Grading for out-of-the-box (High) School

Okay (high) school because

  • really this grading system can be used for all grades
  • High school is the only time it REALLY matters
  • because we (as a whole) feel like we need to change to a system that fits a grade book to do high school instead of our usual out-of-the-box system. Am I right? I discuss how I went through this transition and lesson here.

Have you read (maybe used is a better word. It’s more of a reference than a read-through) Senior High: A Home-Designed Form U La

There are a TON of ideas in here to design the school you want. How to use work and activities they are already doing as credit. How to record it. How to design a transcript. LOTS of information. Be careful- it can be overwhelming. Use it to help you solve problems- not as a ‘what you need to do’ (We, as homeschool moms, make this mistake a lot don’t we? )

HOURS? There are charts to record hours to equal a credit. BUT what if you are using a curriculum set? Can you grade on completion of this curriculum if they didn’t meet the hour requirement? Yes! Again, this is meant to help you solve problems. If you use Math-U-See for example you may only spend 20 minutes a day on a math lesson. If you complete (or mostly complete – public schools don’t finish a curriculum!) of the package/book in a school year well, you qualify. No need to track hours. She talks more about this in the book.

Grading: in the book she discusses all of the traditional methods of grading, grading scales, tracking…. and THEN- here is the part I latched onto: How to grade non-traditionally. She has a worksheet that looks like this (taken directly from the book!)

to obtain a “C” Student must:

  • complete 90% of Saxon Math “Algebra 1/2” book
  • earn a minimum of 75% on class work
  • quality/neatness standard of work turned in must be “Average”

to earn a “B” Student must do the above PLUS or EXCEPT:

  • 95% complete
  • minimum of 80% on class work
  • Quality Neatness “good”

to earn an “A” student must do the above plus or except:

  • 100% of book
  • minimum of 90% or better
  • show teacher ‘computing’ page after completing work
  • quality and neatness “excellent”

She shows a TON of examples of this including how to use Baseball as a PE credit, Life skills, Home Ec, Composition….. and a blank sheet for you to create your own. INCREDIBLY VALUABLE  ** this might be a good time to note that I do not own this site or this page, I do not have any affiliate links. These are things I want to share as one homeschool mom to another. I am not making any money on any of this- and I only hope I’ve covered the fact that this is copyrighted by the book above. I do not own this information. I simply recommend the book as a mom and homeschooler.


SO- for me the main idea here is making it my own. I’ve learned that as a delight-directed school- If the child is not doing at least “C” work then we are probably going to dump it for something that works better for us. So there is nothing below a “C”. There simply is no credit at all for it. Obviously you can work it differently- to the way you want to design YOUR school!

I’ve now streamlined my grading system (and there is no end to changing it to work for what you need. this is my current system 😉 ) I now grade:

80% completion of the assigned material, 20% on attitude, neatness and diligence.

pretty subjective , huh? yes. It is. But, here is what I think: ALL grades are subjective! and I’m pretty tough on what I want out of them. The best caution I have here is this- make sure the grades accurately correlate with what they have achieved on ACT/SAT testing. I’ll bet you find that is not a problem- most moms are tougher graders than schools. truly.

I’ve been asked “Don’t you ever want to go back and change the grade” yes. I actually find this is an advantage. I’m a mom. I am moody. Some days I’m so upset they did not take [this book] as seriously as i did, or they did not come to the same conclusion as me on ____ or whatever. I find that with a couple different days looking at it I can feel like I’ve been fair in judging THEIR accomplishments rather than MY expectations.

I have spent a lot of time developing some out-of the box curriculum. I have one child that can and will accomplish a lot, but will not work through textbook or workbooks. A lot of it has to do with variety- so that is what we created:

I’ve written schedules- tailor to each child and recorded it here: Living Books Curricula.

These are adjustable!! My DS can cover a LOT of material in a short amount of time. If I do not keep him busy – well he actually just wanders away and doesn’t do it at all so while my oldest daughter used Friendly Chemistry for a whole year (one lesson a week) My DS was scheduled to complete this and many other books in a year. I think each accomplished a Chemistry credit.

My next DD to do high school chemistry is more likely to go into a science field and a lot more hands on so I will likely base hers heavier on lab work. HOME-DESIGNED. 😉

Make the curriculum work for you. Make the grading system work for you. If you’d like to see more of my High School posts- look here.





Fine Arts? Musicals! movie fun. WRITING!! create your own homeschool

Whether you are catering to your child’s (or your) interests, you can create your own homeschool from anything! Fine arts is a big basket. Find something you enjoy to do with it- after all, that is what it was meant for… Or was it? We found ways to explore musicals (like the Broadway shows- but the ones filmed I can watch in my living room with my kids) and any deeper meaning the authors may have wanted to convey. Maybe that is the true work of an artist– what it communicates. See what you find.

I put this together for a friend’s daughter. I like it. Having put it together for a specific child in mind here were the ideas in my head:

  1. She had fallen in love with the musical “Hamilton” and Mom wanted to maximize on that interest. (smart mom!)
  2. She is VERY strong willed and has a very rebellious nature- the writing prompts, I believe can be a good thinking device for anyone, but I designed these questions for her to ARGUE and reflect her ideas and opinions.
  3. Mom had indicated she needed more motivation to write. I think these could easily be papers assigned, but I think the mom I worked with on this planned to use them as journal prompts.
  4. As a rebellious teen, she had already sought some controversial content (RENT) and Mom wanted to concede that- as long as we explore____ we also explore____. We had discussed offering her a list of options, her having veto power of x number so it was designed to have concessions on both sides.
  5. We originally discussed using these in a historical timeline so they were arranged that way, but ultimately we decided on more of a writing program- but they could easily be used alongside a history curriculum as they are (roughly) arranged by time setting.

