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PA Homeschoolers AP classes . . . Put your reviews here!


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I'll start . . .

 

I suggest definitely including the specific instructor, as some classes have many choices. These are *my* parent reviews and my grades of the teacher/course, based on my kids' reports, my observations, and my general gut impressions. 

 

AP English Language & Comp with Maya Inspektor  (last year, dd, 11th grade then) : A+++  Extremely well organized, inspiring, and very high quality assignments. Lots of interaction within the class. It was lots of time for my dd, but that's because she was so inspired. She did *all* the extra credit assignments, etc, and learned so, so much. I've signed my rising 11th grader up for it next year. It's that good. For sure. Not to be missed. 

 

AP English Lit & Comp with Maya Inspektor (this year, dd, 12th grade): A+++. Just like the first year, 100% positive. Can't say enough good things about this teacher and her courses!

 

AP Comp Sci with Cynthia Lang (this year, dd, 12th grade) -- A. Excellent. Very well organized, clear, and effective. Positive teacher interactions, great outcome. Moderate workload. Highly Recommended.

 

AP World History with Gwen Smith (this year, dd 12th grade): -- C/D+. Avoid, IMHO. Unnecessarily heavy workload with many assignments. Delayed grading and difficult communication on feedback. Too much quantity vs too little depth/quality. It is, however, good for learning how to skim and do half-assed work, which is not a completely useless skill. Dd liked the teacher personally, but we were not happy with the class. 

 

AP Chem with Mr. Moskaluk (this year, dd 12th grade): A. Excellent on all levels. Extremely well organized, clear, great communication, excellent content. Lots of work, as would be any AP Chem class, but the workload is not overwhelming (for a well prepared student).

 

AP Env Science with Molly Olson (this year, ds 10th grade): A. Extremely good organization and communication. Immediate grading/feedback. Low/moderate workload (compared to other APs). Good quality content assignments. Teacher is positive and flexible. Very positive on all levels. Strongly recommended. Would be a good "first AP" or "extra AP", as the content is good, course very well organized, and it is generally an easier course (due to easier content, IMHO) than many APs, IME.

 

 

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AP World History with Gwen Smith (this year, dd 12th grade): -- C/D+. Avoid, IMHO. Unnecessarily heavy workload with many assignments. Delayed grading and difficult communication on feedback. Too much quantity vs too little depth/quality. It is, however, good for learning how to skim and do half-assed work, which is not a completely useless skill. Dd liked the teacher personally, but we were not happy with the class. 

 

 

Next year will be our first with Maya Inspektor.  I'm glad I jumped on it when I did.

 

But this made me laugh. Seriously.  Last night one of my college students (a middle-aged lady like me) said the same exact thing about her BUS 100 professor.  I laughed so hard, I was glad that it was just the two of us when she told me that.

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AP US History with Daniel Burnes.  A.  My writing averse kids took this class and really liked it.  They grew so much in their ability to write coherent arguments, to analyze information from a social sciences viewpoint (strong in analysis of math/science information).  Both went from tears and gnashing of teeth to getting 4s on the AP exam.  Mr. Burnes was fairly quick in getting assignments back and giving feedback. 

 

AP Human Geography with Carol Gillespie.  A-.  My second child's first experience with AP.  This was at a time when I was quite burdened and distracted with getting oldest child's transcripts, course descriptions done and getting that kid organized to apply to college.  So, my kid who took this class did it all with very little oversight from me.  So, I can't say much about the class other than my kid got an A in the class and a 5 on the exam.  My kid never complained about the class and did the work diligently without my prodding, so they must have enjoyed it. 

 

AP World History with Gloria Harrison.  A.  Both of my kids took this class with her and they both excelled.  They both looked forward to the work in this class.  My 2nd kid got into a bind due to a serious mental health issue.  Mrs. Harrison was very caring and understanding and worked with us to create a schedule to get K caught up.  While K got a B in the class (due to falling seriously behind during the crisis), they got a 5 on the exam.  My oldest got an A and got a 5 on the exam.  Mrs. Harrison is very organized.  She gives excellent feedback and is timely in grading work. 

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AP Chem with Mr. Moskaluk (this year, dd 12th grade): A. Excellent on all levels. Extremely well organized, clear, great communication, excellent content. Lots of work, as would be any AP Chem class, but the workload is not overwhelming (for a well prepared student).

 

Ditto this review!!!!!!  Could not have said it better.

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How many courses are your students taking at one time through PA Homeschoolers?

 

In 11th grade, dd took one from PA Homeschoolers (English) but was also taking AoPS Calculus online at that time. (1 PA HS'ers. 2 total demanding online courses.)

