Considering teaching American Literature in your high school this year? While American authors have a reputation for being downers, I found these titles to be full of great ideas for worthwhile discussion.
High School American Literature
Homeschoolers know that a High School English curriculum should include American Literature (ideally using good study guides that enrich the reading but never kill the story with busywork). Unfortunately, many of the titles by famous American authors are known for being depressing, godless, and sometimes truly offensive. The good news is, I found while teaching American Lit. to my high school junior this year that there are some really terrific choices for our book list, and this series of posts will share some of our favorites with you.
Here was my dilemma as I prepared a curriculum for High School American Literature:
How could I be truthful in teaching my son,
refusing to whitewash the harsh realities of our nation's troubled reality (past and present) as presented in works of great literature
WITHOUT wallowing in a series of depressing, godless, and offensive books?
Here was the answer that presented itself as I prayed and prepared:
I can choose writing that focuses on redemption in the midst of things that are ugly.
And in doing so, I could point my son to the glory of God
Who takes what the enemy intends for evil and works it in our lives for good instead.
Books like John Knowles' rich coming-of-age story A Separate Peace would honestly present the fact that young men are often very confused, and a World War only makes things harder for them to make sense of themselves and the world, but it would also celebrate the beauty of learning hard truths about oneself and facing the complexities of honest relationships with others.
We could read well-written account of injustices done to people of color, to immigrants from other countries, yet not be in despair because plays like A Raisin in the Sun and books like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn do not stop with the honest presentation of the problem, but instead go on to explore solutions (even costly ones) that just might really work...and make us better people in the process of trying.
High School American Literature is NOT all depressing.
Choose titles wisely. Read with your mind and spirit turned on so as not to miss evidence of the redemptive work of God in a broken world. And learn a whole lot about good writing, the effective use of literary devices, rich characters, dialogue and dialect, and so much more! Keep reading this series for more ideas (including writing assignments for high schoolers based on the books they read) in American Literature.
High School American Literature
It is homeschool advising season and I'm enjoying looking back at various ways of combining credits for great high school experiences. Today I'd like to share how we created useful and inspirational combined credits for my youngest.
Seth is a musician. He has played guitar and drums on church worship team for years. He is a thinking musician and wants to know how and why we do contemporary-style worship . So starting off high school with a good foundation in Christian experience and the how's-and-why's of worship was a good use of his time. We ended up combining credits for his literature, history elective, and fine arts in a inspirational and meaningful way.
7 Sister Sabrina was teaching Great Christian Writers in our homeschool group classes. My son, Seth, and I were excited that he'd have a chance to start his high school years with some really meaningful (and some of it downright fascinating) literature.
In his group classes (which he loved), they covered these writers (using Sabrina's excellent study guides):
and several others inspired Seth by the Christlike characters portrayed (and some truly adventurous reading with Brother Andrew)!
To understand his church's passion for contemporary worship, Seth needed to understand the history of Christian worship. He started with ancient Hebrew worship and worked his way through the birth of the church, up to the Middle Ages. (He stopped there for the year and finished the study in senior year.) He used The Oxford History of Christian Worship, The Story of Christian Music and more. Then he wrote the 10-page research paper that our umbrella school required for Language Arts on the topic. (You can find a copy of the paper as a sample paper in 7 Sisters APA Style Research Paper Writing Guide.)
To tie everything together, Seth earned a fine arts credit in Church Worship Theory. He logged 68 hours in watching instructional videos by Paul Baloche and a number of others (even a fun "how-to write a worship song in 5 minutes" by Blimey Cow).He studied Music Theory for a solid foundation. He filled in the time he needed for his 135 hours for Carnegie credit with his practice time on the worship team.
By combining credits for literature, history elective, and fine arts, Seth finished the year, grounded in Christian experiences and solid foundation for the callings God has blessed him with.
In case you haven't seen it: just for fun, here's my vlog on the perfect transcript.
Don't forget -- this week only! Pre-bundled curriculum for High School, Middle School, Little Ones, Moms, Charlotte Mason PLUS the unique Build-Your-Own-Bundle option. Great savings on curriculum you love -- including a couple of titles from 7 Sisters!
Literature, Geography, History, and Writing! They must show up a number of times on a homeschool high school transcript. Here's how to work combining credits!
As academic advisor to the local homeschool high schoolers for the last 18 years, I've had the blessing of helping teens and parents develop courses that combine interests, gifts, and useful academic experiences. One of the teens needed to earn a .5 credit elective history credit, his required .5 geography credit, and a literature course that wouldn't hypnotize him with boredom.
