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mazakaal

Out of the box subjects for 8th grade - movies as literature, sociology, world cultures, graphic design

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I've just pulled my son out of public school. He was enrolled only since Easter last year, when he was in the midst of his 8th grade year. I live in England so he went from homeschooling with an American program for 8th grade into a British year 9 (they count grades differently here) in preparation for British GCSE exams. The whole thing didn't work out the way we had hoped, so I've pulled him out, and we're going to repeat 8th grade because I don't want to create a bad experience trying to squish all of his 9th grade work into a shortened school year. 

So we sort of have a bonus year to a certain extent, and I'd like to have him do some non-traditional courses to engage him and get him excited about learning. He's going to use a standard math and science curriculums, but he'd like to do something like "movies as literature" for English and sociology or world cultures for social studies. Any feedback on Reading in the Dark or Media Literacy or other suggestions? Any ideas for sociology or world cultures?

He's also interested in a career in graphic design and would like to do some sort of introductory course in it as an elective. I've found a few through a Google search - Introduction to Graphic Design Course with Sweet Pea Pixels, Graphics Toolbox, and Lynda.com. Does anyone have feedback on any of those or other suggestions?

I'd really appreciate any ideas you have. Thanks!

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For "movies as literature" -- there is the curricula by that name, created by Kathryn Stout. You might also check out the "Teach With Movies" website for lesson plans and teacher ideas of movies to go with several different subject areas (English, Social Studies, Science). This was the first I'd heard of Reading in the Dark (<--- that link contains links to the table of contents and sample). It looks like it could be a good resource to use more heavily in the first semester of doing Movies as Literature, to help with learning about "cinematic analysis tools" and how to analyze films.

We had a blast making our own World Cultures/Geography & Comparative Religions when DSs were 7th & 8th grades, so yes, very do-able to do World Cultures in 8th grade. Sociology might be a little tougher, as most materials are for college, but if your 8th grader could handle an intro/non-major college text, that could work. We went "DIY", so no specific program suggestions for you. For Sociology, this pdf article gives you an overview of the Amer. Sociology Assoc.'s National Standards for High School Sociology -- page 17 lists the 4 "domains" (major subject areas) of Sociology, and then subtopics under each of the 4 of topics to give you ideas of the kinds of things to cover in your Sociology explorations.

For Graphic Design, learning how to use the software that is foundational to the field would be very helpful:
Adobe Photoshop (photo editing and digital painting)
Adobe Illustrator (making/altering art and type)
InDesign (layout)

For non-traditional and "make your own" courses, I suggest following DS's interests. Theater or film making? Horses? Electronics? Archeology? Song writing or composing music? Baking or cake decorating? Boat building? Really, anything that is of high interest to DS can be pursued in depth in this "bonus year". (:D  While these were threads from the high school board, you might glean more ideas from these past threads, all linked on page 5 of "High School Motherlode #2", which is one of the pinned threads at the top of the High School Board:

Creative and memorable electives
Options for Fine Arts credit (looking for unconventional ideas, beyond art/music/drama)
Making high school unique, non-traditional, speciality, out-of-the-box courses (kinds of courses, and ways of doing high school unconventionally)
Tell me things you do to give your high schooler a unique experience 
Out-of-the-box high school courses
How to design theme-based study (including input/output) like 8FillTheHeart, Corraleno, etc.
How do you design your own course?

Enjoy this bonus year of exploration! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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You're amazing, Lori! Thanks so much. ? 

eta: Lori, could you share some of the resources that you used for World Cultures/Geography & Comparative Religions course, please?

Edited by mazakaal
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I am taking a course from Lynda. I get a free subscription to Lynda from my local library. I can just log in from home using my library card. The course I am taking is Adobe Illustrator for Fashion Design, which is a fantasy dream for me,  but with a free course, I figured, why not. The course is very good. I already had the book that the instructor of this course wrote, so I was familiar with the background information of this course. However, it is helpful to see what the instructor is referring to.

Anyway, my point is that you should check with your local library to see if you can use courses from Lynda for free.

