Middle Grade American Humanities Wednesday AM 2018-2019

I am excited to be offering a wonderful opportunity for your middle schoolers to learn about America. This course will provide a weekly classroom discussion, activities, and projects designed to cover American literature and history chronologically with some art history and music history.  Here is a link to my working outline for the course. This outline is flexible and will change according to student interest, ability, and dynamics. Feel free to email me with any questions about the course that are not answered in my extensive description below. My email is katrina at katrinaryder dot com. I have been having issues with spam to my blog email, which is why I am not providing a direct email link.

Who is the teacher? 

I, Katrina Ryder, am the teacher and mother to two of the students. I have a Bachelors degree in English, 27 hours towards a Masters Degree and taught public school for 3 years and at a private international school for 2 years. I have led several writing and grammar workshops for homeschoolers. I have been teaching Bible studies in my home for 8 years. Over the past year, I have been substitute teaching in the public school system, including a long term position in a 7th grade social studies class.  This is my first year homeschooling.

Why are you teaching this course?

There are three reasons.

  1. In selecting classes and curricula for my own children, I wanted to choose material that wasn’t racially biased. In spite of an abundance of materials, I didn’t find one humanities curriculum that worked for my objectives with regard to a fair presentation of ALL Americans, so I decided to piece together my own from various sources.
  2. I think classroom projects, activities, and discussions are what cement the ideas of humanities into students’ minds as much or more than just reading and worksheets.  Since I would like this environment for my children, I am offering this class to others their ages. I have found some AMAZING activities, like role plays, skits, art projects, and court trials that I’m excited to use.
  3. It is financially beneficial for me to offer this course since I am giving up my income to homeschool.

When is this course offered?

This course will be offered in 6 five- week units on the weeks indicated on this spreadsheet, on Wednesday mornings from 9:15-11:30.  Field trips will likely be on Fridays, once during each unit to be determined by the class members.

How much is the course? What does the payment include?


The course will be $300/30 weeks if paid in full by the first class. There will be a $50 discount for a sibling or friend referral. Each unit will be $65/unit if paid by the first class with a $10 sibling or friend referral. Payments must be made prior to the first day of that unit. Payment covers the course sessions and handouts or materials used for class. It does not cover textbooks, living books, or art supplies used at home for crafts. You do not have to commit to the whole course; however, if you are interested in ANY unit, please email your interest.


Where is the class? Why is it there?

The class will meet at my house which is in downtown Waxhaw. It is most convenient for me to have the course in my home since I don’t have a connection to co-op facilities since I’m new to the homeschool world. If you want to organize a better classroom location than my living room, feel free to email me. katrina at katrinaryder dot com

Who is this class for? Can my (older/ younger) child attend?

Class discussions and activities will be designed for 6th-8th graders with a relatively strong reading level and reasonable maturity level, insofar as I will not be sanitizing the truths of American history overmuch.  I have an 11 year old son and a 13 year old daughter who will be in the class.  In Unit 2, we will be listening to a significant amount of the musical Hamilton, and while I will opt for the clean version in class, the content of the musical does contain some rude humor and some swearing.  We will be reading To Kill A Mockingbird in Unit 6, which includes the topics of rape, incest, and racially motivated murder.  As for older students, as a former high school teacher and first year homeschooler, I am not comfortable saying this course alone qualifies for high school credit without supplementation.

What will the course cover and not cover?

This course will chronologically cover American history and literature with some geography, art history, and music history.  As I mentioned above, I am prioritizing a non-racist, non-gender biased emphasis, so we will be looking at the history of non-white persons extensively.  The outline should give you some ideas. Between classes, students will be given a list of topics, key words, or ideas about which they will need to read or listen to  prior to the upcoming lesson. Classes will emphasize discussion, activities and projects, not worksheets or in class reading time. I am using several different literature texts and historical anthologies, primarily Joy Hakim’s A History of Us series, which you are encouraged to purchase as it is an EXCELLENT resource; however, you can find a lot of the information though the Freedom PBS webseries, based on Hakim’s work. I will be using this webseries for lessons and activities.  We will also be using lessons from Teaching a People’s History at Zinnedproject.org. For literature we will be using real books, one required for each unit with a long list of optional texts that you can choose from based on your child’s interest in certain topics.

We will not be comprehensively covering language arts in terms of writing, grammar, and spelling. There will be a few written exercises, but this is generally a CONTENT (couch) course, not a SKILL (table) course. If there is interest, I may offer a separate writing or grammar course in the spring 2019.

Is this a Christian course?

No, it’s not.  I am a Christian, but this course is not a Christian course anymore than American history or literature is all Christian or all secular.  We will be talking about six “ISMS” of time with each unit, during which we will discussing the prevailing view of God and the world during a particular time period.  We will study some people who were Christians and some who were not. I will  encourage the kids to discuss religion and how religious views affect humanities, which is quite a lot, but I will emphasize open conversation and receptive approaches. Hate has no home in my house so anyone is welcome. Christian and non-Christian students are welcome. With that said, all students will be expected to follow my classroom rule prohibiting use of profanity and God’s name in vane, which I consider habits that distract from the communication of an articulate speaker.

What does the column on the chart mean where it says Geography/ Field Trips?

Students will be learning US Geography throughout the course.  In addition, we will be doing a very brief overview of at least one other country in the world each week. I will use Geography Now videos from YouTube for this part of the lesson.

At least once per unit, I would like to do a field trip to a location of relevance to our study.  The field trips are optional and will probably happen on Fridays at your own expense.

Why are you sharing the whole outline? Can’t I just use your syllabus for free without taking the class?

Sure. Most of the info on the syllabus is available on the internet and isn’t proprietary.  The course pays for my enthusiastic instruction, interactive discussions, role plays, skits, art projects, driveway chalk timelines, musical renditions and other non-traditional desk-free activities with other silly middle schoolers.  Unfortunately, the outline won’t be able to offer that, but you’re welcome to use it and keep checking it over the course of the year for changes.  If you want to email me about getting the weekly handouts or reading lists, I could add you to the email list.  I used to be a missionary, so I believe in free stuff and generosity.

Will the course be graded?

I will offer a few content knowledge assessments during each unit. Each parent can determine whether or not to use these for your child.

How do I sign up?

Email me at katrina at katrinaryder dot com or comment on this post, indicating your child’s age, name, and units of interest. Please send a specific email rather than simply messaging me through Facebook or commenting on a FB post thread.



1 thought on “Middle Grade American Humanities Wednesday AM 2018-2019

  1. Hi. My daughter, Anna, is interested in this class. Either day is fine with us. She is 11. Please include us. Thanks.

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