• Curriculum

    Published on 07-07-2014 12:23 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Curriculum,
    3. Secular Homeschooling,
    4. Homeschooling Styles,
    5. General Homeschooling
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    This is another great blog reprint from unschooling blogger, Idzie Desmarais. Idzie has graciously allowed us to reprint her blog post from her blog, I'm Unschooled. Yes, I can write! Thank you Idzie!

    Idzie Desmarais is a (grown) unschooler, feminist, green anarchist, (confusedly) queer, pagan(ish) woman who makes her home in the Montreal area. She spends her time reading fantasy novels, writing, cooking up lots of tasty food in the kitchen, and dreaming of the homesteading intentional community she wants to help found someday.


    The Value in Writing for an Audience, Not a Grade

    After not reading any non-fiction books in quite a while, I picked up Better Than College by Blake Boles this afternoon and started reading. Instantly, something sparked a blog post idea. Blake writes:
    Instead of working on homework, papers, and presentations destined to be seen once and tossed into a trashcan, self-directed learners turn much of their hard work into useful products for other people.
    I don't know about "products," per se, but definitely something useful and appreciated.

    Reading that, I had a thought that somehow had never occurred to me before. Most young people view non-fiction writing as something primarily done to get good grades, something that is only useful insofar as it pleases a teacher or professor and thus leads to good marks.

    I've never written a five paragraph essay. Count paragraphs, you say? Construct an essay based on a rigid outline? Why would I do that? I've worked within word or space or time constraints numerous times, writing articles for magazines or talks for conferences. But I've never written an essay expected to adhere so closely to a specific outline, nor have I ever written something designed to please just one specific person. ...
    by Published on 03-05-2014 01:54 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Curriculum,
    3. Secular Homeschooling
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    The threads that get viewed most often on our forum here at SecularHomeschool.com often have to do with secular science curricula...looking for it, bemoaning the lack of it, begging for input on finding it. In the past, secular homeschoolers have been underwhelmed by the available offerings in the science curricula arena.

    However, in recent years, several new secular homeschool science options have come on the scene making it not nearly so difficult to find a homeschool science program that will work for your family. I thought it might be a good idea to spotlight some of the newer curricula as well as the tried and true programs that are available, so you will have a centralized place to start looking.



    Science4Us (Grades K-2)
    This is one of the newest programs on the homeschool scene and is geared toward the early elementary set - - a nice bonus, since many homeschool science programs ignore the youngest learners. Science4Us combines the best of online, multimedia instruction with hands-on activities that are geared toward active learners.

    Time4Learning (Grades 6-12)
    While Time4Learning is more well-known for their math and language arts curriculum, they have recently added a comprehensive multimedia middle and high school science program that includes junior high coursework in earth/space science, life science, and physical science as well as high school coursework in biology, earth/space science, physical science, chemistry, and physics.
    Read all Time4Learning reviews at SecularHomeschool.com

    NOEO (Grades 1-9)
    NOEO is a science curriculum that has tried to take some of the best general science materials and combine them into a workable program for homeschoolers. I think they have made quite a successful effort actually. Certainly you could put all these same materials together for yourself, but it would be time-consuming, and NOEO includes a teacher’s guide with each program that even includes a daily schedule to really make it extra helpful. If you are able to purchase some of the program components at a discount, you might only need to order the supply kits and guide from NOEO.
    Read all NOEO reviews at SecularHomeschool.com

    Supercharged Science (Grades K-12)
    This is a program that combines videos, live tele-classes, reading and exercises. The administrator of the course is a former NASA employee and has a Masters in Mechanical Engineering, so she is clearly passionate about science.The reviews I’ve read make it seem like the parents have as much fun ...
    Published on 01-08-2014 04:05 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Curriculum,
    3. Homeschooling with Technology,
    4. Homeschooling High School
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    by Chris Yust of Homeschool Programming

    The Myth of Outsourcing
    “Is there any future in computer programming? Aren’t all those jobs overseas now?” I smiled as an earnest young mother asked us this question at a recent convention. I’ve heard this question many times over the last few years and my answer is always a resounding “No!” Despite what most people believe, outsourcing has not killed the computer job market. Oh sure, some companies use overseas help in different areas, but a great many computer programming jobs are still around locally. It’s simply too difficult for most companies to manage the complex process of software creation over long distances.

    As a full-time software engineer, I have observed a lack of quality candidates at my own employer. Jobs often go unfilled for long periods of time because we simply can’t interview enough people who qualify. I get calls every month from recruiters who still have my 10-year old resume in their database from the last time I was looking for a job. Anecdotes aside, the statistics show that roughly 50% of all software outsourcing projects are failures, and those that do succeed offer only modest 25% cost savings. That’s a huge risk for minimal return!

    The Recession-Proof Job
    In this age of recession and a downturned economy, one of the booming job sectors is the computer industry! Where other companies are cutting staff or shrinking salaries, computer jobs have seen steady growth and salary increases. Is this trend expected to continue? You bet! ...
    Published on 12-27-2013 09:16 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Curriculum,
    3. General Homeschooling
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    By Julie Bogart, Cincinnati, Ohio

    A fundamental confusion exists around how to teach writing. I’ve spent two decades looking for just the right metaphor to explain how a parent facilitates writing growth. Then the other day, on the phone, I stumbled upon a perfect one.

    Let’s look at learning to sew using a sewing machine.

    A sewing machine makes it possible to create all kinds of sewing products—anything from hemming a pair of pants, to constructing a crazy quilt, to producing an evening gown. The machine doesn’t do it for you. You have to know how to use the machine, and you have to develop skills: how to sew straight seams or drop in a sleeve or gather a drape. You need to learn to create casings, and to use the zigzag, and what the tension dial does.

    When learning the skills needed for sewing, students start with scrap fabric. They don’t pick a dress pattern and then sit down to the machine. First, they practice threading the needle and bobbin, they sew lots of straight lines and turn corners. Each seam is backstitched at the end so that it doesn’t unravel.

    No one can learn all she needs to know in one sitting or even one year of sewing. There are levels of skill that are gained over time, as dexterity, comfort with the machinery, and familiarity with the properties of sewing are internalized and mastered. It is possible at each stage of development to introduce a little project that suits the skill level of the sewing student. At first, these might be things like bean bags (squares) or a string dress (no pattern, but the dress uses casings).

    As the student gets comfortable, making an A-line dress for a doll from a pattern becomes possible ...
    Published on 12-18-2013 11:39 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. Curriculum,
    3. Homeschooling with Technology,
    4. General Homeschooling

    Looking for fresh teaching ideas and trusted materials? Consider JPASS. JPASS gives homeschoolers personal access to JSTOR, the same high-quality academic resource that millions of students and scholars depend on at colleges and universities. The new JPASS collection includes more than 1,500 academic journals from the JSTOR library, available to you anywhere, anytime.

    If you don’t have access to JSTOR through a school or public library, JPASS might be a perfect fit. Here are a few examples of how JPASS helps homeschoolers create innovative lessons across disciplines and mediums:

    Supplement historical films with secondary reading

    Link JSTOR with the 2013 film, 12 Years a Slave. You can provide background articles on slavery and the Civil War, then assign a critical analysis of Solomon Northup’s original narrative, published in the highly regarded literary journal Callaloo.

    Sam Worley, "Solomon Northup and the Sly Philosophy of the Slave Pen," Callaloo, Vol. 20, No. 1 (1997): 243–259.

    Keep your modern literature curriculum up-to-date

    Include works by author Alice Munro, the most recent recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. JPASS includes ...
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