COURSE DETAILS AND POLICIES
The Calendar and General Course Design
A Yearlong Course of Study; the Calendar Will Be Established This Summer
- The Critical Thinking Humanities Courses will be yearlong programs of study comprised of 180 days of instruction, as required by the California state home school laws.
- A calendar for the 2021- 22 school year will be established in the summer as soon as possible. The school year will roughly run from after the Labor Day holiday to late May or early June.
- Typical holidays will be observed and students will have an extended break at Thanksgiving, the winter holidays, and spring time.
- The daily humanities class will run five days a week, Monday to Friday.
- Each daily class is a two-hour long block, with a short break in the middle of the period.
- Class size is 20 students; if there is greater demand, I may increase that number by a few students to accommodate more families.
Classes Will Be Held Live On-line via Zoom
- Daily instruction will be given live on-line via Zoom.
- Families in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco Bay Area may be able to take the class in-person, if there is a desire to do so and arrangements can be made. If you are interested in this option, please let me know.
The Courses Will Follow an Independent School Design Model for a Rich and Complete Curriculum
- The Critical Thinking Humanities Courses will follow an independent school design. I will run my class exactly as I have at leading independent schools for 27 years.
- It will feature all the key aspects of a rich and complete humanities program that combines language arts and social studies into one block of class time. It will include instruction in literature, grammar, vocabulary, reading, writing, Socratic discussion, oral presentation skills, social studies, contemporary issues, and geography.
A Humanities Program Combing Language Arts and Social Studies
- My program of study combines together into one integrated class the subjects of language arts and social studies. The purpose is to provide deeper, more unified instruction and practice in the core learning skills. By working with students in these two disciplines in a combined way, I have more time to develop their essential skills of learning.
The Flow of Course Work: Main Units of Study and Weekly Language Arts and Social Studies Work
The Main Unit of Study: Integrating Language Arts and Social Studies
- The humanities class will focus on one main unit of study at a time. The unit will focus on either language arts or social studies for a given number of weeks. The next major unit will then focus on the second discipline. So, we may first do an extended unit for a few months that emphasizes language arts, such as reading a novel, followed by an extended unit on a social studies topic.
- However, the subjects are taught in an integrated way, so that the novel we are reading for a unit focused on language arts, also will be relevant to the historical time period we are exploring for the year. While we work on a unit focused more directly on a social studies topic, we will be employing and practicing essential language art skills. The integration of these two disciplines is an essential part of my program of study.
Weekly Work Done in Addition to the Main Unit of Study
- Several aspects of the language arts and social studies programs will be done on a weekly basis to provide continuity of learning. On Fridays, some class time will be dedicated to work in either grammar, vocabulary, literature, creative writing, geography, or current events. We will rotate which area we work on week by week; we will not be working on all of these areas each week. So, for example, in addition to the main unit of study in either history or English, on Friday we will dedicate one hour or more to ongoing work in other areas of language arts or social studies.
Time Commitment, Homework, and Workload
- My humanities course is designed to be a central component of your child’s home school study program, comprising the major subject areas of language arts and social studies. For your child to be successful, he or she will need to dedicate significant time and effort to the course. At the same time, my purpose is to help students lived a balanced life and not to overburden them with work. I am trying to strike a balance between providing a rigorous educational program designed for maximum growth with a reasonable workload for a balanced life.
Time Commitment in Class and for Homework
- As stated above, the humanities class will be a two-hour block of time, with a short break in the middle.
- Homework will be aimed to take about one hour a night, five days a week.
- No homework will be given over the weekends and my goal is for students to have their weekends free.
- However, some students with full weekly schedules and many extracurricular activities may choose to complete some of their weekly homework over the weekend to make their weekdays more workable. This is entirely up to the student and family to decide. To enable students to do this, I will allow most weekly assignments that are typically due on Friday to be turned in on Monday without penalty.
Flexibility with Due Dates and Workload
- While I aim to keep homework to one hour a night, of course, students will work at different paces. I am open to providing flexibility on due dates for work or to alter a student’s workload of assignments to ensure that the course meets the needs of all learners. We can discuss your child’s needs and make adjustments accordingly.
Assessments and Grading
- Please read about my philosophy on assessment in the Foundational Ideas section to understand my approach to this key part of my program of study.
- I will use rubrics on many undertakings to help explain to students what makes for excellence on different tasks, explain how they will be evaluated, and assess their achievement.
- In addition, I will always provide written comments on the tasks being assessed.
- Students also will have plenty of opportunities to meet with me one on one to discuss their work together.
