Archive for homeschool

Credit History: Getting High School Credit for your Homeschool Work

Many homeschool parents wonder in the back of their minds: just how long can I do this? How far can I take my student? Naturally, high school is often a sticking point.

I’ve heard from other parents, “I can teach through middle school but after that, they’re going to high school.” Many are intimidated by their own memories of high school math and sciences, while others worry about the scope and rigor of the humanities.

We’re fortunate to live in an area where there are many good options for grades 9-12, so transitioning from home school to high school is not an uncommon choice.

In Maryland, the state does not award diplomas to home school students at graduation. Credits needed to earn a diploma are only granted by state-accredited institutions – the state won’t grant a diploma based on your home school portfolio review.

However, if you choose to enroll your student in public school during their high school years, your still may be granted credit for their home school work. Here’s how the general process works in my county:

Credit is determined by subject. Assemble your portfolio materials and bring it to your school, usually to your student’s academic/guidance counselor. The review seems to generally be conducted by the head of that academic department. Under state law, the school can include tests, exams, or interviews with the student to determine placement or credit.

Upon application of a child for admission to a public school from a home instruction program,the local superintendent shall determine by an evaluation the placement of the child and anycredits to be awarded toward high school graduation. The evaluation may includeadministration of standardized tests and examinations and interviews with the child.

Maryland COMAR 13A.10.01.04 I recently went through this with my school, and the results were varied. Math was the easiest, we were granted credit immediately.  English took a little longer but credit was granted there, as well. We’re working through the process with biology, and I’ll keep you updated on how that goes.

Why go through all the trouble? Because you need a certain number of credits, per subject, to graduate. If you don’t try to claim your home school work for credit, you either have to enroll in summer school, or else take academic classes where you would otherwise have taken electives. 

Next time: looking at portfolio assembly for math.

Posted by on September 4th, 2018

Math Mondays from Makezine

 

Link: https://makezine.com/tag/MathMonday/

I recently discovered Math Mondays from Makezine, which combines two things I think are required to make a great learning experience: hands on, with a practical application. Try making Escher’s famous Relativity from a single sheet of paper – go ahead, it really works!

Posted by on May 31st, 2018

Build A Cell game!

Hey, check this out!

Build-A-Cell from Spongelab.

Posted by on February 24th, 2018

RSO Biology: Model of a Cell

3D model of an animal cell

3D model of an animal cell

Objective: Make a 3D model of a cell
Constraints: 10 kids, 30 minutes of class time

Got it.

The original project required Sculpey, which you have to bake. I found a great alternative: Plastalina, an oil-based modeling clay. No baking required, and it doesn’t dry out.  A multi-color pack is super cheap, I got mine from Michaels.

Materials:
Ping Pong ball
small fishbowl
1 multi-color pack of plastalina
clear polymer “gems” from the floral section

  1. Hydrate the polymer gems. I dumped mine in a gallon ziploc bag with a couple of cups of water and let it go overnight. My package was probably only 2 teaspoons of crystals before hydrating. It takes a couple of hours before they reach full size, so I suggest doing this in advance. When they’re ready, put the polymers in the fishbowl but don’t put additional water in yet. This is your cytoplasm.
  2. Take your ping pong ball and cut out a wedge-shaped piece. Basically, turn him into Pac-man (mouth WIIIIDE open). This is your nuclear membrane, so you need a cutaway opening big enough to show the DNA inside.
  3. A note about plastalina: it’s pretty stiff when you open the package, but if you knead it for a while it becomes pliable. It also will roll really, really, thin, so don’t be afraid to spread it out. If you keep it too thick, your pieces will be too heavy. THAT BEING SAID: knead some blue plastalina and then cover the exterior of your ping pong ball with a thin layer.
  4. Using your RSO guide, start making the various organelles. An excellent illustration guide can be found here: Blausen Medical Guide. Repeat this chant: “The mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell.” (It comes up again later. A lot.)
  5. When all your cell bodies are made, start suspending them in your fishbowl. A chopstick or the handle of a paintbrush is very handy here, to help position everything where you want it. Those free ribosomes can be sneaky!
  6. Once you have everything positioned the way you want, start adding water to the fishbowl. When you’re done, it should look like your cell bodies are all suspended in cytoplasm. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and enjoy!

Advance prep for a coop group: gather your materials and hydrate the gems overnight.

Posted by on February 24th, 2018

RSO Biology, Week 1

Our homeschool coop is teen-oriented. I rashly volunteered to offer a biology class for the high school students, since I was going to have to teach bio to my own 9th grader anyhow – I figured it would be more fun in a group. Our coop kids are a good bunch, for the most part.

I’d heard that the Real Science Odyssey biology curriculum level 2 could be used for high school, and that the author had posted extensively about how to use it in a coop setting.  I have read both posts, figured I could make the curriculum work, and away we go.

All my students were responsible for purchasing their own copies of the curriculum.  Our coop tech guru magically got us access to Google Classroom, so I made weekly postings about reading assignments and what papers they would need for each class.

