2019-20 Curriculum And Back to School

The 2018-19 school year was jam packed with major life events and hospitilizations. I’d hoped that after one final hospitalization in June we’d have left all the bugs behind us and could start back in September with a clean, sterile, disease free slate. Instead, my home currently sounds like a tuberculosis sanitarium. Fulton remains healthy, but I’m assuming he’ll get sick the night before the first day of school, or maybe throw up in class on the first day. If Teddy doesn’t improve soon, or spikes a fever I’ll need to figure out when to make my third trip to urgent care, or the ER. Addie will be a close fourth at this rate. Sick big kids means less helpers so I’ve felt especially stretched these last couple weeks. If you felt my hands, you’d think it was January, they’re so dry from repeated washings.

But, enough with the complaining- I’ve got lesson plans done so why not share them regardless of whether we’ll get to start them next week!? The breakdown (with loads of affiliate links tossed in as per usual):

  • Adeline, 12th
  • Byron, 10th
  • Edith, 8th
  • Fulton, 6th
  • Theodore, 3rd

Teddy will continue at the local elementary. He finished his summer reading book, even though it was “awful” and “lame” and his first order of business will be to convince the third grade teachers to make ‘Hamstersaurus Rex’ the future summer reading pick for incoming third graders.

Fulton will be in a self-contained class at the local middle school (which is grades 6-8.) His class has sixth through eighth graders but once a day, he’ll join other sixth graders for either art, music, STEAM, or Spanish. He attended new student orientation on Monday, met his teacher, and some of his classmates. His power wheelchair is on the fritz, so it looks like he’ll be starting up in his manual stroller. When I talked to him about potential clubs and activities, he zeroed in on Student Government. It’s the logical first step in his plan for world domination.

I’m still awaiting bus information for both boys, which shouldn’t surprise me as busing is always an issue up to the last minute, but at least travel times will be minimal.

This will be my third time teaching eighth grade, so I feel like I have some idea of what I’m doing. Edie and I will be schooling alone on Monday’s and Wednesday’s and I resisted the urge to plan ALL. THE. THINGS, instead planning out our regular load of courses with the intent to simply do those things well. Since the older two are taking college courses ($$$), I really tried to plan Edie’s curriculum with the intent to use what we had on hand, vs buying something new or spending money on a new online class.

  • English – Easy Peasy All In One High School – Literature and Composition – This is new for me this year, but I like the layout of the course and the selected texts, and it’s free! They have an assignment portal so each day she’s told what to write and read (with links to relevant texts included), and I set up a course in Schoology (the Learning Management System I use to collect work) so she can record all her writing there.
  • Math – iXL – I’m not great at checking math problems enough, and as my kids get into harder math, it’s been helpful for them to get instant feedback on their work. They keep practicing until they understand a concept, and I can track their progress, and time spent practicing, through the parent portal.
  • Religion – Edie gets Confirmed this year! She’ll have some extra work so we’ll make sure she’s on top of her CCD assignments on Mondays and Wednesdays and start party planning some time in the spring.
  • History – I am strictly using Story of the World, books 3 and 4 this year. Our ‘Year 4’ history period covers the revolutionary war through the Vietnam War, so it’s heavily American history, but I like to cover some European history as well. I also ordered the activity books (which I didn’t have for these levels, my only purchase for her) for writing prompts and maps. Her English course has some good American Lit selections so I’m not sure I’ll assign any others for history. Edie doesn’t like to read and so, if I assign anything for her, it might be more “light” classics, just to cancel out the manga she enjoys binging on after school hours.
  • Science – Easy Peasy All in One Homeschool – Year 4 Science- Physics – I’ve never been great at planning Physics for the elementary and middle grades so I was happy to discover this course. Like the English course, Edie will find all her reading and labs on the assignment page and then she will save her work in Schoology for me to view.
  • Art – I’ve always focused on drawing but this year, we’re going to try more painting, starting with water colors this fall. There is an art school nearby, but again with the expense of college courses, YouTube tutorials seems like a more likely option for now.
  • Logic – Art of Argument – Byron and Addie did this course in one year (8th grade). I had Edie start it last year, and she’ll finish it this year. I enjoy the course myself and it does a good job of introducing logical fallacies with fun examples.
  • Latin – ??? – We are undecided. We want Edie to continue at least a couple more years, and Tony really wants to teach her since we find the kids do better with Tony’s one on one help and “encouragement”(or through a live Latin class like what Addie had through Queen of Heaven). Having Tony teach Edie would be the most cost effective strategy, it’s just committing to a time to make that happen.

Byron will be heading off to the community college with his big sister. Although only in 10th grade, he looks as old as many of the other kids there. Not wanting to overwhelm him, I only had him sign up for two classes this fall. If it goes well, he can take three in the spring.

