Since my daughter is taking Biology next year, I needed to make some changes in our homeschool regarding science. Up to this point, I have always covered science in unit studies with all of my children together. I've never used a textbook for science. Now, at least with my daughter, I have to start thinking about science as a class with a textbook. That, in and of itself, is a big change.
Even more than the change in the way that I think about science in our homeschool, though, is the fact that Biology is a high school course...for which I will give a grade...and credits...and put it on her transcript. For all of these reasons, Biology seems more formal...more scholarly...and more scary.
Since I was nervous about teaching high school biology to my daughter, I began to look for ways to reduce my nervousness. I taught Public Speaking at the college level for years and years. My students would always ask me how they could be less nervous about their upcoming speeches. The best advice that I could give my students was to be prepared. The more prepared a student was for their speech, the less nervous they tended to be. That same advice holds true for many other situations in life.
Months ago, I began preparing to teach high school biology, focusing on reducing my nervousness about the course through adequate and thorough preparation. So, what did I do?
One of the first things that I did was seek support online and through books regarding homeschooling through high school, both in general and specifically related to science courses. What did I discover in my search for online/book help?
- Barb from Harmony Art Mom and The Handbook of Nature Study has a wonderful Squidoo lens about teaching high school biology while integrating a Charlotte Mason approach.
- Jay Wile has a very encouraging seminar, Teaching the Jr. High and High School Sciences at Home, that was incredibly supportive about teaching the upper level sciences.
- Sonlight sells a complete Biology package for Apologia Biology with almost every single thing that is needed to teach the course, including a schedule.
- Donna Young provides a wealth of free printables to coordinate with the Apologia Biology course, including vocabulary bookmarks for each module, lab sheets, and schedules.
- Knowledge Box Central sells a very thorough lapbooking and notebooking set that corresponds completely with Apologia Biology.
- High School at Home: You Can Do It! was very helpful for me as I was struggling to just wrap my mind around homeschooling through high school.
- I also found great encouragement for homeschooling through high school from Lee Binz' DVD, Preparing to Homeschool High School. With over 4 hours of encouraging and informative content on the DVD, I found the investment in this DVD to be well-worth the price. I know that this a resource to which I will refer over the years.
So, now I am working on reading the Apologia Biology text before the school year begins. I've found the text to be incredibly interesting and easy to understand. I certainly wish my biology text from high school had been as interesting!
I am also working on putting together my daughter's Biology notebook ahead of time to streamline her studying a bit. I have been incredibly pleased with the lapbooking/notebooking set from Knowledge Box Central. While my daughter will need to do all of the work of actually writing in her Biology notebook, I am working on the physical act of cutting out the lapbook parts and putting the notebook together for her. I'll be sure to post about her Biology notebook when I'm done.
So, if you're teaching a high school course for the first time this fall, my best advice is to get prepared. Actively seeking out resources to reduce my anxiety about teaching upper level science courses has really helped me to feel much less anxious about the new school year.