Friday, August 26, 2016

Diving in...

Here we are launching year eight with Classical Conversations. I suppose I should be a pro by now. Yeah... right. Because my habits follow those of most homeschooling moms, I've spent more than the necessary amount of time figuring out the nuts and bolts of teaching our girls this year. In other words, I've been wrestling with the issue of whether I can broaden their minds without losing mine in the process. Hmmm. I think I've probably already crossed over that line. 

Mentioning the desire to keep as much of my sanity intact as possible compels me to chime in about the Morning Basket trend. This is the attractive habit of sharing inspirational readings, gazing upon lovely art, and discussing inspiring thoughts with each other first thing in the morning. Well, I've finally realized that one of us (I won't name her, but she just turned thirteen this summer) is not especially warm and fuzzy upon wakening, so keeping my basket to myself as we begin the day is the safest and the wisest morning ritual at this house. But I digress.

This morning my ten year old daughter christens her seventh year of CC alongside her small, beloved, group of friends as she begins her maiden voyage in the Masters class. Whoopee! One thing I know for sure is that the Foundations and Challenge programs have provided our homeschool with necessary structure and abundant knowledge. I've tried managing the beast called homeschooling without this guidance and community. Talk about losing my mind! I quickly returned with my tail between my legs. 

Now that we're at the halfway mark in our educational journey, I can see that obtaining knowledge at the grammar stage is sort of like riding waves aboard a sailboat. Memorizing the facts the first time around makes for a beautiful and eye opening journey with only the occasional rough water. It's not too difficult to stay pretty dry. Yet at some point the water becomes too tempting to resist. That's where we are now. This girl is longing to jump into the sea and swim. She's ready to get soaked to the bone.

I'm a sucker for books and it shows. Our bookshelves are overflowing with every kind of classical curriculum I can get my hot hands on, always trying to find the next best thing. But seriously... enough is enough. This year I'm forcing myself to employ the resources we already own as I coach my daughter and set some expectations. I have to keep myself coming back to the fact that there's way more information in this world than I could ever expose our children to and that my role is to teach them the skills that they need to navigate this Sea of Knowledge by themselves. But I also know myself. I need a plan to keep me focused on our goals; to keep us headed toward the horizon.

My plan is to use CC's Cycle 2 Sea of Knowledge as the diving board for my daughter's plunge into her own dialectical and rhetorical ocean. Navigating these waters will definitely be daunting at times (maybe more often than I'm prepared for), but with the correct equipment, instruction, and guidance it certainly will be possible. I hope.

I've compiled a list of the skills that I'm expecting my daughter to practice this semester along with the sources she'll use to accomplish this. The CC memory work serves as a means to perfect her grammar skills while the added curriculum provides the substance necessary to develop her dialectic and rhetoric skills. 


  • Complete several math lessons weekly and engage (with me) in conversation about math problems and concepts each day.
  • Play math games.
  • Parse and diagram sentences. LOE/Essentials
  • Explore 1st declension nouns and 1st conjugation verbs. Lively Latin
  • Create key word outlines. IEW
  • Read and narrate living books about the people of Cycle 2's history including various scientists, composers, and artists. AmblesideLiving Books, Local library  
  • Read, listen to, and narrate stories about the Middle Ages. The Story of the World
  • Relate historic people and events to each other by placing them on a timeline. 
  • Connect history to world geography by placing locations on a world map.
  • Study the science of astronomy by way of narration, note taking, and hands-on projects. Guide to Astronomy
  • Listen to the music of great musicians. Classics for Kids


  • Explain several math problems to me each week.
  • Write a structurally sound paragraph from a key word outline.
  • Incorporate various stylistic techniques into the writing assignments.
  • Compose sentences made up of the different sentences structures, patterns, and purposes.
  • Use proper grammar and appropriate parts of speech when speaking and writing.
  • Exhibit some understanding of planetary motion. 
  • Narrate the major events and historic people of the Middle Ages. Veritas Press 
  • Participate in class presentations concentrating on public skills.
  • Create works of art that relate to famous artists
  • Observe nature and keep a nature journal.

