Tuesday, February 24, 2009

High School Biology in Your Home

Not many things bring about as much dread in the hearts of young homeschool parents than the thought of being responsible for teaching high school level science courses. I remember clearly having those very same concerns, back in the day, when my oldest child was still in elementary school. As 7th grade approached I attended a homeschool conference and sat in on a convention workshop which laid most of my fears to rest. I discovered through the wisdom of the presenter that I truly would not be responsible for pouring scientific knowledge into my child, but rather a good curriculum should guide them with me as their mentor.

Understanding the concept of mentor rather than all knowing teacher is easy when you take a look at Highschool Biology In Your Home. In fact, according to author Bridget Ardoin, “That's the reason I wrote these curriculums designed for the homeschooling family. They are designed to be academically challenging for the student and parent-friendly for YOU!” Ardoin also carries High School Physical Science in the Home and High School Chemistry in the Home on her website, http://www.scienceforhighschool.com/.

Ardoin’s wealth of experience stems from a degree in microbiology obtained from Louisiana State University, being the mother of 5 and a homeschool parent for 12+ years and teaching high school level science courses in private schools and tutorially since the early 1990’s. Ardoin designed her high school level Biology course to teach students by guiding them through a process of research, dissection experimentation and discovery. It is not a typical textbook, but rather a student manual filled with questions ready to be answered. A dissecting manual is also included with microscope work or dissections to be completed on a weekly basis that support the topic being studied.

When I first looked at the text it reminded me of a blank textbook waiting for details to be filled in by the student. The student manual is divided into two semesters of work with 11 weeks of topics in the first semester and 13 weeks of topics in the second semester. An additional week is provided at the end of each semester for comprehensive study for a mid-term and final exam. Ardoin has provided a great deal of flexibility with her curriculum by only including 24 weeks of topics, allowing students the opportunity to focus on a particular topic for longer than one week if desired.

Evaluation of the weekly essay questions and experiments is easily completed by utilizing the teacher’s manual that includes an answer for all questions and samples of lab dissection descriptions and drawings for the necessary lab reports. Students are encouraged to work independently four days a week then meet with Mom or Dad for discussion on the fifth day. Keeping this sort of schedule is a great way for high school students to learn time management with their studies. Weekly or bi-weekly quizzes are included for additional evaluation along with one mid-term and a second semester final exam. Samples of the student and teacher manuals including quizzes can be viewed here http://www.scienceforhighschool.com/biosamples.shtml

High School Biology Science in Your Home retails at $79.99 for both the teacher and student manuals. Homeschool parents may choose to purchase all necessary lab supplies including prepared slides and dissecting pan and specimens for an additional $170.00. Once all supplies are in the home, biology study will come to life through research, discovery, experimenting and reporting.

All of my highschool aged students have completed their courses in Biology so our family was not able to test drive this unique curriculum per se. When my children were younger we spent several years making good use of Konos unit studies. I was pleased to note that an optional dissection activity in week three of High School Biology in Your Home was attributed to Konos and required the student to dissect a chicken leg thigh. My experience with Konos and my children is unprecedented. The messy, labor intensive, research based unit studies that consumed us during those early years provided wonderful memory anchors for information still retained 10+ years later. We didn’t just learn about the Revolutionary War, Russia or the Olympics, we lived those topics. In comparison, other traditional routes of education in the form of worksheets or standard textbook curricula left only a minor long-term impression on all of us and most of the information has long since been lost. High School Biology in the Home is like Konos science for high school aged kids. It will provide an experience for them, not just information. Through the research, hands-on dissections, discussion and finally testing, students will not just study biology, but live it.

No comments: