Sunday, September 9, 2012

2012-2013 School Year - 9th Grade

The homeschool year has officially started for many families, including ours.  If JP were in a regular school, he would be entering the 9th grade.  Yikes!  I have a high schooler!

Note:  no real pictures this post....sorry!

We are starting the school  year by finishing a few details leftover from last year, and we are using a few new tools this year.  I've had a great time reading about the materials that other families are using, and now I'm sharing our list.  Enjoy!

Math - We are giving MEP a try this year.  MEP stands for Mathematics Enhancement Programme and was developed by the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching in England.  The program is attached to University of Plymouth, and correlates to grade levels in the United Kingdom.  After Googling the meanings of some terms for various levels, looking over the materials, and reviewing the age suggestions, we've settled on the Year 9 materials.  So far, so good.  JP likes it much more than our previous math curriculums.  It seems to be enough practice and explanation for him to learn, but not so much that he ends up overwhelmed.  We loved Life of Fred and the Key To... workbooks that we used a few years ago, but they weren't quite enough.  The CK12 materials we used last year were ok, but didn't have enough information for me on the teacher side of things.  Hopefully MEP will work out well, and we will be able to use it throughout the high school years.

Click HERE to go to the MEP page.

Language Arts - For language arts, we are finishing the curriculum I devised for JP last year, focused heavily on poetry, with essays every few weeks.  He has been working on a research report for social studies which has quite a bit of weekly writing, so I put less emphasis than usual on essay writing last year.  

This year, we will do a "contemporary short story" course based on the course that I currently teach at a local community college, and we will do formal essays focusing on narrative, process, cause and effect, persuasive, compare-contrast, and two literature essays.  

I don't have a set reading list beyond the short story list for this year, but he reads a good mix of traditional classics, modern classics, and junk.

Social Studies - For social studies, we'll pick up where we left off with world history, and will continue to take a unit studies type of approach.  The next section we will cover is Ancient China and Southeast Asia.  We'll read, watch videos, and hopefully take field trips to some museums in New York City.  JP will also keep working on his big Afghanistan research project, and he will continue reading two current events articles daily (one of his favorite activities, actually!).  

Additionally, for social studies, JP will begin to prep for the SAT II World History subject exam.  I plan for him to take the exam in the spring.  Since one of my tutoring students is already prepping for the same test, I already have all of the necessary study materials.  JP loves history, and has learned a ton on his own, so he may not need to prep a whole lot.  I'll be giving him a practice test next weekend before I determine his SAT study plan.

Science - For science, we are going to blast through a bunch of materials that we've had sitting around for a while, including a chemistry kit that he received a loooong time ago but wasn't ready to use until recently.  After those are done, we'll delve into the level III science kits from Noeo Homeschool Science.

We absolutely love Noeo, and recommend it to homeschoolers frequently!  After this year, I have no idea what we'll do for science as JP will have finished all of Noeo's products, and I've not been thrilled with any of the other curriculums I've looked at. We may have to enroll him in a community college science program next year as a result.

Click HERE to go to Noeo's website.
Electives - We live in a state with many regulations about homeschooling, including requirements regarding a distribution of high school credits. So, this year we have to start counting credits in each subject, including for electives.  JP is doing the following for electives this year:
  • Udacity - Online course for Intro to Computer Science.  So far JP is loving this course!  He has even backtracked to watch a few video segments more than once just to be sure he fully understands the material.  This is the first time that HE has initiated a review of materials.  Previously, I've always had to stop him, and get him to review.  
  • - Online German instruction.  JP also loves this program!  He already was teaching himself German through a variety of methods, but since we've added Duolingo, his skills have increased tremendously in a short period of time.
    • Check out THIS post for additional German resources.
  • A comics illustration course which will begin in a few weeks.
  • A film making course for high schoolers if he gets chosen in the lottery for admission (this one is a free course, so there are a lot of applications for just a few spaces!)
  • Golf lessons - starting late October, or in November for a winter/indoor program
  • Archery lessons - still have to set this up
  • Piano/keyboard lessons - still have to set this up
On his own, he's also been working on his cooking skills, and has been learning about computer hardware, but we can count those towards his educational activity too.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012


Dear friends,

This is for anyone with kids - it is for homeschooling families, public school families, private school families, unschoolers, and everyone else.

Please teach your children about plagiarism - what it is, why it is wrong, and the consequences of getting caught.  Teach them about intentional versus unintentional plagiarism, and how to work to avoid both.

While I'm sure that most of your little angels would never purposely use someone else's work and pass it off as their own, it is still something you should discuss with them.  It is very much a problem in our world, not just in classrooms, but in business, journalism, blogging, and beyond.  Unfortunately, the internet makes it much easier to plagiarise both on purpose and by accident. 

Even with the technology available today, and the sneaky ways in which students are learning to use technology to hide intentional cheating, it is still not that hard to catch them. 

I currently teach two college level English courses, and I have caught students plagiarising in both classes.  Often it is accidental (usually a misplaced or missing quotation mark, or an improper citation), but I also have found several cases of blatant plagiarism where the students have tried to pass off the work of another as their own.  It's not that hard to catch if the teacher is paying attention.

Make sure your kids are informed about the issue of plagiarism - what it is, how to avoid it, how to cite other sources, and what to do if they are accused of plagiarism.  I am passing out a bunch of F's in both of my courses this week, and if these students are caught again, they will flunk my class and face the Academic Honesty committee.  You don't want your kid to have to go through that.