Notes from the Junior High: Week 9

Atlanta middle school homeschooling

Hello from the Academy! Welcome to our new weekly blog where we share what we’ve been working on in junior high. Let us know what’s happening with your middle schooler in the comments!

It’s spring! Which means that my car is covered in that golden dust that foreshadows sneezing students, red-eyed teachers, and a whole schoolful of people trying to function while hopped up on allergy medication. Here’s to abundant supplies of Kleenex and everyone trying their best!

This week in our Critical Thinking warm-up we talked about pyramid schemes and multi-level-marketing, so our students have all the info they need to start up a scam of their own. (I’m joking, of course.) (But I did tell them to be sure to let me on the top-level if they ever get anything good going.) In Math we did more decimal review and explored the wonders of negative and zero exponents. (A special shout-out to the student who found an error of mine and stuck to his guns because he was right and I was wrong even though it took me a minute to see it — I definitely need more caffeine on these pollen mornings!)

In World Literature we’re still reading Isabel Allende’s City of the Beasts — our protagonist, Alex, is currently traveling up the Amazon River in search of the mysterious yeti-like creature that is supposed to live in the jungle. As part of their homework, students are supposed to pick one of the real-life Amazonian creatures encountered by Alex and answer some questions about it. I’m hoping that on Monday we’ll all get to share lots of good information about piranhas and bullet ants and anacondas and other Creatures I Would Not Like to Find in My Backyard. In grammar, it was more subject-verb agreement, this time with compound subjects (My uncle and my aunt were eaten by vicious piranhas) and inverted sentences (There are several terrifying anacondas in that tree).

History this semester is World War II and last week we covered Pearl Harbor and the United States’ entry into the war. I made our poor students watch a few minutes of the one of the worst historical films ever made: Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor. (I suffered through it in the theaters, so I don’t see why they should get to escape the pain.) The attack scene is actually fairly well done, so we discussed both the high points (Dorrie Miller!) and the inaccuracies (Zeroes did NOT strafe the hospital!). We also started talking about topics for the end-of-semester history fair. Students are supposed to come in on Monday with their topic AND a book they can use for research, although we did discover that with some topics, it might be impossible to find a book on that subject in the library (in which case they can just bring in a general WWII-history book).

For Biology, we got to watch the (slightly overdramatic) documentary, “What Darwin Never Knew.” As Amy pointed out, Darwin is pretty exciting on his own and probably doesn’t require all that dramatic voiceover (not to mention the musical cues), but DNA is always interesting.

In Cultural Geography, students are continuing to work on memorizing the capitals of South American countries — is it time to plan a road trip yet?