9th Grade – Homeschooling High School | 2017-2018 School Year

Crazy times. My oldest will begin high school this year.

Our state has a program whereby high school junior and seniors can attend the community college as dual enrollment students, and it’s our plan to take advantage of that program. Both my husband and I graduated high school with an AA through our local community college, and it was a good experience for us both.

All signs seem to indicate it will also be a good fit for our oldest, and so when I sat down to plot out a high school plan, I was actually thinking in terms of the last two years I’ll be teaching him at home.

Woah.

High School Priorities

In seventh & eighth grade we’ve worked on the skills of independence, not without tears from us both. Experience is often the best teacher, and he’s had the opportunity to have experiences with procrastination, defining “done” for himself, shoddy work, and trying to slide under the radar without doing things. Such things are totally normal, and even though I was expecting them (having done them all myself at his age), I should have been checking up (or checking in more closely) than I sometimes did.

Those experiences have been had and we’ve both learned, but that doesn’t mean we get to check the box and move on as if we won’t have those same problems over again. That’s not how temptation works, is it? No, now we’ve established the rhythms of looking at work, establishing standards, and following through. It’s time to keep it up and not grow weary rather than ease up and think a lesson once learned is learned for good.

That’s not been true in my life, so I can’t expect it would be in anyone else’s.

But my goal and priority for high school is to make that checking in feel more like camaraderie of learning rather than taskmaster checking boxes.

homeschool high school

And that means keeping up with his reading myself, something I’ve always wanted to do, but never made the time to do.

When I look at his book stack now, though, I’m jealous, so I have even more motivation to follow along.

Homeschool Plans for High School

Here is his lineup for the year:

spreadsheet

If push comes to shove and this is too much, then the Great Courses music lectures go (or become free-time listening). I heard about it from Amber Vanderpol, and thought it’d be a nice addition – one he’d enjoy that would add to his appreciation for various piano pieces he’s learning.

As I estimate times and run numbers, I’m guessing this will amount to around 4 hours a day of schoolwork, including Morning Time. So if we get started right at 8 and he is focused, he could be done by lunch some days, but I’m going to be warning him that the 1pm-2pm hour after an hour lunch break is reserved for schoolwork as well.

spreadsheet

We are again using Trello for our homeschool checklists because that has been working great for us. Here’s a tour of my 9th grader’s Trello to-do list:

Once a week I’ll be teaching a writing and literature class I’m looking forward to. We’ll be reviewing grammar by diagramming a Heidelberg Q&A, one sentence a week in class and one sentence a week homework (most of them have deep thought expressed in clearly structured sentences). We’ll practice persuasive essays, and I’ll be basing my lessons off Lost Tools of Writing, but not following the program exactly and not using the student workbook. Those essays will be on topics related to our literature discussions. And for literature, we’ll be reading The Pilgrim’s Progress by Bunyan, Emma by Jane Austen, Oliver Twist by Dickens, and Huckleberry Finn by Twain.

For 30-45 minutes, this 8th/9th class will combine with the 6th/7th class and we’ll do Shakespeare (Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet), Plutarch (Cato & Publicola), and Art (using parts of The Story of Painting plus prints and Khan Academy videos).

homeschool books

How to plan your best homeschool year yet.

If you’re getting ready for homeschool planning, or you feel like you’re missing something in your plans, I highly recommend Plan Your Year by Pam Barnhill. When you purchase Plan Your Year, you not only get planning forms, the best step-by-step guide out there, and a Facebook support group, you also get several bonus audio sessions – one of which is an hour conversation Pam and I had on overcoming obstacles in our homeschool days.



P.S. The Plan Your Year Planning Kit comes with several bonus audio sessions, one of which is a conversation Pam and I had about overcoming obstacles in your homeschool days.

34 Responses

  1. Salena
    | Reply

    Before today, our 9th grader’s biology wasn’t quite figured out. The spot was blank on my planning page! After reading this, I did a bit of research, read a bunch of reviews and looked at samples – it looks like a good fit for my son. Thanks or introducing this book. Would you mind sharing your weekly plans for science?

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Sure! I’ll email you the spreadsheet. :)

      • Salena
        | Reply

        Thank you- I appreciate it!

      • Kelly
        | Reply

        My I ask for the spreadsheet as well? It would be extremely helpful and thank you so much for being willing to share all this hard work with us! Bless you! ;).

