Planning the Freshman Year

Well since we got our portfolio back and I realized that the first day of public school for the other two is August 29th (gasp!), I spent the entire day shopping online for textbooks, curriculum planning, and comparing notes with the local public high school with their diploma requirements.

Sheesh, what a mess that school has now. This is what this school has in their PDF file for their graduation requirements for all students for the Class of 2018 and beyond:

Students who anticipate graduating in the Classes of 2018 and beyond must meet
the following requirements in order to be awarded a high school diploma:
A. Demonstrate proficiency in meeting standards in the following content areas of the Learning Results. Meeting the standards entails demonstrating proficiency for each standard within each content area.
English Language Arts
Mathematics
Science and Technology
Social Studies
Health Education and Physical Education
Visual and Performing Arts
World Languages
Career and Education Development
B. Meet the cross-content performance standards set forth in the Guiding Principles of the Learning Results. A student graduating from [this school district’s] schools is expected to be a:
Clear and effective communicator;
Self-directed and life-long learner;
Creative and analytical problem solver;
Responsible and involved citizen; and an
Integrative and informed thinker.
C. Successful completion of a senior project.
D. Complete a portfolio to include an Individual Graduation Plan, evidence of learning, and an application to a post-secondary educational institution, training program or other experience that provides an opportunity for further growth.
E. The student must also complete the following non-academic requirements: 20 hours of Community Service.
I shit you not. This is the high school’s graduating requirements now. It seems like earning credits and GPAs are no longer part of the system, like at all. This Freshman handbook goes on to say in regards to the multiple pathways of proving proficiency:
Students following a traditional pathway will:
A. Engage in educational experiences in the content areas of English Language Arts, Mathematics, and Science and Technology in each year of their high school program.[NOTE: The requirement in “A” above is for the purpose of alignment with Maine law and the adoption of Common Core and national science standards.]
B. Engage in at least three educational experiences in the content area of social studies during their high school program.
C. Engage in at least one educational experience in each of the content areas of visual and performing arts during their high school program.
D. Engage in at least two educational experiences in world languages throughout the 7-12 educational programming in [this school district].
E. Engage in at least one health and two physical education experiences during their high school program.
F. Engage in at least three educational experiences that integrate career and education development into other content areas of the Learning Results. Students following a traditional pathway must be enrolled in the equivalent of six full year learning experiences/courses or integrated equivalents in each of their high school years.
Students may also opt to demonstrate proficiency toward a high school diploma through multiple additional pathways including:
Early college/dual enrollment courses
Career and technical education programming
Online/virtual learning
Apprenticeships, internships and/or field work
Experiencial/service learning
Exchange programs
Independent study
Alternative education/“At Risk” programming
Adult education
Each pathway must provide a quality learning experience comparable in rigor to the school unit’s own educational experience (course) offerings. In order to pursue one or more of the multiple/alternative pathways, a student must develop an Individual Graduation Plan detailing how the pathway will provide exposure to the content standards of the Le
arning Results and how the student will demonstrate proficiency in meeting the standards. The Individual Graduation Plan must be reviewed by the Guidance Counselor and Department Chair and approved by the Principal.
So the way I understand this is, if my son was going to public school he would need the following to graduate with a diploma:
  • 4 years English & Language Arts
  • 4 years Math
  • 4 years Science & Technology (I assume they mean Computer Technology here)
  • 3+ years Social Studies
  • 1+ year Fine Arts
  • 2+ years World Languages (school offers only Spanish, French, and Latin)
  • 1+ year Health
  • 2+ years Phys. Ed.
  • Must engage in at least 3 educational experiences that integrate career and education development (each year?)
  • Must be enrolled in at least 6 courses each year
  • Finish the year with a senior project
  • Individual Graduation Plan (aka: IEP) developed by the student to be approved by the school
  • Proof of an opportunity for further personal growth (post-education, training program, etc)
  • Complete 20 Hours of Community Service