 

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Shifra, thanks for the recommendation. It doesn’t look like my library offers it, but Lynda offers a free 1 month trial. I’ll give that a try after our half-term break next week, and have him take one of their graphic design courses. Then maybe I’ll subscribe if there are enough other courses available that interest him. It’s good to hear that you’ve had a good experience with it. Thanks!

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I'd add the Philosophy and.... books to any movies you watch that line up.   Along the same lines if you already have Great Courses Plus, they have Science Fiction as Philosophy by the author of some of those books. Each lecture is a different movie or tv series and philosophy.    https://andphilosophy.com/books/ and http://www.opencourtbooks.com/categories/pcp.htm

Great Courses Plus also has How to View and Appreciate Great Movies. https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/show/how_to_view_and_appreciate_great_movies 

If he's really into it, Screenwriting 101 which breaks down screenwriting and storytelling by film. Great Courses are college level, so you may have to look through the movie lists on these courses and see if there is anything you feel is not age appropriate, https://www.thegreatcoursesplus.com/show/screenwriting_101_mastering_the_art_of_story

 

Edited by Plum Crazy
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That is amazing! When my son asked to do movies as literature, I jokingly told him that it probably wouldn’t include any of the Avengers films. This site actually has a books about Doctor Strange, Green Lantern, Iron Man, Wonder Woman. He’s going to love it! Thank you!

I don’t have Great Courses Plus, but I’ll see if those are available to purchase. Thanks!

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On 10/22/2018 at 10:00 PM, MEPinUK said:

...Lori, could you share some of the resources that you used for World Cultures/Geography & Comparative Religions course, please?


Preface: 

We focused on Eastern Hemisphere, rather than the whole world, and still felt like we were flying through the countries and barely scratching the surface. We chose to focus on Eastern Hemisphere as so much of high school History is about Western Civilizations, and I wanted us to have spent at least a little time focused on areas of the world usually neglected, but that where 80% of the world's people live.

Bear in mind that we did our study 12 years ago, so there was not as much out there then as there is now, and much of what we used is now out of print. Also, DSs were working at a solid middle school level, and if your 8th grader is more advanced, you'll likely want to use some high school level materials. Here is a copy-paste of a previous response of mine to the same question:
________________

"We used a lot of different resources and had 3 main components that we did throughout the year: 1.) cultural study of different nations 2.) physical geography (Oceania, Asia, Africa, and Middle East), and 3.) comparative religions.

For the cultural study we read books about different countries (nonfiction books, picture books of myths with illustrations in the art style of the country, and cultural / historical fiction books), to learn about beliefs, customs, lifestyles, housing/clothing, and brief overview history/key people. We used some books from Sonlight's Eastern Hemisphere core, but most are at a grade 4-6 level, so I also used YA books available at our library (I did searches of the library books by country) and also a few books on "classic" lists, like Kon Tiki when we were covering Oceania. For hands-on, we made/ate food, listened to traditional music, played traditional games of different countries. We watched feature films / documentaries / travelogues set in different countries.

For the physical geography, we memorized nations and capitals and country locations with Shepperd Software free online games. We did a map workbook with an Eastern Hemisphere focus (we used Carson-Dellosa's Discovering Geography gr. 7-8, but there are other good ones, too). We used an atlas [the now old/out-of-print Circling the Globe] and explored websites to learn about key geographical features (mountains, rivers, historical landmarks, etc.), but also habitat and key biome (climate zone) plants and animals for countries or areas.

For the comparative religions portion, we and focused on the "big 6" -- HinduismBuddhism, Shinto, JudaismChristianity, and Islam -- but we also very briefly touched on a few others. We used the Milliken publishers Inside the Great Religions series (linked), but you might also check out things like the Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World Religions, and explore the internet links. We made a chart that compared aspects of the religions, and where the beliefs lead -- sort of like this chart at Rainbow Resource, but more in depth and 1 page per religion like this one at Course Hero -- the topics we compared were almost identical to these at Course Hero. We also were able to look for how the religious beliefs are intwined with the culture of the country, and also see how that sometimes played in to major history events and decisions.

