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Out-of-the-box high school courses

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What kind of out-of-the-box, unusual courses have you designed for your high schoolers? I want to think about course possibilities that don't follow the typical biology-chemistry-physics science sequence or the world history-american history-government-economics social studies sequence. I am open to anything else as well: literature courses with a specific or different focus, unusual electives, etc. What have your kids done that's not typical? I'm looking for some inspiration and ways to make high school individualized, and I know some of you here have done things like this. Thanks!

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My sons and I are working through the topics of relativity and some quantum physics (really just an intro or survey with some math).

I have done a Literature of War year for my youngest son and am currently working on an Ancient Egyptian/Hieroglyphs class for my daughter.

 

Edited for formatting and spelling

Edited by rdj2027
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Some of our courses over the last couple of years:

 

Paleobiology (with lab and field studies)

Military History through Literature

British History

Forensic Science with Lab

Novellas as Literature

Desktop Computer Design

Introduction to Robotics (for next fall)

Introduction to Fine Arts

Beginning Woodworking

 

My oldest two are kinesthetic learners- in case you can't tell...   :glare:

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 am currently working on an Ancient Egyptian/Hieroglyphics class for my daughter.

 

I'll just pretend like I never saw that...and under no circumstances will I let my daughter see your post!!   :leaving:

 

She LOVES ancient languages.  She spent an afternoon one time creating math problems for me to do in something really weird - like ancient Babylonian.   :001_rolleyes:  I can't even do our Saxon math, much less ancient Babylonian math.

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Sir Gardiner's book is free as a PDF and there are a few homework and practice sheets online (in case your daughter wants to dabble :-))

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Oh gosh. We've done so many. Here are some of the more unusual ones:

 

Social sciences:

* Experiencing America (We traveled around the US for a year.)

* History of the National Park Service

 

Natural sciences:

* Astronomy

* Meteorology

* Fundamentals of Aviation Science (AeroScholars)

* Scientific Research and Design (NASA course)

 

Fine Arts:

* Photography

 

Practical Arts:

* Welding

* Public Speaking

* Metalworking

 

Physical Education:

* Skateboarding

* Wilderness Advanced First Aid

* Hiking

Edited by Kinsa
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We have done:

   Astronomy with field study

   Forensic science with lab (currently doing)

   Physical education included horse back riding, hiking in National Parks, and games like horseshoes etc. 

   will be visiting Washington D.C., Philadelphia, Gettysburg, and Boston as part of history/government 

 

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My sons and I are working through the topics of relativity and some quantum physics (really just an intro or survey with some math).

I have done a Literature of War year for my youngest son and am currently working on an Ancient Egyptian/Hieroglyphics class for my daughter.

 

Edited for formatting

I assume you know about the great courses available on ancient Egypt and hieroglyphics?

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I'll just pretend like I never saw that...and under no circumstances will I let my daughter see your post!!   :leaving:

 

She LOVES ancient languages.  She spent an afternoon one time creating math problems for me to do in something really weird - like ancient Babylonian.   :001_rolleyes:  I can't even do our Saxon math, much less ancient Babylonian math.

The Great Courses has wonderful courses on ancient egypt and hieroglyphics.

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I assume you know about the great courses available on ancient Egypt and hieroglyphics?

Yes, we love Bob Brier :-)  I highly recommend him to anyone who is interested in Ancient Egypt.

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For us, what we did depended in large amount on my student's interests. 

 

My oldest studied Japanese for his language, so one semester he did Japanese History and Culture. DD really didn't like history but was interested in Psychology, so she has that as part of her social studies credits. Both did a world views course where we discussed differing viewpoints on various topics--very interesting and great college prep. 

 

My oldest really didn't care for science, and did a Robotics Engineering course one year instead. We included it in our "science and technology" lineup, but more selective schools might not consider it a 3rd year of science, so just consider that carefully. (In college he took "Natural Hazards and Disasters" and I thought what a fun high school class that could be too!) My dd is STEM oriented, so she did the regular line-up (she actually wanted to study the 3 main lab-sciences) and then Advanced Bio, which she really loved. 

