Saturday, December 17, 2016

Looking Ahead to 8th Grade

We will start our new school year in June, and it will be my daughter’s last year as a homeschooler.  She’ll be attending the local high school after that.  This year has gone pretty well so far overall, and now I’m already looking ahead to what curriculum we’ll want to use for her 8th grade year.

She’s using BookShark this year, and she’s pretty happy with the amount of reading as compared with Sonlight, so we’ll continue with that.  They just came out with BookShark 8, but the history topic is the History of Science.  That doesn’t especially interest her, so I think we’ll just use the books from the old Sonlight Core 100, but order the BookShark instructor’s guide for that core and use it for 8th grade (BookShark uses that core for 9th grade).  That covers American History in depth, and I think that will better prepare her for entry into public school the following year.  We like the 4-day schedule from BookShark, and I’ve already purchased Apologia Who Is God? curriculum for our bible study.

For math, she’s using Unlock Math Pre-Algebra this year, and she has improved so much!  It’s working wonderfully for her, and I wish we could continue it, but I just can’t afford the $250 for the Algebra program.  It’s an online curriculum, so I can’t even pass it on to the next kid.  So I’ve decided to use Teaching Textbooks Algebra for her next year.  My son has been using that program this year, and he likes it well enough.

For language arts, I’m still investigating my options.  I’m not focused on that part right now.  That’ll be next on my mind for consideration.

For science, that’s my big thought process right now.  She’s currently using BookShark Science 7, and it’s been a really success for her.  She loves the weekly experiments so much, and she enjoys the variety of books and topics.  She really wanted the same kind of program for next year, but BookShark tells me that they just won’t have Science 8 ready in time for us to use it next year.  So that leaves me with a big dilemma.  She really likes the hands-on stuff, and she also likes the 4-day scheduling.  I have hunted around for a physical science curriculum over the last week or so, and I stumbled upon something I’d never even heard of before.  It’s called Exploration Education’s Physical Science program.  It looks awesome!

There are several levels available of the curriculum.  I think I’ve settled on getting this, but I’m unsure whether to get the standard version (recommended for grades 4-6) or the advanced version (recommended for grades 7-10).  She falls in the advanced level for grade 8, but it’s a 5-day curriculum.  I don’t think I could convince her to do 5 days’ worth in 4, and I know she doesn’t want to have school on Fridays when we have gym class.  So I’m leaning towards the standard version because it is a 3-day curriculum.  The only thing about that is that there are three additional building projects in the advanced, and they look like the coolest projects of all!  It includes a large glider, a mini-house with electrical lighting, and a working steamboat.  That sounds like fun!  I love that this curriculum is computer based.  The student reads through the lesson on the computer with lots of pictures and sometimes videos, enters their answers, and if they get it wrong, it sends them back to the lesson to find the correct answer before continuing.  Once they have the correct answer, they record that information in the printed workbook so they have all the correct information in one place to use as a study guide.  They also fill out lab reports on all of their experiments.  It seems right up her alley, and I love that it’s self-grading!

If you have any experience with this curriculum, please share your thoughts on it.  It’s got a fairly hefty price tag, as everything is consumable except for the CD-ROM, and it’s either $123 or $145, depending upon which level you get.