Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Plan For Our Grade 10/11 Year

I adore planning!

In May I planned the basics of our upcoming home learning year, and we hadn't even finished up grade 9/10.

I tweaked it in June.

I started over last week, and yesterday and today I completely revamped it. Like I mentioned, I adore planning -- so much so that my bed is unmade and their are bags of groceries that haven't been put away yet (don't worry -- they put the cold stuff away).

And ...

We are going back to Waldorf-style blocks, with a fair amount of Waldorf inspiration and method in the day to day lesson work.

I couldn't bear the thought of doing 9 months of chemistry every school day. I was certain that it would kill any interest the boys might have in the subject. I also think that the traditional school format for U.S. History would guarantee that the boys hate history for the rest of their lives.

We need time to explore things deeply. The average high school class is about 45 minutes long, and some of that time is spent on "housekeeping" tasks such as taking attendance, passing out papers, etc. In contrast, our main lesson blocks can be 1.5 - 2 hours per day.

This is kind of what it looks like for now:

We'll have 11 blocks; a few will be 4 weeks, but most will be 3 weeks.

Main Lessons:

Parzival (Since one boy is 16.5 and the other is 15 I need to choose something else)
Chemistry: Energy, The Periodic Table, and Compounds
U.S History: Post Constitution to The Civil War
Chemistry: Equations and Reactions
The American Novel: To Kill a Mockingbird
Chemistry: Gas Laws and Thermodynamics
U.S. History: Reconstruction to the Great Depression
Biology/Health: Genes, DNA, and Human Reproduction
U.S. History: WWII to Present
World Religions
Poetry and the Short Story

Yes, that's a lot of Chemistry. Since we didn't follow a Waldorf model for chemistry in the past two years we need to catch up. We'll actually be devoting two of our secondary lessons to chemistry as well.

Secondary Lessons:

Introduction to Chemistry: Scientific Notation and the Basics of Atoms
Shakespeare's Macbeth
19th Century Art and Music
Research Skills
Perfecting the Paragraph
Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington
Chemistry: Reactions and Dangerous Atoms
The Art of the Essay
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The Research Paper: The Topic Funnel, Notes, and Outlines
Religion: Quaker Testimonies

Our major skills focus this year will be writing, because -- wait for it -- the boys have finally shown an interest in learning how to write beyond the subject journals and critical thinking pieces they did last year! In the first half of the year I have carved out 2 hours per week for writing instruction, in addition to the writing we do during Language Arts focused main and secondary lessons. I'm planning to make the lessons very fun at first! We'll also do Daily Grammar and a workbook for The Elements of Style.

"Said is Dead" and Using Descriptive Words
This Sentence Has Five Words, Crafting Power Sentences, Showing Emotions and Feelings
Tricky Words, Plurals, and Idioms
All About Punctuation
Analyze, Revise, and Edit
Expository Writing: Sequence

None of these topics are entirely new, but I think it is time to reawaken them in the context of high school writing.

You might have noticed that I did not plan any main or secondary lessons in mathematics. The boys have done so well with Teaching Textbooks that we will use it again this year for Algebra II on a daily basis. Their other daily subjects include Music, Spanish, and Physical Education.

This is a very focused and "planned" year, yet I still fully expect some organic and self-directed learning. T-Guy is going to finish up an elective in The History of American Baseball (probably this summer), while J-Baby will continue his studies in coding and electronics so that he can earn elective credit in those. T-Guy is pursuing vocational education credit it bicycle repair and mechanics (for which we hope to augment his book and hands-on learning with an internship at a local bicycle shop). He will also take driver's education this year -- yikes!

Another part of our summer learning is music and performance appreciation via attending concerts, plays, musicals, and other artistic performances, which we extend into the home learning year and add to by studying the music and composers. By the time their high school career is over they will each have enough hours for a full year's credit of music appreciation.

That's it so far!



Because You Like to Know

These are the resources we used for Grade 9/10:

Math:
Teaching Textbooks Geometry

Science:
CK-12 Biology and Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments
J-Baby studied coding and electronics
Both boys continued to explore science through documentary films and natural exploration.

Literature/Language Arts:
We chose many classic works of literature and read and discussed them.  Writing, spelling, and grammar came along organically. Some of the works we read and discussed included The Grapes of Wrath, The Count of Monte Cristo, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Hamlet. J-Baby explored the works of Edgar Allen Poe.

History/Social Studies:
This year we focused most of our time on early American History, including colonization, the Revolutionary War, and the Constitution, and then peppered in history from many other places and time periods. Some of the books we used included Four Great Americans, Miracle at Philadelphia, A History of US, Common Sense, and several key speeches.  We also read The Royal Road to Romance, which focused mostly on geography.

Foreign Language:
Rosetta Stone Latin American Spanish (into level 2)

Music/Art:
We continue with piano, guitar, and voice. This year we added in more composer studies and music appreciation as well.  We also studied several artists and their major works.

Physical Education:
Mountain biking and more mountain biking. There are always skills to learn and more ways to improve.


Fare Thee Well Homespun Waldorf

I am knee-deep in planning right now. Who am I kidding? I'm really up to my eyeballs, caught between loving the process and being overwhelmed with the desire to finish planning the year, plan out the first block, and prepare for our annual nature pilgrimage, all before an anniversary trip near the end of summer.

I went to consult with the Homespun Waldorf forum, which rarely has new posts, hoping to find something archived about high school chemistry ... and the forum and blog were not there!

I felt sad. They had been there perhaps just last month, and today there were gone. The message says that the account has been suspended.

My first thought was that all of our collective ideas were gone. It is an idea that saddens me tremendously. Then I remembered that this is not the first time that I have been part of a sharing of ideas and experiences that disappeared, and so I looked for the lesson.

Things are temporary, ephemeral even. This is as true of shared ideas as it is of physical things. However, the experience remains; I can still tap into how I felt when Homespun Waldorf was active. It is still a loss, but I see that it is one that came in stages. First we lost the active community, then we lost the collective wisdom of that community.

Perhaps it will come back. I don't think so; however. Why should someone pay to maintain forums that are no longer active? It may be that we lost the forum way back when people stopped coming.

Farewell, and hopefully I will see someone of the Homespun Waldorf community somewhere else.