 

My dd also loved music, and the other option she could have chosen besides Psychology was a history of music type of course (that could be fun).

 

Brainstorm with your kids about what they are really interested in, and see how you can tie it in to a main subject area--I think a lot of things can be tied in with some thought. Or can make cool electives! Or are great for EC's to highlight. 

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Nothing too crazy, but a few things off the standard sequence: 

 

*Introduction to Linguistics 

 

*Geology 

 

*Fine Arts: Mixed Media Explorations

 

*Chemistry in Movies and TV - youngest actually did this as a DE class, but I think it could be put together at home. There is a book and blog: http://global.oup.com/us/companion.websites/9780195326925/

 

and the American Chemical Society also has resources: 

https://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/education/students/highschool/chemistryclubs/activities/chemistry-books-movies.html

 

 

 

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Oldest DS

Intro to Computer Engineering from MIT Open Courseware

Business Management course where he worked up a business proposal for his honey business

Dave Ramsey's Personal Finance

 

2nd DS

Intro to Filmmaking

Marketing

Not sure what for next year yet, he's considering some kind of leadership course but is open to other ideas too

 

Sent from my Z988 using Tapatalk

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We're just getting started on the out of the box stuff this year, but so far it's been paleontology courses off of Coursera, which came about after I accepted that Physics and Chemistry probably won't be happening and that that is OKAY (special shout out to Mrs. Jetta for helping me work through that!) .

 

This isn't really out of the box, but dd is doing the Great Books 1-4 by Roman Roads instead of the traditional history/lit sequence. That's just Classical, but people IRL are shocked she isn't taking her year of US History, etc. etc. Apparently that makes me a non-patriot. :rolleyes: 

 

She's going to be fine arts, writing, and lit heavy I think because that's where her heart is at the moment. I know that's going to continue to shift, but I think I'm ready to flex however she needs. I'm trying to permanently be over the box checking, so this is a fun thread to see ideas! 

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English: The Epic in World Literature, Greek Literature, Roman Literature

History: Ancient Greek History and Culture, Western Civ (DE)

Science: Astronomy, Human Evolution (DE)

Languages: Old Norse, Turkish (in addition to 2 yrs Latin & 5 of Greek)

Arts: World Music, Classical Art & Architecture

Electives: Linguistics, World Languages, Cognitive Science

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Social Entrepreneurship, Linguistics, Women's Studies with an emphasis on Feminism, History of Science, Tolkien Study.

 

Not sure if any of that qualifies as out-of-the-box!

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My sons and I are working through the topics of relativity and some quantum physics (really just an intro or survey with some math).

I have done a Literature of War year for my youngest son and am currently working on an Ancient Egyptian/Hieroglyphs class for my daughter.

 

Edited for formatting and spelling

I'm doing a one-semester, ancient Egyptian elective with my high-schooler. This is what we're doing if you want to steal any ideas from me. I’ve cut and pasted a few things from my own notes, so the font gets wonky halfway down and there’s a random color:

 

1. We are FINALLY mummifying a chicken. Only took us 10 years to decide to go through with it. Well, not we; he. He does this activity entirely on his own. I hover around if he needs an extra pair of hands to hold open the bag, but that's it.

 

Tip: we're using a cornish hen because it's easier to work with something small. I'm using the instructions on this website for it. https://www.livingwellspendingless.com/2012/11/14/how-to-make-a-chicken-mummy/

 

The first day took my son about an hour to do. Each week he replaces with the salt mixture and that takes him about 1/2 an hour. All told, I'm anticipating about 4 hours to do the mummy (once we add the layer of wrappings to it.)

 

2. These videos:

 

Daily Life Videos (4 hours) John Romer Ancient Lives--Youtube

Great Courses Bob Brier lectures (24 hours, 48 lectures)

 

3. These books:

Pinch, History of myth book. This book has three parts. The first part explains from where we get Egyptian myths (on walls, on tombs, on papyri, etc.), the second part talks about how Egyptian myths do something or other with time (haven't read that part yet), and the third part has a list of all the gods, places, concepts rather like very short encyclopedia entries or definitions of words. We are reading the first two parts together out loud. It takes us about 40 minutes to read 7 pages out loud. We're only going to read the first two sections, so it's about 8 hours of reading.

