The school year at Alternative Family Education, the umbrella school for my son’s home schooling, starts tomorrow (2012 Aug 29). We have not completely settled on everything he will do this year, but big chunks of the planning are now in place. We’ll be meeting with his consultant teacher on Thursday (2012 Aug 30) to tweak the plan a bit.
Here is what it currently looks like he’ll be doing this year for 11th-grade courses:
- Art of Problem Solving Java Programming with Data Structures
- This course is one of the few I’ve found that is Java as a second programming language. It will be more like his 6th programming language, but his most recent programming has been in Python, which is what AoPS uses for their first course. Although AoPS classes are usually fairly intense, I expect this one to be fairly straightforward, as my son has been exploring computer science concepts well beyond what the course covers. It will mainly be a disciplined way to make sure that he has Java syntax mastered and gets a good review of data structures, since he currently has rather scattered concepts in data structures.
- Science Fair??
- He has not yet committed to doing a science fair project this year. If he does one, it will probably be in computer science—perhaps continuing last year’s project, perhaps starting something new, perhaps taking one of the projects he’s been doing recreationally and turning it into a science fair project.
- UCSC Math 30 Mathematical Problem Solving??
- This Fall quarter course in math problem solving seems intended mainly for prepping students for the Putnam math prize exam. The course is currently full, but we are hoping that enough students will drop after they find out how tough the problems are that the professor will allow him to register through UCSC Extension.
- UCSC Computer Engineering 16 Applied Discrete Math
- This Winter quarter course covers the fundamental math needed for computer science (combinatorics, mathematical induction, Boolean algebra). I’ve taught it myself a few times in the past, but I think that it would be worth the money to have him take it in a class environment with a different instructor. If he doesn’t get into Math 30, he might take this Fall quarter. Both the Fall and the Winter professors are good—I think he might get on better with the Winter one, though.
Science and Engineering
- Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
- We’ll be continuing with the Matter and Interactions book, doing the second half this year. I think we’ll do a week or two to finish off Chapter 13 on thermodynamics first, as there are a couple of labs that I bought cool toys for but didn’t have time for last year. I’ll continue posting info about what we do on this blog, collecting the physics posts in forward order.
- Robotics Club
- We’ll continue the Santa Cruz Robotics club, but not enter the MATE competition this year. I don’t know whether this will be a course or just recreational this year. A lot depends on who is in the club and how much guidance they want.
- WEST Ensemble Players
- West Performing Arts will be doing two teen productions this year: The Imaginary Invalid by Molière and The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. He plans to be in both.
- Dinosaur Prom Improv Troupe
- He joined WEST’s teen improve troupe last year and plans to continue with them this year. There is likely to be a large overlap in membership between the WEST Ensemble Players and Dinosaur Prom.
English is probably the subject that my son has had the worst problems with, due to writers’ block. It looks like there are a couple of courses being offered by AFE this year that should work fairly well for him:
Leadership & Communication
- Fall semester only. I quote the AFE ad:
Leadership and Communication is a course for high school students … . If you want to communicate with greater confidence and make a difference in life, join this course to become a more effective speaker, listener, and writer. Learn how your own and others’ communication styles influence your relationships, gain more confidence and skills for job interviews, learn how to present your ideas persuasively, and focus on communication skills that are of particular interest to you.
To receive the full 5 English credits, at least three hours of research and study time outside of class weekly will be an integral part of the course.
- Dramatic Literature
- Spring semester only. This is preparation for the trip to Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland in the spring. I probably won’t be able to go on the trip this year, but my son had a good time last year and wants to do it again.
- Writing Tutoring
- He’s been working with a writing tutor/educational therapist this summer on overcoming his writing block. We’ll probably continue that this year, focusing on timed writing (like SAT essays and in-class exams).
He did not finish the world history through history of science course that he started last year, though he put in a fair amount of time (including over the summer). We’re thinking of scaling it back and having him do just the reading for the rest of the material, since it is the writing that bogs him down. He could probably finish the reading in a week or two, without putting in much effort.
- US History, Grades 9–12
- Rather than trying to create a custom-tailored US history course, we’ll just have him take the one that AFE is offering. He has had excellent US history courses in 5th and 7th grades (more content than the high-school US history course I had), so a standard US history course should not be too onerous, as long as the writing is not overdone. (Actually he wrote better and got better instruction in writing in his middle school history classes than in any English classes he’s had.) I quote the AFE description:
Students will explore the history of our country.
This is a two semester course, 5 credits each semester. It will include reading, writing, and projects in and out of class, as well as occasional field trips.
- Spanish 4
- He’ll take the community college Spanish course in the Spring semester.