        • Mystie Winckler
          |

          Sent you an email with the link. :)

        • Lori
          |

          I’d appreciate it, too. Anything to avoid Apologia! LOL I just don’t have that much time or energy to put into a curriculum when my kid shall not a scientist be.

      • Leslie
        | Reply

        I loved this post, and I’d love to have you send me the spreadsheet for your science plan as well!! :)

  2. Katrina Breit
    | Reply

    Hi Mystie, thanks for sharing the 9th grade plan. :) Will you be doing any more posts on how you track credits or develop the assignments? Your assignments have a strong CM flair and your lessons are short. I desire this for my freshman son! He doesn’t need to be overloaded with busywork or the overwhelming load that afflicts so many high school students. Do you think that the screen shots are representative of the required output for the entire school year? Is the weekly plan going to repeat all year long unless a course correction is needed? Are you assigning the Barzun book having read it (it scares me)? Are you going with the assumption that your son will read and take from it what he is able to? Will he be doing anything with the readings other than what is visible in the screenshot or the Trello video (thanks for that by the way)? Are you facilitating any discussion or listening to/requiring narrations or essays? I have the same questions for you about the Riot & the Dance. Do you have a weekly plan that will carry you through the year? Are you doing any labs or is this a read/sketch/define/answer/watch Khan plan only? Did you comb through every chapter and choose what he is to sketch/define/answer and then choose a Khan video to go along with that chapter? Will you be using the review questions at the end of the chapters? Reading that you will be diagramming Heidelberg answers may have caused swooning! I don’t think I could do it without a resource to check my work but I’m thrilled that you will be doing this with your group of students ;). Thanks Mystie, for all that you do and for sharing so freely! You are a gift and a blessing to all of us.

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Maybe I should Instagram our diagrammed Heidelberg every week! :)

      I have started the Barzun book, and now I’ll actually finish it because I’ll be reading it alongside him. He already reads McCaullough books for fun, so his reading comprehension level is high. It wouldn’t be the right book for every 9th grader, but he can handle it.

      I will be writing more about how I’m tracking high school, but probably shouldn’t until we see if it’s adequate! :) I think people make it a way bigger deal that it needs to be and many use high school to scare homeschoolers. Sheesh, I hear so many public high school stories about how they waste half (or more) of their hours that I don’t really care. :) Look into a few colleges and what they want from homeschool grads – it’s not rigorous or scary and they aren’t going to comb through checklists or work samples. They’ll look at SATs, maybe have an entrance essay, and then find out if you can pay the bill. :)

      I’ll email you my spreadsheet, which will answer most of your particular questions, but, yes, this master list will be his weekly work all year except we’ll add a literature class in the fall that’s not in Trello right now.

  3. Rebecca
    | Reply

    This is great. After reading your literature choices, I suspect I’ve scheduled too many books for my 9th grader. #stillarookiehomeschool mom

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      It’s so easy to do! There are so many good books! Doing it as a class helps, with a paper due for each book, because when I schedule out what to discuss or how long it takes us to work through the writing process, I can see there’s really not an infinite amount of time! :)

    • Salena
      | Reply

      Honestly, looking at Mystie’s plan startled me a little…in a good way. I think have way over-scheduled my 9th grader, too! I’ve been so anxious about making sure his work will keep him at high school level. I do feel much better now, though.

  4. Stefani
    | Reply

    Alright, I’m now extremely curious about The Riot and the Dance. (It’s been on my mind ever since you posted this 3 days ago!) My oldest is two years younger than your oldest, but of course as an ISTJ, I must have everything planned out for high school NOW (right? LOL).
    The book appears to be quite a new addition to Logos Press, so I can’t find many reviews online. Could you please do a review next year as part of your end of the year wrap up here on Simply Convivial? From what I can tell, it’s much less textbook-y and more awe-inspiring. The questions I’m anxious to know are (a) is it truly rigorous enough for high school with its less textbook-ish format, (b) how well does it handle the evolution vs creation “debate” (I was going to pair “Darwin’s Doubt” with high school Biology already) , and (c) as it’s obviously Creator/creation based, does it take a stand on old vs young earth. Inquiring ISTJ minds want to know! ;)
    And thank you for your wonderful posts! They really are very helpful!

