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You all know that we homeschool my kiddos. Generally, I spend the spring planning out our plans for the next school year, but since covid took away most of my jobs and volunteer stuff, I'm kinda bored. I've also decided not to continue with our current co-op program after this year, so I'm also trying to sketch out a rough plan for the future. 

Noah's in the 7th grade this year, but I've pretty much decided to give him another one. He has a summer birthday and if we kept on, he'd graduate at 17 and start college as a brand-new 18 year old. A lot of people decide to start their late birthday kiddos a year after they're technically eligible to start kinder. We didn't, obviously, but now I completely understand why. Academically he's fine, but just generally maturity-wise, he's behind the kids in his class. Just the extra 6ish months that they have on him makes a huge difference in organization, planning, and pretty much every other executive function. 

Basically this means I get to give him an extra year of school before releasing him into the world. He could use extra work on his spelling, and I believe everyone could use extra writing instruction. What else do you see these younger generations lacking? What would you make sure kids learn before they graduate? 

Right now the rough plan includes the following:

History - a 2-year survey of world history (includes prehistory and the history of science) and then another deep dive into a 4-year world history cycle (ancients, medieval, renaissance/early modern, modern)

Science - life science with a cellular bio focus, earth science, chem/physics intro course, chem with lab, bio with lab, probably vector physics (concurrent with calculus) 

Math - algebra through calculus, plus extra work in number theory and maybe counting/probability statistics

Languages - more Latin, 2 years of a modern foreign language (probably Spanish) 

Philosophy - informal and formal logic, ethics, western philosophy survey for kids, government, economics

Writing - more training on writing research papers and persuasive papers, classical rhetoric

Reading/lit - a mix of classic and modern literature, biographies, plays, and poetry mostly tied into the history time period 

 

 

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For Noah, I’d do a full year unit study on a multidisciplinary subject of his choice. Like, REALLY dig into it. Maybe not now, but when you need to fill in high school as he gets older.

As for what I would teach? I would teach young people how to fuck the system. 

 

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Have him learn a coding language. Or something like woodworking, if Trevor hasn't taught him already. Hands-on skills are pretty handy, but I also think coding is the future. Code.org has lots of fun and age-appropriate activities.

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I would absolutely cover statistical reasoning (not focusing on probability itself or formulas, really), but understanding the core ideas and principles behind collecting data, data analysis, and drawing conclusions from samples.  Even more so than helping your son be able to perform these tasks himself, studying these ideas would be able to help him spot bad science and marketing, misleading graphs, bogus claims, and yes, even fake news.  These would hopefully also help hone general critical thinking skills.

Much of these ideas are sadly missing from high school and intro statistics classes in college, which sadly often mostly emphasize mindless repetition of formulas without teaching why  the ideas are important.  Basic statistical literacy would help put him far above typical high school graduates with skills and information that would help greatly in so many areas of life.

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I have an MFA so I taught various writing classes before I was writing full time. I absolutely hated it.

I'd give a talk or seminar, but I'm not interested in reading amateur stuff and grading it.

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Question:  Why Latin?  Is there a practical reason, like using it as the basis to teach the ability to understand language structure with multiple modern Romance languages?  That is a good idea, but I think this could also be accomplished by teaching 2 or more living languages, simultaneously (EG teaching Spanish alongside Portuguese or Italian). 

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14 hours ago, Jacen123 said:

I would absolutely cover statistical reasoning (not focusing on probability itself or formulas, really), but understanding the core ideas and principles behind collecting data, data analysis, and drawing conclusions from samples.  Even more so than helping your son be able to perform these tasks himself, studying these ideas would be able to help him spot bad science and marketing, misleading graphs, bogus claims, and yes, even fake news.  These would hopefully also help hone general critical thinking skills.

Much of these ideas are sadly missing from high school and intro statistics classes in college, which sadly often mostly emphasize mindless repetition of formulas without teaching why  the ideas are important.  Basic statistical literacy would help put him far above typical high school graduates with skills and information that would help greatly in so many areas of life.

This x1000.  I would put this at the top of the list with one small caveat.  Specifically, I would teach stats/ data and use environmental science as the content through which to teach it.

As a former science/math subject teacher, I looked at myself as a literacy and math teacher.  Science, history, etc is the content used to teach those skills.  You pull so many disciplines into ES, including physics, it is crazy.  I taught AP ES and AP physics at the same time to pretty much the same group of kids...it pretty much became one class.  EVERY topic we covered in physics we connected to ES.   I am totally not going to humble brag what their AP scores were :).  For my first AP ES first semester final (this was during the BP gulf oil spill), I assigned each student one stakeholders perspective (BP exec, shrimping boat captain, hotel manager, oil worker, etc) and they were each responsible for understanding how their assigned stakeholder was impacted by the spill in a mock trial.  I even assigned students as a lawyer for each side and had the principal sit in as the judge.  It was awesome.  My point is...you can do so much with ES and it is so relevant to everything. 