- Additionally, students will be asked frequently to share their work in the classroom and will benefit from getting the feedback of their peers on certain undertakings. We will establish a classroom environment where we are all learning together and learning from each other.
What Will Be Assessed
- My program of study will evaluate the student’s work on the major skills being developed, such as reading comprehension, writing skills, critical thinking and analytical skills, and oral discussion and explanation skills. I will also evaluate student understanding of the subject matter investigated in language arts and social studies, such as their understanding of a novel or historical events.
Graded and Ungraded Work
- I will evaluate the major assignments but not some of the less important daily work. I will need the assistance of parents to administer vocabulary quizzes, since there is no way for me to ensure students are not cheating in some way on an on-line quiz. I have created a simple method to do this with parents over the past year that has worked well and will it explain to you at the beginning of the school year.
Work Graded by Mr. Trapasso
- Importance class assignments
- Vocabulary quizzes that were administered by parents
- I typically do not grade minor assignments.
- I do not grade most of the weekly language arts work including: grammar work, supplemental literature readings, and “Outside reading books,” which are books the students read for pleasure and to build their reading abilities.
Semester Report Cards
Number of Report Cards for Parents
- The yearlong course will be divided into two semesters of equal length. A formal report card with grades will be given at the end of the first semester in January and the end of the year in late May or early June.
- A mid-semester check-in will be done in November and April. This will be a brief check in on how the student is progressing on the major skills and units of study.
Semester Report Card Format
- The report card will evaluate work on the key areas for skill development, in reading, writing, critical thinking, oral explanation and discussion skills, grammar and writing mechanics, and vocabulary.
- It will also report student understanding on the content of the major units of study in language arts and social studies.
- Attendance also will be reported on the report card.
- I will use a rubric format to report on the work in the key skill areas and course content. I will also write an overarching narrative comment on the student’s progress.
Parent and Student Conferences
- After the mid-semester report in November, we will have a conference on-line or in-person to discuss your child’s work. Students will join their parents in the meeting and will help lead the discussion of their work with me. If so desired, parents can also spend some time meeting with me without their child being present.
- At any other time during the school year, we can have a periodic meeting together whenever the parents, student, or teacher feels we need one.
Class Attendance and Vacation Policy
- Class attendance will be recorded and noted on the semester report cards.
- Students are expected to attend all classes scheduled on the calendar.
- Parents should avoid scheduling vacations that will make their child miss scheduled school days.
Application Form and Interview
- An application form is required for acceptance into the program of study.
- Secondly, a family interview will be conducted over Zoom to get to know each other and to determine if our learning goals are in alignment. I will meet the parents first and then include your child into the conversation.
- Deadline for the application and family interview is July 9, 2021.
- After the application form and the interview have been completed, families will be notified of their acceptance as soon as possible.
- If space is available, applications will be accepted after the July 9 due date.
Tuition for the Yearlong Course of Study
- The yearlong humanities course combines traditional classes in language arts and social studies.
- The cost for the yearlong course of study is $3,600.
- Please contact me to ask about the flexible tuition program.
- Upon acceptance into the program, a deposit will be required to secure your place in the course.
- Payment details for the year will be worked out in the summer.
MEETING STATE HOME SCHOOL REQUIREMENTS
Teaching Credentials of John Trapasso
- I have a lifetime teaching credential in social studies for grades 7-12 from the state of Massachusetts, where I completed the Tufts University-Shady Hill School Joint Masters Program in Education.
- Although I worked for many years as an independent school teacher in California, I did not require and do not have a California state teaching credential.
- I do not plan to get a California state teaching credential in the future.
State Home School Laws and Requirements
- My teaching credentials will impact how your state regards the instruction I give your child. You are responsible for understanding your state’s requirements regarding teaching credentialing.
- You are responsible for knowing your state’s home school laws and completing all paper work requirements. I will provide a written semester report of your child’s progress in my class.
California State Home School Laws and Requirements
- I am new to the home school world in California and still learning its requirements for parents, so please check that my understanding below is accurate.
- Because I do not have a California state teaching credential, my classes do not qualify as an approved home school course that could be offered through a Charter School home schooling program. Therefore, I have not sought to register my classes as part of a state Charter School program. You will not be able to get state funds to pay for my class, as I understand it.
- To get credit for my class from the state, I believe your family needs to be registered as an independent private school.
Please Contact Me If You Have Any Questions
- If you have any questions, please contact me, and I will be happy to speak with you.
- I look forward to speaking with you about your child’s education.