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      I will, for sure! So far, as I was plotting out his assignments and matching them up with Khan Academy videos, it seems to cover everything in pretty much the same order as Khan Academy had laid out for high school biology, but the illustrations are beautiful as well as labeled (they had an artist draw the diagrams and illustrations). It is written like a “real book” instead of like a textbook. It has a bit more on evolution/creation, plus an extra appendix in the back. I liked the tone. It’s no-question, no-doubt, young-earth creationist, without any cheese or defensiveness. It explains why biologists use the models they do, and what they need explanations for, and how evolution is added onto the evidence, not proven by what’s known. But in a totally reasonable tone, acknowledging that an unbeliever needs an explanation that doesn’t account for God, so what would you expect – as much to be pitied as censured.

      I heard rumors there will be videos to accompany it (documentary-style) in the future.

      • Kelly
        | Reply

        Can you share your process for matching the book assignments with the Khan Academy videos? Also, how are you doing the labs, or are you?

        • Mystie Winckler
          |

          There must be a pretty standard high school biology syllabus, because the chapters in Riot & Dance and the segments at Khan Academy nearly lined up. I just looked at the keyword in the book’s chapter title, searched for it at Khan, and grabbed that video link.

  5. Dovey
    | Reply

    Mystie, where do you get the ideas for your history, science, and literature? Fascinating! You’re doing a great job and are an inspiration to me!

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      I always check what Ambleside Online uses the same year, the year before, and the year ahead – History of the American People is on AO’s high school options, and DtD might be. But I had both already on my shelf and had been wanting to read them myself! Now I will. :)

  6. Kelly
    | Reply

    I am considering using the Riot and the Dance for my 10th grade boys science this year. I would love to know your thoughts on it as well. Also, it looks like the music course is free on Audible right now.

    • Cameron
      | Reply

      Are you referring to the Great Books music course being free on Audible? I don’t see that as free. Would you share a link? Thanks!

      • Kelly
        | Reply

        Sorry, I misspoke. I used Mystie’s link to Amazon. It’s “free” on Audible with a trial subscription.

      • Mystie Winckler
        | Reply

        It’s not free on Audible, it’s one Audible credit. Or, if you sign up for a free trial, you will get one free credit.

  7. Salena
    | Reply

    Hi, Mystie,

    Just a quick question. You don’t seem to be the type to concern yourself with the idea that students need to read a certain amount of books for each year of high school, for a booklist? And if you’ve managed to not be concerned about that, how have you? 🙂

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Do you mean free reading? I think school reading should be well-rounded, which his line-up is – but I’ve never seen any sort of “number of books” a high schooler should read. It’s not like public schools are doing that much reading. What I have listed here is his schoolwork, but he is a reader, and he does read for pleasure and read good and worthwhile books, so I don’t feel like I have to make him read. Sometimes I share his book picks (or other kids’) in my Weekly Review email.

      • Salena
        | Reply

        I think from the blogs I’ve read that it’s more assigned reading- those college-bound reading lists. Some say the kids should be reading up to 50 books per year, just for the sake of reading, I think. To have a booklist for colleges to review. Thinking about it though, I started at a community college, and I wasn’t ever asked for a booklist, in fact in the public school that I went to, we only read a few classics every year. And I only finished through 11th grade. No problems at all for the community college and from there I transferring easily to my home state University of Minnesota. I’m worrying too much. :)

        • Mystie Winckler
          |

          Yeah, it’s easy to over-worry and over-complicate. I was advised by older homeschool moms to look at a few colleges and see what their admission requirements actually are. They aren’t that complicated or hard, and a typical private or state university is not scrutinizing that closely – SAT scores, a general transcript/list, and the ability to pay the bill are the primary factors. :) A couple decades ago perhaps homeschool students were being made to jump through more hoops and more closely investigated, but these days colleges are happy to enroll homeschool students with solid SAT scores, generally, and they don’t make it difficult.

  8. Brenda
    | Reply

    I have to question the “college admission requirements aren’t that hard to meet” line of thinking that I keep seeing on various homeschool sites and blogs. I have done some checking on a number of colleges and what they require, and I am extremely worried that my daughter will not meet the requirements with our current classical/CM homeschool style. One liberal arts college actually wants an overall GPA, and a GPA for each semester of high school! Also, 2 years of lab science seems to be a pretty standard requirement.

