Since I do everything backwards, I posted about a day at our house and our first week before I posted anything about the kids' plans. I probably should have done it the other way around. But like I said -- backwards.
Anyway, I am at long last getting around to posting Gareth's seventh grade plans. I finally learned how to save screen shots, so I'm going to put up some copies of our plans saved in.jpeg format. You ought to be able to click on the image and see it larger. I did not do the original work on building the tables, however. The tables come from the Sunflower Basket at Serendipity. Jen was kind enough to send me editable files of the tables so I could use them to plan for Gareth, and also to tweak for Katydid (since I was making pretty heavy tweaks for her.) All I did to make them into "boy" tables was to change the yellow to blue and add a knight graphic. (And then my son said, "Why is there a knight on here?" And I said, "Because, you know -- Shield of Faith..." and then he looked at me with that look your kids get when they're sure you're slightly addled but they're humoring you.)
Before I start in on the plans, I should tell you a few things. First, they are not designed to be generic. They're designed specifically for Gareth, according to the interests he listed for me a month or so ago. (The list: "How to throw a spear/prehistoric people/evolutionary biology/military strategy/communications badge/archery/fishing.") I firmly believe that one of the best things about homeschooling is that it allows for quirky, individualized educations. So, if you can use something I've put together, then by all means feel free to use it. But if this all looks ridiculous to you, or like it would never work with your child... that's okay. Your family and your child just need their own quirky education. Quirky is good.
When Jen told me she was using the Catholic Girl's Guide for her daughter back some months ago, I immediately wondered if there was a Catholic Boy's Guide. Turns out there is, only it's called The Young Man's Guide. It's organized according to St. Paul's "armor of God". Since we'd already planned to start medieval history this year, I thought such a guide would tie in well. I thought it might also be good to emphasize chivalry at this age. Then Gareth threw me for a loop with "prehistoric people".
But I decided that a study of prehistory and evolutionary biology would go well with the first chapter of The Young Man's Guide, which is "The Shield of Faith." Not because we believe in a literal interpretation of Genesis and a young earth (we don't), but because after reading through many of the resources I thought would be good for Gareth to use, I became frustrated with the two polarized positions inherent in most of the literature. Apparently religion and science are "in a war", in which scientists must "fight back" against Creationists (and vice versa). What has really happened it seems is that "evolution" has completely lost its status as a scientific theory and become either a religion or an anti-religion, depending on which "side" of the "war" you're on. In the literature, evolutionists seem to be unable to mention God and so jump through lots of hoops which involve personifying the Earth and physical processes, as if they "sense" and "control" things, and of course anti-evolutionists must also try really hard disprove anything that seems to have taken a long time to form.
Thankfully, the Catholic Church has a different position on the matter, which brings the theory of evolution back into its role as a theory, affirms God as the creator of everything no matter what mechanisms scientists discover (or think they discover) at work in nature, and does not require the faithful to deny evidence which would seem to indicate that the universe has been around for a long time. (In fact the Big Bang theory of the universe was developed by a Catholic priest.) In this way, Faith and Reason are not at war with each other, and this is something I want to emphasize to my kids -- that there is such a thing as the Unity of Truth. But when you read any book that talks about evolution... ugh. You need a strong faith, because almost everything I could find was written from an atheistic viewpoint, in which evolution is either "random" or guided by some unidentified superorganism called mostly "Nature" or "Earth".
Fortunately, thanks to an enlightening old thread on 4real, I found Mary Daly's Creator and Creation. This book includes Pope John Paul's Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on evolution.
Ok, so without further adieu... the actual plans. You'll notice they're pretty full, and that I did not always include page numbers. That's because I wanted Gareth to have some freedom of choice and I was not always sure which books would appeal to him most. So I listed some I wasn't sure about and made it clear to him which ones those were. These plans are also designed with our seasons in mind. Until mid October, we will be able to get outside... and should, as much as possible. Because after mid October we can get snowstorms.
Notes: This is Gareth's daily work, more or less. We've made a few tweaks. Logic is an experiment. I wasn't going to include it this year because Gareth really needs to work intensively on writing and spelling. But I do want him to be able to read critically for argument, especially in some of the selections regarding evolution. Traditional Logic says it's for "as early as 7th grade", but once I got the book, I got the feeling that maybe the authors thought it might be better left until high school in the majority of cases. The book was backordered, so it took a while to come, and Gareth just got started on it last week. I'm not sure he liked it much, but I want him to complete at least a week or two of lessons before we decide whether to delay it or not. (He is going to have to do it sometime.)