We came up with a course that included combining credits to maximize his interests in the World Wars. This is what it looked like:
Tony (not his real name) was required by our local umbrella school to read 25 real books for his literature credit. Tony did not love reading but he was fascinated by the World Wars. We decided to combine credits for his history, geography, and literature. Thus his book list would be totally World War related for this school year. Here are some categories:
Tony could demonstrate his reading comprehension without wasting his time on busywork by choosing a few literature study guides. Two good ones were:
He filled out his list with books he truly loved on weapons, airplanes, timelines, battle strategies, and biographies and speeches of famous people from the wars. Some of these were audiobooks that he played when he traveled in the car to various homeschool and church activities.
Tony combined credits for his .5 credit in geography by reading 4 books on World War locations and maps PLUS logging 37 hours in hands-on activities.
The 4 books became part of the booklist for his Literature credit, so he was getting 2 for 1 in his combining credits efforts.
The 37 logged hours included intensive map work illustrating the progress of the wars and several battles (with detailed topography and ecosystems noted). In Tony's opinion, this was FUN geography!
Tony was able to utilize combining credits strategy for history and literature. Our local umbrella school allowed him to count 16 of his books from his literature list (not the 4 books used for geography), along with a summary paper for each as his history credit.
Tony went above and beyond the requirement by logging nearly 50 hours in museum visits, attending some actual re-enactments, and interviewing some relatives who were alive back in World War II. His combining credits efforts made his history hours engaging and purposeful.
Tony went further in combining credits by writing his required 10-page research paper (umbrella school language arts credit requirement) on the World Wars. He wrote his history-book summaries as essays or reports, thus fulfilling his remaining writing requirements.
I can't say that Tony loved the writing part of this process, but he loved the rest. His work at combining credits in literature, geography, history, and writing made sense to him. It was the perfect combination for Tony!
For another idea on combining credits, check out yesterday's post!
One way to capture interviews of people who lived in a time period that your homeschooler is studying is with an Oral History paper. Check out Sabrina's vlog.
It's time! It's time! It's finally time! Ready to save an AMAZING amount of money on high school homeschool curriculum? Look at this! Click the image for more details. Bundles are available for every age group, or use the Build Your Own Bundle option and create a unique set of resources that fits your family perfectly.
Here are wise ways to plan for high school courses for the fall: Combining Credits.
Advising season has begun! I have served for 18 years as an academic advisor for homeschooled high schoolers. Today I would like to share one of my experiences (names and identifying information changed, of course). Some years past, I met with a homeschool senior and her mother. She had chosen wisely with her high school credits over the high school years. For her 12th grade year, she only had an elective history and language arts to complete- she could fill out her requirements with courses within her interest areas. She wanted to concentrate on her involvement in the local Civil War re-enacting community and some solid career exploration- apprenticing the the office administrator at a local business. In order to steward well her time, we decided to combine her history and literature courses with a Civil War History, Literature, and Art course.
This is how it played out:
Civil War Literature/Language Arts: -25 books over the year, including 10 historical novels, 5 biographies, 10 non-fiction books on the culture, fashion, religious movements, and politics of the time. -Her papers, stories, and research papers on Civil War topics (her 10-page research paper explained fashions of the era) -Public speaking (talking to groups at re-enactments) -Vocabulary, grammar (didn't quite fit the Civil War topic, but had to be done)
Civil War History -Our umbrella school required approximately 16 books with summaries for a real-book credit in history. Her rich Literature course could be double-counted as history.
Art -She also 68 logged hours illustrating Civil War fashions and sewing some era-accurate dresses of the time for a Civil War Fashions art half-credit. This homeschool high schooler's senior year proved to be memorable and rewarding. After high school, she went on to the community college where she specialized in office administration (a career that allowed her to keep her Civil War re-enactment involvement).
What are some interesting courses your homeschool high school student is working on?
Our 7 Sisters Literature Study Guides help homeschoolers build comprehension and inferential skills WITHOUT busy work! They are "levelable" so that average high schoolers and honors high schoolers can all adapt the learning experiences to meet their needs. $3.99 makes them affordable- download some today! What history is your homeschooler studying next year? Check our Literature Study Guides and download one that you can double log!
Watch Sabrina's vlog on double-logging credits:
This is the second in a 2-part series. For the first part, click here - High School Career Exploration: Our Experience.
