Tag Archive | GCSE

Plans for September

After going to and fro in my mind over what to do – follow the national curriculum more closely with a view to doing GCSEs? Concede defeat over the severe dyslexia and put them all in school (it was a serious consideration, but none of us want to go that route), or go back to our Sonlight-style, literature-based lifestyle.

I wondered seriously about starting GCSEs at home, but again, nobody really wants that. We have found two possible options for maths and English post-16, both of which are free, so I think there’s no rush for that. Heck, I’m doing GCSE maths myself next year, and I’m 44! 🙂

I decided to go back to the literature-based lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle, because when we were doing Sonlight, we weren’t cooped up at home or in the classroom the way we have been recently, trying to squeeze ourselves into the National Curriculum boxes (although now I look back, I wonder why?! It has been miserable for all of us, and really, worse than unproductive, it turned them off learning).

On the contrary, the books we found were always portable, it meant that we could be out and about everyday – at the woods, at the beach, visiting with other home educators, whatever really, and we could still get the ‘work’ done, and it didn’t really feel like work (except on my throat which was known to need a constant supply of hot tea!)

Despite eldest’s difficulties with the system (possible Asperger’s without a firm diagnosis or Statement), his knowledge base was much larger than my own when I left school, so I’m confident that Sonlight gave him a good all-round education. The skills will come, but they have come frustratingly slowly.

My kids are just bright, late starters 🙂

The next question was, do we go on with Sonlight itself or another literature-based curriculum I have used in between, Heart of Dakota.

I actually decided to do both: I will be doing two levels anyway – we’re going to finally go back and finish the Sonlight read-alouds from core C over the summer, and then go on to start core D. We never did cores D and E first time round because they’re based on American history, but we always felt we had missed out on all those fantastic books!

coreD

So, as always, we will do a hotch potch – we’ll intersperse the American history with some British history and geography. But we’ll be moving away from the textbooks and back to the literature. They recall it so much more fully that way.

heart-of-dakota-world-geography

For my daughter, I decided to do Heart of Dakota’s World Geography year. The titles look really interesting, and I’ve been wanting to do it for a while.

I rather enjoyed HoD’s early grades, which I used (mainly for language arts) for my two youngest alongside Sonlight’s early grades, although we didn’t do all the books (HoD are much more Amero-centric than Sonlight, and more religious! But I like it because it has a much more Charlotte Mason style) but I skipped the first three higher levels in the ‘Hearts for Him Through High School’ series (although I have the guides if I want to go back to them).

300

And, because I am a book addict, I also ordered Sonlight’s core 300 (20th Century World History for high school) instructor’s guide, but not the books. I thought I would get the books gradually as we need them. And I’ll read these myself even if my daughter’s not interested. (I had been toying with doing their Church History core for myself but we hadn’t done the 20th Century in any great depth so I thought we should do this first) I rather think she will be interested anyway, and I know my eldest will love them.

So there will be a whole lot of reading going on in this house, and out of this house next year, all being well!

But as ever, the strict following of guides and manuals, ticking off every box, and doing every assignment, probably won’t happen.

We’ve tried that, and it sucks the joy out of it all, and it kind of defeats the whole purpose of home educating in the first place, which is freedom to enjoy learning.

For science, we’ll carry on with Apologia but I think we may set aside some more time for hands-on experiments. That’s one think I may go back to the National Curriculum for, but as I said many years ago, I will use it (as I’ll use the HoD manuals and the Sonlight instructor’s guides) more as a curriculum bank of ideas, a tool rather than a master. We won’t allow ourselves to be straight-jacketed by curriculum.

When things start to arrive, I’ll post again with details about the individual books and resources.

So I’m excited right now! We haven’t had a ‘Box Day’ for a few years now! How about you? What are you planning? What resources will you be using? What would you like to learn this year?

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Climate Change: End of Week One

I have completed Week One of the FutureLearn MOOC from the University of Exeter, “Climate Change: Challenges and Solutions”.

As somebody who has really never considered the topic previously, I found most of the resources pretty much at the right level for an introductory course – approximately GCSE level I would imagine. The only exceptions were the video from the MET Office, which was so simplistic (and contradicted material we had already covered) that it could have been a Key Stage 2 resource (I have taught Key Stage 2 Geography homeschool classes and have covered some of the material with my children at around that stage), and the article from the IPCC which seems more complex that everything else we’ve looked at – I’ll need to go through that again with a highlighter and makes some notes to break it up into easier bitesize chunks.

The final task of Week One is to:

Reflect on what you have learned during week 1. You could write your reflections in a blog, in the discussion or in another place of your choice.

Reflect on these key questions:

  1. What the key scientific principles that explain climate change including the greenhouse (blanket) effect?
  2. What are the key feedback mechanisms that help to explain why our climate is able to “self-regulate”?
  3. How can our climate be conceptualised as a system containing a series of components that interact with one another?

Also consider:

  1. What are the most important themes you have learned this week?
  2. What aspect of this week did you find difficult?
  3. What did you find most interesting? And why?
  4. Was there something that you learned this week that prompted you to do your own research?
  5. Are there any web sites or other online resource that you found particularly useful in furthering your knowledge and understanding?

Obviously this blog is my main forum for reflection (although I have tried to join in on Twitter and in the comments section on the MOOC site)

So, in reflection:

1. What the key scientific principles that explain climate change including the greenhouse (blanket) effect?

Radiation from the sun hits the earth, some of which (70 percent) is absorbed by surfaces, and some of which (30 percent) is re-emitted up from the earth. The earth is kept warm by gases (known as ‘greenhouse gases’) which absorb radiation and re-emit some of that radiation back down to earth.

2. What are the key feedback mechanisms that help to explain why our climate is able to “self-regulate”?

– The water vapour feedback, (or the water cycle) which is ‘positive’,

– The ice albedo feedback, which is also ‘positive’, and

– The radiation feedback, which is ‘negative’.

Positive and negative were described as being ‘in the mathematical sense’ but I confess I don’t really understand what that means. What does that mean actually?!

3. How can our climate be conceptualised as a system containing a series of components that interact with one another?

The climate can be conceptualised as a complex system which includes 5 key components: the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the biosphere, the cryoshphere and the lithosphere, which interact together. That’s not a very complete answer, I know. I’m not sure how else to describe it… :-S

And I’m considering:

1. What are the most important themes you have learned this week?

I hadn’t encountered the term ‘albedo’ before, and I didn’t very much about the radiation feedback, or that this is the most important feedback loop. I suppose it is kind of obvious when you think about it though.

2. What aspect of this week did you find difficult?

There were a few new terms, but nothing altogether too new, although there was a lot of information to take in. It took a lot more time altogether than I had anticipated, as I had to watch some of the videos several time and take notes to get to grips with the terms.

3. What did you find most interesting? And why?

It’s mainly organising information that I kind of already knew but hadn’t considered properly, so I have a better understanding of the basics than I did. I was a little bit terrified of the quiz at the end of the week, but I passed with flying colours. 🙂

4. Was there something that you learned this week that prompted you to do your own research?

No, not really, although I have followed some of the questions other students were posting with interest (mostly of the climate change skeptic flavour).

5. Are there any web sites or other online resource that you found particularly useful in furthering your knowledge and understanding?

I’ve been given several links to look at:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/ – How do we know that recent co2 increases are due to human activities?

http://nsidc.org/data/seaice_index/ – Sea Ice Index

http://reciprocatesite.conted.ox.ac.uk/ – this may be a good follow-up course on climate change.

and even http://www.complexityexplorer.org/online-courses