 

In 12th grade, same dd took 4 from PA HS'ers (english lit, chem, comp. sci, and world history). Dh and I begged/cried/argued with her not to take 4. We wanted her to have some down time this year. She insisted, and we relented. She did well with the classes and learned to manage her time and workload. However, she didn't apply to elite colleges or even scholarships that require loads of time with applications/essays/interviews. If those things had been on her plate, the workload would not have been sustainable, IMHO. (4 classes)

 

In 10th grade, ds took Env. Sci. (1 class)

 

In 11th grade, he'll take English Comp, Calc AB, and Chem. (3 classes)

 

Personally, I'd limit my PA HS'ers classes to 3 if possible, and 2 for the first year the student uses them. If they are all reasonable workload, more is possible. But if you get a stinker, then that throws things out of whack. DD-Senior did fine with the 4 classes this year, but I demanded almost nothing else from her. If that World History hadn't been ridiculous in volume, then the 4 would have been pretty manageable. As it was, it was rough the first few months until dd learned to let go of her very high standards. :)

 

FWIW, my 10th grade son had signed up for World History, too, this year. I let him drop it after a couple months. It would have ruined his year and possibly led to disaster if I'd made him stick with it. (He is not as patient or flexible as his older sister, and he doesn't have the maturity to "deal with it" . . . and it just wasn't the right time for the "learn to do half-assed work" lesson or the "deal with unreasonable teachers" lesson. I didn't realize at the time that PA HS'ers actually has a pretty generous refund policy. We had already invested HUNDREDS of dollars in the books (Another complaint about World History!!), which was lost, but they refunded around 70% of the tuition when we dropped in the fall. (October, I think.) I thought that was quite fair and generous. I wouldn't take advantage of it willy-nilly, but when dropping for a good reason, it was nice to be out $400 or so instead of $1000. 

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How many courses are your students taking at one time through PA Homeschoolers?

 

The most we did was one.  The workload for the AP history classes is heavy.  Since my older kids were not natural writers, I did not feel that I could add any more writing intensive classes online.  Also, we felt the need to do lab classes at the college (our local liberal arts college) for a higher quality lab experience.  Also, I felt the need to create a balance between online classes, in-person classes (at the college) and study at home with me. 

 

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AP English Language & Comp with Maya Inspektor  (last year, dd, 11th grade then) : A+++  Extremely well organized, inspiring, and very high quality assignments. Lots of interaction within the class. It was lots of time for my dd, but that's because she was so inspired. She did *all* the extra credit assignments, etc, and learned so, so much. I've signed my rising 11th grader up for it next year. It's that good. For sure. Not to be missed. 

 

Exactly our experience. This class was so outstanding it ruined me for all others. The only warning I would give on this class is that there is a daily assignment schedule. If your student has a very tight schedule, this might be a bad fit. As much as I loved it, I wouldn't put dd in it because she is a competitive gymnast and needs to be able to flex her schedule more than this allowed. That said, the content is amazing. The workload is high, but the number of assignments is low with an emphasis on quality not quantity. It is a great opportunity to really improve writing skills, not just rush through a ton of assignments.

 

AP Statistics

This class was so different from AP English. The instruction and resources provided were good. The assignments were reasonable. There was almost no interaction, and no accountability other than tests. This class is extremely flexible, assignments aren't graded, so can be done at the student's convenience. For strong math students would be a light AP, but for a non-mathy kid it still took a lot of time. Our experience was that ds was not motivated enough to do a good job in the class with so little accountability and no interaction. For a very self-motivated student this could be great, but it wasn't a good fit here. I highly recommend it, but I also warn of it because it won't fit everyone.

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AP English Lang with Maya Inspektor- agree with all the others.  Good class.  Heavy but manageable workload.  DS has become much more confident in his writing.  He thought he was a pretty good writer but he had to work hard to earn good grades and he never earned top grades.  Definitely pushed him (and humbled him).  He really enjoyed the reading selections.  Sometimes it was a challenge because there were daily assignments.  He could not have handled multiple classes with daily assignments.  He needed more flexibility than that.  He does not want to take AP Lit with Mrs. Inspektor mainly because of burnout.  It is a lot of work.

 

AP Environmental Science with Molly Olson- this was a good class and served our purposes ( an easier science AP).  Assignment schedule is very flexible.  Feedback on assignments is very quick.  One thing my ds learned in this class was how to pace himself with assignments.  Assignments for a unit are all due at the same time, along with the tests.  If a student procrastinated he could end up with an enormous amount of work all due at the same time and he would not have had time to get much feedback on his work before the tests.  I thought that learning to work independently without daily accountability was a useful part of the class for us. It could be a disaster for a less disciplined student if the mom wasn't monitoring.  I would recommend this as a first AP or an extra if your student is taking other more challenging ones.  One aspect of the class is that the grading is very generous.  So, while the workload is heavy, Mrs. Olson appears to grade pretty much on completion.  There are so many assignments graded so generously that a student could literally take zeros on some assignments and still get an A.  I discovered this when I realized that my ds had not done any of the labs.  I wouldn't have known if I hadn't seen the supplies I bought sitting unused.  He was skipping the labs and still had an A :confused1:.  So, even though the test was yesterday my APES student still has labs to do. But, he is doing them for ME.  He would still have an A without them.  So, that is a little quirk of the class.  If you have a busy kid that wants to add another AP this might not be a bad one because of the flexibility and generous grading.  My ds had AP English Lang and a couple dual enrollment classes.  He could not have handled another more demanding AP but this was a great fit.  I noticed, also, that most of our state schools give 8 credit hours for a 3 or 4 on APES.  That is a lot of college credit for a course and exam that is not crazy hard.

