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Suggestions for 9th grade English for our situation?


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Hello,

 

After a year long break, that included Ds attending PS full-time, we are returning to homeschool. Ds will be dual-enrolled at our local public school. One subject I need help choosing, is English.

 

In the past, we used Sonlight,and Ds is requesting that he "just read" books, as PS had him dissecting the only four books he read all year. He wants to read books at his own rate, and doesn't want to "study" each one. Or any of them, for that matter. ;) One thought I have, is to have him read at his own pace, through two stacks of books we have left over from previous SL cores. Maybe have him do a Glencoe Lit Study for one or two of them. If we did that, we will still need to cover vocab, grammar and composition.

 

Ds prefers materials written to him, so that he may work as independently as possible. He doesn't want to work online or at the computer, either. What I have found over the years, is that some material which seems independent, assumes either that the student knows a certain amount of information, or that there is a teacher filling in gaps.

 

Other things to consider:

~I need low cost, which is why I am thinking of using the unread literature we have on hand.

~The less moving parts, the better. He doesn't want to do three separate books for each component. Also, I live with chronic illness and pain, and must be realistic. I will not always be 100% available, so the less checking, planning, etc.that is involved, the better. However, this is my first year homeschooling only one student, so I expect it to be easier on me.

~This Ds is still behind in math, so that is our main priority and will require most of what is left of his puberty brain at the end of his days, as well as time.;) So nothing too time consuming. This English course priority, is for him to return to lots of good literature, so whatever else he does, can't consume all of his time.

~Though we are Christians, we prefer Secular materials for academics. With that said, this isn't a sticking point. For ex.,I have used material such as A.C.E., if the course meets our needs.

~Ds remains visually sensitive. For ex., he can't tolerate the Lial's Math books frequently recommended here. And yesterday when I had him take a look at Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum's World Geography course, he said no way due to the cheap black & white printing of maps and graphs he couldn't clearly read. Things like that annoy him and are deal breakers.

 

Curriculum I am looking at:

Wordsmith ( hard for us to tell from samples, how user friendly this is, how its scheduled, etc.)

Jump In (same concerns as Wordsmith)

Easy Grammar Ultimate Series Grade 9

Wordly Wise at grade level

Saxon/Hake Grammar & Writing (Though listing this as high school credit might be a problem, even though it seems advanced and even overkill?)

Queen's Language Lessons (He loves the simplicity and layout of this, but it seems too easy and maybe appeals to girls more than boys?)

A.C.E. (Yes, I know. But. It is *the* most independent and because of his strong desire to "simply read," my thought is to have him work through the English Paces for 30 mins, then spend remaining time reading. I do wonder,though, if it's also overkill for grammar and not enough writing.) My kids have perfected leaving the parts of ACE out, that doesn't agree with our much more progressive beliefs, and I love that character building is built in.

 

I can't come up with anything else, so any input about what I've listed is welcome, along with new suggestions.

 

Thank you for any and all thoughts!

 

 

 

 

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I totally would have him read your remaining Sonlight books and do just a couple of Glencoe Guides (or parts of them). If what you have needs beefing up, make sure there are several (at least 4) high school level literature books.

 

Personally, I wouldn't do a separate vocabulary--or at least not every year. You could make it a focus for a semester (maybe learning Greek and Latin roots for example), but otherwise let him learn vocabulary mainly indirectly through reading.

 

I'd focus on either grammar or writing then. Essentials in Writing isn't on your list, but is independent (other than you reading what he writes & giving feedback etc...), and it always starts with a review of sentence-writing (clauses, commas, sentence combining etc...) I did do a grammar review one year (we used Easy Grammar Plus in junior high, and had some of that left), but otherwise focused on grammar in their writing. Since you are trying to keep costs down and also to keep it easy to teach, I think having one subject to do for about 30 minutes per day would be easier. That combined with reading for at least 30 minutes a day can get you to a one credit class (150-180 hours for the year). If you really want to cover all 3 areas and don't want to cover them indirectly, I'd do things in units so you can do one at a time. 

 

 

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Welcome back to homeschooling! :)

 

Just to help you with long-range planning, it helps to know overall what credits you'll want to accomplish in order to have what is needed to be eligible for college admission to the average university. So, just to keep all your options open and to be "college prep" by the end of high school you would want to complete:

4 credits = English

3-4 credits = Math (usually Alg. 1, Geometry, Alg. 2; some colleges also require a 4th higher math)

3-4 credits = Science, with labs

2-3 credits = Social Sciences (usually 1 credit = Amer. History; some colleges also require 0.5 credit each of Gov't and Econ)

2-4 credits = Foreign Language (same language)

1 credit = Fine Arts

4-8 credits = Electives (nothing specific required by colleges; ideas to explore: Health, PE, Computer, Religious Studies, vocational-tech, personal interests, "academic electives" = credits in above subjects in addition to the required amount...