I intend to refer to this list often letting it act as her lifejacket and my buoy. Even though I want my daughter to wholeheartedly dive into the water, I certainly will make sure that she doesn't drown. She'll probably need to stick some water wings on here and there but then again so will I! We'll navigate this Sea of Knowledge together one stroke at a time. Somewhere way across that ocean is a beach full of wonderful secrets just waiting for her to unfold. 


And where will I be eight years from now? Ahhh... My crystal ball reveals a sweet scene. Through a dreamy fog, I see my husband and myself relaxing in the sun, reading mindless novels while sipping chilled Chardonnay topped off with those cute little umbrellas. We'll hopefully be basking in the warm thoughts of a job well done. 

Seize each day.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Where We'd Rather Be

This year I'm trying to be more intentional with my schooling agenda. I'm looking at our curriculum and streamlining it to cover what we need to accomplish and what we are really going to do. I'm figuring out where we'd rather be. I have a plan.

First, I did an assessment of my daughter's present skills grouped into the trivium stages of grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.  I find that this breaks it all down for me so that I can focus on skills rather than content; become empowered instead of overwhelmed. I'll revisit this list at the end of 18 weeks and see where she is at that time.** Next, I outlined the skills she'll be working on this semester and the curriculum (content) she will use to achieve those skills. I'll also return to these in four months, reevaluate, and make adjustments.

I'm planning to totally embrace CC's Challenge B curriculum partly because I'm directing the class but mostly and more importantly because it's an unbelievable program. The material is so engaging and relevant that I only wish I had had the opportunity to be a part of it when I was in 8th grade... many, many years ago. Thankfully, I'm blessed to be a part of Challenge now. Better late than never.

This is what we're planning to accomplish 1st semester 2016 with Grace (and hopefully, with grace.) I've accentuated the skills she'll work on in order to keep them foremost in my mind. By daily referring to this list, I intend to stay on track as we venture into this territory called Challenge B.

Grammar (Latin) Henle First Year Latin
* Pay attention to detail.
  • Decline and conjugate new words
  • Make grammar and vocabulary flash cards to memorize.
  • Recognize Latin words, roots, and derivatives in all subjects.
* Engage in dialogue by asking questions, defining terms, comparing ideas, and recognizing patterns and rules.
  • Parse from Latin to English and English to Latin.
  • Apply Latin structure to Logic and English.
  • Discuss/practice vocabulary and grammar in class utilizing the Five Common Topics.
*Embrace the study of Latin as a means to begin in conversation with all of mankind.
  • Develop and practice the skills required to learn any language.
  • Participate positively in classroom discussions.
  • Come to class prepared to discuss and present concepts from homework.
  • Be able to recognize and express the integration of Latin in the other strands.

Logic (Math) Saxon Algebra 1/2
* Read the alphabet (symbols), memorize the proper vocabulary (facts), and internalize the structural rules (laws and operations).
  • Continue to memorize math formulas, laws, and facts.
  • Make flashcards of terms, laws, and formulas to help with memorization.
  • Complete a math lesson/test each day.
* Ask questions that lead to clarity about how math works and how to use numbers in relationship to one another. What am I being asked to find? What information am I being given? What operations or relationships help me rightly relate the information given?
  • Improve speed and accuracy while logically applying math laws to basic algorithms. 
  • Demonstrate all the math work.
  • Discuss concepts and math problems by way of the Five Common Topics.
* Develop an appreciation for math equations because they balance, because they give us a mystery to talk about, and because it reflects the nature of our Creator.
  • Manipulate and use the text to teach self.
  • Explain math problems.
  • Come to class with work completed, ready to discuss and present.
  • Recognize and express how math exhibits itself in all subjects.