Notes: This is the first year I have actually assigned Gareth any reading. To be honest, the only reason I'm assigning reading this year is that Gareth's taste in fiction tends to be narrow. Using the Kolbe Junior High Literature guide, I chose two books I thought would have a high level of interest for him, to kind of ease into this assigned reading thing. All summer long I told him how I was going to assign him really boring books... you know, like Fellowship of the Ring. And he would laugh. So fast forward to now, two weeks into us being back to school. He's been spending most of his time doing literature. He gulped out of the Silent Planet in a matter of days before we even officially started, which sort of wrecked the plans to use the Kolbe guide to structure his reading and writing. Oh well. I'd rather him be excited about the books than just doing the bare minimum every week. He's working on a book report for Out of the Silent Planet now and reading steadily through Fellowship of the Ring. He did request the other two books in CS Lewis' Space trilogy and so we may scrap other parts of the plans so he can read through those.
Notes: Since I was just writing this for our use, I didn't always include on the chart details like author's names or (unfortunately) the whole titles of magazines. I'm actually still waiting for those back issues to be delivered, actually, and will be trying to get in touch with the Cricket Publishing group again this week. Five Boys in a Cave is a book I read when I was a kid and enjoyed. It's a classic adventure story about five boys who get lost in a cave which turns out to have cave paintings like the ones at Altamira and Lascaux. So it's not actually history, but it is a good read.
Notes: Gareth tends to have intense interests, and, like I said before, sometimes narrow reading tastes. He also has a tendency to be "bored". Anything that falls outside whatever his interests are at that time is likely to earn the label "boring". Unfortunately religious reading has always earned that label. We do many religious read alouds as a family, go through the Baltimore Catechism as a family, read the Bible as a family, pray as a family. But now that he is nearly 13, I want him to go a little deeper. So I assigned him some reading. I don't really want him to do it grudgingly, but I do want him to do it, so it's a delicate balance. You'll see we're using Seton Religion 7 this year, which may seem somewhat textbook-y for a child who tends to label subjects "boring". But I decided to include it because it has a lot of information in it that I, as a cradle Catholic who was basically uncatechized after the age of 11, am still learning about. I found value myself in reading through the book, and so I decided to have Gareth read it, too.
Notes: I wasn't sure whether or not to include the Zoology Coloring Book, which now turns out to be OOP (or something) because it is "currently unavialable" in its latest edition and only available used. So I didn't buy it over the summer and left it up to Gareth. It should probably have been listed in the "supplemental" section anyway. (My thinking was that building up a decent knowledge of how animals are put together would help in understanding their evolution.)
Notes: This summer I could tell a new interest was about to develop because Gareth would say things like: "That might be interesting, trying to make a new strain of corn." Or, "If you bred a chicken..." Then one day he said, "I think I'd like to breed that white Ameracauna hen and see if we can get any more that look like her." (Ameracaunas are interesting-looking, with beards, and lay "Easter eggs".) So I told him he needed to read up on genetics. I included the project on his chart, although I wasn't sure just how interested in it he really was. It turns out he was very interested in it, and has been reading Genetics of the Fowl before bed at night. He even brought it to the ER with him when he needed his leg stitched up... er, stapled... last week. (Actually, the illustrations in this book appeal heavily to boys... they mostly deal with genetic abberrations like, chicks with 4 wings, chicks with 2 heads... that sort of thing.)
I'm actually thinking that, together, the study of evolutionary biology and genetics would be for high school credit. I ran across a CD-ROM text/course from Duke University's TIP program called Foundations in Biology: Genetics, Evolution, and Ethics for grades 7-10. I thought, "Hey! That's what we're doing!" So I'll probably see about getting the CD-ROM for when the weather turns colder.
Gareth has added the book Swords: An Artist's Devotion to his "Military Studies". He also watches documentaries on the Military Channel. And he hasn't started the dulcimer. And his "Field Guide to Imaginary Creatures" is something he enjoys working on here and there, but not a requirement. I just wanted him to know it was an option if it was something he wanted to do during school hours.
So it's a lot. Stuff I haven't written down: chicken and turkey chores every day, and he'll have a chance to get his First Aid Merit Badge in October. New York State requires a certain number of hours in English, Math, Science, History and Geography every year for 7th and 8th grades, and a certain number of hours in Art and Music combined for 7th and 8th. The state also requires Practical Arts, PE, and Health. So I'm a little more regulated than some of you (an understatement, actually).
I hope to do a planning/scheduling post about all of this at some point, but right now -- it's Labor Day! Hope yours is good :-).