High School Career Exploration
High School Career Exploration: Our Experience Part 1 left us ready to look seriously into three career fields:
* Chef/Restaurant Industry
* Fitness/Personal Training
We found people we knew who were working in these fields or had connections to people working in them, and picked their brains. One of the most powerful of those brain-picking sessions was with a friend of my older children who had just finished chef school and loves working in his field. He came to the house and shared glowing stories about his time in culinary school, about what he loves about the restaurant industry, about all the various special disciplines you can study. It was great fun, and as we were winding down I figured visiting some culinary schools was going to be added to our calendar. Gordon asked Jonah, "So what thoughts do you have, now that I've shared my experience? You've asked lots of specific questions, but what's your gut feeling? Think you might want to go further with this?"
With no hesitation, Jonah said, "I feel bad saying this because I can tell you love it, Gordon, but no. I actually think I'm definitely taking this option off my list."
I was so surprised! I asked him why.
He said that it had never occurred to him how fast-paced/high-pressure the restaurant environment would be (he's a pretty laid back guy) or how much his nights and weekends would be totally dominated by his work if he pursued this career. His time with family and friends is very important to him, and the schedule in this field would not mesh well with others who work more traditional daytime hours. He said he thinks he'll keep his cooking for fun and entertaining his friends, but culinary school was off the list.
What a valuable opportunity! Finding out you definitely DON'T want to pursue a career (and why) is just as valuable as making your choice to settle on one that you DO want to pursue.
Our investigation of Architecture started with looking at the required courses for this major at several universities. Jonah quickly decided that these required courses did not interest him enough to warrant the time and money needed to go this route.
Our investigation of school options in the Fitness field revealed that several options were available. Everything from independent intensive programs (less than one year) to prepare for the National Certification Test from 4-year Bachelor degrees in Exercise Science could be had...with several variations in between.
We met with people working in the field and learned of the need for perseverance in building personal client lists, excellence in people skills, a teaching mindset as each client has different needs and unique learning styles (remember the personality test and Keirsey report that indicated he was a natural teacher?), and flexibility in work schedules. All of this was really sounding like a good fit to Jonah!
He has made his choice and just graduated from high school. He begins his 1-year Certificate Program at our local college (very affordable option) with plans to extend for a 2nd year to complete his Associate Degree in Exercise Science. After that, he has the option to transfer those credits in to any of the state universities to be an incoming Junior in an Exercise Science Bachelor's program if he wants to.
His very intentional decision to work on high school career exploration in 10th grade resulted in him learning a lot about himself, ruling out several careers he thought he might enjoy, and educating himself on the various ways he could pursue the field he's chosen to go after now that high school is over.
Do we know for sure that this career will be "successful"?
Of course not! Life doesn't offer those kind of guarantees.
But we do feel confident that he is starting in a wise direction, taking smart steps after high school graduation.
And we hope sharing our experience may encourage some of you to be intentional as you look into high school career exploration!
High School Career Exploration
Here's part 1 of a 2-part post sharing what high school career exploration looked like for my son Jonah when he was in 10th grade in our homeschool.
High School Career Exploration
Our Experience in 10th Grade
We chose 10th grade because it allowed him time to further explore specific areas he found to be real possibilities for careers BEFORE the flurry of countdown-to-graduation began.
We knew that being intentional was important. Career Exploration does not happen magically on its own. While some students simply know what they want to pursue from a young age, most need an exploration strategy.
These were the areas that Jonah had shown were natural strengths or interests for him:
People - He's a very social guy.
Art - He enjoys drawing in particular.
Critical Thinking - He loves to dig below the surface and discuss motivations and underlying ideas.
Fitness - He loves to work out and study about fitness topics.
Cooking - He fends for himself well in the kitchen and likes to cook for friends when they get together.
One of our biggest uncertainties was whether or not Jonah was college-bound. He does not struggle with academics in particular (well, foreign language...), but he also isn't a school-lover like some kids are. Making the financial commitment to college when we weren't sure WHY we were doing it just wasn't a wise option. That was a great motivator to get serious about high school career exploration!
Here are the first steps we took:
Jonah took the Jung Typology test free online at Humanmetrics. He found out that he is an ENFJ - Extroverted, Highly Intuitive, with a slight preference for Feeling over Thinking, and basically a tie between Judging and Perceiving. That sounded like gobbledy-gook to me until I read the great materials that explain these labels! The Humanmetrics site is really handy, and broke the ideas down into real language that we could understand and apply to our study. The accompanying Keirsey profile for Jonah's personality type added another interesting career to our exploration list -- TEACHER. The information there suggested that Jonah is well-suited to teaching others, whether in a formal classroom setting or not.
This was really helpful in getting him thinking in a new direction. He was not at all interested in pursuing an education degree. His older sister is doing just that, and his uncle is a lifetime elementary teacher in the traditional system. He talked with both of them about life as a classroom teacher and decided NO very quickly. But being a teacher is all about teaching others, it's not about the environment in which you do it. So he added that idea to the mix.