 

I have been happy with PAHS.  My ds won't take any next year, though.  Now that he has had a taste of dual enrollment that is his preference.  Having these courses drag on all year while his dual enrollment courses were 4 months long has been a bit irritating for him.  Poor kid :laugh:

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AP Chem with Mr. Moskaluk is outstanding.  He is responsive to students and is very proactive in tailoring materials to address the demands of the AP Chem test. Not one question on yesterday's AP exam surprised my daughter or caught her off guard.  Mr. Moskaluk couldn't have done a better job equipping students for success. 

 

Sue Gilleran (Calc BC) is another great teacher.  She is accessible to students and easy to work with.  Like Mr. Moskaluk, she weaves AP format questions throughout her course.  She also has no compunction about calling kids out when necessary.  Yet again today my daughter was not surprised by any of the questions on the BC exam.  Sue is definitely an effective teacher.

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I have written so many reviews for these classes that I am just going to borrow from Debbie for two of them. :D

 

Exactly our experience. This class was so outstanding it ruined me for all others. The only warning I would give on this class is that there is a daily assignment schedule. If your student has a very tight schedule, this might be a bad fit. As much as I loved it, I wouldn't put dd in it because she is a competitive gymnast and needs to be able to flex her schedule more than this allowed. That said, the content is amazing. The workload is high, but the number of assignments is low with an emphasis on quality not quantity. It is a great opportunity to really improve writing skills, not just rush through a ton of assignments.

 

Ds has taken both AP English Language and AP English Literature from Maya Inspektor and I totally agree with the part in bold above. I have had one or more kids in public or private school for something like 17 years and Mrs. I is hands-down one of the most outstanding teachers I've seen. My son did love Language more than Literature only because he is less of a reader and more of a nonfiction kind of guy. He also had a heavier workload with three other AP classes so he found it difficult to meet all of the daily work and especially, the book clubs on time. He read the daily message, but didn't always answer it. I think the hard part for him was because he really respects Mrs. I, he felt that short-changing some of the work was letting her down. (his own interpretation, not something that she expressed)

 

Maya's feedback on essays is first-rate.

 

AP Statistics

This class was so different from AP English. The instruction and resources provided were good. The assignments were reasonable. There was almost no interaction, and no accountability other than tests. This class is extremely flexible, assignments aren't graded, so can be done at the student's convenience. For strong math students would be a light AP, but for a non-mathy kid it still took a lot of time. Our experience was that ds was not motivated enough to do a good job in the class with so little accountability and no interaction. For a very self-motivated student this could be great, but it wasn't a good fit here. I highly recommend it, but I also warn of it because it won't fit everyone.

 

In many aspects, this course is more like what I remember with regards to accountability and being like a true college course. Mrs. Matheny is very organized and offers detailed lessons with a ton of resources. The student is in charge of themselves and unless they are very self-motivated and organized or not overwhelmed with other courses, there is enough flexibility or rope, depending on how you look at, to get yourself into a bind. This class and ds's Spanish class both did not have daily deadlines, so they were always the last fire to be put out. Ds liked the topic and felt like it was a well-run class. Any shortcomings were his and not that of the class or the teacher. He said he would definitely recommend the course with the caveat that if you are overwhelmed or time management-challenged, that you should plan on doing a bit every day and not waiting until close to the test time to do your work.

 

He also really appreciated the detailed responses Mrs. Matheny put on the tests when he got something wrong. He is restudying those in preparation for the exam.

 

AP Macroeconomics - This is a little more difficult for me to assess. My son loved the subject matter and will be continuing on with his economics studies. The work load could be significant with game play many days and Wednesday's reading and short answer section could often take up to three hours for my son. I think that Dr. Richman does a good job of keeping the course engaging through a variety of assignments. My son enjoyed the game play, but because we are on the West coast, the play ended at 6pm, right in the middle of sailing practice or dinner. This meant that he missed making some of the final moves and when this hinges on other students' interactions, it can be problematic. While my son was inspired by the course, he was a bit disappointed when he emailed Dr. Richman and asked what he could do to continue his studies in high school and then possibly in college. The response was fairly minimal with not much in the way of suggestions. My hunch is that Dr. Richman is an economist first, and teacher second. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it was a missed teaching moment with a really fired-up student.

