Let Me Tell You Your Mission (In Case You Forgot)

One thing a friend of mine and I were talking about recently is that there is room in the adult world for all kinds of people with all their various quirks and personalities and temperaments.  The diversity of people is such a beautiful thing, and I know I am so grateful that different people want to do different jobs than I would want to do; that different people have different strengths and abilities; that different people even look different and live differently because I find so much beauty in all the varying cultures and faces of the world.  I love it!

So why do people act as if our sole parenting mission, and yes, especially in the middle and upper classes, is for our children to get into a good college and be on a college track?  I am not saying that education is not important.  It is important, but how can we balance this in a healthy way?

Having our teens stress themselves out to the point of having psychosomatic illnesses and fearing for the future and not wanting to grow up because being a teen is already stressful enough (so how stressful must adulthood be?) is not helping this generation.  ANXIETY has now taken over depression as something teenagers are dealing with.  According to this article in the NY Times, 62 percent of undergrads are reporting “overwhelming anxiety.”  There has been a doubling of hospital admissions for suicidal teenagers.  

So, exactly what happens when the push, push for the “good college” is acheived?  What happens in real life outside of this?  My point is that people (and teenagers) are made of more than just their academic portfolio.  There is space in the adult world for many people with their many likes and dislikes and interests and passions. In fact, the adult world probably needs you especially, teenager who is different.

So, parents,  let me tell you your mission in case you have forgotten.  You are here to support your teen and to help guide them.  If you see them putting such pressure on themselves to perform, how can you step in and help them? What will they really need in the adult world to meet their definition of success?  Is their definition of success even healthy? One of the many points in the NY Times article above is that parents are not always driving the anxiety of these teenagers anymore by pushing them, but that instead the teens are internalizing the anxiety themselves and pushing themselves relentlessly.  Health and social relationships are, to me, more important and deserve even more time than academic work.  

You cannot live their life for them.  You are here to help your teen unfold and be who they are going to be.

Life is messy.  Being a teen is messy .  Be supportive and be kind, because you may not know much of what your teen is dealing with at all.

When people ask me about my parenting and goals for my children, I essentially say I want them to be healthy and helpful human beings.  Human beings who are good and loyal friends and family members who will help others.  Human beings who are ethical and who do not divide their public and private lives.  Human beings who can relax and have fun, and yes, make a contribution to something greater than themselves and support themselves.  That is an exciting parenting mission.

Blessings and love,
Carrie

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Planning The High School Years

High school planning is challenging because of the becoming.  I can tell you  I think the largest, biggest, scariest, most brilliant leaps in development happen between ages 15-17 and it happens in ways so hard to predict!  So on one hand, who wants to plan high school so far ahead and pigeon-hole what beautiful opportunities and passions come out of growth?  On the other hand, who wants to think myopically and make the world very small and not plan far enough ahead so that opportunities will  then not be available for the young adult?  I think this is the fine line that every homeschooling family straddles.

So far, I can only tell you our plan for one child, who is currently in tenth grade,  and what we think the next few years will look like.  I am happy to share that; I am also happy to share that ninth and tenth grade have been vastly different for this child and that things are emerging daily that could be a path to something for the future that I cannot even foresee yet.  There really are no planned out tracks or goals for a career right now, no set path.  This child would prefer to have four years of high school and not pursue dual enrollment. In my area, dual enrollment is insanely popular and perhaps for good financial reason.  But I also understand my child and how she wants the excitment to enter college as a freshman (or in taking a gap year and then entering) and how she wants the beauty of the full college experience as a new freshman and how she doesn’t feel ready for dual enrollment with many older students. And I think that is okay!

So, my main advice to you in planning high school is to:

LOOK AT YOUR CHILD.  What is their temperament, their personality, their interests? Are there any outside academic high school classes in your area and if so, does your child want to take them?  Does your child want to go to college?  Do they know what they want to do or do they have an area in which they shine that might lead to a career path?  Do they want to do dual enrollment? Or not?

