September has gotten away from me, and now I find myself smack dab in the middle of October. Wow, the time is just flying by and it is fully fall. Fall, when the leaves start to change colors, the weather starts to get chillier, and the school work really starts to ramp up. I started thinking about this month’s post and realized that I really wanted to talk about the current school year. Not really a topic that most kids my age would enjoy writing about, but a lot of what I have been doing and learning about has been pretty significant, and I have seen a few changes happening and wanted to share my observations.
You see, I have just started my 10th-grade year, and I am pretty much in charge of my own school schedule now. Gone are the days of my mom sitting with me in the classroom, guiding me from subject to subject. And unlike last year where I would need some prodding to get some of my work completed, this year I have really stepped it up in the responsibility department and am applying the pressure myself.
Maybe the reason for my stepping it up has been due to the fact that I have had more of a say in what classes (and at what level) I would be taking this year. Before the school year even started we sat down and outlined what courses high school requires me to take, and what areas I was more interested in studying. We laid out a plan, and then my parents found different classes and courses from all over the place to somehow make it work.
Here is what my 10th-grade year looks like for the first semester:
How Things Work: An Introduction to Physics by University of Virginia
This was a great class to take before I start my math-heavy physics class next semester. I love the science behind physics and the ability to ease into the school year with this course was perfect. I took it through Coursera’s certificate program and enjoyed the depth of material, the professor’s lectures and videos, and the pacing of the class. They covered a lot of ground but didn’t drag it out past 8 weeks.
Live Online Math: Geometry
Ok, I cannot say enough good things about Mr. Bovey and Live Online Math. Seriously, I think this provider and curriculum are the one reason I am actually loving math again. I have always been years ahead in math, but I honestly couldn’t stand doing any math! It was a battle over here…for years with my parents always telling me how much of a math mind I had, yet me just not loving it. (Something about forced memorization of facts just did not click with me). Live Online Math has changed everything. I took HS Algebra from LOM last year and it was tough but really effective. I actually learned a lot and gained a lot of my confidence back. This year I am taking HS Geometry and it is freaking amazing! Their way of teaching is the most effective for me so far, teaching math, and not just drilling facts into students’ heads. This has been a turning point for me as I now look forward to my math class 3 times a week!
This is technically my third year taking Chinese. I took a year of elementary Mandarin when I was 6 and then a semester of Middle-School Mandarin when I was 8, but had not taken any foreign language for the past few years. I was really hesitant about taking another Chinese class because even though I was learning the language, the culture, the grammar and the pronunciation, I hadn’t ever really learned to read the simplified characters. (All my prior courses were structured around learning with pinyin). This year we found this High School Integrated Chinese I course through CurrClick (an online community of curriculum providers) and I’m glad to say that I’ve learned – and retained memory of – more in this class than in both the courses before. I am already looking forward to next semester and next year!
HST 105 World History II Middle and Early Modern Ages: Oregon State University – College for High School
Did you know that I love…LOVE…history?! I have always said that history and writing were my two favorite subjects. Last year, when I had the opportunity to apply to OSU’s College for High School dual credit program I wanted to test it out with a history course. It was tough, but this year I came back for even more! This being my second year of taking history through OSU, I thought I knew what I was in for. I expected huge reading and lecture requirements, weekly discussion posts and forum responses, weekly quizzes, and numerous essays and papers sprinkled throughout the 11 week course. Well, this course is all that and more, but “more” in a good way! Though it is challenging, I have come to realize that I have found the right level of instruction and learning for me and I have the stamina and organizational tools in place to keep up with the class. The bonus I have found with this year’s course, is that the professor is very attentive and I have been receiving feedback on both my writing and my subject knowledge. Being acknowledged and being given constructive feedback to make my work better, is amazing!
Druidawn: Creative Writing and RPG
This is my second year in Druidawn, and it is still as fun and exciting as ever. Druidawn is a fun writing/roleplaying class where students share their writing in order to roleplay their characters in the world of Druidawn. It is almost a motivational tool for reluctant writers in that it offers up points for the number of words you write in a week, and you can use those points to help you advance in your role-playing game. Now, I have never been accused of being a reluctant writer, but this atmosphere is a great way to share all my writings, a way to get feedback from peers, a way to socially interact in a fantasy world with other fiction lovers, and a way to get some gaming time in during the school day. Honestly, it is a huge win-win!
I love to read and write. If I could, I would probably spend all day, every day, reading and or writing. Years ago my elementary and middle school teachers would gush and praise everything I wrote, even when it was only my first draft. They would be amazed about “someone my age” writing at such a high level, and many times wouldn’t provide any guidance on how to be better. I always felt a little cheated by that. Last year when we went full on independent homeschooling, we found Amy, and my instruction in literature and English stepped up a notch. This year, Amy, my tutor/mentor/teacher/friend and I are working both on creative and academic writing skills, as well as analyzing a lot of literature and prepping for the ACT or PSAT.
I am lucky to have my dad teaching me computer science again this year. Last year we studied JAVA programming, and this year we have moved onto using Python and the Raspberry Pi operating system to program. This is like a mystery class to me, as I don’t have an outline or syllabus for the semester. I show up each week and he introduces a new challenge and new knowledge. I then set out to complete the challenge I have been assigned for the week. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for me next!
This year my mom is making me take home economics. I have seen the course outline and it says that I will be learning to knit, cook, and learning textile care. I think I am pretty familiar with the concept of cooking and am looking forward to the projects assigned, and I have already started my first knitting project (a scarf) and have several other projects lined up for the winter. As for the textile care portion of the course, I have a feeling this is just her way of making me do my own laundry. I’m sure I will have more to say on this subject as the year progresses. So you can see, my mom hasn’t been left out of my education altogether.
So, that pretty much wraps up my first-semester schedule, but that isn’t all that i have going on in my life. There is more!
NaNoWriMo – Well, it’s almost November, and with November comes NaNoWriMo and a new writing project! This year, I’ve decided to work on an outline long before I start writing, whereas last year I had ~1000 words already written and continued off that. Another difference this year is that I’m going much into detail with the minor aspects – working fully with character development and world building instead of randomly inventing rules and circumstances. I hope it will help me create characters with human flaws and an interesting plotline. This year, unlike last, I’m going to be doing the adult version of the program, not the Young Writers Program. I’m going for 50,000 words instead of 30,000 as a goal for the month.
I have also been a contributor in an amazing new magazine called iGen21! All content is written by kids 10-17 years old – written by teens for teens. It is an awesome opportunity for tweens and teens to express themselves and find their voice. Click on the image here to see the inaugural issue.
A quote from iGen21’s website: “Mitchell Cook, 10-years old, came up with the idea of starting a magazine for tweens and teens, but with a twist. All content would be written by kids ages 10-17, from around the world. In his words, ‘Sometimes adults don’t realize how special we are, and our voices need to be heard.'”
I hope you have a chance to check it out, subscribe to future issues, and maybe even submit something to be published (if you are 10-17 years of age).
Oh, one last thing that I have going on – my blog and website…can’t forget these! Of course, this is where I talk about everything and anything close to my heart and about my life. In addition to all the rest of my life, I always try to make time for the blog and website!
Well, that just about wraps up the update of my life since my last post, thanks for reading!