 

Ds has now taken four PAH classes and there hasn't been a miss in the bunch. He will be taking both government classes next year from Ms. Reed. My goal has been for him to take Susan Richman's US History class after reading all of the rave reviews on the board, but we are leery of having too much going on senior year after the overload of this year and will have to give that up.
 

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Because I have heard such good things about Maya Inspektor I signed my ds up with her for AP English Lit as soon as registration opened.  I am sure it would be wonderful!

 

AP Chem (Mr. Moskaluk): ExCELLENT

 

AP Comp Sci (Cynthia Lang): GOOD (it was an organized class.  Ds had taken programming previously and he just liked his other class better)

 

AP Physics B, AP Physics C (both classes), and AP Calc AB (all taught by Jeff Lanctot):  EXCELLENT (ds has enjoyed all of these classes.  Mr. Lanctot even called me over the summer when I had questions about the AP Physics C class.  The work load has seemed very reasonable)

 

Ds is taking AP English Lit, AP Biology, and AP Calc BC next year.  PA Homeschoolers has been a life saver for us!   

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While my son was inspired by the course, he was a bit disappointed when he emailed Dr. Richman and asked what he could do to continue his studies in high school and then possibly in college. The response was fairly minimal with not much in the way of suggestions. My hunch is that Dr. Richman is an economist first, and teacher second. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it was a missed teaching moment with a really fired-up student.

 

That is disappointing.  Your son might be interested in this opportunity.

 

http://fee.org/students

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In many aspects, this course is more like what I remember with regards to accountability and being like a true college course. Mrs. Matheny is very organized and offers detailed lessons with a ton of resources. The student is in charge of themselves and unless they are very self-motivated and organized or not overwhelmed with other courses, there is enough flexibility or rope, depending on how you look at, to get yourself into a bind. This class and ds's Spanish class both did not have daily deadlines, so they were always the last fire to be put out. Ds liked the topic and felt like it was a well-run class. Any shortcomings were his and not that of the class or the teacher. He said he would definitely recommend the course with the caveat that if you are overwhelmed or time management-challenged, that you should plan on doing a bit every day and not waiting until close to the test time to do your work.

 

 

He also really appreciated the detailed responses Mrs. Matheny put on the tests when he got something wrong. He is restudying those in preparation for the exam.

 

I totally agree with all of this, particularly the bolded. I thought AP Stats was a good class and Mrs. Matheny was a good teacher. The problems were on our end, not hers. However, I don't think we are the only ones that might run into these problems, so I try to explain why it failed for us without sounding negative. 

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I hesitate to post because I think our problems were all with the student, not with the classes.

 

So my only addition is know your student.  The rave reviews made me hope that somehow it wouldn't matter that the classes are asynchronous.  My kid needs lots of interaction and discussion - live and in person.  Online chat rooms, emails, or other text methods for interaction don't cut it.  Her only online class that's been a resounding success this year was her math class w/ Wilson Hill, which has two 1.5 hour live, in-person classes.  She ended up punting both her PAHSers classes - of course, after the date at which I could get any money back.  Ouch.

 

Last year at this time I was 100% sure I'd sign her up for Maya Inspektor's class for senior year - but I don't think for my student, any text-only class will rev her up, no matter how inspiring and awesome the feedback and assignments are.  Kinda bummed, as she sounds so incredible.  But my student wilts without the in-person back-and-forth.  Sigh.

 

So, know your student!  Kind of jealous of all of you with kids who do so well with asynchronous classes!

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Matryoshka  - same thing happened to us.  My son was used to live online classes, but we couldn't find a live class.  Based upon the excellent reviews, he took AP Chem last year.  It was not a resounding success.  You would have thought I would have learned my lesson.  He took AP Latin the year before through the VA Virtual School (asynchronous), and it didn't go well.  He didn't even take the AP Language class, but based on his live Great Books classes, he got a 5.  I now know -  my kids needs a LIVE instructor...

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But WH doesn't offer many AP classes.. :(

This past year: AP Calculus AB, AP Chem, AP Bio, AP Latin

 

Next year in addition - AP Government, AP Stats and AP Environmental Science

 

 

You are right. We don't offer as many as we would like. We will be adding each year. Which ones would you like to most see?

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This past year: AP Calculus, AP Chem, AP Bio, AP Latin

 

Next year in addition - AP Stats and AP Environmental Science

 

 

You are right. We don't offer as many as we would like. We will be adding each year. Which ones would you like to most see?

Well, since you asked...AP History of Whatever with a European-friendly time zone.

