Wednesday, July 29, 2009

6th Grade Curriculum

Oh my gosh! Where did the time go? I intend to publish by-weekly, but already I'm having trouble meeting my goal. I overdid my time on the computer in June, and ended up with tendonitis in my wrist, elbow, and shoulder. As a result, I avoided computer use and reorganized my workspace for better ergonomics.

I thought I'd start out with the curriculum materials I used last year, when my daughter was in the 6th grade. It was our first year home schooling, so I stayed pretty close to Wise Bauer's suggestions in The Well-Trained Mind (TWTM).

One exception was science; I think TWTM is pretty weak when it comes to science. We used Apologia's
Exploring Creation with General Science by Dr. Jay Wile. For those secularists or non-Christians out there, I know this probably would not be your first choice, but the science is excellent. Furthermore, my daughter went from saying, "I hate science. I always do bad in science. I can't do science" to absolutely loving science and saying it is her favorite subject. The experiments are particularly good, and most can be done with materials you already have in your kitchen.

As for the Christian slant... We're Jewish and believe that God created the world, so I didn't really have a problem with Dr. Wile's occasional comments about "God's awesome creation". However, I did pre-read each chapter, and had my daughter skip sections which were more like proofs for Jesus, the Savior. These section occurred rarely and, if I'm remembering correctly, were limited to one early chapter. Dr. Wile is very honest about his Christian bias and strives to present both sides of important debates like evolution v. creationism. When we studied the chapters on this very important topic, I supplemented my daughter's readings with the following texts:

The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (skimmed)
Evolution by Joanna Cole
Evolution by Andre Llamas Ruiz
Charles Darwin by Don Nardo

We also read Evolutionism and Creationism by Ben Sonder which provides a good history of this debate. This book is published by Franklin Watts. They also have an excellent biography series that I will discuss later in this blog.

Our unit on evolution was very intensive. My daughter emerged from it able to fully explain the opposing views, discuss the history of the debate and the goals of each side, and to state succinctly her opinion and back it up with facts. We also had some great dinner table conversations with the family.

I've gone off on a tangent... the full curriculum will have to be my next post.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Having just complete my first year of home schooling with my 12 year old daughter, I am eager to share some of our experiences and what I have learned. Believe me, we both went through quite an adjustment, especially becoming accustomed to being together all day, every day. We both had to acquire new roles, that of teacher and student, and to accept each other in those roles. All in all, I'd say everything went well. Not only did we survive, we both learned a lot, grew from our experiences, and lived to tell the tale...

The focus of this blog is not so much on our personal experiences, but on the materials (books, DVDs, curriculum, technology) we used. As a future media specialist, I bring a love of information in all of its formats and a fascination with Web 2.0 to our home school classroom (aka our kitchen). I really enjoyed supplementing the curriculum with literature, movies, information from the web, and outings. Using Web technologies was an excellent way to engage my daughter in the learning process while teaching her important technology skills that she will need to compete in the 21st century economy. She absolutely loved assignments which incorporated technology, and I think your kids will, too.

In the posts that follow, I plan to review the material we covered last year (6th grade), introduce concepts like Web 2.0 and 21st century learning and then go on to explore various curriculum topics, and the many fun and fascinating technologies on line (and how to use them). Please share your ideas. After all, I'm still a novice at both home schooling and information science, and have much to learn as well!