Thursday, July 12, 2018

2018 - 2019 (11th Grade) Curricula

The eclectic style of education worked exceedingly well for Amber last year, so we will continue it for the remaining two years of high school. We did make a few changes to Amber's planned courses during tenth grade, although we believe everything is basically set now for the remainder of high school. She only has a little bit of extra time to choose between a few undecided electives.

Amber completed the last of her science credits during the summer between tenth and eleventh grades, which means she is finished with science until college! I also realized the level of work Amber was completing for her English credits was actually coming close to two full credits in English per school year. Therefore, we divided those courses into Literature (a full credit each year) and writing / grammar courses (usually 1/2 credit).

In the middle of tenth grade there was a shake-up at our homeschool co-op resulting in a new group being formed. We went with the new group, which is a better fit for Amber. She will be taking a few of her needed credits at co-op this year along with the fun fine arts courses that she loves.


(1 Credit)
BJU Consumer Math 
Amber did not finish this course last school year, although she made it about halfway through. She will be working on completing it sometime this school year, eventually. She might even need to work on it into her senior year.

(1/2 Credit)
Understanding Geometry Plans may have changed for the ACT, and Amber will need some geometry before taking the test. We are going to use an easier version of geometry for the sole purpose of giving her the exposure needed to pass some of the geometry questions on the ACT. We haven't decided if she will use the geometry before or after finishing consumer math.

Language Arts:

(1/2 Credit for Advanced Research Writing)
Writing: Writing Research Papers: The Essential Tools
Amber is taking this full year course at our homeschool co-op with me as the teacher. 
Grammar: IEW Fix It! Grammar - Moving to the next level and beyond if she finishes during the school year. It will be incorporated in her writing class credits throughout high school until she finishes the series. 

(1 credit for Literature)
Literature: Using Excellence in Literature for everything except Shakespeare, which is still Lightning Literature.

The tentative 11th grade reading list is:
  • The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (Excellence in Literature)
  • The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway (Excellence in Literature)
  • Romeo and Juliet - William Shakespeare (Memoria Press)
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream - William Shakespeare (Lightning Literature)
  • Walden - Henry David Thoreau (Excellence in Literature)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (Excellence in Literature) 
  • Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis (Excellence in Literature)
  • Paradise Lost - John Milton (Excellence in Literature)
  • Great Expectations - Charles Dickens (Excellence in Literature)
  • Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (Excellence in Literature)
  • Hamlet - William Shakespeare (Lightning Literature)
  • Macbeth - William Shakespeare (Lightning Literature)

(1 Credit over two and one half years for Creative Writing Elective) 

Creative Writing: One Year Adventure Novel - Amber's goal is to become a writer, so naturally one of her electives is creative writing. She still needs to finish her adventure novel and then will be moving on to a fantasy novel.

Foreign Language

(2 Credits) 
Greek: Amber is finishing First Form Greek that she started as a review item in the latter part of 9th grade and then moving on with Croy's A Primer of Biblical Greek and Going Deeper with New Testament Greek. We also have a Greek New Testament for her to work with.
German: Portfolio Deutsch. Amber's official foreign language that will be acceptable to any of the universities. She is just continuing with the next level. 


(1 credit U.S. History - finishing;  1 credit Ancient World History - finishing)
History: Amber finds American history terribly boring. It's the truth. She was happy with our switch to Notgrass high school history courses, however we often have paused the U.S. history credit to explore other topics that keep Amber interested. This situation has left her with 3/4 of an Ancient World History credit that can easily be completed, and 1/2 of the U.S. History credit still to complete in 11th grade. Thankfully, she has already completed other high school history courses. At the end of this school year she will have three full history/ social studes credits, and only her World History credit to finish (she plans on using Notgrass for it too). 
U.S. History Resources:
Notgrass Exploring America - For the U.S. history. We won't do the literature options with it.
Home School in the Woods - I'm using their Time Travelers series for supplemental reading, timelines, some maps, writing assignments, and a few projects. Simply because we have always enjoyed them.
MapTrek - Additional map work to help with Amber's geography. 
Ancient History Resources:I'm still working these out. I need to look closer at the lessons completed and where her gaps are. She only needs about 30 hours to complete this credit though. I'm thinking about using some of The Great Courses we already own, but have not yet studied.  