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This past year: AP Calculus, AP Chem, AP Bio, AP Latin

 

Next year in addition - AP Stats and AP Environmental Science

 

 

You are right. We don't offer as many as we would like. We will be adding each year. Which ones would you like to most see?

Well, my dd's a senior next year, so too late for me, but we were looking for AP Lit. :) MIT offers a live prep class so we're going to try that out...

 

She took AP Bio this year - in retrospect maybe we should have gone with Wilson Hill, but science is one area I like to keep strictly secular... just out of curiosity how do you guys handle that? I know WH isn't secular but the AP test is... and how do you handle labs? (I ask now that it's way too late to do anything about it as DD takes the AP Bio test next Monday... )

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AP Human Geo x 2 - first AP courses for each....I thought it was an excellent start to getting up to speed with a good mix of textbooks and online and writing. Both dc had had an online writing class with Rebekah (Laurel Tree) previously but that doesn't have an external exam so this one was more serious.

 

AP Eng Lang - one with Maya the other with a different teacher and overall I thought Maya better...

 

AP Physics B (no longer exists but Mr Lanctot does other Physics) - ds was happy with it and did well at uni...

 

AP Chem - excellent preparation - students definitely have to keep up with their side of the equation and a fair number didn't...

 

AP European HX - Harrison - lots of materials, well organized, provided a chat possibility towards the end for students who wanted or needed it...

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We are secular too but will try geometry in 7th. You'll have to let me know how it works out for your DS

We are secular too. The Alg2 class has been fantastic. DD has loved the class, and math is far from her favorite subject, so that really gives it raves from me.

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I would like to give all of you the head's up to check PAHS's refund policy. I did not do this and am a bit stunned. Ds changed his mind about taking AP Spanish next year and decided it would be better to take Honors 5 instead. We have already paid for the class - five months in advance. The fee for canceling this particular class is $134. Apparently, I can not apply this to the two other classes he will be taking, but that I have not paid for.

 

I think I am irked. When registration is in February, things can change for a student by the end of the year.

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We are secular too. The Alg2 class has been fantastic. DD has loved the class, and math is far from her favorite subject, so that really gives it raves from me.

 

 

That's great to hear. We are hoping to get bumped off the waitlist for Anne's class......smiley-crossing-fingers.png

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FWIW, I have not found PA Homsechoolers to be a Christian dominated organization. I am pretty sure that Maya Inspektor, the beloved English teacher, is Jewish and I know she lives in Israel. My best understanding is that she was raised by her parents in PA, who are the founders of PA Homeschoolers, and that her whole family of origin is/was Jewish. 

 

There are some specific teachers/courses who teach with a "Christian World View" but those are identified in the course descriptions. I think they offer/welcome teachers to teach to that niche in certain classes, but I would expect they are clearly identified in course descriptions, as I know I am not alone in being a family who would balk if surprised by a religious tone in the courses.

 

My kids are secular homeschoolers. In the discussion groups/classes in English, political/religious topics come up occasionally and are treated respectfully of the diverse student body. I think the classes should generally be that way. We haven't run into any problems whatsoever. 

 

I could be totally wrong on some of these details, and someone else might be able to give better backstory, but I just wanted to clarify for those concerned that, so far as I can tell, PA Homeschoolers is NOT a religious organization and that diverse students and families are welcome and comfortable. 

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Two questions: If PAHS classes are not live, how do they work. And what makes a class AP?

 

Well, for the classes we have used, they had an extensive syllabus to start with.  Each week, they had a list of assignments, which may have included reading, watching a posted video, responding to a discussion question or two on the class message board, perhaps a writing assignment, reading a certain number of original source documents, commenting on political cartoons, etc.  There was a weekly checklist that had to be done each Friday.  For example, for one of the AP history classes, they would have a week that was mostly reading, another week that included an free response essay, another would be a DBQ essay, there would be quizzes taken online.  There were tests that the parent proctored.  So, basically, all discussion was asynchronous on the message boards.  Feedback was given on the written assignments. 

 

As far as what makes a class AP   ...  Well, AP (or Advanced Placement) is a trademark (?) controlled by the College Board, the maker of the AP tests.  To call a class AP, one has to have the syllabus audited and approved by the College Board - that it meets their criteria.  Anyone can take AP tests, but you cannot put that a class is AP unless the class has been approved by the College Board.  Clear as mud??

 

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I could be totally wrong on some of these details, and someone else might be able to give better backstory, but I just wanted to clarify for those concerned that, so far as I can tell, PA Homeschoolers is NOT a religious organization and that diverse students and families are welcome and comfortable.

I don't think anyone was suggesting PAHSers wasn't secular... I've always thought it was? The only discussion about not secular was I think about Wilson Hill, which came up because people were asking about live classes.

