to keep a natural history notebook, etc.

 

Individual projects - I taught them how to teach themselves and then felt sort of like I had created a monster.  They proceded to teach themselves all sorts of things.  If they concentrated on one thing for a long time, I asked if they wanted to turn it into a project.  If they said yes (and they didn't always), then we worked out what they were using as input, what they would do for output, and what else they needed to do in order to turn it into a semester of work and give it a certain label.  Projects for school had to include reading and writing.

 

I tried to think of things as skills and content.  I concentrated on teaching them the skills and left a lot of the content decisions to them.  Another way to think about their educations and how I gave them say is that they chose projects and then counted on me to connect those projects and fill them in and form them into courses.

 

Nan

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8Fill - Thanks.  That helps -- watch the tapes, read related materials, discussion and some writing.  Do you lead the discussion using the guides or does your student discuss what he has read, etc.?

 

Swimmermom -  Thanks.  Do the texts you use come with texts or do you make up your own tests/pop quizzes?  I haven't used texts without tests because I haven't had time to read the texts and put together my own tests.  I have considered using texts without tests but haven't gone that direction.  I was recently reading on a thread about CLEP tests and a poster mentioned she didn't think much of giving credits for courses that could be studied for in a few weeks.  I realize it isn't exactly the same, but reading through a text and just taking notes/discussing could mean short courses.  Not that I am opposed to short courses, and it looks like we may need some of those to graduate.  While my brain is on the short course track, I just realized that dh's online college courses are short; i.e. two months.  They do a lot in two months.  

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8Fill - Thanks.  That helps -- watch the tapes, read related materials, discussion and some writing.  Do you lead the discussion using the guides or does your student discuss what he has read, etc.?

 

Swimmermom -  Thanks.  Do the texts you use come with texts or do you make up your own tests/pop quizzes?  I haven't used texts without tests because I haven't had time to read the texts and put together my own tests.  I have considered using texts without tests but haven't gone that direction.  I was recently reading on a thread about CLEP tests and a poster mentioned she didn't think much of giving credits for courses that could be studied for in a few weeks.  I realize it isn't exactly the same, but reading through a text and just taking notes/discussing could mean short courses.  Not that I am opposed to short courses, and it looks like we may need some of those to graduate.  While my brain is on the short course track, I just realized that dh's online college courses are short; i.e. two months.  They do a lot in two months.  

 

I think I should add the caveat that if I teach a course, I've read the text or am reading the text along with my son.

 

With regards to tests, sometimes, I will write my own, but again, I can usually cull from other resources. AP history texts may present the material in slightly different order from each other, but the material being covered is pretty much the same across all texts. I can mine multiple choice questions from a publisher's site or I can mine them from an AP prep manual. Essay questions come from the written notes in a TC courseguide like Eight mentioned, from the College Board site, from googling the topic and seeing what another teacher has asked, but just as often they come from our own curiosity as do our topics for discussion.

 

For example, earlier this year my son read Hunger for Memory by Richard Rodriguez for another course that I am not teaching. I had previously read about a third of the book and disliked it intensely. My son didn't have the same reaction when he read it. He talked at length with me about why the writing was one way in the beginning and another way in the end. (It was the style in the first part of the book that made me crazy.)  So now we are reading Achebe's Things Fall Apart and it's natural to compare and contrast the writing in the two works. I don't need a teacher's manual to have that conversation because I have now read both books. If I hadn't read the book, I would read a synopsis, look at some of the online lesson plans and probably pick three chapters at various points in the book, so I could fake an intelligent conversation with my son. That's a lot harder to do than it used to be.

 

My courses are never too short. :blushing:

 

Even if we weren't doing an AP course, history would still take a long time because art, music, philosophy, and science all come into play. We use TC art lectures that go with the time frame we are studying. He hs copies of the art being discussed and he makes his notes on those copies. He now has an art notebook with European art by period. He can add biographies of artists that he has researched or an essay from an AP prompt that compares one period to another. We went to our local art museum and played detective. Could we figure out the time frame of the art without looking at the exhibit information? AT the end of four years, the boy will also have one credit in fine arts.

 

Does this help at all? Oh, and the main reason our courses take longer now is that we use college texts. There is more to cover and my ds is a slow, but thorough reader.

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Unless things are radically different there, no one will know you ds is dual enrolled or a high school student, not even the professors, unless your ds tells them. Ds avoids telling anyone if possible. Last yr at the end of the spring semester he told two of his professors bc he asked them to write his LOR, but prior to that no one knew except admissions.