20-24+ credits = total -- so an average of 5-6 credits per year of high school

 

The average 9th grader typically completes 5-7 credits during the freshman year. From the various circumstances you listed for your situation, you might want to start more gently with about 5.5 credits. For example:

1.0 credit = English (1/2 Lit. & 1/2 Composition, with a little Grammar if needed, Spelling if remedial, and Vocab. is optional)

1.0 credit = Math: Algebra (although, it sounds like perhaps Pre-Algebra, if DS is a bit behind?)

1.0 credit = Science: Physical Science

1.0 credit = Social Studies (9th gr. frequently = World History or World Geography, but great flexibility here -- I'd run with DS's personal interests -- example: History time period of high interest, or other soc. study field of interest: Archeology, Psychology, Philosophy…)

1.0 credit = Foreign Language -- OR -- Fine Arts -- OR -- Elective of choice

0.5 - 1.0 credit = PE (or possibly 0.5 credit each of Health and PE)

 

Thoughts for filling out that 5th credit:

If DS has been doing Foreign Language at the public school and doesn't mind continuing it, this would be a good time to move forward with Foreign Language. OR, if DS has interests in the Fine Arts, run with that -- Music, Art, Drama, Photography, Filmmaking, etc. OR, if DS has some area of personal interest, it's really helpful to include a credit in the freshman year to explore that to balance out all the "required" credits -- maybe something like Robotics, Electronics, Culinary Arts, Jewelry Making, or whatever the interest is. :)

 

:grouphug: That is a tough situation, to need BOTH thorough independent programs AND inexpensive programs -- usually you get one or the other, not both. Also, free programs tend to be more scattered and difficult to schedule and need parent teaching or guidance in pulling it all together. Just saying that as a preface to my suggestions, which might not meet your financial budgetary needs, OR, might fit the budget but not fit DS's particular likes/dislikes or be as fully independent as you need/want...

 

JMO: Also, because Writing (Composition) and Math are SO crucial for all of high school and beyond, if you have limited resources and time/energy, I'd make those 2 areas the highest priority. JMO, but for 9th grade, reading good Literature is a nice bonus when compared to making sure the student is able to write solid paragraphs and is solid in math foundations and pre-algebra skills in order to be able to move on into the high school higher maths…

 

Alpha-Omega

If the ACE computer PACES are not a fit, you might look at Alpha-Omega Life-Pacs, which are programs made of of 10 units, with each unit being about completing the 1 workbook for that unit. If computer is okay, then there is the Alpha-Omega SOS (Switched On Schoolhouse) version. I have heard of families using either Life-Pac or SOS for just 1 subject -- for example, doing the SOS Spanish. I believe the SOS is self-grading, so does not require much from the parent, except for the occasional mentoring, which is needed for ANY solo/independent program, as students will also hit the occasional bump in the road and need some help.

 

Vocabulary

Agreeing with MerryAtHope -- I'd drop any workbook (and, I really dislike Wordly Wise -- word choices are too random and the exercises are sheer busy-work, IMO) -- and just learn vocabulary informally through your literature, and maybe learn some Latin and Greek roots to expand vocabulary, or play "Free Rice", or together enjoy a "word a day" from Vocabulary Cartoons, for new word exposure.

 

Writing/Composition

Wordsmith (gr. 7-9) is super-light for a 9th grader, IMO. It would not last you an entire year; our average writer DS did it in less than a year as a 7th grader. I was going to use in 9th grade with our struggling writer, but it was too light for him by that time, even though he was a struggling writer. Wordsmith focuses on paragraph writing of various types, and then finally a longer multi-paragraph essay at the end. It is pretty easily done solo by the student. I don't recall that it had a specific schedule, but was pretty easy to schedule at our own pace of just doing the next "bite" that fit our time frame. Wordsmith Craftsman has more "meat" and is designed for grades 10-12 -- but I found it extremely difficult to schedule, and felt like it hopped around so much that it was too difficult to use. We ended up dropping it. Just our experience. 

 

Jump In (gr. 5-8) can be done by a struggling writer 9th grader (we used it then with our struggling writer). Jump In worked well for our struggling writer in figuring out what to say and how to organize his writing. The program is designed to take 2 years -- but by inserting 4 weeks of "free writes" from provided prompts after every unit. (We skipped the "free writes" as they were repetitive, boring and lame, and instead, once a week we did a timed essay from a past SAT prompt to practice for later testing.)