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Apparently I’d teach nothing, because right now I’m using my school district’s assigned virtual learning program and it has made me realize I am virtually an idiot. We’re using Calvert with Edmentum and I am trying to be a “learning guide” for my Elementary aged boys. Edmentum requires zero assistance, it is essentially learning games. However using Calvert feels like deducing the location of the Ark from a burn scar on some Nazi’s hand.

We were transferred into this Calvert/Edmentum learning when the district shut down in school learning. Our boys are skipped ahead thru all the stuff from the beginning of the school year, which could be the big problem I’m having, as now they are just in the middle of whatever projects each subject is doing and it’s like sink or swim.

In Calvert they have required ELA, Math, Science, and Gym. Gym! Social Studies is there, as is Art, and yet GYM is required. Social Studies is reading, discussion, and everything could be done thru an online course. However Gym is required. A weekly activity report is required. Something they cannot even verify as being true. To top that silliness off I’m apparently so dumb I can’t get the Calvert program to upload their activity log correctly. Every time I do it uploads a blank form.

In ELA they are having the boys read excerpts from books, not whole books. The excerpts are being used to help the students understand how to write their own story, which is the semester project. Why aren’t they just reading an entire book, doing a report on that book, and then writing a short story inspired by that book? For reference the excerpts have been from Paulsen’s Hatchet (and other books which I can’t recall). Also the requirements seem to indicate this is supposed to be a multi page story with dialogue and multi characters, and that at this point in the school year the students should be out of the first draft and in editor mode. Meanwhile I’m over here thinking at these grade levels (and really beyond) a short story could be written within one page, with three to six paragraphs, and with or without dialogue and multiple characters.

In Science the lessons are indicating that my children should be drawing plans for an alarm clock based on what they learned from watching a video about a rocket car and reading some paragraphs which explained motion and velocity. However not just drawing plans for an alarm clock, but building an actual physical working alarm clock as their project. What?

The teacher’s zoom class for my third grader is one hour on Tuesday and Thursday. My fifth grader only has supplemental speech aid on Thursday for an hour and then a check in How Ya Doing meeting on Friday for an hour. At no time have I observed actual teaching happening, excluding my fifth grader’s speech aid class which has him repeat sounds and work on pronunciation.

I have always admired the teachers in my district, been the supportive parent, been the work at the school aid/duty etc. However I feel totally lost right now and almost feel like the district has just thrown us overboard.

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Sorry for the rant there that totally just flew right past the topic’s question.

I guess my answer would be that I need to teach my kids how to be a cook or house maid, so they can get into the servant industry, because if I’m their teacher that’s all they got. That or witty short stories that pay nothing and get four likes on social media that is designed to just destroy your soul because of laying bare how awful your extended family members are... but I digress. Back to teaching, I guess.

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On 10/27/2020 at 9:22 AM, Official Fozzie Fan Club said:

Question:  Why Latin?  Is there a practical reason, like using it as the basis to teach the ability to understand language structure with multiple modern Romance languages?  That is a good idea, but I think this could also be accomplished by teaching 2 or more living languages, simultaneously (EG teaching Spanish alongside Portuguese or Italian). 

I'm glad you asked! 

Though many people think of Latin as a dead language, it's not really. Latin is EVERYWHERE. Law, medicine, all of the sciences, great literature, logic, philosophy, and theology are all saturated in Latin words and phrases. Something like half of our English vocabulary is derived from Latin, but something like 80% of word roots, prefixes, and suffixes are. Latin is still spoken everywhere, just not conversationally. 

However, since Latin isn't used as anyone's main language anymore, it's not evolving. With Latin, we don't have to worry about new dialects cropping up or words changing meaning. That makes it a great vehicle for studying grammar. English grammar is hard for native English speakers to learn. Learning grammar actually requires reasoning skills roughly on par with learning algebra, but by the time kids develop to that level, our language is so embedded that it's actually harder to analyze because we just think about what "sounds right". Latin provides a solid, non-changing vehicle for learning grammar. 

Latin is also very structured and inflexional. It's brain-training, like constantly solving logic puzzles or algebra problems. 

Plus, there's that whole it makes learning other Romance language easier thing. I mean, we could probably learn multiple modern languages to achieve a lot of the same aims, but teaching Latin as a part of our regular curriculum (like math, reading, writing, etc.) gives us the most bang for our buck, so to speak. 

I think the best explanation is actually this video. 

 

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On 10/27/2020 at 1:28 PM, Spider-Man said:

Apparently I’d teach nothing, because right now I’m using my school district’s assigned virtual learning program and it has made me realize I am virtually an idiot. We’re using Calvert with Edmentum and I am trying to be a “learning guide” for my Elementary aged boys. Edmentum requires zero assistance, it is essentially learning games. However using Calvert feels like deducing the location of the Ark from a burn scar on some Nazi’s hand.