Rhetoric (Logic) Introductory Logic
* Memorize precise definitions.
  • Memorize the vocabulary of Formal Logic.
  • Make flashcards of Logic terms.
  • Memorize syllogism rules and fallacies.
* Sharpen the skills of sound reasoning, of good discernment, of thorough analysis of ideas and thoughts, and of correct argument. 
  • Discuss the skills of clear reasoning and critical thinking working towards understanding.
  • Order information into usable form.
  • Participate in class discussions.
* Consider ideas thoughtfully and use those ideas to build greater understanding of the world and their place in it.
  • Come to class prepared to present concepts.
  • Identify Logic in the other strands (and in life.)

Debate (Current Events) News Articles
* Define terms related to specific events.
  • Define and recognize bias.
  • Identify reliable news sources.
  • Define various current events topics.
*Exhibit curiosity by asking good questions.
  • Formulate questions by way of the Five Common Topics: Definition, Comparison, Circumstance, Relationship, and Authority.
  • Organize facts into a persuasive format.
  • Participate in class discussions.
  • Read news articles critically.
* Join in the classical conversations of mankind, seek and discover knowledge, and promote freedom and justice.
  • Discuss controversial issues with passion not emotion.
  • Defend a premise with supporting facts.
  • Present persuasively in class.
  • Connect current events with past historical events both secular and biblical.

Exposition and Composition (Literature) The Lost Tools of Writing
* Define the parameters of each assignment.
  • Read each assigned book.
  • Compile a list of unfamiliar words and their definitions.
  • Practice the mechanics for writing an essay. 
  • Plot the history and geography from the literature on a timeline.
* Analyze and compare the work of excellent writers through a rich literary environment.
  • Narrate each assigned reading.
  • Create sentences using the new vocabulary words correctly.
  • Develop thesis statements.
  • Use the Canons of Invention and Arrangement to create outlines.
  • Actively participate in class discussions.
  • Identify LTOW elements in the essays of peers.
* Develop speaking, writing, and thinking techniques by exposure to the greatest thoughts expressed with the finest, most apt words.
  • Write persuasive essays with proper technique and style utilizing the Canon of Elocution.
  • Be able to discuss cause and effect and antecedent and consequence.
  • Present in class utilizing the Canons of Memoria and Pronuntiatio. 
  • Evaluate self and peers by the method of assessing to bless. Point out one thing done well AND what could be done differently the next time to make the presentation better.

Research (History of Science and Science Fair) Independent research
* Accumulate definitions which will become the pegs on which richer definitions are hung.
  • Memorize the Scientific Method.
  • Take notes.
  • Plot scientists on the timeline.
  • Place the geography associated with each scientists on the map.
  • Memorize timeline.
* Take the facts of the natural world and ask questions about those facts, seeking to understand those facts by defining, comparing, and relating them to each other.
  • Organize research into a fused outline.
  • Follow the instructions in the guide to complete each assignment.
  • Use time well to complete the science fair project. Plan ahead and stay on schedule.
  • Participate in class discussions using the Five Common Topics.
* Realize the potential for incorrect conclusions which can lead into further dialogue that continually defines, compares, relates, and considers circumstances and authority either to build further upon that which has already been discovered or transcends and corrects that which has been hypothesized incorrectly.
  • Write a concise five paragraph expository essay.
  • Present in class using appropriate public speaking skills.
  • Reflect on how science builds on past hypotheses and discoveries.
  • Be confident about the the science fair project and be prepared to answers questions.
  • Evaluate self and peers by "assess to bless".

As I finish this outline, my mind is busy thinking about all the adventures coming our way this semester. Together, my daughter and I are beginning a journey along the road towards where we'd rather be. There may be some rough spots ahead but the ride should be thrilling!


** Diane Lockman's Trivium Mastery Map available through her Mom's Course.
* The Question by Leigh Bortons. This book is fantastic!