Lecture: Characteristics of Living Things

Materials: a decent microscope (more on that later)

Because this was our first week back, half the class was given over to general housekeeping before we could get started on the book.  The idea of what constitutes “living things” does vary somewhat – some things everyone agrees on, but others are subject to interpretation. Ask a room of scientists whether or not viruses are living things, and sit back to watch the feathers fly.

She has a plot study scheduled for this week, but we pushed it off in favor of getting to know the microscope. 

About that microscope: What you get is, of course, going to be dependent on your needs and your budget. Particularly the budget.  If you’re working with middle- or high-school level, though strongly advise against purchasing the cheap “kid” microscope kits, particularly if you have a student with a reasonable interest in science.  Look on eBay or surf Camel Camel Camel for a decent quality student microscope – they can be had for under $50, and are well worth the purchase.  I’ve had good luck with AmScope, but other brands like Omax or Celestron make good products as well.

Posted by on September 12th, 2017

Cooking School for Kids: The Three Course Meal

Today’s menu:
Caprese salad, skillet pasta, lemon sorbet

Today’s concepts:
one-pot meal, menu planning, balancing your ingredients

When my son was little, the idea of making and serving a three course meal at home fascinated him. “Can we do that at home sometime?”

Sure we can, kiddo. Here goes:

Job 1: Skillet Pasta

I love this recipe because it’s so, so, so simple. Build a sauce by warming some minced garlic in olive oil, then adding a large can of crushed tomatoes and other seasonings. Here’s the brilliant part: instead of boiling the pasta separately, add 28 oz of water and bring to a simmer, then add the pasta directly to the pan. Simmer 15-20 minutes, stir in a handful of cheese, and you’re DONE. No extra pot of boiling water, no draining a giant pot of pasta. And as an added bonus, the pasta absorbs the flavors of your sauce as it simmers. A couple of cheats:

  • You can use a jar of sauce in place of crushed tomatoes.
  • You can drop in add-ins (pepperonis, meatballs, chunks of sausage) with the pasta, it will cook in the sauce
  • The original recipe tops the dish with shredded mozz and bakes 5-10 min to brown it. I skip this by simply topping with mozz and putting a lid on it, and letting it sit with the heat turned off for 5 minutes.

Job 2: While the skillet is going, Caprese salad gave us an opportunity to practice knife skills, and learn a new trick – how to chiffonade basil. (Roll it up lengthwise, cut in 1/4″ intervals. You’ll end up with a pile of beautiful little basil ribbons.) When I asked them to arrange alternating tomato and mozzarella slices on their plates, most of the class went for the haute cuisine look – stacked straight up. One student wisely took into account the But How Do You Eat It? and went for artful but easy.

While the pasta was simmering, we began discussions on how to pick dishes for a multi-course meal. Everyone was familiar with the idea of appetizer, main course, and dessert, but then I asked, based on what we’ve already cooked in this series of lessons, what they would select for each slot?

One student immediately selected his greatest hits – cheesy garlic bread and pasta. Ooh, and souffle. Okay, I said, but let’s look at what you’re really serving: starch and fat (garlic bread), starch and fat (pasta), some starch, a little more fat (souffle). Where’s the veg? And then there’s also the time consideration.

While cheese and starch are all well and good, it can be overwhelming for three courses. If you finished off the meal with tiramisu, your guests would go into a starch-induced coma in record time. That is, if they made it that far – heavy app, heavy main, heavy dessert. So, we looked at our lunch:

Appetizer: caprese salad. A few slices of cool cheese and ripe tomato, with a little basil to keep it fresh. Not too heavy, but gets your appetite going.
Main course: skillet pasta. Hearty, warm, filling.
Dessert: A scoop of lemon sorbet. Good as a palate cleanser after a heavy, rich dish, and light enough to finish off the meal. I also figure since they’re cooking two out of three courses, they can take a shortcut on the last. (They also took teeny basil leaves to garnish the sorbet.)

I sent everyone home with a shopping bag that contained a jar of sauce, a box of pasta, a few cloves of garlic, and a directive to cook for their families. Best homework ever.

Posted by on April 3rd, 2017

Teen and Family programs at the National Gallery of Art

Today’s cool thing: student and family programs (all the way up to teen art studio programs) at the National Gallery of Art. Check out the menu on the left side of the page; there are 1-hour guided programs for smaller children that include a docent, a story, examining one work of art, and a hands-on activity. Plus, the children are given a notebook to work in for the program.

For older kids, there are teen programs that include workshops, films, and behind the scene and volunteer opportunities.

Posted by on April 3rd, 2017

Why use the Oxford Comma

Because: “I would like to thank my parents, Mother Teresa and the Pope.”

Posted by on March 16th, 2017

Ellen 11/3

Math – Khan Academy

Language Arts – Gatsby Chapter 1 Questions COMPLETED

Social Studies – Unit 1 COMPLETE, INCLUDING short essay response

Art – Finish whatever Art History assignment you may have; artful journaling work

Science – Physics lesson

Posted by on November 3rd, 2016

E 10/14 Assignments

Math – Han Academy, 40 min
Physics – Complete lesson 8
Social Studies – Unit 1 of US History questions
Language arts – Begin reading Gatsby.

Posted by on October 14th, 2016