Grace decided this year, for her eighth grade year, that she would like to jump right into high school science. After much debate, we settled on Miller-Levine’s Biology for her science spine.
I decided to spring for the newest version of the book, the Macaw book. This book is huge, heavy, and very gorgeous. It is the first real textbook to grace our doorstep, and I love it. There are 35 chapters and each is loaded with interesting sidebars, lots of discussion questions, and full-color photographs.
Each chapter also includes ideas for writing assignments, quizzes, and a chapter mystery that you can solve as you read the chapter. The mystery is introduced at the beginning of each chapter. As you read the chapter, you find all of the information you need in order to solve the mystery. Grace really enjoys figuring these out!
To go along with the textbook, I purchased the iBook version of the book from iTunes.This is really neat, because it includes interactive assessments, internet links, and little videos, as well as the text from each chapter. I considered purchasing just the iBook version, as it is considerably cheaper, but she much prefers reading from a book and then using the computer for the extras. I also prefer flipping through an actual book when I am discussing concepts with her. I also purchased Lab Manual A and the Teacher’s Lab Manual that correspond with the text. These are available from Pearson Homeschool.
The lab manuals are not full-color, and the insides are pretty boring, but I like that there is space for her to record her observations and answer questions right in the manual.
I think the teacher’s manual is necessary here, especially since Grace is doing the labs mostly independently. She often needs the information in the teacher’s manual to set up her labs. The student manual is written to the student, but it expects there to be teacher oversight and frequently expects the teacher to have set up some parts of the experiment before class. But Grace usually uses both the teacher and student editions together and does the labs independently from start to finish, with minimal involvement from me.
So this is how we-and by that I mean Grace– is doing science!
On Mondays, she reads one-half of that week’s chapter of the Macaw book. We aim to cover one chapter per week. In the beginning she took notes, but that was slowing her up quite a bit, so she stopped. She seems to retain the information quite well without notes, though. First she reads from the text, then she looks at any of the extra content on the iBook version.
On Tuesdays, she does the same things with the second half of the chapter, then I discuss the chapter with her. I use the discussion points and questions in the book to help me. This can be kind of complicated stuff, but thankfully for me, she seems to pick it up pretty quickly. There are definitely things that go over both of our heads, but I try not to worry if she doesn’t “get” everything. I figure we can hit this all again later, as needed.
On Wednesdays, she does a lab or two from the lab manual. I bought the lab manual pretty much sight unseen, since I couldn’t find any online samples. I think it is going to work out okay and that we will be able to do enough of the labs at home to make the purchase worth it. I will talk more about how I set up for the labs in a separate post.
On Thursdays, she writes a short paper, no more than one page, about anything she found interesting in the chapter. She also finishes up any lab work as needed.
On Fridays we discuss next week’s lab, and decide if we need to pick up supplies or do any prep work. And next week, we repeat with the next chapter!
This year, Grace is also doing science source reading, as suggested in The Well-Trained Mind. I will do a separate post on how we are doing that, but basically, she just reads an original science source for 20 minutes or so twice a week. And that is how we are doing biology this year!