THINK ABOUT BEING MINIMAL.  High school can suddenly seem very, very complicated.  In all states in the United States, you can create a transcript for graduating high school.  However, if your child is interested in applying to college, there may be certain requirements the college or university is looking for.  So look at the public college system in your state and see what the requirements look like.  After freshman year, perhaps your student will be willing to chime in on a few colleges they like and you can look at those requirements as well.  So, it doesn’t have to be complicated, and it doesn’t have to be limiting. There are many ways to meet science or history requirements,  and many unique areas of focus that would count depending upon the final goal upon high school completion.  Most homeschooling families who have homeschooled multiple children through high school have commented that every high school path has looked different for each teenager.  As it should be – THAT is one reason why we homeschool high school!

DON’T PANIC.  150 hours is usually a humanities credit, and a 180 hours is usually a science with lab credit.  You can fulfill this a variety of ways – hours of experience, using a textbook and getting through most of the textbook, or honestly, when you feel the material has been mastered.  Some will use CLEP tests or SAT II Subject Tests to prove mastery.  If you keep track of what you do as you go along, you will have no trouble putting a transcript together.

CHASE THE PASSIONS. This is why we homeschool high school on one hand, but on the other hand, not every homeschooled kid has this insane passion that takes hours a day.  Be easy on this if they don’t have a passion, but do look for the opportunities that make homeschooling worthwhile!

WALDORF WHAT?  Many of you here are Waldorf homeschoolers and I am here to tell you whilst there is almost no information out there, it is possible to homeschool Waldorf in a high school manner using a mix of track (all year) classes and block classes (just like you did in grades 1-8).  Check out the Waldorf High Schools around the United States on-line and you will see the same blocks over and over with some geographic variation, just like in grades 1-8.  The AWNSA chart created by David Mitchell details high school in it, as does books by Stockmeyer and the book by Finser.  You will be putting together blocks yourself just as you have done through the middle school years when less curricula was available. you can do this!

Our plan right now, for one very specific teenager who wants to go to college and pretty much likes only math (LOL) and whose siblings’ high school courses will look much, much different:

We did World Geography as a year-long course (Oak Meadow’s high school course)  in Grade 8 and High School Spanish I in Grade 8.   These credits could count toward high school if we need them – especially the foreign language.

Ninth Grade – we did Biology as a year-long track class with labs (Oak Meadow with things I added to it); American History (through blocks that added up to enough hours between eighth and ninth grade); Algebra I (outside class in our town); Spanish II (Oak Meadow); and Literature and Composition I (including the typical Comedy and Tragedy block found in ninth grade) and math blocks (see Making Math Meaningful for High School for more information on these blocks).  Typical Waldorf blocks also include Art History, which would count toward a fine arts credit if a college requires it and you add in fine arts projects or toward an elective credit.  We had a credit with Music Theory and Performance (vocal, piano).

Tenth Grade – AP Environmental Science is our year-long track science class (outside class in our town); we will start World History in several blocks and finish that in eleventh grade; United States Government and Civics as a year-long course (and tied back into Greek History and Civics that is a popular block in Waldorf Schools); Literature and Composition I (taught in blocks, this year, Ancient Literature, Epic Poetry, Contemporary African-American Poetry/Essays) and math blocks.  Books with reports throughout the year.  Health and Physical Fitness (Oak Meadow).  Geometry and Algebra II/Trig were the other two outside classes our tenth grader chose to take (two credits total) along with the math blocks found in tenth grade Waldorf Schools.  Our embryology block will tie back into our Biology credit from ninth grade.  We will also have another credit with Music Theory and Performance II.

Eleventh Grade – Chemistry will be our science, I believe, along with several blocks of botany found traditionally in Waldorf Schools and blocks on astronomy.  We will finish World History and include resources on world religions, usually found in Waldorf Schools in this grade.  Eleventh Grade English is usually Dante, Parsifal and more in this grade, so still deciding that route.  Books with reports throughout the year.  Math will be Precalculus and possibly AP Statistics as outside classes (two credits).  We will most likely have another credit in music and will apply the hours in our History Through Music block to this.

Twelfth Grade – Physics and Calculus will be our outside classes, most likely along with AP English and AP Psychology, also outside the home.  The traditional Waldorf blocks include literature such as  Faust , Transcendentalists, and Russian literature, so I will be drawing from those, and History through Architecture.  We most likely will have another credit in music and I would love to cover Marine Biology, but we will see how far we get.

