Overview of school year 2011-2012.
For the 8th grade the focus is on physics and chemistry. I plan to begin the year with Physics. We will start briefly with sound and light, comparing properties and performing several simple experiments. From there I want to move to Pressure, density and buoyancy. We should spend a fair amount of time on these principles. Progressing to electricity and magnetism we should end the semester with kinetics.
The spring semester will be mainly involved with Chemistry. I hope to focus on the chemistry of food. Science during the first part of 2012 will be heavily influenced by what students have chosen to work on for their science fair projects, as we will use a fair amount of class time on this.
I plan on referencing two books by Mikko Bojarsky for both of these subjects.
The 6th grade has a focus on earth science. With this I think that we will start local and work our way out. We can start with our soil, geologic position, tectonic position, and move out to the wider scale. I hope to take a trip to Lava Tubes National Moneymint at some point as the volcanic caves are awesome to explore. The only textbook for this that I have found that I will use is Christopherson's Elemental Geosystems. I will need to find some other texts for the sixth grade. Main topics include tectonics, vulcanism, topography, weathering, and other geological process. Heat and energy are also sub topics that we will go in to.
The fourth grade has no focus yet, according to the California Standards, so I anticipate having our fourth grade take the sixth grade science.
The main project for the eighth grade will be their book, which they will write throughout the year. In addition to this I am going to continue to make them read things that are beyond their usual reading. I may not get as extreme as The Monkey Wrench Gang again, but there is so much good stuff to read. Kind of like AM/ PM.
The main difference in the reading department will be book reports. I have not yet come up with the exact format, but there will be a book report due monthly, and the books will be from a list that I will compile.
Sixth grade is a big year for writing. And reading. I anticipate having students doing more of both. They will also have book reports due on a monthly basis, from a teacher generated list. The reading is of particular concern to me with the sixth grade. They need to be reading fluently, more fluently than I saw last year, so this will be a focus. For the fourth grade, a similar thing can be said of writing. There will need to be focus on that.
Kym will be teaching her writing class four times per week. This will allow more opportunity for feedback and revision.
Gail will be coming in to teach history. The 8th will be studying modern history, the 4th and 6th Ancient Civilization, and the 4th California history.
My personal favorite.
The eighth grade will be moving to an Algebra One program, but I do not expect to follow the entire program lesson by lesson. There will be significant review of what we covered last year, since that material is crucial for an understanding of Algebra. We will also do work with the platonic solids, and work out some of the proofs of geometric formulas. For the most part at the end of last year I felt pretty good about the progress that the seventh grade had made. If we keep on with a similar rate of progress I think that we will do just fine.
The 4th and 6th grade has been working with Kym all summer on their math, and I think that we will continue with the curriculum that we started last fall. We will finish the fifth grade book before moving on to the sixth grade book. The fourth grade is making good progress, so we will continue with that. I do have concern about the sixth grade. I will probably use some resources beyond the Saxon curriculum to reinforce more difficult concepts.
I will continue to have the Tuesday afternoon math session, optional if your grades are over Bs. Mandatory if your parents say it is, if I say it is, or if your grades are above B. The main change that we made this year is that we now have math every morning at the same time, with the same teacher. This schedule depends heavily on students being able to work relatively independently after a lesson has been taught. I think that in theory, this schedule is a pretty big improvement over last years. We will see how it works in actuality.
Homework and Projects
This year I expect each grade to do more work independently than they did last year.
8th Grade: The journal will be supplanted by weekly progress on the book that they are all going to write. There will be no problem of the week, but current events will continue, either weekly or bi-weekly. There is a possibility of there being a weekly news letter that the students produce. There will be Math homework daily. There will be math quizzes. There will be writing homework daily. Science homework will be assigned as needed. I am not sure what schedule the history homework will follow, but there will be some. Monthly there will be a book report due on Ben approved books. There will also be a monthly representative to the board meetings. This person will be expected to prepare a report for the rest of the class. We will see how we get along with this, and go from there. This homework regime will not be introduced all at once; I will try to ease in to it.
6th Grade: We will continue with the journal, but there will be weekly prompts to respond to. There will be weekly spelling tests. Current events will continue, but possibly on a bi-weekly basis. Math homework will be a daily occurrence, as will writing. History and science will be assigned as needed. Book reports will be due monthly, also on Ben approved books. There will be math tests regularly.
Again, this will not all start at once.
4th Grade: Journal with weekly prompts, instead of free writing. Weekly spelling. Current events. Daily math. Daily writing. History and Science as required. I would like to get the fourth grade working on the same sorts of assignments as the sixth grade, but at their level.
This is obviously a pretty rough outline that omits and skims over much of what will be going on next year. As always, please don't hesitate to contact me with specific questions or suggestions. I will always listen to any ideas. I will also be at school most every day of the week before school starts; come by and have a chat.
Enjoy the rest of your summer.