Using the Units in a Homeschool Setting

Can I use the William and Mary curriculum units in a homeschool setting?

All three William and Mary curriculum strands have been used by a number of families in the homeschool setting. It requires some revision on the part of the parent, because the units do emphasize small and large group interaction among students, but the units are definitely usable in homeschool settings -- especially the language arts and social studies units.

We recommend attending one of our implementation workshops for training in implementing the units because we model the teaching practices that are incorporated in the units, and we try to address the questions that we know will arise when you start working through the units. The training is not required but most teachers find it helpful; we have also had parents attend workshops. We have workshops available in each curriculum strand. There is some overlap between the teaching models that are used in the language arts and social studies units, in particular, but science is a little more separate. We hold training sessions here at William and Mary a couple of times a year; specifically, there is a one-day workshop in March during the Pre-conference session of our National Curriculum Network Conference, and a three-day workshop in June at Summer Institute. At each of these, you would pick one content area to attend and remain in that strand for the whole workshop. We also do workshops for school districts around the country. For more information, contact us at [[cfge]].

What modifications will I need to make to use the William and Mary curriculum units in a homeschool setting?

Most modifications required to use the William and Mary curriculum units in a homeschool environment relate to the time required for implementation, grade level specifications, and grouping for instructional activities.

The units vary in the recommended allotment of time for implementation. In a classroom setting, the language arts units are usually used for a semester, the social studies units for a semester or nine weeks, depending on how much time can be devoted to the topics in question, and the science units can be used in a few weeks or a full semester. All of the units are designed so as to be somewhat flexible for the teacher, they can really be as long or short as you'd like them to be, and they all include lesson extensions, suggestions for learning centers, and other explorations in addition to the regular lessons.

Our grade level indicators are intended to refer to highly able students at the grade level specified. For example, a unit for grades 4-5 means gifted fourth and fifth graders. You can start at whatever level seems to you appropriate for your child -- the reading selections and activities are all pitched two or three years above-average grade level, and the teaching models are the same across all units. Contact our publishers, Prufrock Press, Inc., or Kendall/Hunt to request a review copy to examine before purchasing if you want to get a clearer picture of what unit would be best for your child. Or, if you attend any of our events here at W&M, we also have copies of all of the materials here for examination. Implementing the curriculum units would also require some tailoring of the instructional activities because the lessons make reference to "putting students into groups. The most challenging units in terms of using small groups would be the science units because they call for students to be divided into collaborative learning groups for most of the duration of the unit. The language arts and social studies units specify pairings and small group discussion to compare/contrast ideas and understanding.