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She took AP Bio this year - in retrospect maybe we should have gone with Wilson Hill, but science is one area I like to keep strictly secular... just out of curiosity how do you guys handle that? I know WH isn't secular but the AP test is... and how do you handle labs? (I ask now that it's way too late to do anything about it as DD takes the AP Bio test next Monday... )

 

I lurk here from time to time and have responded elsewhere to a similar worldview question having to do with math.  I have included an excerpt from that post (http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/515803-wilson-hill-academy-geometry/ post #19) here as an intro, then added a few more comments below.

 

 

/snip/

A more complex question is that of what it means to teach geometry (or anything else) from a Christian worldview.  We all have a "worldview", which in shorthand can be defined as the set of assumptions that underlie the way we approach reality.  As Christians, we believe that God created the heavens and the earth out of nothing; that God has revealed Himself to us not only in the scriptures, but in the whole of creation; that since God is characterized by truth, beauty and goodness, we expect to see those attributes reflected in His creation - yet imperfectly because of the fall and its effects; that all truth is God's truth, and that since God Himself is immutable, it is possible to study His creation in reliance on patterns such as those that make up the study of geometry.  So teaching geometry from a "Christian worldview" is simply acknowledging that geometry "works" in some sense precisely because God is God.  It is no accident, and a chaotic world in which geometry does not work can easily be imagined.  There will be times when the instructor will refer to this general truth of Christianity during class, but the focus of the class is on geometry.  We do not in any way trivialize God by trying to create some sort of "Christian geometry" (in opposition to secular geometry?), nor do we attempt to trivialize the truth goodness and beauty of the subject itself by (for instance) expounding on the triangle as a geometric expression of the trinity.  Our goal is to prepare students to think Christianly about all of life; engaging with the issues that present themselves (geometric or otherwise) without fear of compromise.

 

What does that mean for an unbelieving student?  We hope and pray that exposure to God's truth ... including the truth as represented by the study of geometry ... will lead him or her to consider the full claims of God and his suzerainty over all creation.  We also hope that our approach will reveal the lie that Christians somehow have to check their brains at the door of the church.  Truth is truth; God is God; and geometry is geometry.  As Christians we know why geometry works at a very basic level, but any geometry student at WHA will be well-grounded in geometry without necessarily having to agree with the worldview of the teacher.  A christian student, in the other hand, will be equipped not only to handle geometry, but to handle the unbelieving worldview of teachers he or she may encounter in college or later in life.

 

I hope that addresses your questions and concerns.  Feel free to contact us (or me) through our website www.WilsonHillAcademy.com or here if you have further questions.

 

- Bob Donaldson

  Co-Founder

  Wilson Hill Academy

 

The same basic reasoning applies here to the teaching of science.  Our scientific knowledge is based on hypothesis and experimentation.  That, in turn, rests on a bedrock assumption that things work the way they do based on some immutable principle.  We do not expect to get a different answer every time we perform a laboratory exercise (assuming, of course, that we make no mistakes of our own).  

 

As Christians, we believe that the predictability of the scientific method reflects God's character.  This is just one way of saying that God is not irrelevant to the study of science or any other subject.  We do not believe that there is a "neutral" perspective here.  If science "works" whether or not God exists, then God is irrelevant.  Yet if God (as He is described in the Bible) exists, he is â€‹anything but irrelevant.  Looking at it this way, "secular" science and "Christian" science are two sides of the same (counterfeit) coin.  Science that starts by assuming that God does not exist (or at best is irrelevant) must come up with "natural" explanations of everything. And yet, there is no "natural" explanation for why anything (much less everything) should have such an explanation.  On the other hand, we have all seen attempts to make science "Christian" by coming up with a "religious" explanation for everything.  That perspective fails as well, being based on the assumption that we can simply dismiss things we do not understand by quoting the Bible.  

 

Don't misunderstand that last point ... we do believe that the Bible is authoritative and accurate, but that is different than believing that we understand exactly what it says about everything.  And by "everything", I certainly include science.  The Bible does clearly say, though, that God is not irrelevant, so we approach "science" expecting to find evidence of God revealing Himself to us through creation (just as the unbeliever expects to find evidence of natural processes only.)  But we do that in a way that is consistent with true scientific discovery, not by simply ignoring data we find difficult to explain.  As with all other subjects, the goal is to get the students to think Christianly about what they are studying and to prepare them for success (including the survival of their faith) in college classrooms and beyond, where other world views may be dominant.

 

As before, please feel free to contact us directly or engage with us here if you have any further questions.

 

- Bob Donaldson

  Co-Founder

  Wilson Hill Academy

 

P.S. -- We are also offering AP US Government next fall.

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As to how PaHS classes worked, we've only done two, and each worked differently. 