  • English – He’s taking a Composition course at the college this fall. I’ll probably assign some additional reading for him to do after the course wraps up.
  • Math – Math course at the college this fall. He needed to take this math and the Comp course before he could take the 100 level art courses he’s really got his eye on.
  • Religion – Selected readings. I don’t actually have this book list worked out yet but just quality Catholic books, not some high school religion program. Probably some saints, some catechism, and some reflections on scripture.
  • History – Easy Peasy All In One High School Early American History – He’ll work on this through the year, submitting his written work on Schoology like Edie.
  • Science – Biology – He’ll be using the same text book Addie used for 10th grade with Queen of Heaven. He’ll also complete the labs from the book. All the work will be submitted via Schoology.
  • Art – Byron has an interest in learning (and possibly working in) 3D digital art. He’ll start with basic art courses in the spring, and over the next couple years of high school, hopefully work through the full range of classes covering digital design.
  • Foreign Language – After completing Latin last year, we’ve decided to let Byron decide what he wants to do regarding a language. He has an interest in studying French, so he’ll work on that at his own pace and perhaps take a course at some point in the future.

Addie is a senior! The first time I wrote up a curriculum post, she was entering fifth grade. WOW. After three years at Queen of Heaven Academy, she will be wrapping up high school, and her homeschool career, with some courses at our local community college.

  • English – Addie tested into college level courses so she’ll take Composition 101 this fall. That’s at least one credit we’ll hopefully be able to transfer elsewhere regardless of future major(at least two of the four year colleges she’s looking at have transfer agreements with the community college).
  • Math – She’s up in the air about taking another year of math. She’s not interested in pursuing a four year degree that would require it, but she may take a course in the spring if she feels it would help her application to certain colleges. I think she’ll make the final call after we do some fall visits.
  • Religion – Same reading list as Byron…whenever I decide on it.
  • Psychology – Right now her interest is in Psychology so she’s taking two courses this fall- Psych 101 and Child Psych 110 to help her determine if that’s really what she wants to pursue, and if so, to hopefully narrow down what she might want to do with that degree. Again, if she does go into Psychology, hopefully these credits will transfer.
  • Science – She’s also up in the air with science. She’s done three years of lab sciences so I’ll let her decide if she needs or wants another year and she can pursue it in the spring if need be.

Between her classes, fencing, a part-time job, her practicum, and scouts, I want Addie to enjoy her senior year. I know she’ll work hard and try her best at everything, but I don’t want her to burn herself out. She and Byron will only have classes on Mondays and Wednesdays this fall, so I’m instituting ‘Morning Time’ for us all on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. Addie is thrilled to be joining us. Our subjects, after reciting prayers, will be:

  • Liturgical Year reading – When everyone was little, the Church’s liturgical year influenced a lot of our schooling. As they outgrew the arts and crafts and picture books and took on harder school subjects, we got out of the habit of observing some feasts. This year, rather than reading a ‘This Day in History’ type book during our morning meeting, we’ll hopefully focus more on the Church’s calendar again (with the help of my daily missal and perhaps Dom Gueranger) and reinstitute some celebrations we’d forgotten about.
  • Shakespeare – We’ll read and watch one play a semester. We’re starting with ‘A Winter’s Tale’, and I plan to also cover ‘Othello’, ‘Measure for Measure’, and ‘Coriolanus’.
  • Poetry – I’ll just read some random poem and we’ll talk about it. I’m planning to use this book, recommended by Ambleside Online. I handle poetry the way I handle Shakespeare: I want my kids to experience it, and to like it, and I feel that comes from exposure (to beautiful things) not rigorous dissection. I’ll leave it to their future college professors to make them discuss these things ad nauseum.
  • Art Appreciation – We’re following Ambleside Online’s artist schedule for 2019-20.
  • Music Appreciation – I’ll introduce Ambleside Online’s composer of the term and we’ll listen to the selections as we start, or get back into our work for the day.

Our homeschool year will follow the local school district with some exceptions. Addie and Byron will take an extended Christmas break, and their spring break is in March- no where near when the rest of us will be off for Easter. Thankfully, everyone gets to start after Labor Day this year. I still miss our year round schedule, but there are perks to taking a long summer break.

Have you started back to school yet? Share you plans, or whatever else you’re up to, below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts! (And if you’re interested, visit the Curriculum category to see all my posts from previous school years.)

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  1. I have a 6th grader who has made beautiful watercolor art using the « Let’s Make Art » YouTube channel. I highly recommend that one.

  2. Have you thought about an introductory statistics course for your older children? Many college majors have some involvement with statistics (and some require it!) . Also as colleges have become more interest in STEM issues, quantitative reasoning, and active citizenship, a stats course will often fulfill the requirement for a class that math oriented (quantitative) and help interpret data in classes, the media, and the world around them. Statistics is also not a typical math class, so if someone is not so fond of the standard math sequence, statistics might be a good fit.

    Our school district used a new software for busing schedules and it bombed. My daughter had no bus one day – then it came randomly in the next week. Then they gave me an exact time – and the bus has been 10 minutes late since then. I don’t know why it’s so hard to fix the busing schedule – you have the kids – you have the addresses – pick them up farthest to closest in order. ( My daughter is on a bus only for the children with special needs, so some morning I know will be hard. ) But when I’m trying to keep her from taking off her socks and shoes again because the bus is late and she’s bored – I have few charitable thoughts.

  3. I love your new header! wow — the rainbow, unicorn and the mostly purple and pink colors.
    Praying for a great schoolyear ahead. Wow, you have a 12th grader! 🙂

  4. Maybe have Byron try Duolingo for the French? I’m doing Spanish and Arabic with it right now, and I love it.

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