    I have been considering “Riot and the Dance” (and trying to figure out how to add labs) but this comment you make gives me pause:
    “acknowledging that an unbeliever needs an explanation that doesn’t account for God, so what would you expect – as much to be pitied as censured.” I have come across (and some are dear friends) many humble and sincere believers who hold to theistic evolution; they are not unbelievers to be pitied. One of the reasons I stopped using Apologia resources – even though I liked many things about them – in our homeschool is that I did not want me kids to adopt the “evolutionists are stupid and misled” attitude I felt was present throughout their books. I want resources that will say “here is why some, even Christians, believe in evolution – and here is why some reject those concepts and hold to YEC.”
    Please, I am not in any way trying to be divisive or combative! I have learned so much and been so inspired by your sites. I would very much like to hear your thoughts on these things.

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Looking at the colleges you’re thinking about is the best preparation. We’re looking at state universities, and I’m not worried, especially the more stories I hear about what kids are doing in public school. My kids can read hard books and write, so they’ll be ready for college as long as their math is up to snuff. Jumping through hoops to enroll is just bureaucracy. Surely the college you’re looking at has specifics for homeschool applications? That’s pretty standard now.

      2 lab sciences is standard, but because we are planning on dual enrollment at the community college the junior and senior year, that’s taken care of and not something I’m worrying about doing at home. If we weren’t going to do that, I’d be looking for an outside class to fulfill that, preferably in the older two grades so we can continue our approach in 9th & 10th.

      I didn’t read the evolutionary sections that closely. I was looking primarily for the “evolution is stupid” attitude, which I also don’t appreciate in Apologia, and saw it didn’t take that approach. The book still covers the why & how of the evolutionary tree theory and all that without being condemning – however, it also includes that believers should begin with the Bible, and why it isn’t stupid to do so. It’s also written in living book style, which means it’s easy to see it’s a person writing it, not an impersonal force presenting The Way Things Are – so it’s much easier to have a conversation over what’s being presented.

      • Brenda
        | Reply

        Thanks for your responses, Mystie. I really like what I see regarding RatD; I think if we go with it, we will probably have to attempt to do the lab work. Community college might be an option for us, but I am not sure, and thus I am hesitant to wait till jr/sr years to do any kind of lab science. Outside options would mean taking an online class – expensive, and she is already taking one this year, so I’d rather not add another – or taking it at the high school, which I REALLY don’t want to do!!!
        Currently, she doesn’t have any particular colleges in mind, which makes it challenging to do the research on requirements. So I have just done research on a selection of colleges, looking at both the general admissions pages and any homeschool admissions pages. I don’t know, I am just not finding it reassuring. I think I just feel intimidated by them. And, I think we are just in a weird situation, in that most of my daughter’s closest friends attend public school or rigorous private schools and both she and I hear an awful lot about the mounds of homework they have, and their GPA’s, and the accolades they receive, and all the extra-curricular activities they do, and it is really hard to not compare or feel like we are falling short in what we are doing in our homeschool. (Wow, that is quite the run-on sentence!)
        Brenda

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Oh, also, R&D has a lab manual; I just didn’t buy it. It’s meant to be a textbook for classical schools and a full hs biology (lab science) credit

  9. Mystie Winckler
    | Reply

    Oh, and Riot & the Dance also includes a bibliography in the back for further reading on evolutionary theories and options. The textbook isn’t a soapbox for any creationist view, though he makes no bones about YEC being his view; much of the case is actually in an appendix, not a lesson, and that’s the appendix with further reading suggestions.

  10. Brenda
    | Reply

    Just watched your Trello tour above. We experimented with using Trello at the end of last school year and liked it, however, we could not get the app to work on the Kindle Fire! My daughter ended up just having to open Trello in a browser each day – not as convenient as an app. Have tried uninstalling and re-installing. Have you run into this problem at all?
    May I also ask for your RatD weekly plans spreadsheet?
    Thanks.
    Brenda

    • Mystie Winckler
      | Reply

      Trello worked on their kindle fires from the time we got them at Christmas 2016 through May when we ended school – and now the app doesn’t work at all and it’s not in the app store, either. :( I’m still irritated and upset about this. I only just discovered it Monday. I thought I just had to go into the parental controls and update something when the boys reported the app crashed. They don’t have access to the browser on their Fires, so that option is out (and Trello isn’t worth the trade off on wide-open internet access for us). So, yeah, it’s too bad. Sigh. The spreadsheet link will be in your inbox shortly. :)

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