  

Interesting. At our school, the electronic class roster contains information about the student's major/academic program. So, if the professors were looking at the roster in its entirety, they would see that the dually enrolled student is listed with no major. But maybe most don't bother (I do know my students' majors, and I do know who is dually enrolled or non-degree seeking)

 

My father was the Vice President of the University when he went back to finish his BA at age 60 (back in the day he was accepted to med school without finishing his degree). Not a single professor and only 1 student recognized him in the 3 years that he took classes, even though his photo was regularly in the school newspaper, and clearly the professors had his name on their roles. 

 

Professors see what they expect.

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Wow! I see an English course coming together for my mythology-and-Tolkien-loving ds! Maybe in 10th or 11th grade, as we already have Roots of Steampunk planned for 9th.

 

 

I love the idea of an integrated study like this, and yes, I too plan to use the JC to fill in a couple of gaps in the long run. Ds might do higher math there as well... we'll see. I think I will need to chat with you about the integrated course idea, and possible resources.

 

 

 

And I think you just solved my 8th grade science dilemma!

 

Any time! My kids would love to meet yours!  :)

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:D  I do understand.  I like inventing wheels, too. :)

 

Well, not the ENTIRE content of both texts but probably pretty close. :)  That's the plan, anyway.  We're using the Kolbe syllabus for bio (sort of - sans the religious content) and I think it leaves out chapters 6, 29, and 33.  Dd had already done the equivalent of a Reg Bio Lite in about Grade 5 or 6 so she's seen some of this before.  The plan is to revisit it again as AP Bio in a few years.  For Tarbuck, we're skipping chapters 14 & 15.

 

We did an integrated science last year.  It was mostly physics and chem (with a little earth/space mixed in) because I knew we'd be hitting biology hard this year.  I beefed it up with additional chem topics,though, so she'd be prepared for bio this year.  So for 9 and 10, we'll be into Grade 11 and 12 stuff.  I think for 9 we'll be doing honours chem with the Chang book and probably astronomy with the Chiasson book.  For 10, we'll do a really solid alg-based physics.  She might do AP Bio in 10, as well - not sure yet.  For 11 and 12, we'll focus on AP Chem and Physics.  If she wants, I was thinking of putting together an Intro Organic Chem course for an elective in Grade 12.  It would go beyond the O-Chem that's in high school or AP Chem.

 

 

 

I gotcha.  This sounds a lot like our path so far - we did Biology pretty intensely in 4th and 5th grade, because it's the science I know, and being a new homeschooler I needed something to be familiar while I figured out the rest of it!  This year and into next year we're doing integrated physical science - astronomy, physics, and beginning chemistry.  It will be as intense as she can handle.  I think by next year (7th) she will be doing full-fledged Conceptual Physics using Hewitt as a spine.  Then I think we'll do Chemistry in 8th - again, at the highest level of intensity that is appropriate given her text reading and math skills.  So I feel like we'll be in good shape background-wise to tackle topics in biology and astronomy - her two main interests at this point, which is kind of driving the Integrated Science class I'm fantasizing about.  

 

The main goal for middle school science for us is to have a strong background for tackling these topics later, so math is the number one priority, as well as the science we can study before we have enough math to do it "for real"  So for example, she loves Astronomy, but I feel like we've "done" as much astronomy as we can do until she gets more math and physics done.  So we'll keep reading articles and books and enjoying documentaries and stuff, but we won't try to "do" astronomy till the math and physics are in place.  Likewise with the math-chemistry-biology thing.  So math readiness will drive some of these choices, for sure, but I feel like we're in a pretty good place for that, because if current trends hold we'll be ready to start Alg. 1 in September (7th grade).

 

I love talking about science!!!!!  And I think this has been one of the best threads ever!!!

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Woodland Mist, I can definitely see where you are coming from. The only out-of-the-box that we do is lots and lots of math, really hard deep thinking math, but somehow I don't think that is what people think about when they think out-of-the-box. People are usually thinking about creative endeavours (even though I could argue that my son's math is very creative). So I definitely think it is in the eye of the beholder.

 

I also find that there is a desperate need to be 'fair' or 'honest' about coursework on the transcript, and I think that that is an impossible task. Going deep with less, or surface with more. Considering the intellectual capability of the child or just considering the standard curriculum. Defining studies as extracurricular vs academic. Focusing on standard material vs lesser known subjects. Really, how in the world can you ever be equal?