All year we added 2 pages per week to our own "atlas", which was 1 page per country that included: an outline map with key places/physical features marked or filled in; listing of these 5 aspects about each country: 1. capital 2. population 3. major religion(s) 4. major resource(s) 5. something the country is known for. Then the bottom half of the page was a paragraph summing up their research and what stood out to them about the country."
________________

Religions
Teacher Created Materials: World Religions curriculum guide -- gr. 6-8
DK: World Religions (Bowker) -- gr. 6-10
World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery (Brodd) -- late high school level
Primary Source Readings in World Religions (Brodd) -- late high school level
Galore Park: Religious Studies for Common Entrance 13+ Revision Guide -- late high school level
Teaching Company: Great Course: Comparative Religion
Teaching Company: Great Course: Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know

Geography - Physical
Mapping the World by Art by Ellen McHenry -- gr. 5-10 curricula
The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World (The Lonely Planet)

Geography - Cultural
Teaching Company/Great Course: Food: A Cultural Culinary History
Teacher Created Materials: The Medieval Islamic World (Cohn) 
Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Menzel)
Material World: A Global Family Portrait (Menzel)

Past Threads with ideas
"s/o World Religions/Comparative Religions Documentaries"
"Considering a Geography Year" (for grades 4, 6, and 8 ) -- past thread with ideas for scheduling and for movies 
"World/Comparative Religions" (for late elementary/early middle school)
"5th Grade Geography" -- late elementary and middle school resources, some good links to glean from for an 8th grader

Edited by Lori D.
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When I was in middle school one of the courses offered was the history of rock and roll: how music shaped and was influenced by current events (1950-1980s)  It ended up being a really fascinating look at 4 decades through the Billboard top hits.  I ended up doing similar for my oldest but using a few songs to really hit the decades with him as we cruised through SOTW 4.

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1 hour ago, Lori D. said:


Preface: 

We focused on Eastern Hemisphere, rather than the whole world, and still felt like we were flying through the countries and barely scratching the surface. We chose to focus on Eastern Hemisphere as so much of high school History is about Western Civilizations, and I wanted us to have spent at least a little time focused on areas of the world usually neglected, but that where 80% of the world's people live.

Bear in mind that we did our study 12 years ago, so there was not as much out there then as there is now, and much of what we used is now out of print. Also, DSs were working at a solid middle school level, and if your 8th grader is more advanced, you'll likely want to use some high school level materials. Here is a copy-paste of a previous response of mine to the same question:
________________

"We used a lot of different resources and had 3 main components that we did throughout the year: 1.) cultural study of different nations 2.) physical geography (Oceania, Asia, Africa, and Middle East), and 3.) comparative religions.

For the cultural study we read books about different countries (nonfiction books, picture books of myths with illustrations in the art style of the country, and cultural / historical fiction books), to learn about beliefs, customs, lifestyles, housing/clothing, and brief overview history/key people. We used some books from Sonlight's Eastern Hemisphere core, but most are at a grade 4-6 level, so I also used YA books available at our library (I did searches of the library books by country) and also a few books on "classic" lists, like Kon Tiki when we were covering Oceania. For hands-on, we made/ate food, listened to traditional music, played traditional games of different countries. We watched feature films / documentaries / travelogues set in different countries.

For the physical geography, we memorized nations and capitals and country locations with Shepperd Software free online games. We did a map workbook with an Eastern Hemisphere focus (we used Carson-Dellosa's Discovering Geography gr. 7-8, but there are other good ones, too). We used an atlas [the now old/out-of-print Circling the Globe] and explored websites to learn about key geographical features (mountains, rivers, historical landmarks, etc.), but also habitat and key biome (climate zone) plants and animals for countries or areas.

For the comparative religions portion, we and focused on the "big 6" -- HinduismBuddhism, Shinto, JudaismChristianity, and Islam -- but we also very briefly touched on a few others. We used the Milliken publishers Inside the Great Religions series (linked), but you might also check out things like the Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World Religions, and explore the internet links. We made a chart that compared aspects of the religions, and where the beliefs lead -- sort of like this chart at Rainbow Resource, but more in depth and 1 page per religion like this one at Course Hero -- the topics we compared were almost identical to these at Course Hero. We also were able to look for how the religious beliefs are intwined with the culture of the country, and also see how that sometimes played in to major history events and decisions.

