Thursday, July 25, 2013

Pop Art

messy stuff
Last week EM attended Kids' College at Susquehanna University for his third year. JT thought last summer was his last opportunity because he had reached the age limit. But then, <Hooray!>, they added a teen camp week and he was allowed to attend again this summer. JT's week of camp was the last week of June. As this was the first year for the teen camp, it was only half a day long. EM went for the full day version. Both of the boys love the Kids' College environment. The instructors are excellent teachers who do their best to make learning fun and sometimes that means things get messy.

Every year the camp is broken up into two parts, the morning sessions and the optional afternoon session. This year's morning sessions were Pop Rules!, Into the West, and Imagineering. The afternoon session is a more in depth focus on one topic. This year EM chose the Pop Tools! art class over the Curtain Up! acting class. This session was an extension of the morning class Pop Rules! that explored the culture of the United States during the decades of the1950s to the 1990s. The afternoon class specifically looked at the art of the decade of the day. Monday was action painting, explored through the work of Jackson Pollock. As a parent, I was a bit irritated by the state of EM's clothes when I picked him up, but as a parent, I was also thrilled by the excitement he expressed over what he had learned in that class.

No surprise there!
Once I saw the theme, I had fun guessing what kind of art they would be doing the following day. I hit it right on the nose with Andy Warhol for Tuesday. EM made a cool print of Coke cans. Unfortunately, I can't share because he worked his name into the image. But, I can show you the signs the teacher made for the art show the students held for the parents on Friday.

crafty work
On Wednesday they worked on crafts of the 1970s and EM tried his hand at macrame. He also insisted that he wear his 1960s beads and bracelets that he made Tuesday. I drew the line at the headband. I may have a budding hippie in my home!

Thursday they focused on graffiti art. Each child was given a piece of plywood and cans of spray paint. They worked outside and wore eye protection. EM told me he only did a little painting because he didn't like the fumes. I'm surprised he did it at all considering his sensitivities to smells.

I'm a wall artist!
The final day was his favorite. The theme was futurism. EM made a robot from wood scraps using a glue gun. When I arrived for the art show, he proudly told me, "I got to use a hot glue gun and I burned myself two times! It was great!"

It's sometimes hard for me to find things that really excite EM. He's probably the most observant, yet quietest child out of my three. But this week it was obvious that art, especially art involving things like dangerous hot glue guns, was right up his alley. His recent success in a pottery class also points to his ability with the arts.

one-eyed robot
I will be looking into further opportunities for him this school year. I can handle some art instruction, but I think it may be time to outsource to help him develop his talent in this area.

As always, the end of Kids' College week was a let-down for the boys. I'm so thankful to have such a terrific program available in our area. Can't wait for next summer so they can get messy again!

Friday, July 19, 2013

High School Planning

little progress

Not much progress may be being made on the mess in my classroom, but there is still a lot of planning getting done in my mind. My husband and I went to the Pennsylvania Homeschoolers Accreditation Agency High School at Home conference last week. Try to say that five times fast! We decided that we will definitely be enrolling the boys in their program. In PA, homeschoolers can be granted a state recognized diploma from several different organizations. Each organization has slightly different requirements, but all meet the state requirements of four years of English, three years of math, science, and social studies, and two years of arts and humanities.

Here's how the PHAA program works. When JT is entering 9th grade, we will enroll him for the fee of $45. Each year of high school he will be required to track his progress in one of many ways. A credit can be granted by completing over two-thirds of a textbook, 120 daily logged entries, 120 hours of logged study, a ten page research paper, completed college course, completed audited AP course + exam, or any other creative way we can show his work. At the end of each school year, we will meet with our usual evaluator. She will review his work, grant credit for the classes, write a narrative report on his achievements, and send it all to PHAA for recording and approval. At the end of the four years, he will be granted a diploma, signed by the evaluator, the Executive Director of PHAA, and the supervisor of the home education, which would be me. We will pay a $55 fee and he will receive his diploma at an actual graduation ceremony. This diploma will allow him to qualify for PHEAA grants and loans. A transcript is created from the course work that the student has completed. This transcript can include letter grades or be just a pass or fail system. Letter grades are preferred in order to be able to calculate GPA for college admissions and scholarships. Transcripts can be sent to colleges for a $5 fee. The special thing about PHAA's program is that they will also send the narrative letters the evaluator wrote for each of the four years. The transcripts will also include any of the student's extra-curricular activities.

PHAA diplomas have a good name with many universities. One reason is their thorough English credit requirements. Each year the student must read at least 25 books, including three classified as classics. They must write at least four compositions, one being 10 pages or more. Those compositions must include rough drafts showing correction or work through over 1/4 of a language or grammar textbook. Finally, the student must give at least one speech during the year to a group outside the immediate family members. This attention to language has given PHAA a great reputation for producing great students.

One more thing that PHAA has available are their online AP courses. One of our sessions at the conference was a panel discussion by the teachers of the AP courses. Any homeschooler anywhere in the United States (and some abroad) can sign up for these classes. There is an actual application process, so they have high standards for these classes. It looks like a great program that I hope to have both of the boys participate in when they reach the appropriate level.

I really feel like this program will be a good fit for our family. The requirements are flexible, yet strict enough that I will have measurable goals to meet. Having the outside influence will help me to motivate the boys to get their work done and do it to a higher standard than they might have if they were only worried about my approval. I had been starting to worry a bit about how I was going to handle the boys' high school years. I'm no longer worried. In fact, I'm more excited than ever about the opportunities I see in their future.