There are some things we may not cover, such as a lot of Earth Science, which is covered in Waldorf Schools. However, I think for the most part, our plan lines up to both some of the things found important developmentally in Waldorf Schools and also meets requirements for the more competitive colleges our teen is dreaming of applying to.

So that is our plan, but mostly we want to be flexible and allow time for all of our teen’s passions, of which there are a few (mainly horseback riding and musical ventures, and involvement at our parish).

Tell me your high school plans!

Blessings,
Carrie

What Are Waldorf Grades 6-8 About Anyway?

In the Waldorf School, there is often a sharp drop-off at sixth grade (the twelve year change), and then again as children enter high school in grade nine, as many parents switch to different forms of education.  This is also happens in Waldorf homeschooling. I know very few people who are Waldorf homeschooling grades 6-8 in the manner in which they homeschooled grades 1-5.  For many homeschoolers, this coincides with an uptick in outside activities of their children with just not enough time to plan or implement something lengthy, the want/need for children to do something more independently, or simply a dissatisfaction with the middle school curriculum as it is often said the true “thinking” part of Waldorf Education begins in high school.

I personally think it may be more of a daunting teaching problem rather than anything else.  I found this interesting quote regarding a more esoteric view of the human being  from  January 2002, Volume 7 #1: Did Rudolf Steiner Want a Seven-Grade Elementary School Configuration? – Waldorf Library in discussing whether or not a teacher should be with a class for all eight classes:

Waldorf education is not only about educating but about “awakening” the children. If a teacher does not possess the powers of awakening a certain age group, should one not accept that and instead work with the principle of specialization?

I think this problem of “awakening” children sometimes is daunting not only for teachers in a Waldorf School setting (who really might be better served by being with early years children) and who don’t want to awaken older children, but also for homeschool teachers as well…if we don’t awaken children by throwing facts and judgment at their heads, then how do we awaken them in the middle school grades?   How do we teach?  As the days with older children grow busier and more out of the home, these grades are not spoken about nearly enough compared to first and second grade, at least in the homeschool world. How do we get sixth through eighth graders ready for high school?  Still, though, in my observation of my own children and in looking at other children from even non-Waldorf families and what those children are ASKING to study during those years, the Waldorf curriculum meets those needs in a lovely way.

I found this interesting quote regarding a more esoteric view of the human being  from  this article:

The four upper grades deal with the same aspects of the human being in reverse order. In the fifth grade, the great individuals of Ancient History stand as a polarity to the Norse Myths, because they both deal with the human ego. The sixth grade topic of Romans, especially Roman law, is polar to the Hebrew Law because law shapes the astral. The seventh grade topic of Age of Discovery is polar to the topic of animal fables; both are connected to the life of people/ animals or to the etheric in general. The eighth grade topic of cultural history is polar to the archetypes found in Fairy tales of the first grade, because both describe the nature of human archetype thus representing the physical body level of the curriculum. A teacher who masters such interrelationships has mastered the content, form, and organic wholeness of the entire curriculum, and is thereby able to give the children the sense that all the subjects are interconnected and taught for a purpose.

Steiner did give indications of what to bring in these upper grades and it all culminates beautifully in the high school curriculum, where tenth grade is back into Ancient History, eleventh grade is back into Medieval and Renaissance topics, and twelfth grade is back into modern scenes.  A beautiful balance of the working of the will (cultural geography), working with the heart (history and literature), and working with clarity of thinking (math and sciences) permeates all grades.

I urge you to think about how the curriculum that served your children so well in the younger years serves them even better in the upper grades and high school.  I see children in the middle school years who are asking about the exact topics that the curriculum provides! It doesn’t change just because a child is past 12 or even past the 15/16 change.  The curriculum meets the child in front of you.