 

When I put down Intermediate Algebra and Modern History for my son this year, the math class with be with AoPS and my son will beat his head against the wall for hours working on the challengers. For history, my dh reads to him trade books on history every night. Books that my younger can also understand. He discusses the issues with the boys and we have no output. These classes are clearly not at the same level, but if I bump up the expectations for history, he will not have the time he needs for math. So in my eyes, I am being fair, because one class I am underselling and the other I am overselling. But clearly, if you compare 2 student's transcripts, they will see history on both and consider them of the same level (my son wins, or cheats if you like), but the reverse is also true for math (and my son loses, the transcript does not reflect the far harder material). You can put Honors on this or that, but it is so overused and undefined that it is probably meaningless anyway.

 

So it seems to me that part of the out-of-the-box angst is about this fairness/honesty issue. And I think the question can never be answered.

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So we had a very out-of-the box math lesson today.  It's kind of embarrassing, but I wanted to share it because it was kind of one of those hit yourself on the head d'oh moments for me.  Shannon was working on a Fractions-as-ratios-word problem in MM6, and she got stuck on one.  I looked at it.  I had no idea what to do.  I worked on it for a few minutes.  Got nowhere.  Checked the answer.  Ok, once I saw the answer, I was able to work backwards and figure out how it was derived but . . . . I couldn't look at the problem and explain how to move forward.  It drove me nuts.  I was feeling really stressed and inadequate - as I tend to do when stymied by a 6th grade math problem - but it hit me that this is *exactly* the kind of experience I want my kids to have:  I have a problem, I have tools that should help me solve it, and I need to get from here to there.  I grappled with that problem, I talked through it out loud, we worked on it from different angles . . . . and finally we figured it out.  We spent a long time.  We didn't "get through" as much math as I had planned today - but we learned more than we have in any other single day since . . . forever.

 

 

 

I view this as no different than putting together a puzzle and looking at the box to see what the finished product looks like. 

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I view this as no different than putting together a puzzle and looking at the box to see what the finished product looks like. 

 

Yeah, but what bugged me is that I couldn't explain *why* you did what you did to get the answer.  I could see *how* to do it, but not why.  

 

This is basically the story of my entire math education - I'm a smart girl, and good at pattern matching, so I was always able to find an example problem like the one I was working on, and solve it the same way . . . but I didn't really understand it deeply & conceptually.  I am having to learn the concepts behind the math that I "know" - know *how* to do - so that I can teach the why, the conceptual level to my kids.  Talk about getting outside of my comfort box!!!  I consider myself an object lesson in just how far you can get coasting/faking it if you are reasonably intelligent.  It does come back to bite you eventually, though.  I am determined my kids will learn math for real the first time around.

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Yeah, but what bugged me is that I couldn't explain *why* you did what you did to get the answer.  I could see *how* to do it, but not why.  

 

This is basically the story of my entire math education - I'm a smart girl, and good at pattern matching, so I was always able to find an example problem like the one I was working on, and solve it the same way . . . but I didn't really understand it deeply & conceptually.  I am having to learn the concepts between the math that I "know" - know *how* to do - so that I can teach the why, the conceptual level to my kids.  Talk about getting outside of my comfort box!!!  I consider myself an object lesson in just how far you can get coasting/faking it if you are reasonably intelligent.  It does come back to bite you eventually, though.  I am determined my kids will learn math for real the first time around.

 

Rose, embarrassing though it might be, it is really good that you are modelling problem solving.  With my older, I am digging myself deeper and deeper as we work through intermediate number theory.  It is hard to believe that I can still model problem solving given that I don't know the material (and have no interest in learning it).  I just try this and that, look at other problems for comparison, get out the textbook and look up a formula.  I've even been known to write out 200 numbers in base 3 just to look for patterns (yes, that was last week!)  Given your science background, I think you just need to approach math like you approach a research question in science.  You don't know how to do it, you have a few ideas, you make a plan, nothing works, you problem solve ideas for each problem, you implement them, they still don't work, so you try some other stuff, and then eventually you find the answer.  Same with math.

 

I also firmly believe that modelling is the way.  When I was teaching bio science labs while doing my grad work, I would have students ask me questions.  Instead of telling them the answer, I would always in the nicest way say "I can explain it so much better with a nice diagram, I know there is one in your book." and then I would get a textbook and look up the topic, and point to the material and explain it.  It took 2-3 times per student, before they just started getting out their books and doing it themselves.  I could have just said 'look it up' but then they would have rolled their eyes and not done it.  Modelling is the way.