Next, he committed some time to prayer. Jonah's faith is a private thing for him, and he does not typically like a lot of popular teen-focused weekend-retreat types of events. But he does like quiet study, meditation and prayer, and when he has had that time, he is very willing to talk out what he's hearing from God with a few trusted people. He used one of Vicki Tillman's Prayer Journals for focus and accountability over a month of prayer time as we explored career options.
Next, he filled out the Career Exploration Questionnaire (free download!) here on our website. Then we worked through Vicki's Career Exploration Workbook. It took some time, and there were many sections that sparked good conversation between the two of us, or that brought in others (siblings, grandparents) to talk, too. By the time the workbook was completed, Jonah was ready to actively look into some specific careers that were showing promise.
He decided he wanted more information from someone actually living life in the following fields:
* Chef/Restaurant Industry
* Personal Trainer
Check out tomorrow's post to see what we did to continue our
high school career exploration!
A classic post about choosing reading and writing assignments to build on your student's unique strengths and interests. You truly can use Language Arts for Career Exploration in your homeschool!
Career Exploration in Your Homeschool
Language Arts are a core piece of your homeschool's curriculum. Reading, understanding what you've read, and writing are vital life skills that require a lot of time in any student's schooling. Using that time to also explore your child's unique strengths is a smart way to homeschool.
In traditional schools, the reading list is set for not only an entire class of students, but often for many classes of students throughout a school or district. Likewise, writing assignments are chosen to try to teach the faceless masses who will occupy the chairs in multiple English classrooms. In your homeschool, you can choose books and writing assignments that will speak to your child in a personal way, and help him uncover his strengths and prepare for life after school.
Here are some ideas for tailoring your Language Arts to a discovery of strengths for your student:
1. You know your child. Start with what you already know really interests her. Is she a people-person? Make sure there are some biographies or autobiographies on her reading list. Look for fiction that is character-driven rather than plot-driven.
2. Your child knows himself. If he is wired for literal thinking, if he likes data and facts and numbers, allow his reading list to reflect that. When he needs to read some fiction, find a book that has a puzzle to be solved in it, or a science fiction novel that includes a lot of food for scientific thought.
3. Include others in your Language Arts. We often think of reading as a solitary activity, and for a bookworm that's true, but for kids who are less drawn to words on a page cooperating with other students who are reading the same book at the same time opens the door for lots of cool discussion.
4. Include the arts. Many books have inspired dramatizations, movies, music, dance or visual art. For a student who is artistic, use the internet to find artistic interpretations of literature you are reading. Instead of always assigning written work after a book has been read, assign an art project inspired by the book instead. Ask your budding musician to write a song in response to the book he read. Make arrangements for your young actor to script a scene from a book and make time to rehearse it with a friend or two, or even present the material as a monologue at a family gathering.
5. Is your child good with her hands? If she has a knack for putting things together, for building things, allow her to build a model of something from a book, and then write up the instructions for how she did it as a tie-in if you need more writing assignment ideas.
6. Remember how important technical reading and writing are. Some students will grow up to be involved in careers that involve very little fiction and lots of reading directions; they are students who need to be encouraged to embrace that strength in themselves, that attention to detail and desire for precision. Reading instruction manuals and putting together a piece of furniture, assembling a computer, etc. are valid types of reading, and we often overlook them in our homeschools.
7. Journalism is sometimes neglected in our reading and writing. If your child has trouble staying with a long book, instead read some essays, some articles, some professional journals in an area of interest. Then assign articles for his writing. Allow him to try writing in the style of one accomplished journalist or another. When he reads about an event in history, have him follow it up with an article written for a newspaper as if it were happening in the news right now.
Yes, our homeschools should stretch our children to attempt difficult things that do not come naturally to them. We want the educational experience to be well-rounded. But don't neglect exploring and building on their obvious strengths as well. Just because a child is not the next great novelist doesn't mean she can't find her writing voice and explore ideas that interest her in a variety of unusual ways. Reading and writing are two wonderful tools for exploring a student's strengths.
College is a wonderful next-step for many high school grads, homeschooled or otherwise. But what about also exploring careers that DON'T require a college degree?
Careers That Don't Require College
I am the child of a university classics professor. My first full-time job was in an office on that same campus. I have a step-son who just finished his dental residency after many years of hard work on his undergraduate and professional school degrees. I have a step-daughter who earned her RN after completing a two-year Associates Degree nursing program. I have a daughter who is about to begin her final semester of student teaching so that she will graduate with her BA in Elementary Education and Deaf Studies. I have a son who finished high school homeschool a year earlier than we originally planned because he is so motivated to get started on his college classes this fall.