Many blessings,

Carrie

Homeschooling Waldorf Ninth Grade

So, we are fast coming to a close on our ninth grade year.  This year was not nearly as light and fun as I predicted it to be for several reasons:

  1. My own inexperience.  I felt confident in teaching any subject at all, but it was still hard in terms of what would best reach my student – for example, the order of topics within biology, more literature analysis versus composition in language arts, etc.
  2. The year was busy with outside things and we had less time to be home and really do elaborate projects and things.
  3. We were still trying out resources to find what really clicked.
  4. My expectations were too high.  All over the Internet I kept reading, “Oh, it is so easy to homeschool high school!  They are so independent and all you have to do is facilitate!”  That may be true for students attending a hybrid school or taking all on-line classes, but I did NOT find this to be true in our case. Also, at least according to a Waldorf perspective, a  ninth grader is in a black and white stage where they do not think too deeply; it is general thinking and not introspective thinking; the main focus is outward and not inward – it is simply the year of “WHAT?”   “What is happening around me?”  Some Waldorf sources note the students are willing to do work without too much questioning of “Why?”  Again, this did not fit our case at all.  My ninth grader was not excited about homework or, happy to take things in but not so happy to provide any response.

So, my tips and advice as to what I would have done differently and what might help you as you plan ninth grade:

  1.  I would have spent the year doing a physical science or an environmental science and saved biology for tenth grade.  And in doing biology, I would use Oak Meadow again (which we found halfway through the first semester after an unsatisfying start), but I would re-arrange it so we started with the “macro level” of taxonomy, the kingdoms, and worked down to the microscopic level. This is what we are used to in Waldorf Education, and I think it would have made more sense to us even though pretty much every high school text starts with the cellular level.   I tried to start this year with using my own syllabus I created using Campbell (the high school level) Biology book, “The Way Things Work,”  and several lab books that many homeschoolers use, but this did not work for us. Oak Meadow Biology did work well for us, with added resources from Waldorf resources and Teachers Pay Teachers.  We did keep a Main Lesson book and did all the experiments and that was fine.
  2. We started the year with a Comedy and Tragedy block, which was a hit.  After that, we used American colonial poetry and the book “The Last of the Mohicans” with our Native American/Early American History block.  This was more difficult but okay. We then used pieces of the Oak Meadow syllabus to look through several works of literature, including “House of the Scorpion”, “Kidnapped,” and “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” and poetry by Mary Oliver.  Most of this was not enjoyable to our student and rather like pulling teeth.  I think when I re-do ninth grade, we will spend the year writing, but not  as much literary analysis.   I  would advise you to look at your student and see if you think your student would be better served with composition (argumentative/persuasive writing, narrative writing,  descriptive writing, expository writing, etc ) or is ready for analysis of literature past one block or so.  One idea I had was to base the types of writing across the year on Art History, which normally is  one or two blocks in the Waldorf Schools in ninth grade. So I may try that next time, (although my next student is super science-oriented, so I may base that through science next time!)
  3. I would have alternated solely the history/language arts blocks -3- 4 months each, 2 hours a day would have met the required hours for a college track class (120 hours), and then just added the math and science as year long classes. So yes, you would be teaching blocks plus two track classes at home, which could be a lot on top of teaching younger children.  But I think one could pull it off with careful planning.
  4. Apart from science, which I really do not believe you can get enough credit hours over four years with blocks to equal 180 hours in biology, chemistry, etc with labs, I would look carefully at keeping the block system with running math and science as year long courses if your student loves block learning like mine.  I had grand plans for more blocks, but we ended up with an Early American history  block to finish off our American history credit, Comedy and Tragedy, Literature, Art History ,  and year long courses in Ninth Grade Literature and Composition,  Biology, Algebra I, and Spanish II.  It wasn’t horrible or anything, but I felt like it all could have been lighter and more fun.
  5. Think carefully about what you might need to farm out to save your own sanity, and be prepared it may or may not really be what you needed!  This happens.  For example,  I farmed out Algebra I , but I wish I had farmed out the language arts component instead.
  6. We did have some great experiential learning this year, so borrow a trick from our unschooling friends and keep track of the hours of an experience and count that toward credits.  For example, we did a two hour class on fish anatomy, physiology, and classification, so that could count toward biology.  We did another class at our local aquarium on sharks, so that too could count towards biology.