 

However, if you have an average writer, I'd consider the high school program by the same author -- The Power In Your Hands. It is much meatier, and much more of the type of writing typically done by a high school student. You could take your time with it as needed, and use it into the next year. It looks like it would be pretty easy to schedule as much or as little of a "bite" as works for your student and your schedule. (That was our experience with Jump In, too.)

 

Other ideas for Composition: Winning With Writing, level 8 might be a better visual fit for your DS than Jump In or Power in Your Hands. (Same publishers as Growing With Grammar.) Essentials in Writing might be an option -- small daily bites, video lessons.

 

Grammar

Does DS really still need Grammar at this stage? Usually formal Grammar instruction is completed along about 8th grade, and in high school, Grammar is actually used as part of Writing and in Foreign Language instruction, rather than being a stand-alone subject. Unfamiliar with Queen's Language Lessons, so can't comment there. Easy Grammar is a possibility -- we just found that it was so repetitive that DSs memorized the "pattern" of what came next and did not actually learn any grammar (that was the grade 3/4 level, so the higher grades may be different). I have heard that Hake is intensive, so it may be way more than you need.

 

Other ideas:

- Growing With Grammar, level 8 -- for your situation and needs, this would be my first choice, along with the publisher's Winning With Writing, level 8 program

- Analytical Grammar - expensive; thorough; can be scheduled over 1-year, 2-years, or 3-years -- probably more than you need

- KISS - free printable worksheets; difficult to track and schedule

 

English: Literature

SL books and Glencoe

Yes, you could do it this way. The Glencoe guides are solid, but not super in-depth, and they spend a lot of time on graphic organizers -- I personally would only do ONE graphic organizer and skip on to the other parts of the guide that are useful to you. Glencoe guides will need your time to determine what parts to use and to skip; also to do some of the book discussions together (although, you'll need that time whatever you do for Literature). If you go this route, I'd suggest doing at least one Glencoe guide per quarter (9 weeks), to at least keep up with public school output of studying 4 books in-depth in one year.

 

Other Literature guides your DS might enjoy -- all are written directly to the student and can be done almost completely independently -- all would still require a separate writing program -- Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide (by the Jump In/Power in Your Hands author); Lightning Literature; or Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings.

 

Lightning Literature 7 (8 units), or 8 (12 units)

Covers novels, short stories and poetry; very gentle intro into beginning literary analysis, with 8-10 work pages to go with each of the 12 units. I'd go with either the grade 7 or grade 8 program for super-gentle intro into beginning literary analysis, and have the SL books as solo-reading book basket options, or family read-aloud together options.

 

Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings

1-year study of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, with 12 units of material on related Literature topics. Can skip the fill-in-the-blank worksheets, and focus time/energy on the end-of-chapter notes, discussion questions, and the 12 units of material. Very gentle beginning literature discussion and interesting literature topics. No writing or grammar instruction. Some optional/suggested writing topics. This would also allow for having the SL books as solo-reading book basket options, or family read-aloud together options.

 

An out-of-the-box idea for making literary analysis much more enjoyable, rather than annoying, is the Movies as Literature program (you only need the student workbook). It is mostly done solo by the student, is written to the student, and walks the student through thinking about / analyzing / discussing 18 movies, which is a great stepping stone to then seeing more deeply into your literature without destroying your enjoyment of reading. And then you guys could just read your SL books for fun.

 

Math

If DS is behind in Math, I'd make this the priority subject… You just can't progress into Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2 if you don't have the fundamentals down. Does DS need to do a Pre-Algebra program this year to get solid? Then do it, even if that's not "standard" for 9th grade. And while it is frustrating to have to flip between multiple items, most high school math programs just come that way, as separate elements: a textbook, sometimes also a workbook, a solutions manual, a teacher's book. DS may just be forced to "pull up his big boy pants" and deal with it ;). My top choice for DS from your descriptions would be CLE Pre-Algebra (see below).

 

If DS is past Pre-Algebra, but not quite ready for full Algebra, perhaps consider the Keys to Algebra workbook series first and then next year go for a full Algebra 1 program. If DS needs even more support before doing Pre-Algebra, perhaps try Power Basics textbooks (Basic Math, Alg. 1, Geom, Consumer Math), designed for remedial high school and adult learners).

 

Pre-Algebra Ideas:

- CLE (Christian Light Education) Pre-Algebra -- 10 units, each a separate workbook; click on the tiny word "sample" under each unit to see several pages of each workbook unit:  12, 3, etc.

