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High School Biology in Your Home

By Bridget Ardoin

116 Fairidge Dr.
Jamestown, NC 27282

Upon receiving this product in my home for review, I looked at each component quickly and then placed it on a shelf until I had time to review it. I received a teacher's manual, a student manual, and a set of quizzes and semester final exams. This is not your typical high school program, as I soon noticed when I opened up what I thought was going to be a textbook and saw the subtitle: "A Research-based Independent Study Guide for your Home School Families." I also noticed that I had received the seventh edition of the curriculum, which tells me two things: (1) the author has updated the manuals almost every year since its first publication in 1997 and (2) for there to be seven updates, this curriculum must be popular with a lot of families!

The comb-bound teacher's manual contains four parts, weekly assignment answers for both semesters, a Parent Dissecting Manual, and the Answer Key to the quizzes and final exams. The author states that a textbook is not needed with the program, although she does discuss what to look for if the family decides to use one. Instead, the author recommends the use of the library for supplemental books and says that she "firmly believes in having the student research the facts and have as many hands-on activities for the student to do as possible." At the beginning of the teacher's manual, Ms. Ardoin discusses further book recommendations and then lists the syllabi for both semesters, including a complete lab supply list week-by-week.

There are 26 total weeks of study in High School Biology in Your Home. The first semester is comprised of 11 weeks of study about the human body plus one week to review for a semester exam. Semester two contains 13 weeks of study about animal and plant classification and one week to review for the final exam. The core of the program is the student manual, which has two parts: weekly assignments and a dissecting manual. Each week there is a list of questions to be answered. All the student needs to do is research to find the needed answers. The author recommends that the student plan to spend a minimum of an hour daily working on the assignments given each week. There is also a review guide in the student manual to help him study for each final exam. Thorough answers to each question are in the parent's manual. The dissecting manual is meant to be written in. There is plenty of room to draw pictures of what is being viewed under a microscope or dissected. In some instances, the item being dissected is already drawn and the student only has to label the parts. The dissecting section of the parent's manual is written to guide the student through the dissection process. Step-by-step instructions help the dissection proceed in an orderly fashion so that nothing is missed. Drawings are also included so that the parent knows what parts of the dissected animal are being viewed.

The parent/student manual set of High School Biology in Your Home retails for $80. All of the dissection supplies are available through the author, too. The complete set of manuals, dissection tools, and specimens costs $250. A microscope is also going to be needed, and a decent one will retail up to $250. The manual set is comparable in price to Apologia's biology program, but you can purchase the lab supplies less expensively elsewhere. However, in buying the supplies elsewhere, you may not have all of the specimens needed for dissection. There are nine different specimens to dissect; of course, it is up to the family how many they will do. A homeschooling family is going to need to budget for ANY high school level science course.

I do like what I see of High School Biology in Your Home. However, I know that I would only be able to use it well with one of my children. My older child would thrive on the research factor and enjoy the dissections, but my younger child is not a real hands-on type of student. Another concern is the time involved in getting the research done. High school at home takes a lot of time already, and learning from a textbook is going to be easier to schedule each day. However, I know that if I want my child to really learn the material, this hands-on approach is going to be more effective for later retention. High School Biology in Your Home will completely immerse the student (and maybe the parent!) in the learning process. This hands-on, research-based approach is going to help the student learn and retain the material much better than just reading out of a boring textbook each week.

Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, December 2006

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