I have some big plans for tenth grade since I had an epiphany this weekend, so stay tuned for some more ideas of dealing with the upper grades.  I have some ways I am thinking of combining seventh and tenth grades!

Many blessings and love,

Carrie

A Day In The Life of Messy Waldorf Homeschooling

The older my children get, the harder it is to write about homeschooling.  The Waldorf curriculum is a constant for us, but every child reacts so differently to it in the homeschool environment and it is hard for me to know if any of our experiences will translate.  Homeschoolers tend to paint this picture of things being lovely on blogs and Instagram.  Our days can be lovely too, but  some days are not, and I find with older children they look much different than when I had children all in 5th or 6th grade and younger.  It is not as beautiful as the early grades when all the children were more on the same page as far as the curriculum; it is more academic; it is more juggling for me because the children are so spread out in ages (if you are a first time reader, my children are 9th grade, 6th grade, 1st grade) and it is more focusing on areas that are difficult and time-consuming.

Today started with the usual – breakfast.  My children really want hot meals at most meal times.  My fifteen year old and twelve year old absolutely can cook and do, but I find if I do breakfast it is speedier and gets us off to a better start.  So today I threw oatmeal and flaxseeds in the crockpot with some cinnamon and cut up pears and sauteed some apples in cinnamon, butter, and a little coconut sugar.

We started with our littlest guy.  After his opening verses, he is doing a lovely circle regarding Pelle’s Suit from the book, “Movement Journeys and Circle Adventures” but I added in a number of Spring Wynstone verses about daffodils, violets,  gnomes and the Spring Queen.  In this way, we wake up our voices, our fingers and toes.  We woke up our minds with some movement math.  Then we reviewed.  We started with a little song he knows well.  It was written on the board – (“Spring is coming, Spring is coming, birdies build their nest, Weave together straw and feather, Doing each their best) and we hunted for all the S’s, all the c’s, found the letter that makes the “W” sound, etc.  We also practiced saying the words and clapping on the S’s and stomping on the b’s.  He still mixes up some of the letters and their sounds, so we played some games of putting little alphabet cards that he wrote in order and then I pick a sound and he finds the letter or vice versa (and then he quizzes me!).  We also took turns writing the capital letter on the board and writing the little letter friend that matches – big A, little a, for example.  He re-told the story of Snow White and Rose Red to me in exquisite detail, and we modeled a bear.  Then we painted not so much a bear, but the gesture of a bear in red, with yellow around it for the gold, and then a shy blue hiding in the corners.  The painting looks like the painting of any other first grade with a play of abstract color, but to us it represents the strong bear who could defeat a dwarf and the inner gold we all carry.  I put a sentence on the board from the story and we looked at it carefully, finding all the letters.  Tomorrow we will re-tell the story again, and draw and write from the story and have a new story.

During this, my sixth grader was bringing me her report on Attila the Hun.  She is using the book “Attila the Hun” from the Villians of History series and going through the chapters and writing down three things from each chapter that she learned.  On Friday, we will take all her notes and make it into a little report that will bridge our Rome History Block and our Medieval Block.  And my ninth grader was wandering in and out, muttering about writing up a lab and how the graph was weird (which I later figured out it was because I was having her plot the wrong thing. Oops!  We did fix it).

Next I worked with our ninth grader.  We started with biology.  We have been doing ecology and lately succession and biomes in particular (and catching up on labs since we switched programs in the fall semester and are still catching up). We looked at the lab she was having trouble with, and fixed that.  Then we forged ahead with using a microscope.  Oak Meadow Biology doesn’t require a microscope, but I wanted our ninth grader to have this experience, so today we were using the microscope to review mitosis and using some labs I pulled off the Internet.  We also looked back through our main lesson book at mitosis since this was something we did earlier this year. Then we moved into our more current topic and went through the biology chapter and I have had several main lesson book activities for this topic.  Lastly, we went through the book Kidnapped our ninth grader is reading for literature and went through comprehension questions and vocabulary.  During this, our first grader was playing, our sixth grader was practicing violin and reading the fiction book, “The Dancing Bear” for bridging our history blocks.