 

English: The schedule was sent out weekly, but this was more of an overview. Each morning, a morning message is posted. This is the "teaching content" and often asked the students for a reply as well. Then within each week, there would be reading, writing forum posts in response to the reading, writing posts in response to other students posts and then sometimes an essay, toward the end, multiple essays. Here great community was built and student were kept on track with the daily posting requirements. Responding to each other was a big help on building community as well. There were also things like book clubs and huddle chats where students met together in various live formats.

 

Stats: The schedule was sent out weekly, but was posted by the month as well. There was a morning message each day with some instruction, resources offered, and the assignment reiterated. There was no posting required, little interaction among students, and assignments were never turned in, but were self-checked. There were tests for each chapter and these were the only graded material. There were bonus points available for practicing MCQs and for posts and interactions on the forums.

 

As to what makes these classes AP: following a College Board approved syllabus, and working on the specific skills/material required by the College Board for the subject. The level and quality is great. Asynchronous is not for everyone though. We found it worked in a very active format with daily assignments and interactions. It was an utter failure in the completely asynchronous - only tests were done at a specific time and even that was over at least 2 days - format of AP Stats. I totally understand the resistance to Asynchronous. Both my kids did much better in DE classes than they did asynchronous online classes.

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In my experience, the PAHS classes vary quite a bit with how interactive they are. A good number of the classes offer at least weekly live classes, but IME, they are all technically optional. Recordings of the live chats or classes are typically made available for later viewing if desired. In some of the classes, such as the Comp Sci for my dd, the live chats each week are pretty important to learning the material. In most/all others, the live sessions are really not needed to fully benefit from the classes. My dd made attending the live weekly chats for Comp Sci an important part of her week since she found that when she missed them, she struggled more with the assignments. It seemed that the teachers worked with students regarding scheduling live sessions, so my kid has never had trouble attending regularly if desired. (But, we have a pretty flexible homeschool schedule. A kid with lots of school-hours obligations might have more trouble.)

 

The AP English classes with Maya Inspektor offered LOTS of student-teacher-TA-student interactions. The messages boards are very integrated into the class assignments, so the kids really do have to interact there daily, and they build working relationships as well as learn tons through the quality interaction. Also, the book clubs (about 6 or 8 throughout the year) are small group reading clubs, and they work together either in a one-time live google chat session (1-2 hrs) or similar interaction. Those book clubs are lovely, IMHO. The kids get to choose their books, choose their group, and decide on their own how to work together to meet the (easy) requirements of meeting/discussing and reporting that session for credit. Also, kids and teachers and TAs do a lot of work together editing each other's papers. 

 

FWIW, my dd TA'ed the English Lang this year (after taking it last year), and she loved that. The TAs put in so much (all volunteer) time helping students, and they are an incredible resource. And, of course, the TAs learn a lot in the process. It is a super system the way she does that. 

 

Some classes are much less dependent on student interaction. I don't think my son interacted significantly with the other students in his Env Sci class (just some cursory stuff that was required) but I think some other students might have made much more (voluntary) use of the message boards, etc. That said, he LOVED the class and can't say enough good things about the class and teacher. (And, that's saying something coming from him, as he's a tough critic!)

 

All of the classes have offered reasonable flexibility to the students to allow for trips/vacations/etc. Some are easier to work around lengthy time off, but all the teachers we've worked with have been totally willing to work with kids as needed. Some classes lay out all (or nearly all) the course requirements and assignments at the outset. Others post a month or two at a time . . . others a couple weeks . . . but re-arranging work schedules for heavy weeks/days should not be a problem for any of the courses, IME.

 

Some are better organized and easier to follow the instructions than others . . . Another thing to evaluate especially for the first course(s) or for a reluctant student. 

 

The key, I think, is to read the course descriptions +/- course reviews +/- message the teacher directly with inquiries . . . and find classes that fit your kid's needs.

 

 

 

 

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Since several folks are disappointed to discover that AP PA classes are asynchronous, I would like to mention that this is a really good thing for some of us. Live classes do not often suit our time zone, and we travel frequently. Live classes while traveling get tricky. We have one this year. At most, we could handle two lives classes. I puffy-heart-love the asynchronous format.

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Well, my dd's a senior next year, so too late for me, but we were looking for AP Lit. :) MIT offers a live prep class so we're going to try that out...

 

She took AP Bio this year - in retrospect maybe we should have gone with Wilson Hill, but science is one area I like to keep strictly secular... just out of curiosity how do you guys handle that? I know WH isn't secular but the AP test is... and how do you handle labs? (I ask now that it's way too late to do anything about it as DD takes the AP Bio test next Monday... )

 

Could you elaborate on this?  Did she take the class with PA Homeschoolers? Was it not a good fit because it wasn't a live class and/or something else?