All year we added 2 pages per week to our own "atlas", which was 1 page per country that included: an outline map with key places/physical features marked or filled in; listing of these 5 aspects about each country: 1. capital 2. population 3. major religion(s) 4. major resource(s) 5. something the country is known for. Then the bottom half of the page was a paragraph summing up their research and what stood out to them about the country."
________________

Religions
Teacher Created Materials: World Religions curriculum guide -- gr. 6-8
DK: World Religions (Bowker) -- gr. 6-10
World Religions: A Voyage of Discovery (Brodd) -- late high school level
Primary Source Readings in World Religions (Brodd) -- late high school level
Galore Park: Religious Studies for Common Entrance 13+ Revision Guide -- late high school level
Teaching Company: Great Course: Comparative Religion
Teaching Company: Great Course: Cultural Literacy for Religion: Everything the Well-Educated Person Should Know

Geography - Physical
Mapping the World by Art by Ellen McHenry -- gr. 5-10 curricula
The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World (The Lonely Planet)

Geography - Cultural
Teaching Company/Great Course: Food: A Cultural Culinary History
Teacher Created Materials: The Medieval Islamic World (Cohn) 
Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (Menzel)
Material World: A Global Family Portrait (Menzel)

Past Threads with ideas
"s/o World Religions/Comparative Religions Documentaries"
"Considering a Geography Year" (for grades 4, 6, and 8 ) -- past thread with ideas for scheduling and for movies 
"World/Comparative Religions" (for late elementary/early middle school)
"5th Grade Geography" -- late elementary and middle school resources, some good links to glean from for an 8th grader

 

Thanks so much, Lori D!

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1 hour ago, HomeAgain said:

When I was in middle school one of the courses offered was the history of rock and roll: how music shaped and was influenced by current events (1950-1980s)  It ended up being a really fascinating look at 4 decades through the Billboard top hits.  I ended up doing similar for my oldest but using a few songs to really hit the decades with him as we cruised through SOTW 4.

 

Great idea! I used to think it would be fun to do a history of the 20th century based on that Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

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6 hours ago, MEPinUK said:

 

Great idea! I used to think it would be fun to do a history of the 20th century based on that Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

We did that in my high school.

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On 10/24/2018 at 2:04 PM, MEPinUK said:

 

Great idea! I used to think it would be fun to do a history of the 20th century based on that Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start the Fire.”

I've always wanted to do this as a homeschool co-op class for high schoolers for modern world history. I hope one of my kids lets me.

Edited by RootAnn
Autocorrect got me!
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On 10/24/2018 at 12:24 PM, HomeAgain said:

When I was in middle school one of the courses offered was the history of rock and roll: how music shaped and was influenced by current events (1950-1980s)  It ended up being a really fascinating look at 4 decades through the Billboard top hits.  I ended up doing similar for my oldest but using a few songs to really hit the decades with him as we cruised through SOTW 4.

This is what I will be doing with my then 6th grader next yr. Still pulling together resources. We are doing late modern this year, so he will already have a basic understanding of the big events of the era.

We'll do a brief intro to American music generally to set the stage then dial in the focus post WWII.

Lots of listening to both live and recorded music for this! 

Edited by ScoutTN

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We did a graphic design course in 8th grade. Three things we really appreciated for it were these books. I let him pick projects from the creative design book and that was perfect. The Chip Kidd book is an excellent little introduction for anyone really. The Molly Bang book is a classic and was excellent.

https://www.amazon.com/Go-Chip-Kidd/dp/076117219X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1540909575&amp;sr=8-3&amp;keywords=chip+kidd

https://www.amazon.com/Picture-This-How-Pictures-Work/dp/1452151997/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1540909721&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=molly+bang

https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Workshop-Challenges-Sharpen-Design/dp/1600617972/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1540909746&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=creative+workshop+80+challenges+to+sharpen+your+design+skills

 

Edited by Farrar
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9 hours ago, Farrar said:

The Molly Bang book is a classic and was excellent.

That does look good, Farrar.  I'm going to check it out of the library for me!

