Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Curriculum Fair Plans - Part One

It's that wonderful time of year when we are nearing the end of our homeschool year, so we evaluate what we've done over the past several months, and think ahead to what curricula we'll want to use next year (or further down the road!). I love browsing curriculum and book choices, but since I've been doing this whole homeschool thing for a few years now, I find that I'm not as unsettled about my options as I used to be. Still, it's always useful to review how our year went and what we liked about the resources we've used, especially in preparation for the annual trips to curriculum fairs. So, here is what we used in 2010-2011:

Spencer (Grade 10)

Alpha Omega Lifepacs English 10 - After a less-than-fantastic year trying the Switched-on-Schoolhouse version of English 9, we went back to the Lifepac workbooks. It was just easier in terms of scheduling and actually getting work done, because the books were portable and we didn't have to worry about giving sufficient computer time. Grading is easier too, even though I have to do it all, because I can more easily adapt the grading scale to what makes sense for us. And it was also easier to look ahead and I could say to skip certain activities or do something a little differently from what the curriculum said. For example, a couple of the units assigned a reading selection that Spencer had already done for World Lit - I was able to say "you don't have to read the whole thing again, just answer this and this, but skip this part over here" English isn't a favorite subject for Spencer, but Lifepacs are a manageable way to get through all the material for the year and see what's already accomplished, and how much is left to do. We will be using Lifepac for English 11 as well.  (I did an overview of all our English and Language Arts on January 18)

Saxon Algebra I - I have to admit I haven't been very open to change when it comes to Math curriculum. We own Saxon Algebra textbooks and answer keys, and since they are non-consumable, I see no reason to change. And this has been fine so far. It has been very slow going for Spencer to get through Algebra I, but that's not a problem as far as I'm concerned. He is learning the material (as far as I can tell!) and I allowed for more than a year to get through Algebra I to begin with, knowing that it could go at a snail's pace. All the same, Spencer will be glad to be finished at last! We have no complaints about the curriculum, but since we decided to focus on Geometry next year, I decided to use the Alpha Omega Lifepac set for Geometry. (and I got a super deal on it, which really helped sway my decision!)

Biology: God's Living Creation  (A Beka Book) - Honestly, we have not had good luck with high school Biology. Harrison didn't much care for Apologia Biology, and took two years to finish that, and now Spencer has taken two years to finish this biology text from ABeka and we're not crazy about it either. I sold the Apologia text as soon as Harrison finished it, and found an old edition of this text when Spencer was ready to start. Basically the price was right. ;-) Again, we don't really have any complaints, but I'm going to be looking for something else before Landon and Kennady get to high school level biology, and it's entirely possible - perhaps even likely - that we'll give Apologia another go. Biology is a required credit, so we need to do something. Anyway, this book has been just fine, despite my frustration that Spencer has dragged his feet over getting through it. Next year he will be doing Apologia Chemistry.

Exploring World History (Notgrass) - I can't say enough about the Notgrass high school history curricula! It is a lot of reading, so I would hesitate to recommend it for a student that really struggles in that area, but it has been great for us. Spencer does not mind reading, and has done very well with the quizzes and review questions throughout this world history and Bible course. The entire course would be worth one full credit each in world history, Bible, and World Literature, but we have selected only about half the novels for the World Lit reading list, and accordingly I award a half credit for completing that part of the course. The reading list is varied and since it's spread throughout the year, novels as well as shorter selections in the accompanying book of essays, speeches, excerpts, poetry, etc., it's generally quite manageable. This is one curriculum choice that will be saved and used for the younger kids when the time comes, and we will also be using the Exploring America text next year (for Spencer) and I will be purchasing the newly published middle school history curriculum for use with the younger kids for the 2012-2013 school year! How's THAT for thinking ahead?!  (mentioned the Lit portion in my January 18 English curriculum post, and the History curriculum in my Social Studies post on January 28)

Practical Drafting - Applied Engineering Graphics Workbook (Insight Technical Education) - this was the elective credit Spencer completed this year, a full credit course in technical drawing and practical applications.  It is a self-study course where he can work at his own pace.  Some of the lessons are very short, and others more involved.  I've been very pleased with this course, and with the other titles from this publisher as well. We are planning on an Art elective for Spencer for next year - ARTistic Pursuits.


Annie Kate said...

Thanks so much for the info on Exploring World History. I will be checking it out!

Isn't it great to be nearing the end?

Annie Kate

kympossible said...

Yes, I love seeing that light at the end of the tunnel!

As you can tell, I'm a pretty big fan of Notgrass. ;-)

This Blog Needs A Title… » Blog Archive » Curriculum Fair Plans – Part Two said...

[...] got started yesterday by reviewing what Spencer has worked on this school year and what we plan on doing next year.  These are the things we’ve used this [...]

Loretta said...

Would Spencer like to join with Matthew, Andrew, and some other friends on Friday mornings to study Chemistry with us? FB me if you're interested, and I'll send you details.

This Blog Needs A Title… » Blog Archive » Weekly Wrap-Up: In Which I Am Somewhat Convention-al said...

[...] we learned about the chemistry of flavors - yummy lesson! I reviewed all our current curriculum (Part One and Part Two) and made my decisions about what I’d be searching for at CHAP. I attended on [...]

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