Like…. what the fuck is this shit? We’ve now just required all of our students to be AP college bound students in a community where the majority live below the poverty line, but the course offerings for the majority of these students are not AP courses. And yea, I scrolled to the bottom to look at the Freshman course list. To get into the AP classes you need pre-approval. This means the seats are limited and the stakes to get in are high. Seriously. What. The. Fuck. Yea let’s just work these kids to the bone for absolutely NOTHING. Let’s feed them the lie that college and going into debt is the ONLY way to go. I’m not saying going to college is bad. I’m just saying that college isn’t the only way and it isn’t for everyone, but this high school is still preaching that it is:

 

Most careers of the future will require additional education after high school. It is our
goal to prepare students to be lifelong learners who can successfully compete for the best opportunities in life, including admission to the finest colleges, technical schools, and careers. The decisions you make in high school will impact which doors are open to you in the future.
The need for house keeping and janitors isn’t going to disappear. Nor will food service. There are plenty of other very critical “invisible” jobs out there that don’t need college degrees that need to be filled that are very much a part of our infrastructure. Farmers don’t need a degree but if they disappear WE DON’T GET TO EAT. Period. We really need to stop feeding this lie. I honestly think this is part of the reason why so many people are bitching about the minimum wage. So many of us got funneled into college to get degrees and when we got out there we discovered that our chosen fields were flooded. Now we are stuck working minimum wage jobs outside our degrees with overwhelming debt. The cake is a fucking lie. It will always be a lie due to the 1:2:7 job placement ratio (1 Masters degree, 2 Bachelors, 7 anything else). To complicate it further, corporations outsource so much of their workforce in favor of cheaper labor. And now corporations are seeking to digitize where ever they can to replace human workers. Teachers and librarians come to mind right away. Look what’s happening to our newspapers. The entire industry of journalism is rapidly transforming before our eyes. It’s not what it was when I was a child, when I was in high school, or even when Scholar Owl was born 15 years ago. I didn’t even have to set foot into a store today to buy my son’s books. Welcome to the era of the wired.
So anyway… I rechecked the homeschool requirements for our state to make sure that they haven’t changed. They haven’t, here they are:
  • Attendance of 175 days
  • Cover Each Year the Following:
    • English and language arts
    • Math
    • Science
    • Social Studies
      • [Our State’s]  studies (at least one grade 6-12) * Scholar Owl covered this in public school.  Doesn’t mean we can’t cover it again in during US History. *
    • Physical Education
    • Health Education
    • Library Skills * WHY is this a yearly requirement for ALL grade levels?! How can anyone forget how to use a library?! *
    • Fine Arts
    • Computer Skills (at least one grade 7-12) * Scholar Owl took a keyboarding class in public school but I’ll be damned if that’s going to count. *

Now see this is the part that I find odd. Compare how in the legal statute for homeschooling it states yearly Social Studies but the public high school Freshman handbook is only asking for a minimum of 3 years. The legal statute for homeschooling also asks for yearly Physical Education, Health Education, Fine Arts, and Library Skills. The public high school  Freshman handbook makes no mention of library skills, just one year for health and fine arts, and two years of physical education. How does that work? But then again they ask for all that other weird ass shit. I don’t get it. At all. What happened to plain old traditional, basic education? Why has that suddenly become not good enough when that it is still what is needed for college?

So according to the Home School Legal Defense Association‘s  high school planning booklet that I also bought today for like a grand total of 2 bucks, you should be planning your teen’s curriculum based on what they plan on doing once they finish high school. If they don’t know their Freshman year, not to panic they recommend taking the general high school program path while your teen figures it out. This is pretty much the basic program that all high schools do all across the nation to prep their students for the general work force. Each year you can adjust the courses as you go. And yes, it’s this legal association that has a webpage app where you can setup your teen’s high school transcript. Anywho this is their recommendation for the general education path:

Subject Suggested Credits Possible Courses
English 4 credits Composition, literature, rhetoric, creative writing, journalism (Suggested courses should stress grammar, vocabulary, and communication skills.)
Math 3 credits Algebra 1 and 2, geometry, general math,
consumer math, business math, accounting
History 2–3 credits World history, American history, United States government
Science 2–3 credits Physical science or earth science, general science, biology, health, nutrition, chemistry, physics
Foreign language 2–3 credits French, Spanish, Latin, German, Russian, etc. (Two years of the same language is preferred.)
Physical education 1–2 credits Many options are available.
Fine arts 1–2 credits Art, music, drama, photography, etc.
Electives 5 credits Practical arts, life skills, Bible, computer skills,etc

