Curriculum Review for 2017/2018

My thoughts on last year’s curriculum choices:

11th Grade

It’s getting a little hard to give detailed reviews at these upper levels because it has become so hands off for me. That’s a good thing! The biggest role for a parent at this stage of the game to to provide accountability.  The Student Planner remains indispensable.

Precalculus at LeTourneau University – Dusty’s first real college class. Probably wasn’t the best thing to start with precalculus! Overall, we are proud of him for finishing strong in a tough, new class. Dusty said the teaching and the interface were a good experience, and you really can’t beat LETU dual-credit classes for value. My take-away is that college-level classes should probably be in areas that your student already enjoys and excels in. Don’t make the decision based on financials only.

Mr. D’s Math Bootcamp – Since his DC precalc was only a semester long (another thing to keep in mind with college classes; they are shorter and thus more intense) we had Dusty take this 6-week course in the spring before his first SAT. He really enjoyed Mr. D’s teaching and said it was immensely helpful in taking the test. Some of the classes were live, some recorded, and the recorded ones are available for him to review as much as he needs in the future. He will be taking the SAT or ACT again this fall.

Center for Lit American Literature – Dusty’s last year with Mr. A and his family and I’ve really appreciated the opportunity that Dusty had to experience literature through this approach. And such a rich reading list to take into adulthood.

Johnson’s History of the American People – Dusty said he enjoyed this. It is nice to have a relaxing, narrative text for at least one high school subject. I enjoyed reading the essays Dusty wrote.

Earth/Meteorology Science – I feared this home-cobbled course would be tricky to execute and I was right. The multiple parts and lack of outside accountability resulted in this subject getting pushed off til last, but I will say we all enjoyed the materials I selected. I feel confident that Dusty will go into his selected field of aviation with a solid base in this area.

Excelsior Space Exploration Science – This was a fun class for Dusty and even his space-fascinated younger brother devoured the text. A great elective idea if you’ve got an astronomy/aviation fan.

Tomorrow’s Filmmakers – Dusty absolutely loved this class and claimed it as his favorite this year. Videos are very well-done and contain lots of information. As Christians, we appreciated the biblical worldview in this particular fine art.

5th Grade

Strayer-Upton Math, 2nd book – We were in the brown book this year and it was a bit tougher than the red one! There were many more skills to learn. But Duncan’s problem-solving abilities continue to impress me. (I have a more thorough review on Strayer-Upton here.) We stopped early in April when I discovered another math curriculum to try out. “Learn Math Fast” has many of the pros of vintage math and none of the cons. I think it would make an excellent math option but I wanted to try it out before recommending it to others. Duncan had about of month with LMF and did very well. I plan to use it this next year with Pearl and hope to write a review in the future.

CM Skills & Writing Trails – I have loved watching my first student using CM skills exclusively blossom in the language arts. I added in one Writing Trails book in the last half of the year to give a little structured guidance to written narrations and it worked out quite nicely. If you want your children to do written narrations but feel ill-equipped to manage them, give this program a try. The books are all about the same level and very reasonably-priced.

Exploration Education – This was a great fit for our hands-on guy. It was the first partially-computer-based program he’s had so it took a little guidance to get him started. But once he got the idea, it became very self-driven.

Builders of the Old World & Makers of the Americas – I love these books but alas, this child is not a history-lover like the last one was. However, reading through narrative texts is a pretty painless way to tackle the subject. Some day I will write a post on why I have found it better to do regular overviews of history rather than the popular “history cycles.”

La Clase Divertida – We dropped this partway through the year. This is an excellent program but I am wrestling with the time and effort it takes to learn a second language when you have no opportunity to practice it (which we just don’t here in rural Wisconsin). One of the reasons I like LCD is because it covers geography/cultures and art as well as Spanish. But these were included in other parts of our curriculum and that also served to reduce our need for it this year.

2nd Grade

Ray’s Primary Arithmetic – We still enjoyed this as a simple, oral introduction to mathematics.

2nd Elson Reader – A great way to learn classic tales and fables while practicing reading skills.

Smithhand  – This has been our handwriting standby for several years now. I’ve been pretty happy how Duncan’s (11yo) handwriting has turned out so we continue on!

Living science books – This has been such an easy, refreshing way to approach science with children.

History Stories for Children – This is a perfect read-aloud with short chapter stories.

La Clase Divertida – Pearl enjoyed the first level so I will let her continue as long as she wants to.

3 Responses

  1. MiMi
    MiMi August 28, 2018 at 7:52 am |

    I thought I had posted my comment but it isn’t showing.

    How many of the Ray’s books do you use before switching in third grade?

    Will you then use Strayer-Upton or change to the newer program you listed at the end of your Strayer-Upton review, Learn Math Fast?

    Thank you.

  2. Melissa
    Melissa October 21, 2018 at 3:06 pm |

    I loved seeing your year end review Heather! After coming down from the estate sale, I’m finally finding time to go back and read/research. 🙂

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