I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. 3 John 1:4

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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Beatrix Potter - A Unit Study

I am doing a unit study with Emily (8) about the life of Beatrix Potter, the author of the lovely tale of Peter Rabbit and others.  I am using two unit study curricula to help - HOC and another one for free from Curriculum Share.  We had The Complete Tales, and our very own stuffed Peter whom Emily loves very much.  We will also be reading Country Artist: A Story About Beatrix Potter

The weeks I spent last summer preparing my school plans for this year have been invaluable.  As always, life has its ups and downs, the plans have helped to keep our ship afloat and on the right course.  We've had to slow down for illnesses and other unforseen events, and that is when I've taken the time to add extras like this unit study.  I don't plan for unit studies, although they are a big part of what makes homeschooling fun and interesting.  I know ahead of time that we can take advantage of our flexibility to add studies in areas we are interested in while making sure we take care of the basics with a good plan.

Other unit studies I am tagging onto our plans this year: The Periodic Table, The First Thanksgiving,

Sunday, August 12, 2012

We start school again tomorrow.  I feel much better about starting this year, since I had all summer to plan ahead, and  I am happy with all the curriculum choices I made. 

The greatest blessing I see is that Michael has our dear friend, Jeanne to teach his Algebra 2 class.  Jeanne is a retired college math professor!  I can't wait to see how Michael grows to love math with her, as I am sure he will.  I am looking forward to teaching his chemistry class.  It will have lots of labs, as I added an additional lab curriculum to the BJU class in order to make it an honors class.

The girls are going to have lots of fun this year working on science, bible,  and social studies together.  This will be our first year to really be able to do combined classes well.  I love their art curriculum and hope I have time to do some of the projects along with them. 

Michelle's Curriculum - 5th grade

Bible                                      
Included in Science, History, Art
Memory Work Notebook                    Paul Settle
Italics Calligraphy Copywork – Books of the Bible
Tapestry of Grace

English
Shurley Grammar 5
IEW - Institute for Excellence in Writing
Calligraphy - Italics
The Giggly Guide to Grammar   by Cathy Campbell

Math                                      
Saxon 54

Science  
Apologia – Botany

History & Geography
Beautiful Feet - Early American and World History (Reading, History)
A Child's Story of America  Christian Liberty Press
Tapestry of Grace  (Geography & Reading List)

Art
How Great Thou Art - Colors, Colors, Colors

Emily's Curriculum - 3rd Grade

English
Shurley Grammar 3
Read & Think 3

Math
Abeka 3
Enchanted Learning

Science
Botany - Apologia

History
Early American History - Beautiful Feet
Little House on the Prairie Primer
Enchanted Learning

Art
Joseph – The Canada Goose              Barry Stebbing
Little Annie’s ART Book of Etiquette & Good Manners               Barry & Saundra Stebbing
Draw Write NOW

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

High School: Transcripts & Calculating GPA

Keeping accurate transcripts is an important job for me once my kids reach high school.  Colleges want to see not only what subjects we studied but their degree of difficulty.  That is when calculating GPA becomes complicated.  Colleges look at the weighted and unweighted GPAs to evaluate difficulty, and they also do their own GPA calculations.  So, honors classes, dual-enrollement, AP classes all weigh in differently from regular classes.  Each district has its own standards, and since we are registered as homeschoolers at our County School Board, I am using their standards for GPA calculation.  The Hillsborough County School Board says we can add .04 points for each honors .5 credit class.  Their policy for dual-enrollment goes like this:

Dual enrollment courses will receive the same course weighting as Advanced Placement courses. A bonus of .08 is added to the cumulative GPA for every one-half credit and .16 per 1.0 high school credit for each duel enrollment course in which the student earns a grade of C or higher.
Since college credit is awarded, this grade will remain a part of the college transcript.
Students are limited to nine (9) credit hours for fall, nine (9) credit hours for spring, and nine (9) credit hours for summer, not to exceed 27 credit hours per academic year.