- other textbook publishers: Prentice HallHolt, Ron Larson's text pub. by McDougal-Littell

Teaching Textbooks -- text and DVD lessons; videos for working every single problem (Pre-Algebra and up)

Khan Academy -- free online video tutorials by grade level/by topic

 

 

BEST of luck getting back in the saddle! :) Warmest regards, Lori D.

 

Edited by Lori D.
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I would have him read through the Sonlight stuff too.  And I agree with your son about studying every darn book to death!  What we did was read the books together and then had 'book club' discussions.  If you can invite another home school high schooler to join, that makes things more fun.

 

 And then for a couple of books there'd be written essays.  I'd have him read some real life book reviews and then imitate them.  Also, maybe watch a movie adaptation of one of the books (if there is one) and then write a movie review comparing book to movie.

 

My very reluctant English student really enjoyed the Sadlier-Oxford books from Kolbe.  These are secular.  The vocabulary books are kind of fun and the composition books broke things down into very easy to manage steps and really took the burden off him.  He has a mental block about writing so he needed the handholding that Sadlier-Oxford provided.  If you wanted to skip the vocabulary, because you don't want to have to deal with too many books, just go with the composition.  Here's a link: http://www.kolbe.org/homeschool/courses/high-school/english-curriculum/

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Lots of reading of Sonlight books is a great option.

 

Another option (though it might be too expensive) is Center for Literature. They have a discussion only option in which students read literature once per month and then have an online discussion. The discussion is live, but you do not have to talk. You also have the option of downloading it and listening at your convenience. My kids have learned a lot of literary analysis in a very laid back way by doing these courses. My oldest has said that it has changed how he thinks about everything he reads.

 

I think writing is a must, but you can concentrate on good writing over quantitiy. There are lots of ways to approach writing, grammar, vocabulary and they don't all have to be separated out.

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Ladies, thank you so much! I appreciate all the suggestions:) :bigear:

 

Merry, I was hoping one of you SL moms would chime in!;) Since it was looking like I wasn't going to purchase SL, it didn't seem right for me to post in the "Choosing Forum" like I said I would. I might PM you with further questions, either here or over at SL.

 

Lori, thank you for sharing your comprehensive post! :hurray:  I appreciate the guidance and links,too. :)

 

Faith, I like your suggestions and will take a look at the link you provided. :)

 

Julie, I had not heard of that program and will take a look. :)

 

~~

Okay, so I realized I forgot to even mention his abilities regarding writing. :coolgleamA: Though he seems to be more of a natural writer, he doesn't necessarily enjoy it.;) Because our awesome PS district focuses on strong writing skills in 8th grade, he is now able to produce five-paragraph essays. He received B+ on all papers, so I view that as huge progress and feel more relaxed about this subject this year, regardless of what I choose.

 

With that said, I have just found out that our PS 9th graders focus on learning to write research papers.

 

So now I think   :

~Try to find something that teaches the research paper, and is directed to the student.

~Drop the idea of a formal vocab study.

~Since he does not have a firm grip on grammar, I think he needs a little formal study, but not too much.

 

I'm going to keep searching.I took a look at A.C.E. English and there is no way that will work. It's way out there! :wacko:

 

 

 

 

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If you want to do something with vocabulary...my kids use vocabulary.com ... I'm set up with a teacher account (free but you can "only" see the results of your "top three students" in each class.. I only have one kid per class so no problems there) ... I mostly use find an existing list to go along with whatever literature they're reading and maybe tweak the list a bit. I assign it to the kid. The kid practices with a fun game like model and I can see their progress. My kids use it a couple of days per week.

 

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

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I would have him read through the Sonlight stuff too.  And I agree with your son about studying every darn book to death!  What we did was read the books together and then had 'book club' discussions.  If you can invite another home school high schooler to join, that makes things more fun.

 

 And then for a couple of books there'd be written essays.  I'd have him read some real life book reviews and then imitate them.  Also, maybe watch a movie adaptation of one of the books (if there is one) and then write a movie review comparing book to movie.

 

My very reluctant English student really enjoyed the Sadlier-Oxford books from Kolbe.  These are secular.  The vocabulary books are kind of fun and the composition books broke things down into very easy to manage steps and really took the burden off him.  He has a mental block about writing so he needed the handholding that Sadlier-Oxford provided.  If you wanted to skip the vocabulary, because you don't want to have to deal with too many books, just go with the composition.  Here's a link: http://www.kolbe.org/homeschool/courses/high-school/english-curriculum/

 

Faith, do you know where I can view a sample of the Writing Workshop book? Thanks in advance!

