Thursday, August 6, 2015

Curriculum for 2015-16: Eighth Grade

2015-16 Curriculum 

Peter, age 13, and Paul, age 11
Both entering 8th Grade

We started back to a regular, full-time school schedule; here are the basic curriculum choices for the boys:

Literature and History: Sonlight Core H - World History Part 2

We bought this core in February, 2015, and are continuing with it this year. The boys will read both the readers and read-alouds to extend the curriculum. Late June through July they took a break from Sonlight to read other literature, but they're back at it now.

Read Alouds: I'm reading aloud from the complete Elsie Dinsmore series (28 books) and from other devotionals. There's a great deal of Scripture and character training contained in the Elsie Dinsmore books. We're thoroughly enjoying them, with the kids hanging on every word. This series also qualifies as historical fiction, containing historical facts and opinions from the mid- to late-1800's, including the politics of the Civil War, and the beginnings of the Ku Klux Klan following the war.

While I'm currently finishing up book 1 with the family, I just finished book 5 on my own. We're all spurred on in our faith by Elsie's delightful, pious, Christ-like character. My little girls are so inspired that they're reading their Bibles faithfully, with help from Momma, and even trying to memorize passages like Elsie does. Elsie is very careful about her devotional times, letting nothing in the way of her time with the Lord.

Geography - NorthStar Geography  (starting second semester)

Grammar - Easy Grammar

Writing - Responding to the Sonlight novels via essay questions Mom assigns. We will also use Apologia's Jump In: A Workbook for Reluctant and Eager Writers.

Spelling: All About Spelling

Math: Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra and Khan Academy. Paul loves math and is quite the expert at it, so I may get him a used Saxon text to amuse himself with, as well. He will also continue with computer programming on Khan Academy.

Science: Apologia General Science & Apologia Physical Science My boys received an excellent overview of science from Sonlight Science, used during all their elementary years. We will use the Apologia General Science course to fill in any holes in their knowledge, and to get used to a textbook format, and then go on to Physical Science, which is recommended for 8th grade (although it can also be done in 9th grade).

Don't ask me how we birthed a math expert, since husband and I both have our limitations in this area. Outside of her dyslexic difficulties with backward numerals, Beth grasps math concepts well also.

Paul is all we need around here as math instructor, which takes a load off this Momma's mind. So far I can still help Peter as needed, who is finishing up 7th grade Teaching Textbooks this summer. When I'm not available, Paul is always willing. I had a year of calculus in college but of course I don't remember a thing, so going forward, I either relearn with Peter or allow Paul to be tutor. Thankfully, he enjoys teaching.

Some Thoughts On Teaching Learning-Disabled, Or Learning-Difference Students

All four of my children have dyslexia to varying degrees, with Paul's case being very mild, and the girls having the most difficulty with reading. Peter and Mary both have dyscalculia also, and Peter has dysgraphia--all explained below.

Thankfully, the Teaching Textbook curriculum format allows Peter to be fairly independent, regardless. Hints are given as an option, and students can do the problems over once (though not on quizzes). If they're really stumped, they can have the answer explained for them, but Peter is diligent to try again before seeing answers. I have a hunch his OCD won't let him look at the solutions unless he's desperate. All this makes math time consuming and causes congestion at our only PC, but we hope to get that remedied next semester.

Today Peter told me math is comparatively easy when he isn't plagued by his OCD rituals during the lesson. That said, it still took him an hour and forty-five minutes to do 26 problems, due to the dyscalculia, which encompasses everything from difficulty with computation and fact recall, to difficulty writing out the problems neatly enough to follow one's own work. Careless mistakes are so commonplace that correct answers are rarely achieved the first time while doing the multi-step problems characteristic of 7th grade and higher math.

Long-term memory issues also play a part, in that these students have difficulty remembering random facts not associated with a narrative or a visual, such as math facts, days of the week, and months of the year. Dyscalculics may always have to recite a rhyme to decide what the fifth month of the year is, for example. It may not become automatic. While the presence of the learning disability makes automaticity difficult to achieve, the more years that pass, the more likely they'll know it as well as the rest of us, except during stressful moments.

Disabilities require patience most of all, and the belief that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by a glorious God who does not make mistakes. If you're teaching learning-different students, remember to spend plenty of time on their strengths. Very successful dyslexics--and there are many--testify that their success did not arise because someone spent numerous hours and years remediating their weaknesses in reading, spelling, math and penmanship. Rather, they said it was honing in on their unique strengths that made the difference for their futures. They grasp things the rest of us miss, and in that context they are enabled, not disabled.

A good secretary will solve a lot of issues--or good technology, for that matter.

It's common for dyslexics to also have either one or both of: dyscalculia and dysgraphia. Dysgraphia is difficulty with organizing thoughts on paper, and difficulty with spelling and handwriting.

These conditions all make for a challenging homeschool life, in which God makes it abundantly clear that He is in control, not us.

I have my 2014-15 portfolio review this Friday, and following that I will get to the girls' curriculum post. Have a nice weekend, friends! I hope your back-to-school preparations are going smoothly.

Weekly Wrap-Up


thedailybrewformoms said...

I enjoyed reading your post. I found it through the Weekly Wrap-Up. We are also using North Star Geography this year. I am really looking forward to starting the book. I really appreciate what you said about learning disabilities and remembering that we are fearfully and wonderfully created by a God who doesn't make mistakes. We all could be reminding ourselves of that every day! I will be blogging our way through North Star Geography and many other books this year. I hope you can follow along!

Christine said...

Thank you Daily Brew for Moms. I will definitely visit your blog. Have a blessed weekend!

Dawn Rebekah said...

Teaching textbooks has been a wonderful experience for my kids too. My son who has some attention issues and Cerebral Palsy really enjoys the second chances and visual support of teaching textbooks. Thanks for sharing your week.
Blessings, Dawn

Christine said...

I enjoyed visiting your blog, too, Dawn. Thanks for your kind comment here. I am interested in checking out Life of Fred, which your kids also use. I have heard of it for several years but have never seen a sample.

Nita said...

Love your list of line ups! Thanks for sharing. We are dropping in from Weekly Wrap Up. We used some of the same things. TT for us has been our summer math or reinforced math. Now we are using since it has drills in it, we can use it for more than 1 kid and it's online (no disc) and goes all the way up to Calculus.

Christine said...

Thank you, Nita. I will check out that math site. Have a good,restful weekend!

Lisa said...

I always love a peek at what others are using for their homeschool curriculum. I have a Math instructor, too - Ian, who finished Saxon Calculus last year (10th grade). He does so well in Math. He definitely takes after hubby, not me. :)
Have a great week!

Christine said...

Good to hear from you, Lisa. Thanks for sharing your good news!

Megan Russell said...

I have enjoyed reading your blog. Sounds like y'all have a full year ahead of ya! fun hands and