Projects for 10th, 11th and 12th grade

In my biology class, I’m requiring upper level students to do an additional outside project. I came across a few ideas on homesciencetools.com. I’ve fleshed them out for students here.

First, a leaf collection is a possibility. Here are options for preserving your leaves. You should preserve and label each leaf with name of tree, scientific name of tree, date and location of collection, and method of preservation. You should collect at least 25 examples of different trees (as in 25 different trees), though you may have more. I recommend putting together a journal or book of your collection.

Next, an insect collection is an option. Here is an article that gives you a good outline and many directions for collecting, preserving and displaying. You should plan to collect at least 25 different insects, identify them and label them with common name, scientific name, and date and location of collection.

Last, a rock collection might be what interests you. Here is an article that gives a good description of how to go about collecting and identifying rocks and minerals you find. Again, plan to collect at least 10 different types of rocks, label with type of rock, date and location of collection. Display as you desire.

There are so many projects that a big kid could undertake, and I think it’s worth it for big kids to take on these projects. They will learn about planning, getting supplies and following through. I suspect there will be other aspects of character formation, depending on your students general character, disposition, strengths and weaknesses. These kind of projects will help prepare your student for a more formal lab setting or field setting opportunities that will, hopefully, come along later.

I am open to other ideas, should a student have an area they are particularly interested in. Please, present those options, and lets talk about it!

This is how I blog….

Yep. I was doing great at a few posts a week for a few weeks and then …  2 weeks without any. :::sigh::: I’m trying!

Co-op has started and 2 weeks down. It’s been a good 2 classes and the students are getting the hang of oral narration. The high schoolers seem to get narration more than the jr high students, but that might just be an issue of maturity.

I’ve got a lot to share about how I’m doing these classes, from a form for lesson planning I created, the alarms on my tablet I set up, to figuring out what works and what doesn’t of the experiments from the books. Seriously, sometimes the instructions in the book make it way harder to do than it should be.

 

I’m not doing a schedule overhaul of our homeschool schedule, but I’m tweaking a bit to make it fit better. And making it prettier!

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And, of course, the week *after* his 1 year checkup, Mr Wigglesworth starts pulling up and is now cruising from sofa to coffee table. Oh, dear. Now, no surface is safe! He regularly clears the coffee table and has decided that board books just don’t hold enough interest for him. No, not at all. He must have the big books! So far, only 1 page has been ripped out of 1 book… but the bookshelf is going to move soon. This bibliophile can’t handle the rough housing with the books.

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It has always taken me 2 or 3 weeks to adjust to a new schedule. This new schedule has taken several weeks to fully flesh out in this full-on, school has started schedule. Hubby is teaching 2 full days a week, Wednesday night bible study/kids stuff at church has started and co-op is in full swing. We are working hard at being consistent with our daily routines and doing school.

And I’m down for the count by evening. It doesn’t help that Hubby and I struggle to get ourselves to bed at a reasonable time. When the boys are asleep, it so nice to veg… watch some old-school Doctor Who*, do some dinking, have a snack we’d never offer to Little Man (graham cracker with peanut butter and chocolate chips… yum).

Ah, life. Bring it on.


*We are into season 14 with Tom Baker as The Doctor. We are seeing that many themes of the new Doctor Who episodes are taken from these old episodes. So fun!

General Science Syllabus

Here is my syllabus for the junior high general science class. Remember that we meet once per week, September through April. There are a few weeks we skip due to holidays, but it ends up being 28 weeks.

The Apologia textbooks are all 16 modules. So, most modules get 2 weeks while 2 modules get only 1 week.

The Syllabus

1. Each week, I expect you to read the assigned readings before class, and narrate them, either to yourself or someone else. Here is a video that explains narration really well: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Ubrs3cSHpw

2. Your nature journal is an important part of your education. Bring it to class every week, as we will add to it every week. You are welcome to add to it during the week, on your own.

3. As you can, take a walk and work to notice how the world around you works. Work to NOTICE, its a practiced skill.

4. I will not tolerate cheating of any sort. There are times you will work with a partner, but you each must do the work. If it is something to be done alone, I expect you to do it on your own. If it is to be done without access to book, I expect you to respect this.

5. If something doesn’t make sense, ASK! I cannot read your mind, and I don’t know when you don’t understand. Exposing your ignorance is the best way to rid yourself of that ignorance.

6. For those students that are interest in delving more deeply into a topic: you may ask for an additional project to do on your time, based on your interest. Or you may propose an addition project/collection (e.g. insect, flower/leaf, rock). Participating in Science Fair will require a fair bit from you. I am available to guide and assist as needed.

7. I will post addition resources on my blog: mamarachael.wordpress.com. Follow the link ‘General Science’ at the top.

8. If you are late to class, there will be a consequence according to the frequency of your lateness, the extremity of your lateness, and the general effectiveness of the consequence according to your character and personality. In other words, don’t be late.