Creating a weighted vs. unweighted GPA is important in producing a good transcript.  I base my GPA on the following letter-grade values:

A = 4.0
A- = 3.7
B+ = 3.3
B = 3.0
B- = 2.7
C+ = 2.3
C = 2.0
C- = 1.7
D+ = 1.3
D = 1.0
F = 0

So, if my son took seven classes, one of them being a PE class that only counted for a half credit (.5) and another one an honors class, he has 6.5 credits.  Say he got five As, and one A- in one of the regular one credit classes,  here is how I would calculate weighted and unweighted GPAs:
4 x 5.5 = 22 ,  22 + 3.7= 25.7 ,   25.7 / 6.5 = 3.93
Unweighter GPA = 3.9
3 x 4.5 = 13.5 ,   4.8 + 3.7 = 8.5 ,   13.5 + 8.5 = 32 ,   32 / 6.5 = 4.71
Weighted GPA = 4.71

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Organizing the School Room

I found an idea I liked to organize our files and papers during the school day - a major source of disruption.  Identifying sources of disruption and solutions is one of my goals for this summer.  Organizing the school room so that we have easy access to items we use daily will help get us there.  I also liked this idea of using a see-through shoe organizer to put art and office supplies that the kids use.  This way they won't go rumaging through cabinets.  To keep books organized, I'd love this one - if only I had that much free space!  It could be a point of departure and used on a smaller scale.

Motivational Tools

Some of the new ideas I've found and will be using this coming year with the girls (3rd and 5th grades):
Reading Notebooks: From Scholastic's teacher board - free downloadable filler sheet.  Scholastic has a bunch of resources for teachers that are useful for homeschoolers as well.  I liked their Writing Center idea as well. Some of these things may not teach much in themselves, but I'm sure they will help keep the girls motivated, and motivation is an essential ingredient for learning.
State Research Report: A free worksheet to fill in about each state.  I like this site - Teachers Pay Teachers.  There are thousands of files for free on every subject.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

2012-2013 10th Grade Curriculum - Michael

Algebra II  - Foerster

Chemistry - Apologia...  After examining this curriculum more closely, I decided it wasn't a good fit.  I think I'll be going with Bob Jones, as it is more in depth, which Michael will probably need for college.  I am also supplementing with a college textbook: Chemistry, by Steven S. Zumdahl.  The only reason why I've used Apologia science books for high school is that the experiments are homeschool friendly.  I've known for some time that the content is watered down.  I will still need to use Apologia for experiments and other hands-on activities, as they apply to the chapters in Bob Jones.  It's additional work for me, as I have to make the two three sink together in my plans.  I've been doing this with history, bible, art, philosophy, literature, and government...  as my mother would say, "What's another stripe on a tiger?"  I guess I should be thankful that for Math, I'm using ONE curriculum... till the end of the year, when we'll be prepping for the SAT!

American History, Government , Bible, Literature - Ommnibus & Gileskirk, with some Tapestry of Grace for Art, Philosophy and Geography

Writing - IEW (Institute for Excellence in Writing - The Elegant Essay)
Photography

I am almost done with his lesson plans for the year, then on to Emily and Michelle's.  Our first day of school will be August 6th.

Chemistry - The Periodic Table

I am working on Michael's chemistry lesson plans for next year, adding activities and projects to the regular Apologia Chemistry for an honors credit. I am using Donna Young's free coop lesson plans again this year.  We will use her free memory bookmarks for chemistry, like we did for biology last year.

I found a series of videos through our library about the history of the periodic table, a nice printable table, a blank one, and an interactive one from NOVA.

I may do an 'adopt an element' project like this one. He would do an element a week.  These links would be useful for this:

Interactive periodic table giving information about each element.


And just for fun!

The element's song
Element hangman
Element word scramble
Element crossword puzzles
3D Labs Online
Element Quest
Mystery Powder Lab
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