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You might consider Windows to the World as an English course.  It teaches literary analysis and composition through short stories.  Light Christian content (mostly in a long allusions assignment).  I like this course because it uses short texts rather than long works to teach aspects of a novel like setting, plot, characterization.

 

It works the student from paragraphs to a long paper.  There is a syllabus written by Jill Pike that has grading rubrics and adds To Kill a Mockingbird, Hamlet and Jane Eyre (I'm replacing Jane Eyre with something else with my youngest).

 

Do you feel that you need to teach a research paper, because your student will be going back to PS?  What are they labeling as a research paper there?  The long paper has quotations, citations and I think a bibliography.  This might suit your needs.

 

I agree with other posters that direct instruction in vocabulary and grammar isn't a necessity in high school, if the student already knows these subjects.  

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Okay, so I realized I forgot to even mention his abilities regarding writing. :coolgleamA: Though he seems to be more of a natural writer, he doesn't necessarily enjoy it. ;) Because our awesome PS district focuses on strong writing skills in 8th grade, he is now able to produce five-paragraph essays. He received B+ on all papers, so I view that as huge progress and feel more relaxed about this subject this year, regardless of what I choose.

 

With that said, I have just found out that our PS 9th graders focus on learning to write research papers.

 

So now I think   :

~Try to find something that teaches the research paper, and is directed to the student.

~Drop the idea of a formal vocab study.

~Since he does not have a firm grip on grammar, I think he needs a little formal study, but not too much.

 

I'm going to keep searching.I took a look at A.C.E. English and there is no way that will work. It's way out there! :wacko:

 

I also forgot to say that DS is a second-year Spanish student, so he was getting some grammar study last year and I imagine that will only increase this year.

 

Based on this additional info about your DS's level of writing, it sounds like he is way past Wordsmith and Jump In.

 

Since you want to prepare DS for research paper writing when he returns to school, I'd actually suggest only spending the spring semester focusing on the research paper, and spend the fall semester getting solid with essay writing and what that looks like at home with the other kinds of writing he'll need to be strong in for high school: reader response papers, lots of short essays, getting solid with thesis statements, and practicing timed essays from prompts for SAT/ACT test practice.

 

OR, I'd go with Windows to the World, a 1-semester program that would cover your Literature needs AND very solidly teaches how to write a literary analysis essay (something DS will definitely need for high school, but also for college Writing 101 and 102 courses), and then use a research writing program for the second semester.

 

Because he doesn't necessarily enjoy writing, and because the research paper can feel very overwhelming the first time or two out of the gate, I'd really recommend outsourcing this to have a knowledgeable writing instructor/mentor walk alongside him -- I suggest the outsourcing also because students so frequently work harder on their writing for someone else other than mom.  :( OR, if not outsourcing the Writing (and Literature), prepare DS for the fact that you'll be walking closely alongside him -- for best success, high school Literature and Writing are just NOT subjects that can be done largely independently by the student, but really require a lot of discussion (Literature) and mentoring (Writing).

 

Ideas for outsourcing:

- local tutor

- local homeschool co-op with a good teacher

- team up with another homeschool mom and trade a subject, or trade grading writing for each other

- online course -- examples: Brave Writer MLA Research Essay (gr. 10-12); The Potter's School: Research Essay Writing (gr. 9-12)

 

 

Or, if you prefer to go with something totally at home:

 

Christian Light Education English 1 (grade 9)

Ten units, workbook-based; covers Grammar AND Composition in each unit, with unit 9 covering the research paper -- see sample of unit 9. $47 = 10 student workbooks; answer key set for 10 units; Teacher Materials. Here is the list of writing topics covered:

unit 1 = writing for specific audience/purpose

unit 2 = editing

unit 3 = personal narrative / character sketch

unit 4 = essay

unit 5 = giving a speech (personal introduction; expository speech)

unit 6 = parallel structure in writing

unit 7 = note-taking (from written source; from a speaker)

unit 8 = review

unit 9 = writing a research paper

unit 10 = writing/giving a persuasive speech

 

Elegant Essay for the fall semester, and follow up in the spring semester with Writing the Research Paper: The Essential Tools. Both are by Lesha Myers (IEW), and each program is $49 for the student & teacher combo pack, so basically $100 for your year of writing (less if you buy these used) -- and she does recommend going through Elegant Essay first before doing Writing the Research Paper.

 

BEST of luck in finding what fits your budget and your student's needs! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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