Today we had our first biology class of the year. It's for Rivendell, although we haven't actually started the other Rivendell classes yet. I'm starting early so I can take the whole time between Thanksgiving and New Year off, since, you know, I am having another baby, LOL. I'm getting bigger so I KNOW I'm having another baby, but sometimes it seems like pregnancy sort of gets lost in the madness and chaos of regular life around here!
So, about biology . . . I posted back on June 1 about my biology lab conundrum, and I briefly mentioned that we might prepare for the AP biology test. After a lot of discussion, we decided to go for it, even though, as I said before, this year the test is being reworked. That meant I spent a ton of time this summer on the College Board website, looking at the new requirements, looking at sample syllabi and class pacing guides, and generally familiarizing myself with everything. We decided I would not try to get my syllabus approved by the College Board this year, since that looked like an incredibly laborious process (which was attested to by my friend Katrina, who persevered and did eventually get her syllabus approved!). What that means is that we can't officially call this class "AP Biology" on the syllabus, but we will still take the AP exam in May. It is given at local high school, so one thing I'll do this fall is call around and see which high schools are offering that test, and sign the boys up to take it there. Then on their transcrips we'll call the class something like "Honors Biology with AP Test (Score: whatever)".
We are mainly doing the class for Nathan for validation of Mommy grades, since if he does go to USAFA, he wouldn't be able to get credit for any classes already taken. But it would enable him to have an easy time in biology, which is always a bonus at a stressful place like a service academy!
We're using a college biology text (called Biology--where do they come up with these crazy names?!) by Campbell and Reece, which is one of the ones recommended on the College Board website. I also have purchased a study guide that goes along with it, which gives me extra questions for quizzes and discussion, and also a book of investigative cases also put out by the same company to go along with the book, which I will use for extra experience with analyzing experiments and thinking through real world situations.
One of the big changes in the new bio exam is that there is less of a focus on tons of minute facts and details, and more of a focus on connections and practical applications. It remains to be seen if I can help the boys make all the connections they are supposed to make! It's going to be a challenging year--I highly doubt many other teachers attempting the AP exam are expecting their 9th baby, LOL--but hopefully it will be rewarding. At any rate, it will give the boys a lot of exposure to an evolutionary world view, so they can better understand exactly what they believe and discuss it intelligently. That certainly will make the class worthwhile!