Saturday, July 11, 2015

Historic Pluto Flyby Coming Tuesday

From NASA New Horizons Website

New Horizons launched on Jan. 19, 2006; it swung past Jupiter for a gravity boost and scientific studies in February 2007, and will conduct a five-month-long reconnaissance flyby study of Pluto and its moons in summer 2015. Pluto closest approach is scheduled for July 14, 2015. As part of an extended mission, the spacecraft is expected to head farther into the Kuiper Belt to examine one or two of the ancient, icy mini-worlds in that vast region, at least a billion miles beyond Neptune’s orbit.
Sending a spacecraft on this long journey will help us answer basic questions about the surface properties, geology, interior makeup and atmospheres on these bodies.
Click to enlarge

High School Planning, Units, Credits, and Homeschool Connections

Though I have been "officially" homeschooling for 10 years now, this is my first year developing a high school plan.  Here in Massachusetts we are required to submit a homeschool plan to our local school district, and then have a mutually-agreed plan to demonstrate progress.  Praise God for our wonderful school district that accept annual progress reports without requirements for testing or written samples.

Still, developing a high school plan was daunting at first as I did not know the structure or lingo.  I knew I would be incorporating many Homeschool Connections courses, but I know we use a college credit system based on hours that did not match our state's unit or credit system.  Once I was able to convert one to the other, not only could I easily create a freshman plan, I was able to spot where I needed to make adjustments in his online courses.  I don't know how different other state requirements are from Massachusetts, but I know ours are rigorous and hopefully similar enough to other states that you can use this process as well.

Here is the grid comparing high school requirements with minimum college requirements:

Next, find out how many hours of instruction are required.  In Massachusetts, the high school requirement is 990 hours.  You should be able to find it fairly easily with an Internet search or you could download the HSLDA Legal Analysis for your state using the link below, substituting your state name for "massachusetts":

OK, so what is a unit (or credit) and how does that relate to total required hours?  That is where Carnegie Units come in.  According to Wikipedia:

A "Carnegie Unit is 120 hours of class or contact time with an instructor over the course of a year at the secondary (American high school) level."

This means:
  • 1 hour a day, 5 days a week, for 24 weeks...or
  • 50 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 30 weeks...or
  • However we as homeschoolers decide we want to do this, such as
    • 1 hour a day, 4 days a week, for 30 weeks
    • 1 hour a day, 2 days a week, for 60 weeks (or over 2 years, such as Arts where only 1 credit is required)
Typically high school students have 5 subjects per year, so this should give you a general idea of how much time our kids should be spending on each subject. 

Note that as homeschoolers, our kids do more "class time" than "instructor contact time".  Think of it this way: Our kids may only spend 1 hour a week with a Homeschool Connections instructor or with a parent getting formal instruction.  They should then be putting in about another hour a day for 4 or 5 days (typically) in acquiring knowledge.  Then, on top of that would be time equivalent to "homework" in a typical school--working on projects, studying for exams, preparing for class, etc. This "homework" load will vary considerably from week to week.

The courses offered by Homeschool Connections vary in length.  If the class is 12 weeks, follow the 1 hour/day x5 days rule to get 1/2 Carnegie Unit (half of a year); if it is 14 weeks then use the 1 hour/day x4 days or 50 minutes/day x 5 days to get the half unit (plus 1 week of independent study.) You can figure out what part of a unit you are getting for other courses based on the number of weeks.  Labs for science get included in that work, so a 1 hour lab each week would count as the 1 hour of science that day.

Here are some examples of what I did preparing my 9th grader's plan in conjunction with Homeschool Connections.

Spanish 1, Part 1 (12 weeks) has 18 additional recorded lectures that he will count as part of his 1 hour/day x 5 days/week to earn 1/2 unit of Foreign Language.

High School Simplified Writing 1 (8 weeks) + Theology of the Chronicles of Narnia (6 weeks) = 14 weeks at 1 hour/day x4 days/week for 1/2 Unit of English/Language Arts.

I hope you find this helpful in creating your high school plans for this fall!