 

Mythology stories. I got a book out of the library of Egyptian myths called Gods and Pharoahs from Egyptian Mythology by Geraldine Harris. It's from the juvenile section of the library, but I'm ok with that. It's like reading about Norse or Greek myths. Most of those are found in the juvenile section. My sons reads these on his own and we'll devote about 4 hours to reading that book.

 

Historical fiction book: Nefertiti by Michele Moran. This is certainly historical FICTION, and I'm saving this until the end of the class so he can read it during the summer if we run out of time. This is just to get a feel or sense of the time period and not really to learn anything. However, I pre-read it and a number of the things we've read about in our History of Myth book or have seen on our Bob Brier videos have been mentioned in the book, so it does help to cement what was learned.

 

I found some translations of Egyptian stories that were on papyrus. Here are the links to the ones we're going to read. I anticipate about 2 hours for us to read them and talk about them, tops.

 

Ipuwer Papyrus: A poem about the ruin of Egyptian society

The text: http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/texts/ipuwer.htm

 

 

Story of Wenamun: An ancient adventure story about a priest who goes to collect gifts from a king.

Is engaging enough, with some humor mixed in.

https://www.ancient.eu/article/1087/the-report-of-wenamun-text--commentary/

 

[/size]

Tulli Papyrus: A diary that some believe is about aliens landing in Ancient Egypt, but only one person has seen the original copy, so historians think it might be fake.[/size]

See if we can find any disreputable sites about aliens and Egypt.

(No link yet, I need to find one)

 

 

Westcar Papyrus: A series of stories about the Pharaoh Khufu told by his sons.

These seem to be very short and not too boring:

http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/texts/westcar_papyrus.htm

 

4. These activities

 

Write a myth (5 hours) After we finish the myth books, my son will write a myth in the style of an ancient Egyptian myth, using characters from what he's read, and staying true to their personalities.

 

Plan Trip (Took 7.5 hours) For this activity, my son had to plan a trip to Egypt. He had to include a list of what airport he'd arrive in, how long the flight would take, what he'd pack, what time of year he'd go, what historical sites (5-7) he'd see and why--giving a description of each site. He had to figure out how much money to bring for food, hotels, and transportation and convert that to Egyptian money.  The sites he visited had to be visited in logical order.  For example, if you took a trip to the US, you wouldn't try to see Washington DC and the Redwood Forest on the same day--he had to have a sense of place for his trip.  I didn't have him worry about finding out how to get a passport. I let him use these websites to get himself going:

http://www.touregypt.net/

http://www.touregypt.net/monument.htm

https://www.priceoftravel.com/7/egypt/cairo-prices

If you want to do this activity, then I can send you my word document where I wrote out the exact assignment I gave to him with what exactly he needed to do to complete this assignment.

 

Make Brochure (Actually took 3 hours) (I cut and pasted and now it's yellow--can't get the color to go away) After he created a Word document outlining his trip, I had him pretend that he was now going to act as a tour guide and take other people on the trip. He had to use Microsoft to create a brochure for his trip to mail to potential customers telling them about the trip.

 

Create Map (5 hours) He's making a map of Egypt which must include the sites from his trip and other places that I instructed him to find and plot. I used a gigantic (18x24) sheet of water color paper. He created a border around the map using hieroglyphys to write a secret message and he is painting it with water colors.

 

Google slides/Powerpoint--compare Egyptian gods to Yaweh (5 hours)

We're Christians, so I'm having him create a presentation on how the God of the bible compares to the Egyptian gods from the myths he'd read.

 

All together, I anticipate the above taking about 86 hours. But note: I'm kinda hyper and get things done super fast. My son is more deliberate and thoughtful and so he takes longer. The times I'm allotting for the activities are taking his more methodical approach into account. If you do any of the activities, you'll have to assess for yourself how long they'll take you.  If I was the student for my own class, it would take me fewer than 84 hours.

