Sunday, March 30, 2014

High School History and Literature

For high school, we combine history and literature WTM style into a great books course which covers the full 4 year cycle.  I start with the basic reading list given in the WTM for each year.  I then modify this list somewhat to include more world books instead of solely western literature, as well as adding in a few books that I think are valuable.  I think anyone could stick strictly to her list and do very well.  My son is also a very quick and strong reader, and typically reads a work each week.  If your student is a slower reader, you might want to drop some books to allow more time with each piece.

Our typical week looks something like this:  Monday-he reads the background reading relating to the time period and culture we are studying.  We use a variety of college textbooks for this purpose and chose from them if the subject is US, World, or European focused.  My son will write an outline about the chapter he is reading, read further regarding the rest of the world during that period in the Timetables of History, and enter any important dates on his timeline book.  He will also read some biographical reading about the author we are reading for the week.  He then uses this background reading, as well as the biographical reading, to write a 1-2 page summary about the full background to the piece we are studying.  Then he will jump into reading the text.

Tuesday:  He will read some relevant primary source material from the time period we are studying.  There are great sourcebooks out there and available, as well as easily accessible sourcebooks online, such as this one.  He also continues reading the text for the week.

Wednesday:  Mostly just reading the text, taking notes.

Thursday:  We have a set discussion time on Thursday.  We have been blessed to have a close friend follow our reading list along with us and come and discuss the text together with us.  We discuss the context, as well as literary aspects of the text including theme, tone, characterization, style, etc.  If you want to follow a similar approach, but need help preparing this discussion, I personally love the Stobaugh books which will provide you with discussion questions, etc, for a range of books.  You can also find Great Books summaries and commentaries in print and online to do your research and make sure all important aspects are covered in the discussion.  Ideally you will have read the text as well, but even if you haven't been able to, it is very possible to lead a solid discussion with some preparation.  It is important to let the discussion be Socratic and organic, rather than lecture based.  I really enjoy hearing the thoughts these two teenagers have about what they are reading, and our discussion of the literature naturally leads into good historical discussion, as well as interesting comparison and contrasts.  At this time, I will typically assign him some kind of relevant essay.  Often I draw from AP World History or AP English Literature essay questions to give him good solid practice in those types of essays.  I try to sprinkle in AP multiple choice throughout the year as well.

Friday:  Friday is spent finishing and polishing his writing and giving feedback on his weekly essay, as well as getting a jump start on the next week's text if it is longer.

That's our basic process.  If you would like copies of my plans for high school history and literature years 1, 2, or 3, contact me.  I am available to share my plans or to write personalized plans for you for any grade with reading and writing assignments for a donation to my son's exchange student fund.  ;)

11th grade

Our plans for 11th grade are somewhat modified because my oldest will be in France for part of the year as an exchange student.  I'm thrilled he will have the opportunity to really establish his language skills while attending a high school in France and living with a French family for 3 months.  If you are interested in a similar experience for your high schooler, or if you are willing to host a student from another country, read more here and contact me!

History and Lit:  continuing our great books approach.  We will be in year 3 and using a modified version of the well-trained mind reading list for year 3.  He will also study for and take the AP US History exam.  

Thesis:  He will complete an extended junior thesis this year.  In 9th and 10th, he completed a standard research paper.  His project this year will be longer and more involved.  Details of how to do a junior and senior thesis can be found in the WTM.

Math:  Math U See

Science:  dual enrollment Biology
                He will also work through Astronomy a Self-teaching guide so as to not skip the astronomy year altogether, but I won't include this work on his transcript

Language:  Stewart English books 1 and 2
                    IEW's Succeed on the AP Lit Exam (testing at the end of the year)

Electives:  French 3 (credit from 3 months in France)
                  Latin 4-online with Henle
                  Russian--with Pimsleur and Russian in 10 minutes a day
                  Apologetics through NCFCA Speech and Debate
                  Art-continue with the Annotated Mona Lisa and the Story of Painting for art from year 3, as well as studying sculpting
                  Music-Classical Music 101 (1st half)
                  American Government-dual enrollment