2016/2017 Curriculum Review

I decided to do something new this year and post a quick review of the curriculum we used last year so we can all see how well it worked.

10th Grade

Jacobs Geometry – I will admit it was a rough start, since Dusty was transitioning to self-teaching with a textbook from a video-based program. Once he got into it though, he was able to do nearly all the lessons by himself. He enjoyed the humor woven into the book, and we parents are happy with the strong logic base and practice in proofs. I will definitely hang onto this for the younger students. One consideration for doing geometry at home is correcting the proofs. There is often more than one right answer and it requires a solid understanding of proofs to evaluate them. It got to be too time-consuming for even my mathy husband and we are hiring out the grading.

WHA Rhetoric – This was a miss. It was mainly a speech class, with outlining as the only writing component. While Dusty enjoyed the teacher, he did not enjoy reading Aristotle, classifying types of rhetoric, and memorizing the different steps for each type. There was extensive quizzing on these parts of the class, and this brought Dusty’s grade down, even though he enjoyed and did well on the speeches. If I did this class again, it would be with an older student who had a keen interest in speech.

Center for Lit British Literature – Dusty enjoyed this class, much more than the World Lit he did last year. I would not recommend the World Lit for a freshman; it would be better for a senior or a serious junior. He easily handled British Lit, and claimed it was his favorite class of the year. We all love the monthly, discussion-based classes.

La Clase Divertida 2 – This was a tough class for Dusty. He loves Sr. Gamache though, and plugged away. Sr. could be a little disorganized at times, but he also assigned fun projects like cooking a South American dish. Dusty asked if he could take a break from Spanish for his junior year. We may or may not go back for his senior year.

ACE 10th Grade Science – This was an intro to chemistry and physics, and I am very glad to have checked this off as we decided to skip official chemistry this year and do Earth/Weather/Space. While not quite as engaging as biology was in 9th, it was certainly tolerable and very doable for a 10th-grader on his own (even with the math). I am not sure what the science options will be for our next sophomore five years from now, but I am hanging onto the videos in case we want to use them again.

Notgrass Exploring World History – This was a nice one-year overview with a variety of assignments for the student to choose from each week. Dusty said it was “okay.” I was happy with the inclusion of original sources and also the Bible studies, since we did not do any aside from this. Definitely keeping the high-quality books.

Introductory Logic – Another miss. It is an excellent course, but very time-consuming and difficult to grade unless you know logic well yourself. Dusty did not complete the course, and we purchased a health program for the elective credit instead.

Aeroscholars – Dusty loved this course and flew through it (ha). If anything, it was kind of easy for an aviation nut.

Alpha-Omega High School Health – Purchased near the end of the schoolyear when we realized that Logic would not get done. This is a very git’er done type of course (1/2 credit) consisting of five worktexts the student can do completely on his own. After reviewing the material, I was glad we chose the course. They covered things like drug use that I don’t even know about enough to discuss! This was the first time we’ve used an Alpha-Omega program and it may be worth mentioning that Dusty said he preferred the ACE worktexts over these, even though they are more visually attractive.

I guess the lesson learned this year is the need to consider the ease or difficulty of grading when selecting a course for high school.

4th Grade

Strayer-Upton math, first book – I finally figured out how to pace the book this year (since it doesn’t have lessons laid out). I was trying to do too much last year, and we got “behind.” I’m very happy with how Duncan’s math education is going with this program. His mental math abilities impress me. When he got to long division this year, it really wasn’t that big a deal because the groundwork had been laid so well. We do one row of problems per bank, unless more practice is needed. Most days he can do the lessons on his own.

CM Skills – I still love these simple methods. We got into short written narrations this year.

History books – Both were a good reading level for Duncan’s fourth grade. He preferred the American (a First Book) over the World History (CHOW).

Astronomy books – Duncan enjoyed the Apologia, but Signs and Seasons was a little over his head, which I expected. I didn’t have enough time to do it with him  as I’d hoped. The Apologia went very quickly.

Using Color in Your Art – Great, easy art projects for the age. We only got part-way through the book, so there is a lot more here for 5th grade. My one regret is that I didn’t get better quality paints. Don’t skimp on art supplies.

1st Grade

Ray’s Arithmetic – Short and sweet, especially when done with chocolate chips! Pearl thinks she loves math and didn’t want to stop. This only took a few months of the year.

Smithhand – Easy and elegant. This also only took a couple months, and then Pearl moved to copywork. Her writing skills are growing quickly.

The Reading Lesson – Pearl finished this easily, and is now reading up a storm. First grade seems to be prime time for learning how to read in our house. This remains one of my favorite phonics programs.

Nine-Note Recorder Method – This is what both Pearl and Duncan have been using for recorder. I highly recommend it for any age.

I’m also still loving My Student Logbook for Duncan. Dusty’s high school planner has been disappearing from my usual providers, so I bookmarked a similar one for next year.

Hope these reviews are helpful!




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