Here are some pieces of our ninth grade curriculum. I’d be happy if anything I write helps you in your decision-making process for your own curriculum! I know I scour reviews and blog posts as I look for ways to teach.
Mathematics: Saxon’s Advanced Mathematics (Second Edition)
I selected the Second Edition of Saxon’s Advanced Mathematics because I want the program the way John Saxon designed it, with geometry integrated. Newer editions break away from integrating geometry.
Back in my school days, I used Saxon math from sixth grade Math 7/6 through senior calculus, and so I use my own positive Saxon experience to help teach. Art Reed’s valuable newsletters on his website also helped me tremendously: which books to select, how to address transcripts (You might find it interesting that my own high school transcript titled my year in the Advanced Mathematics book as “Trigonometry,” but when I read forums now, it is discouraged to call the class “trigonometry!”), how to handle bumps in the road using Saxon math, and other fascinating stories to get lost in!
Saxon’s math curriculum routinely defies all mass education norms, and his book Advanced Mathematics (second edition) is no exception:
- It is not designed to fit neatly into a 180 day school year. (Was math designed for school–or school to teach math?) It is intended to take 3-4 semesters.
- It mixes material from four different math classes: geometry, advanced algebra, trigonometry, and pre-calculus. (I did supplement geometry with a mix of some extra on-line materials I found for proofs and geometry terminology.)
- It is incrementally and cumulatively taught such that material from the first lesson will be phased out and then brought back many lessons later for review. It’s not “learn and forget” with Saxon!
- It continues to be graphically “boring.”
- Its story problems contain advanced vocabulary and are quite humorous, if you get Saxon’s kind of humor.
My ninth grader seems to pick up math easily, and she has pushed through the Saxon books at a good pace, arriving at Advanced Mathematics. She does half a problem set one day and the other half the next. Since every student deserves a little autonomy (Ha! Such freedom!), she gets to pick if she does even problems one day and odds the next–or if she does problems 1-15 on the first day and then problems 16-30 on the second day.
In years past, since she grasped math quickly and fluently, I would selectively allow her to skip problems (which she knew how to do in her sleep while running from an axe murderer). However, when these old “easy” problems were brought back for review 15-20 lessons later, she had to do them to keep retention. Saxon discourages skipping problems, and I understand why. This year, we have not skipped problems (and have even added in some extra geometry problems).
Composition: Time for Writing
We tried something different this year for writing, since I’m not a very good writing instructor. I tend to go a lit-tle crazy marking up my kids’ papers. They go a lit-tle crazy defending their work. It gets a lit-tle crazy around the house. (Best to find a new way, yes? Yes.)
We tried out two classes at Time for Writing, a program offering on-line writing classes. (I actually used it for two of my students this year.) How was it? I think that both students increased their writing skills, and I only had to put up with a lit-tle grief– instead of a lot!
- Work was graded by a teacher, not me.
- Concise, sequential lessons
- Helpful deadlines
- The classes are priced at $119 for 8 weeks, which divides out to be about $15 a week.
- When I had to correspond with teachers, they were very helpful, kind, and seemed to like communicating with the students and their parents.
- Actual grades were assigned.
- Grading seems to be done on a rubric.
- Variety of writing topics
- Immediate start date
- Can extend or pause a class a little bit if needed
- Most of the actual work is paper writing. There is not much busy work, although there are reasonable on-line assignments and quizzes.
Now what about more of the cons?
Well, if you have a student who struggles with significant writing blocks, I do not suggest this program unless you have a writing tutor or the ability to work cooperatively with your student yourself. For a writer who is afraid to write (or who is motivated to start and has great ideas, but gets writer’s block as soon as she has to type, handwrite, or dictate words), this will still be a tough class and will not address that stumbling block.
However, if you have a student who has no problem getting started with the writing process when he or she puts his or her mind to it, but just doesn’t appreciate your awesome parental feedback or believe in your deadlines, then this certainly could be the program for you. It provides those things! It just doesn’t provide any help for writing block.
We used Institute for Excellence in Writing’s (IEW) Speech Bootcamp. Loved it! A small group of students met every Friday morning for one semester. The course comes with DVDs, a teacher’s workbook, and a student’s workbook. We followed the syllabus closely. It was clear and easy to follow. Very well designed and user-friendly! The videos were fun and painless to watch.
We added in extra, too: fun speech exercises; some psychology to think about that interferes with our ability to be ourselves in front of a crowd; watching and discussing some famous speeches and speakers; and a scientific presentation. Parents and siblings were invited to class to watch the students’ speeches.
This was a fun class. I liked the IEW Speech Bootcamp because it was so well planned and put together. As a teacher, I could have just followed the workbooks and videos without too much planning. Adding in more was super easy to do without interfering with the flow of what Andrew Pudewa (the Speech Bootcamp teacher) was trying to accomplish.
Ninth grade has been lots of fun, and it’s stimulating to see the teenage spunk and spirit culminating and exerting itself.
What I have written is not all-inclusive of what we read, do, or learn. We round out our curriculum with history, grammar, music, PE, and classes offered in our community.
Guess that’s all I have to say for today! If you have any questions on our use of Saxon math, Time for Writing, IEW Speech bootcamp, or anything else I’ve mentioned, ask below!
Take good care!