Caleb was in 7th grade this year and here's the low-down on his books...
Saxon Algebra 1/2, Third edition
I picked it up at a garage sale for dirt cheap, assuming Caleb could do it. At first I made an attempt to go over lessons each day with him. It soon became apparent that my help wasn't necessary. This curriculum has a great mix of reviewing the basics while introducing some algebra topics. It works very well as a pre-algebra course. I took Pre-Algebra when I was in 8th grade, and so Caleb has this view that he's actually a year ahead in math. Unfortunately in Minnesota it is now standard for 8th graders to take Algebra, so that puts Caleb right on track. I will say that this is a practice with which I wholeheartedly disagree. Based on research I did a couple years ago, I conclude that the version of Algebra that 8th graders receive in the public schools covers fewer topics than the high school level Algebra I that I took back in the day. When will students make this up? And now I read that common core says that students do not need to master Algebra II in order to graduate from high school. Well, I suppose that is true, but I am deeply concerned that these students will have a much poorer foundation in Algebra than ever before. Ugh. This does not appear to be a problem with Saxon. I'm thankful more than ever for homeschool where I can set my standards higher and still be able to help my students reach those standards.
Caleb used this writing curriculum from the Institute for Excellence in Writing to help him review writing with structure and style. Since we had already done the SWI-B and the SICC-B courses, this was a pretty easy course for him and required very little of my time. It had just enough review to help him practice skills that he spent the last two years acquiring. It was also a relatively easy way for me to assign composition. I didn't have to think about it much. If Caleb had been less confident and capable in his writing skills, I could have carved out time each week to teach the lesson and guide him through writing assignments. It is a well-done course, especially now that I am familiar with IEW's program. Caleb is a creative young man and I enjoyed getting to hear him practice his "voice" when writing. The writing assignments were thoughtful and interesting. They often provided background information to C.S. Lewis's stories, making a great history connection.
Just in case you have not tried anything from IEW yet, let me also put a plug in for their Student Writing Intensive and the Student Writing Intensive Continuation Course. I am so glad we found this company! I love their products. I love that they give copyright permission for families. I love the free webinars, articles, etc, that they provide on their website as well as the support group on yahoo. I love that they have both secular and religious products, so that public school teachers (like my husband!) have access to their resources, yet as a homeschool mom I have access to great resources that support our Christian faith (such as Following Narnia).
Caleb also used Apologia's Exploring Creation with General Science, which was quite good. We used the First edition of this book, and I didn't note any major problems with doing this. Caleb used BJU World Studies for history...he made it through, but by the end I scrapped all but just reading. Like I said in a previous post, reading a textbook and taking tests is the worst way to study history. We are happily headed back to TruthQuest History, where everyone agrees we all learned more. I rounded out Caleb's language arts with assigned novels. We used the Socratic questions from Teaching the Classics to dig into these novels. We used some vocab that was built into both Fix-it! Grammar and Following Narnia, and we used spelling lists on SpellingCity.com for review (Caleb seems to be a naturally good speller).
It feels like I'm forgetting something...maybe Caleb will remind me. Next time I log in I will write about Elementary School. Yay!
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