Book: Exploring Creation with General Science, 2nd edition (by Wile)

Assigned reading (pages) Topic
Sept 8 1-15 History of Science
Sept 15 16-23 History of Science
Sept 22 24-34 History of Science
Sept 29 35-58 Scientific Inquiry
Oct 6 Scientific Inquiry
Oct 13 59-82 Doing Experiments
Oct 20 83-94 Science and Technology, aka Simple Machines
Oct 27 95-108 Science and Technology, aka Simple Machines
Nov 3 109-134 Archeology vs Geology vs Paleontology
Nov 10 135-158 Geology
Nov 17 Geology
Dec 1 Geology
Dec 8 159-184 Paleontology
Dec 15 185-214 More Geology
Jan 12 215-222 Life, what is it? Not merely DNA
Jan 19 223-233 Ecology of Life
Jan 26 233-240 Life, what is it? Could be just a cell
Feb 2 241-264 How do we classify life?
Feb 9 293-318 Life takes Energy….
Feb 16 Life takes Energy…
Feb 23 265-292 Human Physical Form
Mar 2 319-342 Human Physical Form
Mar 16 343-357 Human Physical Form
Mar 23 358-366 Human Physical Form
April 6 367-386 Human Physical Form
April 13 387-404, 417-418 Human Physical Form
April 20 405-416 Human Physical Form
April 27 418 Human Physical Form

General comments

Yes, this one looks a lot like the Biology one. Consistency makes it all easier for me.

Do you like my late policy? This gives me the flexibility I need when it’s not the student’s fault they are late, e.g. an older sibling is dropping them off and older sibling is the one running late.

I don’t list all the activities of that day because I found students don’t really read/remember those bits anyways. And this gives me the flexibility to set up each week as I feel is most helpful. This will change, likely, as the year progresses and I learn more of who these students are, their academic levels and personalities.

On the other hand, I do have a good idea of what activities we will do over this year. I will plan these out more specifically over this next week. Baby-steps!

I’ll cover how I plan to run class time in a later post. But please, feel free to ask questions!

High School Biology, CM-style

This next school year (2017 – 2018), I’m teaching 2 classes at one of the local co-ops. We meet once a week, on Friday from Sept through April. I’m teaching high school Biology and jr high general science. For both classes, we are using the Apologia text, which students are required to obtain for themselves.

I plan to run this class as Charlotte Mason-esque as I can muster. I’m familiar with CM philosophies when it comes to teaching, but this is the first time I’m teaching a high school class and applying those philosophies. So, there will be some muddling through, because I still need the class to be rigorous enough to prepare these students for an AP-Biology class or a entrance level college class. I don’t think CM means it can’t be this, but when she was writing 100 years ago, science was a different animal. (ha! pun intended!)

I have set up a page that you can find the link to at the top that will have links to all my CM science class notes.

There are some supplies that are high dollar, but are also for long term use. Like a microscope. Really, you gotta have a microscope. You can get one on amazon for between $100 and $200, you can get a nicer one for $300 to $400. And this is the sort of thing you will use through out jr high and high school. This one is a good beginning scope, as you can use it for a greater variety of objects, and its less than $150.

I also have a sets of slides (for microscope use) purchased in previous years. Homesciencetools.com has slides specifically for Apologia Biology. They have sets designed for other curriculums also.

In fact, Homesciencetools.com has bundles with the basics of what you need to do the Apologia Biology. I’m not getting those for my co-op because I already have slides, and because of our schedule, I cannot just get all the dissection specimens at once. If you order the bundle, e.g. the dissection bundle for Apologia Biology, you will get the dissection kit (nice!) and the 4 specimens all in one bag (ooky!). Unless you are going to dissect all 4 in 1 month, you will want to get stuff separately. And don’t buy dissection specimens until you are within 6 months of using them. Yes, you get stuck with more shipping charges, unfortunately, but this is science. And you don’t want your child or students dissecting a partially decayed specimen. Of course, if you are doing this just within your family, you can schedule your time so that you do the dissections all in one month.

I will link to the items I’m getting for my class. I compared prices and availability between homesciencetools.com, amazon.com and carolina.com.

The advantage of doing a class like this in a class is that the cost of some items are shared across the class. I will (or have) purchase a set of petri dishes, agar (2 bottles), corral, sponge specimen, pond jars and protozoa mixture that the whole class will use. Scalpel blades and pins for dissection come in numbers for the whole class.

I want to get, for the whole class use, a frog hatchery kit, a root viewer kit and a carnivorous fungi kit. I think the supply fee will allow for these 3.

Per set of 2 students, I will get these items. Frog, crayfish, earthworm, perch, scalpel, probe and dissection tray. As funds and time allow, I’ll also get grasshopper, clam, starfish and pig. The pig is a higher priority than the others, so if it turns out that time or funds are tight, I’ll skip grasshopper, clam and starfish and just do a pig. And if I need to do it more as a demonstration, we can do that.

The ‘as time and funds allow’ items are things not specifically talked about in the book, but I think would add to the students understanding of the biological world. And should add to their ‘wow’ factor for the biological world. Because the biological world is just crazy awesome and worth going “wow” for.

And, of course, a nature notebook. I found ones I liked better on amazon, but the one offered here is a better price and still good enough for the beginning nature journaller. I have basic colored pencils, which I know are not ideal, but I’d rather spend more on the biology supplies than on the colored pencils. Yes, I know my CM priorities might be off, but we will deal. This will serve as their ‘lab notebook’ as they draw what they see in the microscope or on the dissection tray. This is another reason to have students work in pairs… one person works the specimens, the other draws, then they switch.

Don’t forget to get gloves. Any time you work with a live specimen or dead one, wear gloves. The formaldehyde that dissection specimens are in will stink up your skin horribly, and, really, you don’t want some random whatever on your skin. And always wash hands with soap well after dealing in these things.

There are books that will help along the way. There are dissection guides for anything you might dissect. There are good books and articles to round out the reading. I will talk about these as we reach that part of the year.

Are there supplies you’d add to this list? What is scary or overwhelming for you? How can I help you be a better biology teacher?