 

So in math when you say 'try a few things' or 'investigate small cases,' etc, most kids just can't do it until they have seen it done over and over.  Even my boy who has been doing this all year needs me to just show him again and again how to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty by just trying.

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...Actually, this wraps back around to a few thoughts I had on "out of the box" education.  I think a lot of it depends on where you live (urban vs. rural) and also what country you live in.  I can think of one, possibly two, universities in Canada that would accept an out-of-the-box transcript for a STEM bound student.  Humanites-bound - maybe a few more.  Maybe it's our conservative nature?  (I don't mean conservative in the political sense or the socio-economic sense - I just mean "wary of taking risks or chances".)  Canadian universities are few and far between - I think there are less than 100 country-wide - and they are very "traditional", if you know what I mean.  I wonder if Europe is more like this as well?  The States seems to be much more willing to "take a chance" on unconventional students.

 ...

 

I think it is difficult in Europe, based on conversations on the homeschooling board.  England, because of its exit exams, seems to be more willing to take a student based on exam scores rather than a mummy transcript.  The only homeschoolers we know who made the jump to a Canadian university did Seton and then sent their son to do the last year of school in a Canadian public school.  He went to engineering school on a scholarship, so obviously, his previous years of homeschooling didn't hurt him.  Seven engineering schools were willing to "take a chance" on my youngest, but he came with five semesters of science (including calc-based physics), four semesters of math (through calc 2), speech, comp 1, and drawing from our community college.  Only one of them accepted him without seeing the first semester physics grade and they had just graduated his brother.  I suspect that many engineering schools here want "proof" before they will accept a homeschooler - AP physics grades or community college physics grades or SAT physics and math grades.  We did not find any who would accept a homeschooler without SAT or ACT grades, which give some idea of math ability, and many wanted a math and science SAT2 score as well.

 

My experience with homeschooling out-of-the-box was very much influenced by knowing that youngest needed not only to be accepted by an engineering school BUT BE ABLE TO MANAGE ONCE HE GOT THERE.  The jury is still out on that last, since he hasn't graduated yet.

 

Nan

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I think it is difficult in Europe, based on conversations on the homeschooling board.  England, because of its exit exams, seems to be more willing to take a student based on exam scores rather than a mummy transcript. 

NZ does not care one whit about a mummy transcript. They require excellent grades in 4 subjects on the equivalent to the A levels in the UK (I believe slightly lower than the APs, but they do require 2 years of study to complete the curriculum), or moderate grades in 5 or 6 A levels. You also must pass the english and math entrance requirements if your A levels don't include those subjects; these requirements are lower so that a music major does not need A level math and a physics major does not need A level english.

 

So I have complete control over any out of the box approach I want to use, with the exception that it must allow him to pass (and do well on) these exams.

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NZ does not care one whit about a mummy transcript. They require excellent grades in 4 subjects on the equivalent to the A levels in the UK (I believe slightly lower than the APs, but they do require 2 years of study to complete the curriculum), or moderate grades in 5 or 6 A levels. You also must pass the english and math entrance requirements if your A levels don't include those subjects; these requirements are lower so that a music major does not need A level math and a physics major does not need A level english.

 

So I have complete control over any out of the box approach I want to use, with the exception that it must allow him to pass (and do well on) these exams.

 

This is one of the reasons (there are others, believe it or not ;)) that I wish Ontario had standardized high school exit exams.  I know many people here despise standardized exams but when you've seen what can happen when they don't exist and there's very little oversight of classroom teachers (see my rant in an earlier post), they start to look appealing.  Plus, they'd make it far less complicated and less stressful to get dd into a position where she can enter a STEM field at a Canadian university.

 

I'm one of those people who always enjoyed taking comprehensive finals, though, so I may be a bit biased. ;)

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What it comes down to, then, is that dd either needs to go back for Grade 12, take Grade 12 through distance ed, or get enough AP scores so that I essentially have all her grade 12 courses covered by APs - so 6 to 8 APs.  She can also write the SAT test - some Canadian universities are willing to look at that score.  Those are my options for her to go the STEM route to university.  I'm not really willing to consider options 1 and 2 unless I have to, so that leaves option 3.  Option 3 requires me to be very much "in the box". :)

 

Actually, this wraps back around to a few thoughts I had on "out of the box" education.  I think a lot of it depends on where you live (urban vs. rural) and also what country you live in.  I can think of one, possibly two, universities in Canada that would accept an out-of-the-box transcript for a STEM bound student.  Humanites-bound - maybe a few more.  Maybe it's our conservative nature?  (I don't mean conservative in the political sense or the socio-economic sense - I just mean "wary of taking risks or chances".)  Canadian universities are few and far between - I think there are less than 100 country-wide - and they are very "traditional", if you know what I mean.  I wonder if Europe is more like this as well?  The States seems to be much more willing to "take a chance" on unconventional students.

