10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Review
Wisdom makes one wise person more powerful than ten rulers in a city. ~ Ecclesiastes 7:19
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We survived our Sophomore year of High School; we are halfway done! It felt like this year was a little easier than Freshman year, probably because we didn’t have Geometry!
Here’s the overview of everything we used this year:
·Math – Teaching Textbooks Algebra II
·Science – Apologia Advanced Biology
·Social Studies – Notgrass American History
·English I – Notgrass Literature and Composition to accompany American History
·Bible – Notgrass
·Spanish II – BJU Press Spanish II
·Driver’s Education – SC Rules of the Road, Price Driving School, Meals on Wheels Route
Teaching Textbooks is basically 2 steps: watch the lesson then complete the problems. It was originally designed as a disc-based program but has moved to online delivery. The newest version, 4.0 was designed to work on mobile devices as well. We started using TT for Pre-algebra and this is the last year we will use it. We have only used the disc-based program because our rural internet didn’t support the online format so my description is based on the discs only.
The lesson is generally about 15-20 minutes and some of the lessons will prompt the student to answer questions throughout to make sure they are understanding concepts. After the lecture, there is the option to do practice problems or dive right into the assignment which is usually 20-25 problems. Many of the problems will have a hint available to reiterate concepts that were introduced in the lesson and any problem that isn’t multiple choice will allow a second attempt at the answer. Every problem offers an explanation of the solution which is helpful for the ones that are missed. TT was designed for independent learning but I usually watch the lesson with Connor so I can help him when needed.
Algebra 2 definitely went better than Geometry! There is some debate about if TT is challenging enough but I feel that at least through Algebra 2, it has done an adequate job. We are switching programs next year because TT doesn’t have Calculus and we want to use the same program for Pre-Calculus and Calculus.
Apologia has been our go-to curriculum for science since we started homeschooling. I feel it has consistently been a well-written, comprehensive curriculum that is rigorous enough for college-bound students. Apologia is a Christian curriculum and every module incorporates God as the Creator into the lesson, so if you are looking for a secular curriculum, Apologia is not it. The curriculum includes a textbook, student workbook, a test booklet and answer key for study guides, summaries and tests. The textbook consists of 16 modules, contains the answers to on your own questions and in the back has a list of needed supplies for experiments organized by chapter. The student notebook includes a lesson plan for the textbook, has a place for notes, on your own questions, study guides, module summaries and a section for lab notes.
The textbook is written to be read independently by your student but I read the lessons so it is more like a lecture. Most of the experiments utilize supplies that are generally found at home or are easily accessible at the supermarket. Advanced Biology also requires a specimen kit for dissection labs which is available at the Apologia website and christianbook.com and the use of a microscope and prepared slides. They also suggested using an Anatomy Coloring book which we found very helpful since most of the tests had diagrams of the different organ systems.
Notgrass American History, English II & Bible
We switched back to Notgrass for American History this year and it worked out really well. The Notgrass High School Curriculum is designed to be 1 credit for History, 1 credit for English, and 1 credit for Bible. The curriculum is designed to be completed independently by the student, but again, I read it as more of a lecture then Connor completes any assignments. Each of the 30 weekly units in Exploring America has an introduction that features a summary of the material covered, a list of lessons, books required for that unit, and suggested writing assignments. Each of the 150 daily lessons (five lessons per week) includes the history text and the reading assignments. There is an optional workbook with questions for each unit and I would usually select a few questions to be answered.
The curriculum works somewhat like a unit study to give credit in History, English and Bible. The History credit involves reading the lessons, the original documents and speeches, and answering the questions in the optional Student Review Pack if desired. The English credit involves completing several writing assignments, including one research paper; reading the assigned poems, and short stories in American Voices, along with assigned novels that accompany each unit. The Bible credit involves reading the Bible lessons, completing the Bible assignments at the end of many lessons, reading the hymns and other religious literature assigned.
After using BJU Press for Spanish I last year, we decided to stick with it for Spanish II.
The entire package includes a Teacher Manual and activity workbook answer key, a student text and activity workbook, tests and answer key. The curriculum also utilizes afterschoolhelp.com with audio recordings for different activities that require reading, vocabulary, etc. in Spanish. The audio is used in both the textbook and activity workbook.
The Spanish II curriculum focuses strengthens the student’s foundations in Spanish communication. They will explore the Spanish language thematically as they follow the journey of eight characters from Spanish-speaking countries who are learning about their culture and history. BJU press is a Christian curriculum that includes religious aspects in the lessons. The material is laid out really well and breaks down the lesson plan so there isn’t any pre-planning needed. We just open our books and get started.
I really feel like the BJU Spanish curriculum is good, but it is also hard, especially teaching it as someone who does not speak Spanish. Spanish II was more challenging and pretty slow-going, Connor learned some basics and quite a bit of vocab but I would say he definitely isn’t planning to minor in a foreign language in college. That being said, his sister took 3 years of Spanish in public school and she found out pretty quickly that she wasn't cut out for a Spanish minor either.
I’m not going to lie, the thought of teaching our 15 year old to drive may have been more daunting than Geometry! In South Carolina, teens can get their permits at 15 and get their license at 15 ½ if they have all of their driving hours in. I’m sure every state is different so definitely check with your state to see what is required as homeschoolers to get your child on the road. Connor studied the Rules of the Road and then went to the DMV to take the written test just after his 15th birthday. The plan was to get most of his driving hours needed then have him take a class at a local driving school and get his required hours there.
The traffic in SC is much busier than in our rural IL town so driving hours were a little scary for all of us. He had mentioned wanting to pick up a weekly Meals on Wheels route (after doing it with the Youth Volunteer Corps) and at the time, they only had open routes to the outlying areas, so we agreed to do one of those. As luck would have it, the route to a smaller community proved to be a really good opportunity for him to clock time behind the wheel without all of the traffic. The rest of his driving was primarily driving to church on Wednesday nights so it took a little while to get all the hours he needed. Once he had most of his hours, he took a Saturday class at the driving school, spent 6 hours behind the wheel with the instructor then was able to take the driving test with his instructor instead of going to the DMV. He passed, of course, then we took all the paperwork to the DMV and he was able to get his license about 3 months before his 16th birthday. I think most homeschoolers use a driving school, some public schools allow homeschoolers to take driver’s ed., and I think some states just allow the parent to teach their child then go take the written and driving test at the DMV. Whichever route you take, good luck and God speed!
That’s it for our 10th grade year, it was a pretty good experience overall. I want to reiterate how many resources there are to help if you don’t feel equipped to homeschool high school. No one expects you to be a seasoned teacher of every subject, find a great curriculum and help your student work through it. If you run into problems, Google and Khan Academy are great places to start for help. I know Junior year is going to be a little harder, we have a lot to pack in, including prepping for the PSAT and ACT, working towards his Congressional Gold Medal, and running his business on Poshmark. So, if you have any great ideas to make 11th grade easier, I’m always accepting advice!