Science - ALL COMPLETED!!!

Electives and Non-Core Subjects

(Fine Arts Credit) 
Amber already has more than enough Fine Arts credits. The remaining are electives that she enjoys.

Drama: A year-long co-op drama class, but will probably only amount to enough hours for 1/4 to 1/2 credit. (Third year of high school drama)

Art: A semester long co-op art class, and we will just add the hours to continue her art credit(s).

Music: Continue weekly private flute lessons and practice. We only count her 45 minute lessons and performances as school hours. So between 1/4 and 1/2 credit of music too.

(Practical Arts Credit)
Home Economics: This just was not happening at home. Thankfully a friend is teaching a year-long home-ec class at our homeschool co-op this year. Amber will earn 1/2 credit for the course.

Driver's Education: Amber is still working on this again this year and continues to practice driving with her permit. We will be intentionally making time to instruct her in safe driving. 

(1 Physical Education Credit)
Phys. Ed:  Amber has moved to quarterly physical therapy sessions where she works on strengthening the muscles around her joints and learns how to care for her body, so the majority of her remaining physical education will be from her daily cardio and strength training. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

First of July Update

Wow, I've really let things slide here this summer. We've just been so busy and I've learned to prioritize my energy. Amber just finished volunteering every morning at our church's VBS. She handled the busy week and early mornings better than I did, and I was just her driver. I dropped her off and then worked on co-op class lesson plans at a nearby library until pick-up time. I'm just not cut out for rising early than 9 am on a regular basis.

Amber has been enjoying her summer, while still working on lessons to meet her goals before next school year officially begins. This past week I've given her off of school lessons though. She may have handled the mornings well enough, but pushing it to complete lessons in the afternoon would have definitely been too much.

Since my last update Amber has continued her weekly Project Write sessions, and even had an extra session last Friday after VBS. The rough draft of her group's play is complete. There are still several more weeks of Project Write before the final performance. Amber is enjoying her group this year more than any other year. She is closer in age to the kids in this group and she has a great deal in common with them.

Today was her flute recital, and she was more nervous than I've seen her in a while. She said it was the hardest piece she's ever played and she was nervous. It turns out she was so nervous that she forgot all of her morning medications today. This was only noticed when it was time for her afternoon medication. Considering she did not take any of her medication this morning, she did fantastic at the recital. We had assumed her high heart rate during the recital was from anxiety. However when you play a long musical piece while standing without haven taken your beta block, a high heart rate is to be expected. I'm rather impressed she didn't pass out given the mechanics of playing the flute.

Lessons have been progressing well, and Amber will have her last science credit finished this coming week. We continue to work on the literature reading list I assigned for the summer, and she's keeping up with her languages. She's been dedicated to her lessons this summer and will undoubtedly meet her goals easily.

We are planning to take a little break from everything the last full week of July when Amber has oral surgery to remove four wisdom teeth. Although we are hopeful it will go well, Amber's EDS and dysautonomia will make it more complicated. We're praying that she can return to her current level of functionality immediately after the surgery. We finally have Amber balanced well and she can mostly keep up with other teens her age. Our hope is that doing this surgery over the summer will make it easier on her body to handle the stress and pain.

Amber and her other teen friends have been getting together a great deal this summer. Tomorrow they are seeing a movie together and hanging out afterwards. This is in addition to all of the text and hangout messages, and of course playing on Fortnite.  My child and her friends are terribly addicted to Fortnite. And to be honest, I don't care. As long as we can keep the game playing reasonable I don't care that they play daily. If it wasn't Fortnite, it would be some other video game. Amber is reaping the benefits of being the daughter of gamers (ok, so Fred is mainly the gamer now. I was once upon a time before I ran out of time and energy.)

There are a few other things happening around here, but for now I'll just leave it with these items.

Of course, I'm planning for school that starts the beginning of August, assuming that Amber is healed up enough from surgery and hopefully not in a deep flare of her EDS / dysautonomia. There isn't too much for me to plan at this point, since many of the subjects for 11th grade are continuations from 10th grade, or just the next level of her languages.

Happy July!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Mid-June Update

It's been a couple of weeks and we've been rather busy enjoying summer and feeling good. That isn't something that I have been able to say often in the last few years. Both Amber and I have been feeling rather well lately, and we are thankful for this reprieve.