So this is general blueprint for the entire high school year. Basically, if Scholar Owl were to decide to go to college the only thing that would change is the type of course he would take. The credit needs remain mostly the same. Some colleges have more or less needs, depending on the degree you want, but this is why this is the generalized path. It pretty much covers every uncertain student and that’s a very good thing. So what are we doing for Scholar Owl? He is undecided about his future, thus the general path. Therefore…

English

  • Keep using the Grade 9 grammar textbook we didn’t finish last year because why not. Only this year I plan to pick up the pace because high school.
  • I bought “Writing Fiction in High School” after strongly encouraging him that creative writing was a fun way to strengthen writing skills
  • My mom still has the Harvard Collection from that encyclopedia set she bought years ago she is holding for me. I see no reason to buy literature this year. We can dig into those this go around. It’s been a very long time since I have peeked into those anyway.
  • We will be using our library skills this year to find books to read for writing book reviews. I’m still undecided as to how often this will happen.

Math

  • I bought the Starline Press Algebra I workbook set.
    • From the description it’s likely to be some review from the competition pre-algebra textbook he had last year, but that book wasn’t working for him at all. He really struggled with it and the material was dense. I was lost with it. Hopefully these workbooks will be easier for him to work with.

Science

  • Survey of Astronomy Course Set
    • Need to plan star labs and really use that telescope this year! This course includes the textbook from last year, so I had to buy this set piecemeal, but this set when done as a whole counts as a full credit. But I still want the star labs to make sure. I really thought that last year there was another textbook that went along with the one we have by the same author but I can’t find it now. I can only find this set that puts these two textbooks together that are written by two different authors.

Social Studies

  • Bought the PAC World History Kit

Fine Arts

  • Bought the “Teaching History Through Art”
    • Includes a Variety of Art Project Assignments while Covering Art around the World through Several Time Periods

Health & Phys. Ed.

  • Bought the “History of Medicine”
  • Plan to cover Sex Ed
    • Scholar Owl has declared that I’m not allowed to teach this and he has picked my sister to do it because A) she is not his mother and B) she has a Bachelors’ Degree in Nursing so now I need to get with her and make arrangements
  • For the time being I just plan to keep better records of his physical activity, would be cool if he set some physical activity goals for himself to meet or surpass each month as well. I need to discuss that with him.

Elective

  • Bought “American Cursive Handwriting Student Edition”
    • This came across to me as an interesting little workbook. It isn’t just a practice your handwriting book. Reading the description of it, I got the impression it also goes into the ergonomics of handwriting as well so you remain comfortable as you write. For people with fine motor skill issues, this could prove valuable. Scholar Owl is already unhappy to hear that I bought the book. He’s unhappy that it’s with the intent for OT and for improving his handwriting. Yes I realize this practice is very likely going to hurt. I need to make sure that in the beginning the sessions are short and ease him into them. I truly wish that the public school had done more with his OT in his early years than make sure he could hold a pencil and then quit on him. I find it even more frustrating that public schools don’t seem to care about penmanship at all anymore.

Yes I know it appears to be very traditional. Last year we weren’t. We’re all over the place last year. BUT I need to plan with the nature of my family in mind. Scholar Owl zipped through the subjects that had a textbook and workbook he could use independently. In the event anyone other than Scholar Owl goes into crisis, we need a curriculum he can run with on his own with confidence and that I can just check in on without freaking out feeling like I have abandoned him. I also feel like we have plenty of wiggle room here to stuff in lots of extras, exploration, and expansion to go along with those textbooks.

And just like last year I think he’s going to run on roughly the same days as public school. I have enough to keep track of, I don’t need another separate schedule. Him and I just need to figure out a workable routine. If I count Health and Phys. Ed. as one subject, then that means he has 7 subjects to work with. He should pick at least one extra curricular activity. That would essentially give him 8 activity blocks to rotate every other day.

Oh crap, it’s 4am already. @_@ I need to put this on hold, get some sleep, and discuss the rotation with Scholar Owl. Once this is set I can get the rest of the back to school shopping that needs to be done for everybody.

 

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