 

Connie, I don't know if this would work for the universities you are considering or not, but I have read that Sarah Rainsberger suggests taking a few courses from Athabasca and then applying as a transfer student to your university of choice; maybe, possibly, an Option 4?  They appear to have articulation agreements all over the place; they also have open admissions from age 16 up, so that looks on the face of it like a decent possibility, but I haven't looked into all the potential ins and outs of it yet.

 

I'm Canadian, but not in Ontario, so am not quite sure what specific barriers you might be facing there (I haven't even looked closely into those in my own province yet!).  My homeschooling friends on the prairies all sent their kids to school for grade 12, which I'd prefer to avoid as well.

 

Can private candidates in Canada write GCSEs and A-levels??  Option 5???

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Connie, I don't know if this would work for the universities you are considering or not, but I have read that Sarah Rainsberger suggests taking a few courses from Athabasca and then applying as a transfer student to your university of choice; maybe, possibly, an Option 4?  They appear to have articulation agreements all over the place; they also have open admissions from age 16 up, so that looks on the face of it like a decent possibility, but I haven't looked into all the potential ins and outs of it yet.

 

I'm Canadian, but not in Ontario, so am not quite sure what specific barriers you might be facing there (I haven't even looked closely into those in my own province yet!).  My homeschooling friends on the prairies all sent their kids to school for grade 12, which I'd prefer to avoid as well.

 

Can private candidates in Canada write GCSEs and A-levels??  Option 5???

 

I've thought about Athabasca - I'm still not sure what I think about that route.  I'll have to think some more. :)

 

I've never looked into GCSEs or A-levels.  Hmmm...  I guess I never considered that that would be an option.  Do you think the Brits would let us participate seeing as we're a Commonwealth country? ;)

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NZ universities accept CIE - the Cambridge International Exams if a student does not want to go the NZ exam route.  We have schools that give private canidates the CIE exams, but we do have to travel to Auckland for the science exams as they have a lab component.  The universities also accept International Baccalaureate exams, but very few schools go that route and they don't accept private canidates as far as I know.

 

Just checked.  CIE is definitely accepted by Canadian universities.  http://www.cie.org.uk/programmes-and-qualifications/cambridge-advanced/cambridge-international-as-and-a-levels/recognition/  

 

and used this site http://www.cie.org.uk/i-want-to/find-a-cambridge-school/  to find two exam centers that accept private candidates

Fieldstone Day School, Toronto http://www.fieldstonedayschool.org

Laurentian Academy Montreal http://www.academielaurentienne.ca/

 

Ruth in NZ

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Lisa,

 

Just wanted you to know that I absolutely do not feel bad about anything on this thread.  After many years of homeschooling and graduating two children, I am comfortable with what we do for our homeschool.  I did want to post for the mothers who read these types of threads, begin yearning for something they are not doing, and then think about chucking a path that works for them and their children or even a path that just gets done, especially mid-year.  For moms who have a lot on their plates, finishing the race has merit. 

 

Some mothers enjoy inventing the wheel;  they have the time to spend; and they have the ability to design courses.  Others don't.  In the past, I tried to design courses because I wanted a particular emphasis for a subject, but soon realized that I couldn't do it because I didn't know enough about the subject to design a course.  I couldn't develop meaningful assignments or appropriate tests or lead discussions because I just didn't have the knowledge base. 

 

Thank you so much for the post with more details about how you plan a course and what you do.  It does give me a good idea of everything involved.

 

As I mentioned on another thread, I love these posts because they inspire me.  They often get started before school begins or about now, when most of us are in the winter doldrums, so it's fun to read and think about new ideas and even get inspiration for what I may do in the future. 

 

 

 

 

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My daughter and I had a great time reading through this thread together. She had a few aha moments for sure. She was immediately inspired and we had some great discussions. It was good for her to see what other homeschooled kids were doing and how they were doing it. 

Thanks!

 

Lisa, I'm glad to hear your daughter is ok! 

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