Amber always feels best over the summers. Her joints do not ache as much from the EDS, her autonomic nervous system seems to behave better too, and she has more energy. This is probably the best summer she has had in... oh goodness, 7 years? She's acting like a normal teenager too. Stays up later than she should, sleeps later than I'd like, hangs out with her friends, chats / texts with her friends, spends hours gaming with her friends, and gives me attitude. I'm not as fond of the attitude part, but I'm grateful she has the energy to be snarky with me.

Our schedule has been full most weeks this summer, and a little voice in the back of my head worries that the busyness will trigger a relapse or flare for Amber. Still, even with early mornings some days she has managed to keep going. Maybe we've just learned how to balance her days and it is second nature to us now. I don't feel like I'm working to balance her activities, although it's possible. 

We re-arranged her spare room again. This time we swapped out a table for a desk, and moved her gaming computer. (New chair arrives today).
Lunch at a favorite restaurant that is moving a little farther away. 
I've also been feeling unbelievably normal-er. Is that a word? After I had to take the extended large dose of prednisone that ended in early May, I was still not feeling all that wonderful. My hand / foot joints were not as swollen or painful, but they still were not back to normal either. Then something happened about a week after I completely finished the prednisone. I started to feel better than I had in almost two years. My hands are still not quite right, and I might have to consider this the new normal. Amazingly, my back has had very little pain since being on the prednisone. I had gone through many steroid injections in my back and never got this level of relief. I can actually sleep without waking because I'm in excruciating pain. I can even work around the house without being crippled. It's amazing. 

Not to belittle the success of the prednisone on my back, but I have energy again. I'm not talking about the energy I probably should have, but I have the energy to function again. I had gotten to where I had about 6 hours a day of energy and even then I was pretty pokey. Now I'm gardening, cleaning the house, re-arranging furniture, planning school lessons, getting up early on many occasions for fun activities, and I don't feel completely fuzzy brained. It appears the prednisone did exactly what the rheumatologist wanted and reset my immune system a bit. Not a lot, but just enough for the plaquenil to keep the Sjogren's in check. I'm not going to complain about the added bonuses that have come along with that reset.

Half of my gardening purchases. I had to go back for basically double this amount. And Amber has been keeping up with her exercises even though she's not regularly attending PT.

So what have we been doing with this blessed energy and health? 
  • Amber has gone swimming with friends, outside in the heat, a couple of times. 
  • We went to the zoo for an entire day, in the sun and heat. Admittedly, this one was hard.
  • We went on a road-trip field trip with friends to various Lincoln locations in Springfield, IL. It was an all day trip with lots of walking, standing, listening, and looking. It was a hot day, but the threat of storms kept it from being overly sunny. 
  • Amber has had weekly Project Write sessions / classes. She adores the group this year and they are making great headway in writing their play.
  • Amber has been preparing for her flute recital the first of July.
  • Amber had her regular eye checkup, and managed to skate by another year without a prescription change. 
  • Although Amber's dental appointment didn't go as great - four wisdom teeth to be removed this summer. Consult is next week. Our greatest fear over this is that it will trigger a dysautonomia flare, and of course that there are EDS complications.
  • Lots of shopping, just for the fun of it and not because we needed to go for household items.
  • Lots of lunches out, again because we could.
  • Movies, with many more planned.

In summer school:
  • Government is finished!
  • Marine Biology is finished!
  • Huckleberry Finn is finished!
  • Half of the Survey of Science & History, Amber's last science credit, is complete. She will formally start 11th grade in August with all of her science credits finished.
  • Amber has started her summer reading schedule with Little Women. I have assigned several books for this summer, however she will not be writing literary analysis papers on them. 
11th and 12th grade Greek books arrived. And Amber worked on science while we waited for service on my car.
In the coming weeks, Amber has more plans with friends and will serve as a group leader at our church's VBS. I'm not going to volunteer again this year. Although I'm feeling fantastic right now, I can't guarantee that will last and there are not many jobs I can do at VBS when I'm in low energy mode. It's just as well. Amber prefers to have some events where I'm not there too. It can be hard for a homeschooled kid to get away from mom.

That's it for now!