What We Did for 7th Grade


As of August 24, 2010

  • Main Core:

    • Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of Settlement, published by Geography Matters.Paths of Settlement

      • We use this as our literature-based history core. It is really designed much like a unit study, covering copywork, reading, discussion, narration, word study (including spelling, vocabulary, mechanics, and some grammar), geography, science, writing, art, and music. We will probably continue to modify it as before, eliminating some of the language arts components since we will be using a different LA program, listed below. Designed for grades 4-6, we are adding  things to it to “boost” it to what the boys need as 7th-graders. We have set up our school calendar to follow the 6-week unit format.
      • UPDATE: This year, they now offer Middle School Supplements for each year, so I don’t have to do all of the work to “boost” the expectations to 7th grade!
  • Language Arts:

    • Michael Clay Thompson’s Language Arts, published by Royal Fireworks Press.Grammar Island

      • We are using the complete Island level of this program. It is a wonderful combination of grammar, writing, poetics, vocabulary, and 4-level analysis which requires them to apply what they have learned in each area. We just started it at the end of the 6th grade year. We will be focusing on Grammar Island at the beginning of the school year as recommended, hopefully finish it in 4-6 weeks, and then move to Sentence Island and the other components. My goal is to get through the Island level as quickly as possible so we can do most of the Town level this year as well. Then, if we are liking it and want to continue, we can do the Voyage level in 8th grade which teaches the Essay.
    • Megawords, published by School Specialty (it was formerly sold by EPS Services.)Megawords, 2nd Edition

      • I have decided to use this program for focusing on spelling and word skills. While we will be covering word roots and the relationship of Latin and Greek words to our English language in the MCT materials (Building Language), both boys need some more explicit, sequenced instruction on spelling and word skills. The best spelling programs are one-on-one and one-on-two programs, which I can’t do while working full-time. This is a very thorough program, focusing on multi-syllabic words, designed for grades 4 thru adult. It requires some occasional dictation of word parts, words, and sentences, which The Dad has stepped up to handle so that I don’t have to record it all! Alex Rider had done half of the first book of this series back in 4th grade, so I will have him pick up where he left off, finish book 1 and move to book 2. My initial goal is for them to complete 2 pages/day, 4 days/week.
    • Italics, Beautiful Handwriting for Children, published by Penny Gardner.

      • This looks like it will be a good handwriting program for the boys. By changing styles to the Italics and Italic Cursive, I am hoping that we can once again focus on improving our penmanship! Last year, we focused on keyboarding skills since that is how they do much of their work, anyway. But I want them to be able to write better, too, and have decided that this year we will all (3 of us) learn Italics. What is nice about this style is that all you have to do to turn it into calligraphy is change the pen you are using to one with either a felt square tip or a traditional calligraphy pen with nibs.
  • Mathematics:

    • Life of Fred math series by Dr. Stanley SchmidtLife of Fred Pre-Algebra 1

      • Alex Rider is using this series of math books. He started Pre-Algebra 1 with Biology late last school year. The author, Dr. Stanley Schmidt, says that there is an old saying that you should not start algebra before you have hair under your arms. So I am going to have him do Pre-Algebra 1 and 2, which is due to be released this summer has just recently been released, and then check his readiness for Beginning Algebra.
    • Making Math Meaningful, published by Cornerstone CurriculumMaking Math Meaningful

      • Dragon Rider is using this curriculum. He will be finishing Level 3 and moving to Level 4 this year, which introduces multi-digit multiplication and division. Dragon Rider has several learning challenges that has made learning math very difficult for him. The name for this difficulty is dyscalculia. This curriculum is very thorough and systematic, building from the concrete to the pictorial to the abstract. This is the first math curriculum that he has said he actually understands and doesn’t fight to get done. With uncluttered workbook pages and large fonts, there is plenty of room for him to write. Dragon Rider also has dysgraphia and this workbook has been very accommodating for him.
    • Hands-On Equations, published by Borenson and Associates.Hands-On Equations

      • Alex Rider really has NO interest in using this as a supplement to his Pre-Algebra as he is not crazy about hands-on math. I will try again this year to add this once/week to reinforce algebraic concepts. Dragon Rider may become the one to use this program the most since he does like hands-on activities!
  • Nature Study:

    • Katie’s Homeschool Cottage eBook Using Nature Studies, Nature Journals, and Poetry Throughout the Year. Katie's Homeschool Cottage Nature Study

      • This is a wonderful resource for Nature Study! It has 4 sections, one for each season. There is poetry for the season and for each month of the season. Each month of the season has ideas for nature study for that month, questions to encourage going beyond the nature study itself leading to “rabbit holes”, and wonderful book lists for all the topics! In fact, one of the reasons I really liked this book is that she shows you how you can use nature study as the jumping off point for ALL of science! What a wonderful idea! Since we just changed the way we schedule our homeschool during the week, we now will be using this resource on Fridays for doing Nature Study and Beyond!
  • Science:

