Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Curriculum for 6th Grade Year

We've already begun our school year, ramping up to a full load by next Monday. I am especially excited that Cullen has made it to the logic stage. He is a natural debater! Conversations with him have become as enlightening for me as for him.

Here is an overview of our basic curriculum plans for the year. Of course, it is subject to tweaks and adjustments as necessary and to the interruptions that our following interesting rabbit trails will inevitably bring. That is the beauty of homeschooling!

Math: Thinkwell Math for 6th grade. Cullen actually began this in the middle of last year. We are just continuing from where we left off before our break. Online video instruction and computer-based exercises, review, and tests give me a little break from direct instruction, though I am always on-hand and involved. Cullen's favorite way to do any math is on a white board with big, colorful calculations, then writing his answer on the worksheet or keying it into the computer. I really like everything about this program. It isn't cheap, but the Homeschool Buyers Co-op regularly features a half-price special. I will supplement with logic and critical thinking practice throughout the year.
Language Arts: an assortment of resources. Primary materials are the language arts package by Michael Clay Thompson from Royal Fireworks Press. We began the Town level last year, so will continue with that. I anticipate beginning the Voyage level in the winter. I cannot say enough about how much I am enamored with this program. Heavy on the discussion, with no busy-work whatsoever, this perfectly suits Cullen's learning style and my own teaching preferences.
Because there is no such thing as too much understanding when it comes to grammar and because this is such an easy-to-use resource, Cullen also does a lesson from Growing With Grammar, level 7, almost every day. Though not as popular (yet?) as some of the other grammar options among homeschoolers, this is an excellent curriculum. Written in a straightforward manner directly to the student with accompanying workbook, it hits just the right balance of practice needed to reinforce learning without going into mind-numbing overkill that some programs are known for. 
Writing will be pulled from a number of resources. The Michael Clay Thompson materials provide wonderful instruction and practice assignments that I will use as our core. Cullen is also writing a novel, albeit very slowly, by his own choice and has also expressed interest in writing storylines for games he is creating. Science and history are very much integrated with writing, as well.
Here are some of the titles on the literature list for the year, though we may add a few as we go along. In addition to these books, Cullen will read several short stories, plenty of poetry and a few other odd, assorted items. Follow-up on anything he reads will include mostly Socratic-style discussion with some written responses assigned.
These are a few biographies on the science and history reading list. 
History/Geography/Social Studies: Tapestry of Grace, Year 3, Unit 3, through Year 4. We do not strictly follow the schedule, but our history, geography and some literature suggestions are pulled from this. I appreciate the wealth of information for the teacher that is provided all in one place here. Pictured are a few books that we've used over the past couple of weeks. This year's studies should bring us up to modern times or pretty close. This is a subject I tend to update about on the blog as the books and other resources are so varied. And because I really love history!
The World Atlas and the Time Presidents book will be used frequently. 
Science: Prentice Hall Earth Science for middle grades. While searching to buy a surplus or used copy of this, I happened upon the version bound to include the standards for our state from Follett Educational Services. (This site sells just about every textbook or supplement you can imagine but without giving much information of the books. Do your research to choose what you want, make sure you have ISBN numbers if possible, then check pricing and availability here. Prices are often better than amazon or ebay.) Finding the video series to go along was an extra bonus! 
Bible: Grapevine Studies, Old Testament. We are giving a completely new Bible study approach a try, and so far, we both really like it. Using timelines, drawing stick-figures to represent key points of scripture, learning to use a Bible Dictionary and a Concordance, along with memory work make for a well-rounded lesson. At first I thought this concept might be too young for Cullen, but five minutes into the first day, he was completely immersed in the process.
Those are the core subject areas. Music is covered with piano lessons, informal listening to works of various composers, and his new interest in mixing electronic music. He takes a weekly art class through our local GA-EPH, and we sometimes dabble with a project as inspiration strikes.
S.O.L.E. - Student Organized Learning Environments, a new class through this group is based on the ideas from a popular TED talk by Sugata Mitra, allowing children to form small groups which decide on a question to pursue, then research together, navigating online sources to gather information to present to the rest of the class.  
A few other important resources for me as I plan and teach are shown below:
Problem Based Learning in Your Homeschool, by Shelagh Gallagher, and
Teaching Technology Through Interest Projects from The Critical Thinking Company.
Add to this field trips, nature walks, hiking and biking, swimming as long as the weather holds, indoor trampolines when it doesn't. Cullen also tackles his own projects with intensity and enthusiasm, some of which are creating computer games and learning to code along the way, making stop-motion videos, and getting into animation very soon. I just try to keep up and help find any resource he hasn't located on his own.
I am so excited over all we have ahead of us!
*Disclosure: All links are for your convenience and for informational purposes only. None are affiliate links. No one has or will compensate me for any clicks or purchases you might make. Legally, this disclosure isn't even necessary, as I have nothing actually to disclose but the glaring lack of anything to disclose. It does, however, make me feel like one of the big name homeschooler blogs, if only for a wee moment. And only if I squint my eyes and scan this section quickly. :o)


1 comment:

Jamie {See Jamie blog} said...

I was going to comment on your actual plans but then I got to your non-disclosure disclosure and started giggling. ;)

Looks like a great year ahead! Y'all have always been more classical than we are but I'm popping over to check out some of the suggestions I haven't seen before.