Regards,
Kareni

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In college in the 80s, I took a course called "Chinese Culture through Film."   It was actually a really fun class.  I had been studying Mandarin.... and we watched a lot of old B&W films from the PRC.

 

What about doing the books and films of the books of Agatha Christie?  That would be fun. :)  Hitchcock also makes a great study.

Edited by umsami
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On 10/31/2018 at 1:39 AM, umsami said:

What about doing the books and films of the books of Agatha Christie?  That would be fun. ?  Hitchcock also makes a great study.

 

I'm not sure he would appreciate Agatha Christie (though I loved her books at that age), but Hitchcock is a great idea! Thanks!

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On 10/30/2018 at 2:29 PM, Farrar said:

We did a graphic design course in 8th grade. Three things we really appreciated for it were these books. I let him pick projects from the creative design book and that was perfect. The Chip Kidd book is an excellent little introduction for anyone really. The Molly Bang book is a classic and was excellent.

https://www.amazon.com/Go-Chip-Kidd/dp/076117219X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1540909575&amp;sr=8-3&amp;keywords=chip+kidd

https://www.amazon.com/Picture-This-How-Pictures-Work/dp/1452151997/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1540909721&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=molly+bang

https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Workshop-Challenges-Sharpen-Design/dp/1600617972/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1540909746&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=creative+workshop+80+challenges+to+sharpen+your+design+skills

 

 

These look fantastic! Thank you so much!

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On 10/24/2018 at 1:24 PM, HomeAgain said:

When I was in middle school one of the courses offered was the history of rock and roll: how music shaped and was influenced by current events (1950-1980s)  It ended up being a really fascinating look at 4 decades through the Billboard top hits.  I ended up doing similar for my oldest but using a few songs to really hit the decades with him as we cruised through SOTW 4.

 

To your point, this Motown collection brought up how "Dancing in the Streets" was in direct contrast to the riots that were happening in our country at that time. I'm not sure it's worth the full price (there is autorip w/ the purchase of the cd), but if you can pick it up used, you might want to. There are brief narratives between the songs.

Oh! There are samples to listen to. That will help you see if you'd like it or not. 

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6 hours ago, MEPinUK said:

 

I'm not sure he would appreciate Agatha Christie (though I loved her books at that age), but Hitchcock is a great idea! Thanks!

Be sure to have him look for the cameos.  Some are obvious...others a bit more tricky.

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On 10/30/2018 at 3:29 PM, Farrar said:

We did a graphic design course in 8th grade. Three things we really appreciated for it were these books. I let him pick projects from the creative design book and that was perfect. The Chip Kidd book is an excellent little introduction for anyone really. The Molly Bang book is a classic and was excellent.

https://www.amazon.com/Go-Chip-Kidd/dp/076117219X/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1540909575&amp;sr=8-3&amp;keywords=chip+kidd

https://www.amazon.com/Picture-This-How-Pictures-Work/dp/1452151997/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1540909721&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=molly+bang

https://www.amazon.com/Creative-Workshop-Challenges-Sharpen-Design/dp/1600617972/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&amp;qid=1540909746&amp;sr=8-1&amp;keywords=creative+workshop+80+challenges+to+sharpen+your+design+skills

 

 

Farrar - Thank you for the info!  DD really wants to do a graphic design course.  Did your son use any of the Adobe Creative suites for his projects?

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6 hours ago, nhtwins said:

 

Farrar - Thank you for the info!  DD really wants to do a graphic design course.  Did your son use any of the Adobe Creative suites for his projects?

Yes, he did. He taught himself the basics of Photoshop with youtube videos. However, he also taught himself Affinity and he likes that much better. It's cheaper, does nearly as much, is easier to use as well. And there's lots of tutorials for it. It's still not super cheap, but it is compared to the Adobe suite.

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This Poetry and a Movie class looks awesome -  https://www.hidethechocolate.com/product/poetry-and-a-movie/

And Music in our homeschool has music history / appreciation online classes that look awesome - https://learn.musicinourhomeschool.com/courses

Photoshop, Photography and Visual Literacy are all fun classes to take too

 

 

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