    • This is the subject that I have spent the most time working on since I am pretty much writing our curriculum from scratch for this year. We are studying physics and astronomy this year, using a variety of resources, including books, labs/projects, and something called Adaptive Objects from Adaptive Curriculum. I have an overview for the year created, including estimates for the number of weeks I plan to spend each major topic. I also have a list of scientists that I want to cover, some more in-depth than others.
    • Secrets of the Universe Series in 5 volumes, by Paul Fleisher. Objects in Motion

      • This will be our new spine for middle school physics. Originally published in a single volume as Secrets of the Universe, it is now being published as 5 separate volumes. Their titles are Objects in Motion: Principles of Classical Mechanics, Liquids and Gases: Principles of Fluid Mechanics, Waves: Principles of Light, Electricity, and Magnetism, Matter and Energy: Principles of Matter and Thermodynamics, and Relativity and Quantum Mechanics: Principles of Modern Physics. These are small, short volumes written in very understandable language where new terms are explained in the text, no advanced math knowledge is assumed, and very easy demonstrations are recommended for the student to try on their own. I feel much more comfortable using this series for the boys as I now know they will understand what they are reading.
    • UPDATE 7/15/2010: Changing our “spine” for science to the series listed above by Paul Fleischer. While the Thinking Physics is a great book, I don’t believe it is one that can be sat down and read through 10 problems at a time, every sitting, all year in this age group. I fear that this will be too great a pace for the boys, particularly Dragon Rider. So we will use this book for thought-provoking problems to supplement the previous book written more for middle school students.

    • The Great Motion Mission, by Cora Lee. The Great Motion Mission

      • This book is a fun story that explains some of the basic physics principles while showing how they relate to everyday life. We will be able to use this book all during the year, reading just the chapters that pertain to the unit we are currently studying. The boys are liking this book a lot!
    • Thinking Physics: Understandable Practical Reality, by Lewis Carroll Epstein. Thinking Physics

      • This book is a great resource for really thinking about how physics really works. It requires study and thought, so I’m not sure how diligent the boys will be with it yet. I would like them to learn this year how to spend time with a resource this year, contemplate the information, and really study what they are covering. So far, they have still been in the mode of “what do I have to finish so that I can go play”. I am hoping I will see some maturity in this area this year. We will start by assigning 4-5 problems a week for them to work on, perhaps even one or two of them as Next Time problems. Next Time problems are something that you think about and work on your own for a day or 2 before being presented with the answer and explanation of the principles involved and how they really work. This will insure that they don’t just go ahead and read the answer before giving the question some real thought.
    • The Cartoon Guide to Physics, by Larry Gonick.Cartoon Guide to Physics

      • This book is very light on conceptual understanding, but it does get right to the point of how to figure out physics problems. Apparently, many students really like this book because of the humorous approach and light-hearted drawings, so I am sure Dragon Rider will enjoy it. They will both make use of this book.
    • The New Way Things Work, by David Macaulay.The New Way Things Work

      • This book is a wonderful visual resource for explaining physics concepts! My husband really likes this book because he can see how easy it would be for him to sit and explain things to the boys with this as a resource! We will be using this a lot for supplementing topics!
    • Physics, Fun, and Beyond, by Eduardo de Campos Valadares. Physics, Fun, and Beyond

      • This will be our primary resource for doing labs and projects (experiments). It is a wonderful book that will last us through high school and freshman college physics projects and shows which projects are easy, intermediate, and hard. Great resource from which to pick-and-choose!
    •  Adaptive Curriculum Activity Objects for Middle School Science. Adaptive Curriculum

      • There are 2 kinds of interactive objects in this curriculum: those designed for Concept Development and those designed as Virtual Experiments. I hope to make extensive use of these as they apply to each unit we cover in physics. Then we can use them next year for chemistry and the following year we can use the high school biology objects. They look like fun!
    • K’Nex Education Kits – A dear friend has offered to lend to me a couple of K’Nex kits for exploring physics concepts. I am so excited about being able to use these kits because I think they will be even more fun than some of the other experiments from the books!Amusement Park Experience
        • Forces, Energy, & Motion
        • Amusement Park Experience

    • Assorted Biographies for various scientists:

      • Isaac Newton: Giants of Science by Kathleen Krull
      • Archimedes and the Door of Science by Jeanne Bendick
      • Along Came Galileo by Jeanne Bendick
      • Einstein – book to be determined…
    • Mini-biographies for various other scientists will be covered from using resources like the Internet, science encyclopedias, and other books we either have or will borrow from the library.

      • Joule
      • Carnot
      • Doppler
      • Fresnel
      • Ohm
      • Faraday
      • Marie Curie

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