View Full Version : 8th grade Help

06-19-2010, 10:12 PM
I am hoping to start some discussions here. My name is Melinda and we are in Nashville. My dd is almost 14 and we will be starting 8th grade. Last year was difficult, we started off w Pre Algebra and 1/2 way through started all over again! We tried Wordsmith for writing and while we liked it I dont think she made much progress and she hates writing. For science we studied alternative energies and dna and for history I had her read several biographies of interesting people and events. We have always been pretty eclectic and relaxed, we totally unschooled 5th grade. As we get into the higher grades we look at it as we have 4 yrs to prepare her for college, which she intends to attend.

Hoping for some help this coming year as far as Algebra, I am terrible, never really learned it - we made it through most of pre-algebra but Ill need an Alg1 that really works, I have heard MathUSee is good, it has instructional dvd's but I think it is expensive. And as far as writing I had her write several diff types of essays, usually 5-7 paragraphs which I thought was ok for 7th grade, but she has so much trouble keeping it focused and on topic, no matter how small I broke things down and went over and over the basics of writing essays and we read tons of examples she still had a real hard time keeping it all focused and cohesive.

Nice to "meet" ya - hope we can get some chats going here and help each other out!


06-20-2010, 12:49 AM
Hi Melinda and welcome to the group!

Were you OK when all the flooding happened recently? I'm sorry to hear you're having a hard time with the middle school years, I myself dread math after 4th grade. I homeschooled my middle son in 5th grade and that was hard enough for me. I have heard really good things about Khan Academy (http://www.khanacademy.org/). Have you checked it out? It's free.

Good luck!

06-20-2010, 01:01 AM
Hi woodsymama! :)

I have one about to be in the 7th grade, so I've looked ahead a bit to where you are. I've heard that Teaching Textbooks is really good for math. It's expensive, but the software does all the teaching, so you don't need to know it for your kids to learn it.

As for writing, Alex does pretty well in that area but has had some of the same troubles with focus. It really helps him to work on the computer with headphones on. I usually start with a really broad assignment and gradually drill down to specifics. I will assign a paper on say, Chinese dynasties. Then he has to come up with a more specific topic, which gets him started researching. Then once that is done we write an outline together, listing an introduction paragraph, three detail paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. Together we fill in details to be included under each paragraph. Then he has to go back and turn that into a paper. We're getting to where he can do more of the work independently, but he still requires a lot of help.

Next year, for seventh grade, I plan to have Alex participate in NaNoWriMo (http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/), and then for the rest of the year use "Writing Smart Junior (http://www.amazon.com/Writing-Smart-Junior-Introduction-Art/dp/0679761314)". I'm not surewhat to do for 8th yet, but I have heard that IEW (http://www.excellenceinwriting.com/) is really good. The woman I heard that from has a homeschooled high schooler who is an amazing writer, so I really trust that recommendation.

I hope that's a bit helpful. :)

Nice to meet you, too!

06-20-2010, 02:05 PM

We just finished 7th grade too! Here is what we will be doing next year just for your reference as an example: Teaching Textbooks algebra for math; Writing Strands, Analytical Grammar, and Sequential Spelling for English; Plato Learning Systems (web-based) for science (homeschoolbuyersco-op.com has this at a big discount); Rosetta Stone for foreign language, and modern world history is something a put together myself but uses Kingfisher World History Encyclopedia, Western Civilization by Spielvogel, and the Learning Through History Magazines (the ones that cover only the eras we are covering).

I highly recommend you go to the Teaching Textbooks website and preview their materials, they are awesome. It is all self-directed. The teacher is on the CD that the student watches each lesson with the teacher's voice explaining everything to the student. Examples are worked on the "whiteboard" with full explanations. The student works the given problems for that lesson in the workbook then checks their answers. If they get an answer wrong then they play the solutions CD and only selects the wrong problems to see the problem(s) worked out with explanations. It requires very little interaction from you - you administer and grade the tests if you wish. It is all self directed. Instruction Cd's, workbooks, answer keys, solution Cd's, test banks and answers are all included in the package. It is pricey, we have deemed it an investment and for us it is well worth the costs!

06-20-2010, 10:19 PM
Hi Melinda and welcome!

We are just start homeschooling with our soon-to-be 13 year old son who is also going into 8th grade. This fall we are going to be using Life of Fred for Algebra because it is a system that really appeals to my son (not so much to me). This summer we are using www.Yourteacher.com for Algebra because the Homeschool Buyer's Coop (www.homeschoolbuyerscoop.com) has a deal where you can use the program completely free until the end of August. There is no catch here. It is the entire program for free. You watch a teacher explain and demonstrate how to do problems, then the student does practice problems, then he/she takes a self-test. All of the solutions are provided. There are additional practice problems for each lesson if the student needs more work. I am a very visual learner so this appeals to me a lot. My son has been enjoying it somewhat, but he prefers textbooks. You might try it out to see if it appeals to you.

We will be using Writing Strands 4 & 5, Vocabulary Workshop: level D, and maybe Painless Writing for his writing program and will be reading lots of books that will tie into the period of history we will be studying (1600 - 1850 with a focus on the American Revolution). We'll use the Kingfisher Encyclopedia of History as a basic reference and I've ordered some additional materials from The Critical Thinking Co. that tie in with our history study. I'm sure we will be supplementing with videos and many other books, I just don't have those things picked out yet.

Good luck! I feel like I still have quite a few decisions to make yet too.

06-20-2010, 11:54 PM
Teaching Textbooks is a good program, expensive but good. It's very self-instructional. We've purchased Pre-Algebra & Algebra 1. My daughter used the Pre-Algebra, but we decided try out Life of Fred for Algebra this year. Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra & Algebra 1 (and I'd assume all other higher levels) don't have workbooks. The student reads the lesson in the textbook, then watches the lecture, for that lesson, on the lecture disc (doing both is recommended but optional). Then, they do the practice problems & the problem set. Each problem set is generally around 21 problems. The discs contain all the problems, worked out step-by-step. The answer key has all the chapter tests for you to copy for the child. There are also discs containing all the test problems, worked out step-by-step. While it is pretty expensive, it holds it's value for resale, especially since it's completely non-consumable.
Life of Fred is also a good program, and less expensive. I wouldn't recommend it if your child needs a lot of review & repitition or if they struggle in Math. It is a fairly fast-paced program & has less problems for the child to work out, even if you get the Home Companion.
I've heard MUS is a good program, but have never used it.
For Writing, I like Writing Strands. Writing is my daughter's weakest subject. Her ADHD makes writing very difficult. She's been using Writing Strands for a few years now, and there has been huge improvement in her writing.

06-21-2010, 05:00 PM
Thanks so much, after spending a few days researching and asking questions, I think I have a plan forming! Now I just have to decide how to execute it. I am thinking about focusing on 1 or 2 subjects at a time for a month or two, any ideas on that? I made a sep post about this idea. It has just been hard to stick to a daily routine for us, we get bored quickly and this may be a good way to put a lot of effort into each subject individually rather than a little time a few times a week on each.

08-01-2010, 09:57 PM
Try video text it teaches it all and you can buy modules as you need them, workbooks included