 

Also note that there is no writing or tests or things like that. He gets plenty of that in other courses. I wanted him to be able to use other outlets for assessment and creativity. So...no written work and no tests. This was an elective that he chose for himself and I wanted it to be a light class that wouldn't require a lot of studying. He specifically said he wanted to learn about the myths and the history. The videos cover the history, and a lot of the activities cover the myths.

 

ETA: We're going to take a trip to a local museum to look at the Egyptian display. We've been there a few times before, but this time I think it will be very meaningful. We'll go on the last week of school. The trip isn't counted in the 86 hours of class time.

 

I'll just pretend like I never saw that...and under no circumstances will I let my daughter see your post!! :leaving:

 

She LOVES ancient languages. She spent an afternoon one time creating math problems for me to do in something really weird - like ancient Babylonian. :001_rolleyes: I can't even do our Saxon math, much less ancient Babylonian math.

When I was creating my class (above) I researched a book that teaches hieroglyphics. Here's the link and my notes about it. In the end, I decided that we didn't need to spend a lot of time learning the language as this book sounds like it's for people serious about learning the language and goes beyond the scope of what I wanted our class to be.

 

But it sounds pretty perfect for your daughter!

 

Here's what I wrote to myself after I read a bunch of reviews on Amazon:

 

IF we want to learn to read hieroglyphics, this is a good book. It's a mixture of hard and easy. It's sort of easy, but you do have to put in effort to remember what you're being taught as you go. It has you start to read the hieroglyphs right away, without lessons in grammar. 160 pages (not sure we want to learn the language as part of this class, though.)

https://www.amazon.com/Egyptian-Hieroglyphs-Complete-Beginners-Manley/dp/0500290288/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Edited by Garga
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We have followed dd's interests and developed some "different" sorts of courses.

 

She has an interest in all things Irish so we designed an Irish History course using an online course through Trinity College, various videos, and books. She (and I) are also learning to speak Irish with a weekly tutor.

 

She is currently doing a journalism/writing course with a tutor where they are researching various topics/news items, learning about primary sources, and rewriting/writing news articles from various slants (liberal, conservative, and neither). They are also editing dd's novel...dd researches and writes each week then they edit together and go to writing conferences. 

 

She wants a course in interior design which I have planned but since she started taking college courses, we couldn't fit it in yet...maybe next year.

 

She and I have also done various Great Courses and online open courseware courses on topics of interest. She is beginning a course this week through Berklee (College of Music) called Creativity and Entrepreneurship.

 

 

 

 

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Mine have done a lot in emergency services and environmental sciences. I can't say I personally created them, but they aren't exactly traditional.

 

I am chomping at the bit to do a full credit (or more, given my reading/writing expectation) on Gender, Race, and Class.

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Home brewed. Roots of Steampunk Literature. Read lots of Victorian era works that inspire Steampunk and Gaslight literature.

Chinese History.

 

SO Comparative Government. I wrote a course to CB specifications. Least common AP exam most years.

 

Outsourced

Japan Studies through Reischauer Scholars program

Korea Studies through Sejong Korean Scholars program

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Home brewed. Roots of Steampunk Literature. Read lots of Victorian era works that inspire Steampunk and Gaslight literature.

Chinese History.

 

SO Comparative Government. I wrote a course to CB specifications. Least common AP exam most years.

 

Outsourced

Japan Studies through Reischauer Scholars program

Korea Studies through Sejong Korean Scholars program

Sebastian, I'd love to know what resources you used for Chinese History. My dd wants a year long course for next year.

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Sebastian, I'd love to know what resources you used for Chinese History. My dd wants a year long course for next year.

 

My dh put it together.  I know he had the Great Courses From Yao to Mao on it, but I don't remember which books.

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My dh put it together. I know he had the Great Courses From Yao to Mao on it, but I don't remember which books.

Ok. I'm planning on From Yao to Mao as well. I have a decent number of resources but was wondering if I was missing anything amazing.

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