I had a ton of fun putting this together because I am a big fan of musicals. I focused more on my favorites for two reasons: 1) I could come up with out of the ordinary questions because I was familiar and 2) i owned them on DVD making it easier for my friend to share with her daughter.

Since I’ve put this together, I’ve learned of other moms that looking for a way to cover some fine arts. This, to me, qualifies. So here is what I have:

*Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat- Does adversity mean that God is not with us? How does Joseph’s faith lead him to God’s plan for his life?

Jesus Christ Superstar – Does Judas behave as a Christian? He follows the rules- he repented, asked for forgiveness, gave back the money- why is he lead to suicide? Do you think Jesus forgave him?

The King and I (1956)- What does Mrs Anna do to honor the King’s culture, what does she refuse to do? How does this help or hinder the King’s objective?

*Les Miserables- Who does the justice system work for in this period in time? What have we learned and failed to learn from this justice system?

*1776- Are our forefathers remembered as demi-gods as Franklin suggests in the movie. Do we have a fair image of the men they were?


*The Phantom of the Opera – How can our own ideas and experiences blind us to reality?

*Oklahoma!- How does courting differ from Oklahoma to now? What is better and worse about them?

*Chitty Chitty Bang Bang- How can having an inventive mind help and hinder a families well-being?

*Guys and Dolls- How do Sky’s and Sarah’s view of the Bible differ? Who, in your opinion has a better understand of life’s rules?

*Chicago- Is this a good or bad portrayal of the power of the Press and its role in our justice system? Do you think it is better or worse than today?

*The Music Man – Do you think traveling salesman are able to maintain a respectable image? Why or why not?

*Fiddler on the Roof- Have you ever considered the effect of changing times’ effect on fathers? How does this portrayal of a father’s decisions prove his love for his children? Is it enough to fit into the changing world?

*The Sound of Music- This family’s decision to escape in the face of the Nazi’s takeover is portrayed as heroic. Is this because of our ability to look back on history and see what would happen? Is it because they were successful? How do you think you would know if you were living in such a perilous time? Do you believe you would take the same risk?

South Pacific

*Hairspray- How did the changing music industry affect the Civil Rights Movement in the US? Did it help, hinder or both?

*West Side Story- Why do you think the story of Romeo and Juliet is such a popular and timeless story? How does this modern version approach the idea?


Other musicals – just a list we discussed. I thought I’d share our brainstorming ideas- however slight they were 😉

Not sure where these fall in a time period:

  • *A Chorus Line
  • Singing in the Rain
  • *Wizard of Oz
  • Cabaret
  • Oliver
  • Annie Get your Gun
  • 7 brides for 7 brothers
  • My Fair Lady
  • *Annie
  • Evita
  • Funny Face
  • Funny Girl
  • Rocky Horror
  • Little Shop of Horrors
  • Sweeney Todd
  • Carousel
  • State fair
  • Damn Yankees
  • Gigi
  • *Mary Poppins

NOTES: * were put in for local friends- these are ones I own 😉 I DO NOT guarantee the content of these AT ALL. Use at your own discretion. Some of these I have, indeed, studied with my children. Other I have not! This was designed with a specific audience- not all. Please use your judgement and look up content.




Renaissance Art History Study

I’ve longed to find a good art history course. I cannot seem to find what I am looking for, so I’ve begun to put it together myself. No wonder. this is no easy task 😉 I’ve begun smaller than I thought I would- but then again personally I’m quite bored beginning with Egyptian art. I happen to appreciate painting a great deal more.

I don’t put a huge stock in age level or reading level. I choose books for their interest level. This is my idea of fun and interesting things to read- or tailored to my children’s taste- depending. I think we ALL enjoy an easy read now and then as well as challenges. Above all I hope to foster a love of reading and learning and I choose books I find fascinating just as I hope my children will do all their lives. It is my hope that you will be inspired by this make-your-own-way style and change out books to your own liking 😉

This study is only 9 weeks longs as I intend to use it as part of my year 2 history. We do a four day week schedule with notebooking Fridays.

(there are not affiliate links. I don’t even own this site. I just link to Amazon for your convenience) just sharing my ideas. good luck with yours.

The books:

(Who Was) Leonardo Da Vinci? by Roberta Edwards

(Amaze) Amazing Leonardo DaVinci Inventions you can build yourself by Maxine Anderson

(RA) Renaissance Artist who Inspired the world by Gregory Blanch and Roberta Stathis

(LA) Lives of the Artists by Kathleen Krull

Michelangelo by Elizabeth Ripley  * this is an old library book I found- not a specially chosen book really. not a bad book! but used for convenience too.

(UA) The Usborne Book of Art by Rosie Dickins

week 1:

RA intro p 1-17

p 18

UA p 1-13


week 2:

LA p 10

RA p 26

Who was – first 1/2

who was- finish

week 3

Amaze -Intro

perspectograph  & draw

masks, plastic glass and paint

divine proposition & activity

week 4

jokester & invisible ink

monster shield

useful machines and camera

weather and hydrometer

week 5

monkey wrench, water

watershoes, webbed gloves

plight, ornithopter

helicopter, parachute

week 6


war, safety bridge

trebuchet, tank

catch up

week 7 (Michelangelo)

LA p 16

RA p 36

Michelangelo- excerpts

Michelangelo- excerpts

week 8 (Raphael)

RA p 44

Sofonisba Anguissola- LA p 24

RA p 52

Renaissance Spreads RA p 58

week 9

RA p 66

UA p 14,15

LA Rembrandt p 28

Peter Paul Rubens and Van Eyck- online. * I would rather have good printed resources but I have not come across what I am looking for yet. I do think it important to cover these two, be familiar with their names and famous works. Please let me know of great resources to use toward these ends 🙂