We were transferred into this Calvert/Edmentum learning when the district shut down in school learning. Our boys are skipped ahead thru all the stuff from the beginning of the school year, which could be the big problem I’m having, as now they are just in the middle of whatever projects each subject is doing and it’s like sink or swim.

In Calvert they have required ELA, Math, Science, and Gym. Gym! Social Studies is there, as is Art, and yet GYM is required. Social Studies is reading, discussion, and everything could be done thru an online course. However Gym is required. A weekly activity report is required. Something they cannot even verify as being true. To top that silliness off I’m apparently so dumb I can’t get the Calvert program to upload their activity log correctly. Every time I do it uploads a blank form.

In ELA they are having the boys read excerpts from books, not whole books. The excerpts are being used to help the students understand how to write their own story, which is the semester project. Why aren’t they just reading an entire book, doing a report on that book, and then writing a short story inspired by that book? For reference the excerpts have been from Paulsen’s Hatchet (and other books which I can’t recall). Also the requirements seem to indicate this is supposed to be a multi page story with dialogue and multi characters, and that at this point in the school year the students should be out of the first draft and in editor mode. Meanwhile I’m over here thinking at these grade levels (and really beyond) a short story could be written within one page, with three to six paragraphs, and with or without dialogue and multiple characters.

In Science the lessons are indicating that my children should be drawing plans for an alarm clock based on what they learned from watching a video about a rocket car and reading some paragraphs which explained motion and velocity. However not just drawing plans for an alarm clock, but building an actual physical working alarm clock as their project. What?

The teacher’s zoom class for my third grader is one hour on Tuesday and Thursday. My fifth grader only has supplemental speech aid on Thursday for an hour and then a check in How Ya Doing meeting on Friday for an hour. At no time have I observed actual teaching happening, excluding my fifth grader’s speech aid class which has him repeat sounds and work on pronunciation.

I have always admired the teachers in my district, been the supportive parent, been the work at the school aid/duty etc. However I feel totally lost right now and almost feel like the district has just thrown us overboard.

Dude. I cannot even imagine trying to do all of this. And, honestly, it sounds so oddly disjointed. 

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There is some pretty fly by the seat of your pants adaptation going on. I do feel bad, teachers are exhausted. But its also pretty apparent how not-tech savvy a lot of them are. I've been searching for Girl Scour badge lesson plans online for 4 years and running online meetings for years, so my Girl Scout meetings are going pretty well. But I also have the benefit of prepping monthly kits for porch pickup, which most teachers don't.

Semi-related, last year before shit hit the COVID fan, I had decided to focus on emotional resilience and growth mindset with my Girl Scout troop. I admit this stuff comes naturally to me, so teaching it is awkward. But I have a very neurodiverse troop (2e, ADHD, anxiety, learning disorders, and likely autism), so I needed to do it. So when COVID hit, I assigned badges that focused on learning to be independent and organization. We did a Red Cross project on disaster preparation this month and First Aid next month. I want them to feel like they have some small semblance of control in this environment. We are also doing some fun stuff like having cupcake decorating challenges, geocaching, and learning a dance routine. I hope we can meet in-person in the spring so we can work on some outdoors skills and hiking, but it will depend on if our area is in Phase 3.

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I'd teach

Vices and how to USE but not ABUSE subtsances

Cooking; everyone should know how to make a gourmet meal

MATHS; because I had to

Biology: because everybody has a body

Finances

Art

Decorating with texture

 

 

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22 hours ago, Cerina said:

I'm glad you asked! 

Though many people think of Latin as a dead language, it's not really. Latin is EVERYWHERE. Law, medicine, all of the sciences, great literature, logic, philosophy, and theology are all saturated in Latin words and phrases. Something like half of our English vocabulary is derived from Latin, but something like 80% of word roots, prefixes, and suffixes are. Latin is still spoken everywhere, just not conversationally. 

However, since Latin isn't used as anyone's main language anymore, it's not evolving. With Latin, we don't have to worry about new dialects cropping up or words changing meaning. That makes it a great vehicle for studying grammar. English grammar is hard for native English speakers to learn. Learning grammar actually requires reasoning skills roughly on par with learning algebra, but by the time kids develop to that level, our language is so embedded that it's actually harder to analyze because we just think about what "sounds right". Latin provides a solid, non-changing vehicle for learning grammar. 

Latin is also very structured and inflexional. It's brain-training, like constantly solving logic puzzles or algebra problems. 

Plus, there's that whole it makes learning other Romance language easier thing. I mean, we could probably learn multiple modern languages to achieve a lot of the same aims, but teaching Latin as a part of our regular curriculum (like math, reading, writing, etc.) gives us the most bang for our buck, so to speak. 

I think the best explanation is actually this video. 

 

Plus 1 on this!  I hadn't considered the usefulness of the fact Latin DOESN'T change.  

Plus, I hadn't considered learning Latin is ideal for junior high age kids.  I always though of it as something you learn when in college.  Most of the people I know who learn it, take Latin as history majors when they are at the graduate level. 

 

Good post, Cerina! :)

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