We had lunch, which I hurried along and brought a smoothie for myself to the school room.  It was time for our sixth grader  to get to  work.  We worked on spelling, math written and with movement and some grammar exercises regarding possessive pronouns. This all sounds simple, but it took over an hour and we didn’t have lots of time left. We reviewed her information about Attila the Hun and made plans for moving forward.  She has a few things to finish up in her Rome Main lesson book, and we hope to finish this week.  We are also working on business math.  We have gone through the history of math, and we are going over fractions, percentages, and decimals.   During this time, our ninth grader was re-writing her lab, and working on some questions surrounding her literature assignment.  Our first grader was playing in the school room and throughout all three lessons, our little puppy was being entertained by whatever child was available and sitting on my feet with toys.  After school, it  was time to get ready to go to the barn and have a horseback riding lesson.  The fresh air was welcome! We came home for a later dinner  and made dinner and everyone was ready to relax.

We had a slow start to this year and even in January, but things are finally falling into place (at least for now until it changes, LOL).  Hope you all are having some catch-up days to your school if you need it or settling into the groove of a new semester!

If you post a day in the life of your homeschool, please do link it here in the comment box!  I would love to hear from you!

Blessings,
Carrie

First Semester Ninth Grade Wrap-Up

It was a steep learning curve for my teaching this semester, my friends.  I have never taught ninth grade before, and I think what I mainly remembered from high school was twelfth grade.  And i kind of forgot how I got there, if that makes sense.  So, I want to share my mistakes with you so you don’t have to re-create the wheel when you get to ninth grade homeschooling. Now of course, this is how I think I should have changed things for this particular child in our family situation, and it may work out totally differently for you and your child!  So, I guess maybe these are just points to ponder.

In no particular order:

  1. I would recommend to decide what your track and block subjects will be if you are still continuing to homeschool with Waldorf Education as your base.  We are doing Algebra I as a track class with an outside teacher; High School Spanish II as a track class through Oak Meadow (enrolled); blocks on American History to add to last year’s blocks to make a credit for social studies;  Literature and Composition throughout in a combination of blocks and weekly readings and responses; Biology as a track class;  Art History and Foundations in Design and Drawing as both a block and weekly artistic projects. Our music credit we are getting through our church’s musical theory and performance program.  What I have found   is  that it is  very hard to earn enough hours to make a high school credit if you ONLY do things in one or two blocks,  unless you add up the blocks from multiple years.  And really, I think  there is a lot of material to cover so you need both weekly and block experiences
  2. Count your  hours of experiences as well.  I have used 4H experiences, experiences at our National Parks earning badges, and field trips all as part of experiential learning in each  subject area because I consider that to be a main feature of a Waldorf Education at this level – seeking truth from experts in the field; doing things instead of just reading about them.  Plan and count your experiences! Field trips!
  3. Biology may work out well for some children this year, but I would  put it in tenth grade if I had to do it over.  If you put it in ninth grade, be prepared to have both you and your student put a lot of time into it.    I would choose a physical science or environmental science if you must have a track science class in ninth grade.
  4. Pre-read all the works of literature you plan to cover.   I am sure this is where teaching the same grade multiple years in a row yields advantages!  This semester we covered The Last of the Mohicans, and in accordance with the Christopherus Comedy and Tragedy guide, we covered Electra by Sophocles, The Damask Drum (Japanese Noh Drama), Twelfth Night, Six Characters In Search of An Author, and Raisin in the Sun.  The Last of the Mohicans fit in great with American History, but it was a really difficult go and probably would have been better in eleventh or twelfth grade.  Neither of us enjoyed Six Characters in Search of An Author, and had I pre-read it I probably would have picked a different work to showcase an example of modern theater.  Some books have themes that your child may or may not be ready for in these works, so that is another reason to  pre-read.  Next semester we are using some works  from Oak Meadow’s Literature and Composition I course along with The  Old Man and the Sea.  I will let you know how it goes!  Literary analysis is exceedingly hard for most ninth graders, and so you must have a clear progression in your mind as the teacher as to how you are going to develop this and work toward this.
  5. Keep your rhythm and the artistic and  academic deepening work going in that same two or three day rhythm you used througout the grades. I have found that this worked really well, and kept us grounded.  I hope to share some pictures of our work at some point in the future.
  6. Don’t forget to hike, celebrate the seasons and festivals, get outside, pursue interests.  The whole point is to be well-rounded.
  7. Handwork, music, dance and movement, gardening, cooking  – don’t give up. Find spots for it, both in the main lesson and the track classes, but also separately.

