Friday, October 4

Common Questions about Homeschooling High School with The Good & the Beautiful Curriculum

After talking at length about how we use The Good & the Beautiful curriculum in our upper grades classroom, we started receiving several questions.  Many were similar, so we've compiled them into a short Q & A to answer your burning questions about using TGTB in the high school...

First Things First
  • Here is the original post.
  • Don't forget about the Extensions Page, where you can find video playlists, elective options, reviews, homeschool helpers, and more!
  • There is a Facebook group for using TGTB with Middle and High School Students.  If you're already in it, you can access the Files Section here.  This section includes rubrics and grading scales, additional reading lists, and course schedules.  All of these files were created by parents using the program and have been approved by the company for distribution.
    • If you are not currently in the group, but would like to join, please be sure to answer the questions upon request.
  • We have created a low-cost program for parents homeschooling high schoolers that covers all of the below topics.  Check out Through the Door: Homeschool to College Success!
What’s Not Included
SchoolhouseTeachers has many excellent options for science, foreign languages, maths, and electives, which are currently not offered for upper grades students by TGTB.  We have used their website for several years and love it!  They also have courses for parents, a print magazine, and extra goodies and giveaways just for their subscribers.  Two good places to start are High School Courses and High School Help.

Language Arts
  • Is there some kind of testing for the Language Arts?  We've checked over the answer sheets.  What is a unit assessment?
    • When you purchase the course from the company, they email you certain components.  These include the answer key and unit checks (which are tests for each unit).
    • Per the company, "If they purchase the course second-hand, they will have to purchase the High School Unit 1 Booklets (PDF) in order to get the Answer Key and Unit Checks. Unfortunately, we don't offer those if the unit is purchased second-hand. "
  • What is dictation, and how does it work?
    • The teacher reads a phrase or sentence that targets spelling words and grammar concepts, and the student repeat its and writes it down.  This is a real-life way of practicing these skills.
    • Levels 6 and 7 have sentence dictation incorporated into the course books.
    • High school dictation sentences can be found in the downloadable materials or online here.
  • What supplies do you need for Language Arts?
    • address grammar card storage plus each year of art
  • The longest essay in Language Arts year 1 is 1,000 words, but in Language Arts year 2 they are supposed to write  2,500 word paper.  That's ten pages!  That would take forever.  Is the assignment correct?
    • Yes, the assignment is correct.  As your student matures and advances through the program, the skills will grow.  Pushing to do harder work is how we, as parent-teachers, help those skills to grow.  That said, you are the teacher.  If you feel the assignment is too much, you have the choice to scale it down...but try to make it more difficult than the prior year to encourage growth.
  • How do we assign credits for the Language Arts classes?
    • This one is addressed on the company's website, yet we still get asked often, so I'll post it here as well.  For each year of High School Language Arts, the student earns a full credit of language arts, 1/2 credit geography, and 1/2 credit of art.
  • Is it necessary to supplement history?
    • The student explorers for grades 10-12 include research projects and extra readings, helping to flesh out the course for the upper grades.  For the non-college-bound student, or the college-bound student who does not plan to major in history or liberal arts, this is a good basic course.
    • Families have the discretion to choose whether to supplement the course or not.  It has good bones and includes skill-work (such as research).  Our high school son plans to major in history, however, and so we choose to supplement the TGTB history with a second history course.  Yes, he's taking two history courses - it's his 'thing.'  You can see one of them (and download the syllabus to use) here.  
    • This said, our middle school son probably will not supplement the history courses at the high school level, as he plans to go into a maintenance career.  (This is not to say that mechanics don't need history -- so hold the hate mail -- just that the TGTB high school history is well-developed.  Should he opt to explore history further, we would of course nurture that interest.)
    • Khan Academy has some excellent video-based courses that could be used as a supplement - and are also FREE - to round out the high school course for those needing something more rigorous.  They have general and AP level courses.
  • Is it possible or useful to do two history courses in one year?
    • Absolutely, especially in the high school years.  By doing a five-day school week, covering one history topic each day, you can easily complete two years of history in one year.  This would allow you to complete all four years of TGTB history in two years, allowing the last two years of high school for further exploration with a different history curriculum.  One of our favorites for high school is the History of the World series, by Susan Wise Bauer.
    • If you opt to complete two courses in one year, plan to count each course as a 1/2 credit on the transcript.
  • History Year 1 was sold out, and we started with History Year 2.  Do I need to go back and do Year 1 next, or move forward with Year 3?
    • The history is designed so that each year covers sub-topics within each of the four classical eras.  Because of this, you do not have to do the four years of history in chronological order.  There will be a few places that allude to something learned earlier, but it reminds the student of the pertinent information required for that lesson.  Complete the history courses in whichever order appeals to your family.
  • Is it expected that high schoolers do all of the projects in the student explorer for each unit?
    • No.  The explorers indicate that students should choose one or two projects.  Each unit tells how many projects to choose from the selections.
  • How do you grade the history units for your high schooler?
    • There are a few schools of thought here.  Some people prefer to have measurable progress and grades.  One suggestion for this type of family would be to keep a notebook (with notes), and grade on the thoroughness of notes.  Also give a grade for the unit project and quiz (you'll need to create the quiz).
    • The second school of thought, which we personally use, is that most history tests don't tell you anything you didn't already know about your child's learning.  From daily interactions, as well as seeing the unit projects and student explorers, you'll have a pretty good idea about whether s/he is grasping the material or not.
Sparks Academy
 Sparks Academy provides live / blended classes for high school students, using The Good & the Beautiful for language arts, Apologia / Berean Builders for science, and Notgrass for history.  These classes meet weekly, allowing students the opportunity to discuss the literature, get additional instruction on concepts covered, and show off their art projects and recitations.  Students alsoto receive a grade for these courses from a source outside of the home.

Sparks Academy is not affiliated with The Good & the Beautiful, but is run by parents who use and love their curriculum.  They are providing support, accountability, and community for upper grades families who use this curriculum by creating an online homeschool co-op for high school students.  Currently, students can register for High School Levels 1-3 in language arts.  There are also writing consultation packages for Level 6Level 7, and High School (for those who only want essay feedback).

In addition to current classes, Government / Economics and Level 7 Language Arts are coming in Fall 2022!!

Visit Sparks Academy to Learn More!

Science & Math

  • Now that Greenleaf Academy has been indefinitely shelved, what should I use for math and science courses?
    • This is a topic that comes up regularly in the TGTB with Middle and High School Students group.  The short answer is that there is no one recommended program, but dozens of choices.  You'll need to choose the one that fits your family's teaching style, and your student's learning style, the best. 
    • Sparks Academy provides three levels of science: General Science, Physical Science, and Chemistry.
Record-Keeping & Grades
  • What do you keep / use to put together a high school portfolio?
    • While you won't need to keep everything from the TGTB history and language arts courses for the portfolio, you'll want to keep copies of any essays or research projects, as well as some of that beautiful artwork!
    • For our own family, we keep one complete language arts unit, in case there is a question of what type of work was completed, in addition to the above list.
    • Complete course descriptions, along with the aforementioned portfolio pieces, will usually satisfy any inquiries from colleges or other outside sources...include well-meaning family members.
  • How do you keep track of grades for high school?
    • The company has a printable grade tracker for high school language arts.  That, along with a lot of other information, can be found online here.
  • How do I make sure that my student gets what s/he needs to be ready for college?

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