Monday, June 16, 2014

Update on BFSU

For science this past year, we started (finally) using Nebel's BFSU (Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding) curriculum. I last wrote about this back in December of 2011, so I need to give an update.

I still really love this curriculum, and think it is wonderful and comprehensive and accurate. It is a good fit for a more exploratory, hands-on style of learning, and is easily adapted to add more (or less) writing, books, videos, etc. It does take a bit of teacher preparation, depending on how much you want to add and how much you already know about science. If you're fairly competent at basic science, at least, then you could probably just open it up to a lesson and go through it with your kids, finding materials as you go for experiments or demonstrations, at least for most of the lessons. A little more preparation, like reading through the lesson first, will let you be more polished and cohesive in your lesson. And with a little more preparation, you can find videos and books to go along with the lesson to reinforce things and offer a different perspective. A few lessons will probably need materials you might need to get at a store or even order ahead of time.

We have a subscription to Discovery Education (through the Homeschool Buyer's Co-op), and so I decided to find videos to link to each lesson, covering at least a similar topic. I made my list into a file and put it on the kids' computer, so they can just open it up, click on the link they want, and watch the video. Sometimes the videos cover more than the BFSU lesson, or cover topics in a different order, or in some way aren't a complete match, but it still was very useful for my kids. They really love documentary-type videos. I plan to put my list on here soon for others to use, for at least the lessons I've done so far. I'm sure there are other sources of good videos too.

We did run into some problems using BFSU, though. The main issue was that my oldest, who is 8, got bored too quickly when I kept things at a level my 5 and 6 year olds could handle. She considered most of it to be below her (and a lot of it was, since she's done a lot of science already), and didn't really appreciate being lumped together with her younger siblings. I ended up just focusing the lesson on my younger children, and let her sit in the background doing whatever she wanted. I found that even though I told her she didn't need to participate, she still listened, especially when we covered something she hadn't heard before, or when we did an experiment or demonstration. It still didn't stimulate her as much as I would like, and I think she didn't get enough science this year (other than the resources she searched out herself - our bookshelf, and videos).

So, for next year, I will split them up, and do 2 different science classes - one for my oldest, and one for the younger 2. They may still listen to each other's lessons, but that will just be their choice.

Another issue was due mostly to me. I had a hard time scheduling lessons. I guess I need more structure. The free-flow method of BFSU - just picking a lesson to do next - didn't inspire me to prepare well enough. I did good at first, but then, especially as Rebekah zoned out, we did fewer and fewer lessons. I even had made a list of what order to do the lessons in, but we got sidetracked by other subjects too much, and science got pushed out. I think only scheduling it once a week was not good for us, since it was too easy to say, well, since we're busy/tired/bored, let's just do it a different day.

So, another change for next year is that I'm going to use something else as the main structure of our science plans, and just use BFSU to fill in where relevant. I'd still like to use most of BFSU, but we're going to try it differently this year, at least.

For my younger two, we are going to follow the schedule of Sonlight Science A, since I will be doing the Bible and history part of Core A with them this next year already. I will try to find which BFSU lessons might fit in with different topics, or we might just do BFSU on the side, when desired.

For my oldest, I asked her what main science topic she'd like to study this next year, and she said chemistry. So, I have pulled together a plan that combines many different resources, and will will do that 2-3 days a week. I have gotten a few chemistry experiment kits for us to do, and I will also go over the BFSU chemistry-releated lessons from Book 1 and Book 2, covering pre-requisites as needed. Other resources I am using are the sample lessons from R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey's Chemistry 1 course, Intellego Chemistry 1 and 2 for grades 3-5, and a selection of books from NOEO and Sonlight chemistry courses. I've made a lesson plan for the year, scheduling which chapters from which books and which experiments to do when. (I do like planning, I think I've said before.) I will make this plan available at some point, but I think I should go through it with my daughter this year first, since I'm sure we'll make changes along the way.

So, that's the plan, and my updated review of using BFSU. I will try to write more posts about science this next year as we get into it!

No comments:

Post a Comment