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The AP English classes with Maya Inspektor offered LOTS of student-teacher-TA-student interactions. The messages boards are very integrated into the class assignments, so the kids really do have to interact there daily, and they build working relationships as well as learn tons through the quality interaction. Also, the book clubs (about 6 or 8 throughout the year) are small group reading clubs, and they work together either in a one-time live google chat session (1-2 hrs) or similar interaction. Those book clubs are lovely, IMHO. The kids get to choose their books, choose their group, and decide on their own how to work together to meet the (easy) requirements of meeting/discussing and reporting that session for credit. Also, kids and teachers and TAs do a lot of work together editing each other's papers. 

 

FWIW, my dd TA'ed the English Lang this year (after taking it last year), and she loved that. The TAs put in so much (all volunteer) time helping students, and they are an incredible resource. And, of course, the TAs learn a lot in the process. It is a super system the way she does that. 

 

 

I was seriously considering this class for the year after next, but the bolded gives me pause. Would you mind elaborating? How much time is spent editing each other's papers? I am so thankful you mentioned this. Also, could you please clarify the role of the student TA?

 

I've heard several raving reviews about this class, so I am a bit dismayed to see both of these. Obviously it's working well for many, many families - I'm just not sure it will work for ours.

 

Has anyone had a teen who did not thrive in these sort of classes?

 

Are any AP English Language classes with PA Homeschoolers taught in a different format?

 

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Could you elaborate on this?  Did she take the class with PA Homeschoolers? Was it not a good fit because it wasn't a live class and/or something else?

 

Yes, exactly.  She took it with PA HSers, but even though Bio is a favorite subject (she loved honors Bio at the ps freshman year.  Loved. She had a blast. It was a hard class but she actually enjoyed trying to work above expectations), the asynchronous format did not engage her at.all.   She did one very complicated and long live lab (had to build a light reflecting thingy, build planters with wicks, plant seeds, cross-breed them...), but without other kids to interact with, it was just a lot of work and she wasn't engaged at all.  The other labs were virtual.  I think there were a couple other live labs on the schedule, but she must have punted before she got there. There was supposed interaction by commenting on others students answers to questions online, but I don't think that really felt interactive to her as much as forced.

 

She did have a health crisis mid-year that I think pushed her over the edge - the teacher was very understanding about shifting deadlines to get her to catch up, and I think she did, but the asynchronous format really was all reading and writing, and I think the extra catch-up after not being well just made her feel done. She's just a kid who thrives on live interaction.  She finally said the assignments the way they were set up seemed like busywork to her, and if she was going to just read and study, she'd rather do it in the way that felt most efficient to her, so she self-studied the last few months.

 

The teacher seemed competent and nice - I don't think there's anything wrong with the class at all - I wouldn't want anyone else not to take the class because of our experience, but it just wasn't a good fit for my dd.  She really just does need a live class (and probably a live lab - I'm not sure even live online lecture would have been enough in this case... she loved the labs freshman year, and when she did them with BU CityLab).  Lesson learned.  Now we'll just have to see how she does on the exam Monday.

 

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Are any AP English Language classes with PA Homeschoolers taught in a different format?

 

The second AP Eng Lang class we used was with Maya and when it started and I saw the class size and the use of TA's, I had my reservations. 

 

But none of them were founded because the teacher does an excellent job of keeping track of students and the TA's only add to the interaction possibilities.

 

For the first AP Eng lang class we had, it has already been in 10-11 so things could easily have changed - at the time there weren't TA's...There was editing of each other's papers which was a very good activity actually...We did that even in University when I was a student....It helps the student understand the process better...

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I was seriously considering this class for the year after next, but the bolded gives me pause. Would you mind elaborating? How much time is spent editing each other's papers? I am so thankful you mentioned this. Also, could you please clarify the role of the student TA?

 

I've heard several raving reviews about this class, so I am a bit dismayed to see both of these. Obviously it's working well for many, many families - I'm just not sure it will work for ours.

 

Has anyone had a teen who did not thrive in these sort of classes?

 

Are any AP English Language classes with PA Homeschoolers taught in a different format?

 

This is very different than peer review for papers that my ds had experienced in public school. The kids read each others essays and have to give very specific comments based on what they have learned. They also assign grades based on the rubric. In a way, there is as much obligation to provide good feedback as there is to write a good essay. This isn't the case of a teacher who doesn't want to do her work. Maya pays scrupulous attention to the essays. Sometimes  student grades match hers and sometimes they don't. I have seen my son spend as much as 45 minutes to an hour trying to craft good advice for a fellow student. The kids seem to care. It's like, "Oh man, you are so close, what if you tried this  or this to give more support for your thesis?"

 

The TAs answer additional student questions and lead discussion groups and they all do a very good job. The things that you are worried about have given me fits in other classes, but in Mrs. I's classes, they have all been positives and provided additional learning experiences.

 

I have written this before, but ds maintains that a high-level participation class that is asynchronous can provide far more opportunities for interaction than some larger, live classes like at ps.

 

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