Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Science for High School -- Physical Science

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My children are all so differently-abled.  They each focus differently.  They each learn differently. (Much like each of yours, I'm sure.)  I have found that what works for one and brings success in education may not necessarily work for and bring success for another.  Because I desire for each of my children to feel successful in their studies, I look for different curriculum to best suit the needs and learning styles of each one.  I want my children to LOVE learning and I tend to focus on books that will foster that love and develop study habits that will help them for a lifetime.

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My Boy Scout is now officially a high schooler -- totally hard to believe at times -- and we've already begun several of his high school courses this summer.  He has been actively working through Bridget Ardoin's Science for High School in the form of High School Physical Science in Your Home ($79.99 for the complete set).  This manual set is a research-based, independent study guide for homeschooled families and comes with a Parent Manual, a packet of three-hole punched pages of Quizzes and Final Exams, and a three-hole punched Student Manual that includes a Lab Manual full of experiments to complement the weekly assignments.  Additional Student Manual packages can be purchased ($24.99) as well as a home lab kit ($45), if needed.

A two-semester course (27 weeks) written by a homeschooling mom like me, Physical Science is perfect for bridging the gap between middle school and high school sciences.  This method of guided research was fairly new to me and I was excited to try it out and help move my Boy Scout from mom-directed learning to research-directed learning.  As you can see in the course syllabus (sample pages included), Bridget Ardoin really gets it.  A microbiologist and mom of five, Bridget has designed her Science for High School program to be academically challenging AND parent-friendly.  What that means is I can comfortably assign each week's lessons and KNOW that once his work is completed, my son and I can sit down and discuss what he has learned through HIS OWN RESEARCH with little preparation by me.

SO . . . how does it work and what did we do to implement Physical Science at Long Leaf Academy?

When our manual set arrived, I immediately took it to a friend's house so that we could check it out together.  While our children swam, we did what homeschooling mom's do best -- looked at curriculum.  {Admit it -- you know your heart beats a little faster when you hold new curriculum in your hands.}  I was most interested in finding out just how it worked and if it was as easy to implement as it looked on the website.  My friend and I had both used a traditional textbook approach for science with our older children and we were curious about this research based approach.  After pouring over the manual set, we agreed that THIS was EXACTLY what we were looking for with our boys.  How perfect that I could give my Boy Scout some freedom to learn on his own -- while allowing him to learn time management skills and to focus on different research methods and tools.  

Once I returned home, I placed the Student Manual pages into a 3-ringed binder for my son and included the Quizzes and Final Exams in my Teacher Binder.  I assigned First Semester, Week 1 to be completed on Friday and left the binder with him.  It was then his responsibility to open up the binder, read the welcome page of instructions, and complete his work by Friday.

The Welcome Letter acknowledges right off that "This is a different way of studying a subject."  Students learn how the program works -- they will RESEARCH a subject area by completing questions to guide them AND work through an experiment within the topic researched.  They are encouraged to memorize and understand those things that they research and to set time aside each day to study Physical Science.  I like this approach and am thrilled that my son hears the importance of diligence and putting his very best effort forward from someone other than me.

Each week's work load consists of 5 - 19 questions to be researched.  My Boy Scout is learning to pace himself so that he spends adequate amounts of time studying each question in the weekly assignments and does not rush through at the beginning just to get his work done.  There is a weekly quiz (multiple choice, fill in the blank, label, state or explain) that makes sure he understands what he is learning and can apply it in real-world situations and there is a comprehensive final exam (130 questions for First Semester, 96 for Second Semester) that tests for mastery.  Bonus questions are included with each quiz and exam.

Once assigned, my Boy Scout  began working without so much as a grumble.  He enjoys the challenge presented and I am quite pleased with this research oriented format for him.  The non-traditional "manual" instead of a traditional "textbook" allows him to feel in charge of his study time.  We have a multitude of books that he can use for reference and I am quite comfortable with him researching topics on the internet. As topics appeal to him and are deemed most interesting, we visit our local library for additional books and information.   I like knowing that he is encouraged to learn the sciences and that he is enjoying the learning process.

When he completes a week's worth of research, I am able to sit down with him and go over his work.  The comb-bound Parent Manual includes weekly supply lists so that I can easily make sure my son has what he needs, when he needs it.  The experiments for lab are explained in detail so that I can best explain them to him before he begins.  Answers to ALL questions (weekly assignments, quizzes, final exams, and labs) are given in detail so that I can see what my Boy Scout should have discovered and I can gently encourage him to do more research if needed.  I LOVE that all of the "work" has been taken out of science for me.  Bridget Ardoin's Science for High School gives me permission to enjoy my children as I aid them in learning to enjoy learning.  That's certainly a delight for this homeschooling momma.

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 I was given the opportunity to use and review High School Physical Science in Your Home by Science for High School as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)


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