Share with me your high school homeschooling experiences!  I can’t wait to learn from you!

Blessings,

Carrie

High School American History

We are finishing up our last bit of bookwork for our high school American History course.  It took us eighth grade through the first part of ninth grade to finish this with a few more field trips to come in the next semester.  I approached this through a doing/presentation-artistic deepening-academic skills sort of rhythm and used many experiential things as our “doing” – from field trips to Junior Ranger programs to reading primary documents.

The way I approached American History in our Waldorf homeschooling was actually to place Colonial History and an extensive overview of the American Revolution through biographies at the very end of seventh grade.  It just made sense in the context of the Age of Exploration and what happened after that.  This did not count toward our high school credit, of course, but it helped lay the foundation for what was coming in Eighth Grade.  I can give details of what we covered in our seventh grade American history block if anyone is interested.

In Eighth Grade, I did two blocks of American History.  I also wove Hurricane Katrina, The Panama Canal, and the history of the Modern Middle East/American relationships into our World Geography, but I did not count those hours toward American history.  I just wanted those subjects covered and I liked putting them in World Geography.

In Eighth Grade we covered essentially the time of Lewis and Clark through the War on Terror and the Age of Digitality.  In Ninth Grade, we started at the beginning again once more from a Native American perspective and talked about time back to the land bridge, how do we think the Native Americans came to be in America, the history of Native Americans in the Southeast where we live, the struggles up through Colonial Times, and then moved into Thirteen Colonies, the precipitating events for the American Revolution and the  outcome.  We used MANY primary documents from this time period, from Colonial documents to political cartoons from this period to American songsheets and music from these times.  We took our time to analyze the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution.

Our American History was…. a lot.  I will try to detail what we did, projects, what we read, what went into our Main Lesson Books.

Experiential Learning:

Native American/Early Regional Historical Sites Visited:

  • Russell Cave National Monument Site –   Bridgeport, AL  Junior Ranger Program Badge Earned
  • Fort Matanzas National Monument –  St. Augustine, FL  Junior Ranger Program Badge Earned
  • Fort Castillo de San Marcos – St. Augustine, FL
  • Etowah Indian Mounds – Cartersville, GA

Searching for some terrific American Revolution sites in our state and South Carolina to travel to in the Spring. 🙂

Civil War Historical Sites Visited:

  • Sweetwater Creek State Park/New Manchester Mill Ruins – Lithia Springs, GA
  • Manassas National  Battlefield Park – Mannasas, VA
  • Kennesaw Mountain Battlefield – Kennesaw, GA
  • Earned Junior Ranger Limited Edition Civil War Badge (2015)

Play:   “Freedom Train” -regarding the life of Harriet Tubman  – Atlanta, GA

  • Mammoth Cave National Park – Mammoth Cave, KY – Historic Tour/Black History of Mammoth Cave

Gilded Age Historical Sites Visited:

  • Biltmore Estate – Asheville, NC

Modern Historical Sites Visited:

  •  Jimmy Carter National Historic Site – Plains, GA Junior Ranger Badge Earned
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Historic Site – Atlanta, GA  Junior Ranger Badge Earned
  • On my list are our two museums of Jewish heritage and holocaust education and all of their programs as they tie into the local history  of our area, The Center for Human and Civil Rights, and the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library.  Hopefully Spring!  There are so many places to go, and since I have younger students coming up, there will be many places to go and visit through the next four years.

