Eleventh Grade: Plans for 2013/14

This is late. School has started, and I’m still putting my fingers in my ears and humming, “It’s still summer,” which really doesn’t help me prepare for what is upon me. My younger son, now twelve and theoretically in 7th grade, started one of his online classes yesterday, with another starting in a few days. Handwriting (his request) and math (my request) are also somewhat on the schedule. And my older son, sixteen and on track to graduate in 2015 never really stopped for the summer, completing a few programming courses and an electronics course while occasionally servicing computers. But it’s August. Late August. And that means it must be time to post some sort of schedule for the fall.

A.D. (16, 11th grade, dual enrolled)

With a transcript written and rewritten and a few colleges visited (Oberlin College and the University of Detroit Mercy), I’m seeing the homeschooling finish line for my older son. At this writing, he’s decided to study electrical and computer engineering, and given his dedication to both this summer, I have little doubt that dream will turn reality. He’s spent the summer dismantling speakers, amplifiers, computers, and more, learning Python and HTML on his own, and walking through an electronics course, all largely on his own. I’m not sure I recognize him, this rapidly maturing young man who once smitten with a topic absorbs it endlessly. It’s been years since I’ve seen this drive and passion in him, and it’s the first I’ve seen it take root this deeply. I’m both gratified and relieved.

So some of his fall with extend his current independent study. He’ll take C++ (a programming language) at a local community college. I’ve a few hesitations, as this is so-called Open Entry/Open Exit course, which allows one to start and finish the class at one’s own speed, albeit within a 15 week window. My older isn’t known for planning and organization, and it will take discipline to follow through. If this weren’t a subject he loves, I’d likely guide him elsewhere, but with his current drive, I think he’ll be fine. (See the crossed fingers?)

He’ll also continue to Calculus III at a local University where he’s studied before. The class will be small with only a handful of students, one other dual enrolled, with a teacher he now knows well. I’d not say he’s excited, as Calculus has provided a good deal of challenge in the study department as well as offering a fair amount of homework, but he does want to complete the Calculus cycle this year. In the spring, Differential Equations will finish the cycle, a point he’d be pleased to reach.

We’ve returned to Biology for science, although via a somewhat less formal study than he pursued in 7th grade. (See the page on top, HS Biology, for that curriculum.) He’ll use Plato High School Biology, along with a Campbell text, but the meat of the course comes from the  MAKE lab book, All Lab, No Lecture Illustrated Guide to Home Biology Experiments (Thompson and Thompson). We can’t get enough of MAKE’s lab books, and I’m pleased with the looks of this one. I have a weak spot in the budget for science supplies, and I’m a sucker for meaningful and REAL labs. I’m excited, and he is interested.

For English, which is not his favorite subject, he’ll start with a Toastmaster’s class (public speaking) with a local homeschooling co-op and a literature class of sorts from Coursera — Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative. Okay, that’s not terribly traditional literature study, but I’m coming to embrace my computer/engineering teen and realize that deep literary analysis isn’t likely going to play much role in his future other than convincing him that good literature is torture. I don’t want that. We’ll also continue to work on writing in a way that has yet to be determined. Two more credits of English, I remind him. Two.

History is a bit vague and will likely be an exploration of the history of science and technology. (See what I’m doing there? Yep. Making it palatable and relevant. Why did it take me so long?) No, I don’t have a syllabus yet, although I did stick a reading list somewhere. Yes, I know we’re only two weeks from starting our formal school year. Eek!

Along with the formal curriculum, he’ll have time for tinkering and programming, the stuff that makes him the happiest. He’ll continue to repair computers for those in need, including our own machines. Sadly, he’s decided that after a decade of study, he no longer wants to study piano. I’ve hopes that he’ll plant himself at the piano for pleasure, but a few months after his last lesson, he’s yet to play a note. I’m struggling with his decision, having made the same one at the same age, but it seems to be the right one for him. Oh. He’s taking physical education, also at the co-op. Hey, a kid has to get out the basement and move sometime, right?



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