Things that Worked for Us (mostly), part 3

For Gr 10 science this year, we went with Oak Meadow Biology. It seemed like the secular option that would work for us. We did the Independant version, not the more expensive correspondence version.

(In addition, Sandra does science weekly with my father, a retired crop ecologist. Right now, they’re covering a first year university Environmental Studies text.)

I was happy with Oak Meadow, but not thrilled. I feel like I paid a lot of money for what was essentially a text book with an answer book. For several hundred dollars. I was irked by the lack of test questions and answers. High school biology isn’t something I want to have to write the test for; that’s why I’m paying someone else money.

The lab materials and questions were particularly disappointing. Most of the labs were ‘data labs’ from the text book – looking at different graphs and understanding them. This is absolutely essential. If you can look at a scientific paper’s illustrations and distill from them the principle relationships, you have a strong understanding of the key points. But the ‘lab kit’ was basically a few straws, pipe cleaners, a stop-watch, safety goggles, and some wooden beads.

The lab questions that went with these materials were wishy washy. ‘In a small group, pose a question related to DNA replication. Model your question using the pipe cleaners and wooden beads.” So there was no question given. No method given. And often no adaptation for the reality that homeschoolers are learning on their own. Sheesh.

On the other hand, the Holt Biology text was beautiful, clear, and well put together. Sandra’s an aural/conversational reader, so our method is to take turns reading aloud. She retains more if I read aloud, but she needs to learn to read texts for university, and having her read aloud sections of each chapter is one of the ways we are building up that skill.

I’d highly recommend this text, but I’d also recommend you look around to see if you can get the teacher’s guide to go with it instead of paying for the Oak Meadow extras. Teacher’s guides often have sample tests for you, too.

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2 thoughts on “Things that Worked for Us (mostly), part 3

  1. Jen says:

    Question for you (this post has been flagged in my email since you wrote it): how are you feeling about science texts now? We’re getting ready to dive back into homeschooling, but with two science-loving kids (thus the impetus for homeschooling since there’s no science taught here), I need an engaging science curriculum.

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