Required Literature  List for Student for American History:

  • Poetry of Anne Bradstreet and Phillis Wheatley, which we analyzed
  • Last of the Mohicans – Cooper (ninth grade, difficult read for ninth grade.  Preview for your student).  Extensive analysis and vocabulary lists.
  • Sing Down the Moon – O’Dell
  • Sacajawea – Bruchac
  • Theodore Roosevelt – Benge and Benge
  • Freedom Train – Sterling
  • Across Five Aprils – Hunt.  Extensive analysis.
  • Elijah of Buxton – Curtis. An absolute favorite.
  • Profiles in Courage – Kennedy.
  • The Greatest Speeches of Ronald Reagan – Reagan – mainly skimmed and picked out speeches or phrases that typified Reagan.
  • The Audacity of Hope – Obama
  • Political Documents included primary resources from Library of Congress regarding Colonial life, maps of Colonial Boston and Philadelphia, analyzing documents regarding Colonial New York City, songsheets from Colonial and Revolutionary War Era, polictical cartoons from varying time periods, The Declaration of Independence, The US Constitution, The Bill of Rights.

Artistic Projects Completed:

  • Native American Basketry Project
  • Native American Beading Project
  • Early Colonial American Teapot
  • Portraits of American leaders in multimedia – pencil, collage, charcoal
  • Learned three songs from the American Revolutionary time period to perform
  • Mapmaking
  • Main Lesson book pages listed below

In our Main Lesson Books, Eighth Grade (note this doesn’t cover every thing we did or discussed in class, but just what we decided to put into the Main Lesson Book).

  • Beautiful Title Page
  • Portrait Thomas Jefferson
  • The Louisiana Purchase (map, summary)
  • Map of the Travels of Lewis and Clark
  • Summary, drawings of the Mexican-American War, Timeline of the Mexican-American War
  • Multi-media presentation of the North (mill) and the South (cotton fields) – one was watercolor painting, one was oil pastels
  • Causes of the Civil War (extensive summary)
  • Map of the Union and Confederate States and the Territories
  • Biographies of Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman, and Robert E. Lee
  • Timeline of the Civil War
  • Summary of the Plains Indians War, the Indian Removal Act, multimedia portrait of Sitting Bull
  • Summary of the Gilded Age and a Map of the Biltmore Estate (an example of Gilded Age architecture)
  • World War I Summary (extensive)
  • Portrait of a flapper from the 1920s
  • Portraits of Franklin D. Roosevelt (and Winston Churchill as well) (we spent a lot of time on their biographies),  large page with a timeline of World War II, The Seeds of WWII, The Home Front, How the Allies Won WWII
  • Drawing and Summary of the Cold War – we studied Eisenhower extensively and included McCarthyism, the Korean War, the Day of Pigs invastion, the Cuban Missle Crisis, the Vietnam War in this summary, along with the fall of the Berlin War
  • The Speeches of Ronald Reagan – student used an excerpt of Reagan’s speech “A Shining City” and drawing
  • War on Terror, comic book strip style of events
  • Summary of The Digital Age – Coloseus Machine to ARPANET to the  WWW onward
  • Peacemakers – started with poem from Mattie JT Stepanek
  • Civil Right Timeline/Multimedia Collage tissue paper, drawing, cutouts of the saying of Martin Luther King Jr. “Love Will See You Through”

Ninth Grade Main Lesson Book Included:

  • Beautiful Title Page
  • The PaleoIndian Period (summary and drawing)
  • The Archaic Period  (summary)
  • The Woodland Period  (summary and drawing)
  • The Mississipian Period  (summary and drawing)
  • James Ogelthorpe and Chief Tomochichi (line drawing,  summary)
  • Letter to sibling extolling Colonial life, natural resources of chosen colonial city (we had compared and contrasted Colonial New York City, Colonial Boston, and the Southern Colonies  ( our daughter chose Boston as her pretend place of living during Colonial times)
  • Map of Boston during Colonial Times to go with letter to sibling
  • Events Leading to the Revolutionary War (summary)
  • Timeline of the Revolutionary War by year – so pages for 1774-75, 1776-1778, etc.  These had a large border with events listed inside the border and then a featured point of interest about those years in the middle of the page.
  • Analysis of The Declaration of Independence, The US Consitution, and The Bill of Rights

My hope is to keep extending the theme of America into our high school years in varying subjects and to especially look at Native American literature and literature and to keep referring to and analyzing political documents from history and to keep looking at current events.   So, I guess the learning never stops, but this was a good foundation.

Many blessings,
Carrie