I am a HUGE FAN of college for young adults who should go to college.
I am also a college drop-out myself. I'm married to a college drop-out who works in industrial chemistry as a lab technician and has done very well providing for all of us with a career he truly finds deeply rewarding. I have a step-son and a son who work full-time in different applications of the banking industry, and neither of them earned a college degree. I have a son who earned his barber license while still in high school who works full time in his field.
What can be learned from all of this, besides the obvious fact that I have a large family?
There are solid careers that don't require college.
Exploring these career options while your teen is still in high school may save a lot of money and stress that can be wasted on a poorly-chosen college enrollment.
Not long ago, iHomeschool Network hosted a hangout, and you can see the video of it, "College Alternatives for Homeschoolers" on their YouTube channel. It was full of insightful discussion, and their special guest was T.K.Coleman from discoverpraxis.com. This was my first look at Praxis, and while I have no personal experience with them, I was very impressed with their vision and with T.K.'s helpful participation in the hangout. (Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post. I have no connection to Praxis or T.K. Coleman. I am simply passing along a resource some homeschoolers may find interesting.)
Here are some careers that provide a true living-wage and do not typically require college education. (Trade school is helpful in some of these fields.) This is by no means a comprehensive list! Can you add to it and help us all have more options to explore regarding careers that don't require college?
Industrial Machine Repair
Wholesale Sales Rep
Construction Equipment Operator
Sewage Plant Operator
Heavy Trucks Driver
What are the keys to effective Career Exploration in High School?
Career Exploration in High School
KEYS TO SUCCESS:
Don't expect that teens will magically stumble upon a career. Use a good curriculum like our Career Exploration Workbook.
Encouraging your teen to learn about himself.
Building on strengths and talents.
Explore ways to include talents in a future career. Being gifted musically doesn't necessarily mean your child will make her living as a professional songwriter, but there are MANY careers in which musical talent is helpful.
Respecting weaknesses and "Eewww!" reactions.
It's okay to dislike something and decide that a career that involves a lot of that activity is not worth exploring.
Trying things out in a low-expectation way.
Volunteering for a few hours one day is a smarter starting point than making a 3 month commitment to an unfamiliar arena.
Talking to God about it.
He knows our children better than we do. He knows our children better than THEY do! Prayerfully ask Him to direct your career exploration in high school. You'll be amazed at the ideas He will give you and your teen!
Career Exploration High School
Your high schooler should include Early Childhood Education in his/her homeschool career exploration. Here's why:
Homeschool Career Exploration
- Early Childhood Education
Brand new ebook curriculum available in our bookstore for immediate download. 1/2 high school credit for $24.99.
1) Add power to the homeschool transcript by leveling-up Human Development
If included as an add-on to Human Development, the course levels up from average high school to college prep or even higher (according to the activities chosen). This make Human Development an even more powerful "sparkle" credit.
2) Prepare to be an awesome homeschooling parent someday
Early Childhood Education prepares a teen to understand preschoolers along with their developmental and educational needs. This light-hearted, no-busywork text gives an introduction to teaching young children, whether in a group setting or at home with the family.
3) Enrich a good career exploration curriculum
Whether or not a homeschooling high schooler wishes to seriously pursue a career in Early Childhood Education, it adds richness to their exploration process. Teens need to have many types of experiences in homeschool career exploration in order to truly know themselves and be ready to know God's plans.
4) Early Childhood Education is an important mission field
Very early exposure to the Gospel and Christ's love is important for children. With more and more preschoolers in Early Childhood Education placements these days, this mission field is becoming more and more vital. There is a great need for missionaries to our youngest children!
5) Early Childhood Education as homeschool career exploration credit is FUN!
It is just good fun to discover and invent delightful activities that inspire and excite preschoolers. Early Childhood Education is a no-busywork, fun, but seriously instructional part of a solid homeschool career exploration credit.
Early Childhood Education includes:
- An explanation of the developmental process of preschoolers
- A brief history of Early Childhood Education
- A discussion of the various styles of Early Childhood Education
- Instruction on creating exciting educational activities and lesson plans that are appropriate for preschoolers (whether in the home or group settings)
- Resources to explore
- .5 credit career exploration
Your homeschool career exploration credit will sparkle when it includes Early Childhood Education. Download yours today!
Homeschool Career Exploration
Early Childhood Education
...and have you checked out what's coming next week at Build Your Bundle?