Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Homeschooling High School - History in the Form of Stories

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History in the Form of Stories (Homeschooling High School blog hop 2015) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

This month's Homeschooling High School Blog Hop is all about Language Arts, which encompasses poetry, literature, grammar and composition, and all kinds of writing. It's a lot to cover, and it's important that we do it well, especially for our college-bound students, and picking the perfect curriculum from among all the resources out there can be a challenge. 

My starting point in Language Arts is basically the same as for other subjects - I'm looking for something that will suit my student's learning style and interests, and will be appropriate for their future plans. Our oldest son started his high school years planning to get into journalism, while our second son had no intentions of going to college at all, so the emphasis on grammar and composition was different. My boys are not big fans of reading fiction, but my daughter loves to read and write stories, so our approach to literature studies is different.

If history were told in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. ~Rudyard Kipling

I loved that quote from Kipling when I ran across it, and it sums up how we like to study history, and how we tie that to our study of Literature. History has been the backbone of our high school literature courses, and the basis for a majority of high school writing assignments in our homeschool for many years. We started using Exploring World History and Exploring America (both from Notgrass) with my oldest son and have never looked back.  (See my post: E is for Exploring America for more info.)These two high school level history courses, when completed as suggested, are worth three full credits - one each in History, Bible, and English or Literature. As I said, my boys haven't been interested in reading, so for each of them, we've reduced the amount of literature they are required to read during the course and awarded a half credit instead of a whole for that portion of the course.

History in the Form of Stories (Homeschooling High School blog hop 2015) on Homeschool Coffee Break @   History in the Form of Stories (Homeschooling High School blog hop 2015) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

The essay books included with the curriculum contain poetry, speeches, essays, and short stories that relate to the history being studied. Each of the novels assigned was either written during the time frame being studied, or was written about one of the specific time frames or events. I like the context that studying history and literature together provides, especially for students that have limited interest in reading in the first place! Below are the full lists of novels studied for each of these courses. The bolded titles are the ones Landon studied or will study, and the titles in parentheses were on the older reading lists which is what we followed. When Kennady gets to Notgrass next school year, she will likely read all or almost all of them!

Exploring World History 

(Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis)
The Cat of Bubastes - G.A. Henty
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
Julius Caesar - William Shakespeare
The Imitation of Christ - Thomas a Kempis
Here I Stand (biography of Martin Luther) - Roland Bainton
(Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan)
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell (Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen)
The Hiding Place - Corrie ten Boom
Bridge to the Sun - Gwen Terasaki
Cry, the Beloved Country - Alan Paton (Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad)
(Eric Liddell: Pure Gold - David McCasland)
Animal Farm - George Orwell
The Abolition of Man - C.S. Lewis

Exploring America

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Narrative of the Life of David Crockett - David Crockett
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - Frederick Douglass
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Company Aytch - Sam Watkins
(Little Women - Louisa May Alcott)
Humorous Stories and Sketches - Mark Twain
(Up From Slavery - Booker T. Washington)
In His Steps - Charles Sheldon
Mama's Bank Account - Kathryn Forbes
(Christy - Catherine Marshall)
Miracle in the Hills - Mary T. Martin Sloop and LeGette Blythe
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Giver - Lois Lowry

So what is Kennady doing for Literature this year? Well, she has a pretty ambitious plan, but it suits her interests. She has taken a huge liking to Lightning Lit & Comp for her literature studies, and requested British Early-Mid 19th Century but she also wanted to read all Jane Austen's novels, so we are combining the two. The Lightning Lit course already includes Pride and Prejudice, so I rearranged a little bit so that Kennady can read the other five Austen novels as well, and we are using Peter Leithart's Miniatures and Morals as our study guide. She will be immersed in the first half of 19th century Britain for her entire literature study! So her reading list for this year looks like this, although we might change the order slightly:

Selected poems by William Blake (Lightning Lit)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (in both studies)
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen (Miniatures)
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (Lightning Lit)
"Essay on Scott" by Thomas Carlyle (Lightning Lit)
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (Miniatures)
Selected poems by Samuel Taylor Coleright, William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley (Lightning Lit)
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (Miniatures)
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (Lightning Lit)
Emma by Jane Austen (Miniatures)
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (Lightning Lit)
"Rebecca and Rowena" by William Makepeace Thackeray (Lightning Lit)
Persuasion by Jane Austen (Miniatures)

History in the Form of Stories (Homeschooling High School blog hop 2015) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Grammar and Composition are essential for high schoolers as well, and we've chosen slightly different curriculum based on different learning preferences. This year Landon (11th grade) is using Analytical Grammar and Kennady (9th grade) is using Fix-it! Grammar. Both are using the Student Writing Intensive Level C from IEW for composition.

History in the Form of Stories (Homeschooling High School blog hop 2015) on Homeschool Coffee Break @  History in the Form of Stories (Homeschooling High School blog hop 2015) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

History in the Form of Stories (Homeschooling High School blog hop 2015) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

For Kennady, who loves stories, Fix-It! Grammar is a great fit. This grammar course from IEW can be used for all ages, and teaches parts of speech, punctuation, and everything else grammar related by having the student rewrite a story a couple of sentences at a time. Younger students can go through the book much more slowly than older students and learn the same material. Kennady has a great background in grammar already, so we are doing a week's worth of Fix-It! lessons each day that we work on it, and it's taking less than a half-hour at a time to do that right now. As we get further along and the concepts get more complex, I expect that we'll slow down, but for now, this is perfect for her, and actually quite enjoyable because she wants to find out what will happen next in the story!

Analytical Grammar suits Landon's "just the facts" mindset, and although each unit has three exercises and an extra skills practice assignment as well as the test, we have been using only one of the exercises. As long as he demonstrates solid understanding of the grammar skill presented in each unit by doing the first exercise, I allow him to go on to the unit test. In this way, he is covering all the material but not getting bogged down with it. He only needs to work on Analytical Grammar twice a week at the current pace. 

Both kids enjoy the Student Writing Intensive lessons, and I especially like that the bulk of the teaching is done by Andrew Pudewa instead of by me! I just have to schedule the lessons and grade their work. This curriculum is a good fit for both of them, because they start by focusing on developing good writing skills without worrying about the content. As we go through the year, they will be getting more writing assignments based on their History, Geography, or Science studies, and they will be applying those style and structure skills to their own writing.

Although Landon doesn't enjoy reading stories to the same extent that Kennady does, since he has been reading some important literature as it ties into his study of history, I believe he'll have an excellent foundation on which to build if and when he does go to college. A foundation for understanding history, and a good overview of some examples of expert story-telling. As for Kennady, her love of story-telling may lead her to continue writing and sharing stories as an author or as a song-writer. And if her career choice takes her down a completely different path, I'm confident she will still love reading and discussing good books.

History in the Form of Stories (Homeschooling High School blog hop 2015) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Visit our Homeschooling High School Bloggers this month-

Carol from Home Sweet life shares Homeschooling High School- Language Arts (&History!)
Tess from Circling Through This Life shares Teaching High School Language Arts: Resources
Michele from Family, Faith and Fridays shares Language Arts
Wendy from Life at Rossmont shares Highschool Language Arts
Erica from Be the One shares Language Arts Resources
Kym from Homeschool Coffee Break shares History in the Form of Stories
Debbie from Debbie’s Homeschool Corner shares Teaching High School English

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