A Little More Information about Our High School Curriculum
Because I’m getting lots of questions about our high school curriculum package, I thought I would address some of the most frequently asked questions here. If you have a question and can’t find the answer, feel free to email me or ask in the comments!
What exactly comes with the curriculum?
This is a complete curriculum, so it’s a little on the gigantic side. The Year One curriculum covers:
- Critical Thinking and Philosophy: The Art of the Argument / full year
- Biology (with Labs) / full year
- History: The Enlightenment / first semester
- History: The Victorians / second semester
- Literature: The Enlightenment / first semester
- Literature: The Victorians / second semester
- Latin 1A / full year
- Composition: The Argumentative Essay / first semester
- Composition: The Research Paper /second semester
In addition to books (containing readings, reading guides, essay assignments, practice exams, projects, etc.—each is between 100 and 300 pages) for each of the above subjects, the full curriculum includes:
- weekly audio lectures for every subject
- a student guide, with weekly schedules, study strategies and self-evaluation guides, contract writing tips, and other curriculum support
- a parent guide, with transcript recommendations for credits and course descriptions, assessment guidelines (including answer keys and suggestions), etc.
- supplemental unit studies on the Ramayana, music appreciation, and introduction to cinema studies (you can use these however/whenever you want)
- a book club guide for outside reading (this one’s focused on modern African literature and includes some awesome books)
How does this translate to credits on our transcript?
I break this down with a lot of specifics in the parent guide, but as a general guide, I recommend:
- 1.0 History
- 1.0 Literature: Main Literature (0.75) + Composition (0.25)
- 1.0 Latin
- 1.0 Critical Thinking
- 1.5 Biology (with Lab)
How much parent support is required?
The curriculum is written for the student, so it’s designed for students to work through on their own. I’ve included step-by-step strategies for close reading, critical thinking, making connections, and analyzing information as well as tools for self-evaluation with the idea that students will get better at these things over the course of the year — there’s a lot of skill-building integrated into the program. You know best what your student needs, but an on-level high school student should be able to use this curriculum largely independently.
How do I grade this?
For each subject, I’ve included a grade matrix, which students can use to plot their own version of academic success. Each grade matrix includes a recommended number of points to indicate a level of academic success: students can opt to pass the class, work to earn an A, or aspire to an honors-level A based on their own goals for that particular subject. The grade matrix includes a broad range of output activities, from taking notes and completing annotated readings to writing papers and projects with lots of different options in each category. Aside from a few required items, students can combine projects and activities to create their own assessment framework. Output options include midterm and final exams for each subject.
How challenging is the curriculum?
It’s tough! But it’s tough in the good way, and it includes tons of support and scaffolding to help students along the way. Because it’s designed to level up with your student — you can choose from a few different paths, including honors-level work — it should continue to be challenging even as your student becomes confident with the material covered. Some students have a hard time with critical thinking-based curricula because they don’t love the idea that there’s no “right answer,” so we’ve tried to include lots of ideas for asking and answering questions that may not fall into neat little boxes.
Isn’t it kind of expensive?
I am probably not the best person to ask, but no, I don’t think it’s expensive for what you actually get. This is a full curriculum (except for math), complete with hundreds of hours of lectures, carefully designed projects, exams, and other output options, and (if I do say so myself) reading notes that are thorough, thoughtful, and engaging. It is written and vetted by people with advanced academic credentials. I think it’s nice to look at. None of those things is cheap. Similar course packages seem to run between $100-300 for a single class, so I think $500 for five classes, three full unit studies, and a book club guide is a great deal. You could definitely put together your own package using strategies like this or this for much cheaper, but I think if you want a ready-to-go curriculum, this a fair price.
What do the rest of the years look like?
We’re building this curriculum as we go, so some of the specifics (especially the supplements) might change as our weekly plans actually start to come together. But the broad outline for the next three years is set as follows and will remain the same, even if specific readings change:
Year Two: U.S. History includes:
- Humanities: History, literature, and philosophy of women, immigrants, Native Americans, and people of color in the United States. (This class assumes students have a basic understanding of U.S. history and want to more closely explore underrepresented voices.)
- Composition: Literary criticism and narrative essays
- Critical Thinking: Fallacies
- Science: Earth Science (with Labs), includes history-related primary source readings and field trip science recommendations
- Latin IB
- Supplements: Constitutional law; Book Club (TBD); TBD
Year Three: Asian History includes:
- Humanities: History, literature, and philosophy of China, Japan, India, and non-Egypt Africa
- Composition: Synthesis essays (explanatory and argumentative); creative writing
- Critical Thinking: Ethics (theoretical and applied)
- Science: Chemistry (with Labs), includes history-related primary source readings
- Latin 2
- Supplements: Book Club (TBD); TBD
Year Four: The Classical World includes:
- Humanities: History, literature, and philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome
- Composition: Scientific writing; persuasive essays
- Critical Thinking: Logic
- Science: Astronomy (with Labs), includes history-related primary source readings
- Latin 3
- Supplements: World Religions; Book Club (TBD); The Epic of Gilgamesh (TBD)
If this sounds like it might be up your student's alley, you will be happy to know that our curriculum is on sale through July 31. Digital and print editions will be sent out on August 5, and everyone who's using the curriculum can join our private Facebook group so you can share ideas and cool projects (and ask me if you run into questions or want my opinion on something).