Archive | July, 2014

Repost: Year 1 vs. Year 2 as a CC Parent

31 Jul

I am reposting this article from early May. Our CC Community has doubled in the 60 days that have transpired since first writing the post. I am confident that many other communities have as well, so I wanted to share it again.Classical Conversations Parent

I can’t get you new-first time-CC Mommas off my heart and mind. I tremble when I think about our first year–all the pressure that I put on myself due to an incorrect understanding of the Classical Model, the extreme level of fatigue and burnout I felt at the conclusion of our first year. I made so many mistakes that first year! WHEW! Don’t follow–I plead with you–in my “Year 1” footsteps!

New CC Moms (and Dads) this post is for you. I wish I had known these things going into our first year. Just know that you don’t have to have everything “perfect” and all together to have a successful first year of CC! (I’ll let you in on another secret–you don’t have to for your second, third, or fourth year either!). RELAX, take lots of deep breaths! Take advantage of the gift of community; glean wisdom from “seasoned” CC Moms in your community. Enjoy learning WITH your child/children this year, have fun discovering GOD in math, science, literature and ALL things, and  most of all–PRAY! Let your CC year wash over you…and spend your first year knowing Him and making Him known.

 

Cycle 3 Classical Notebook Pages: Available on CC Connected–UPDATE

30 Jul

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If you haven’t seen the new Classical Conversations website, don’t miss it! I love the sleek new design and user-friendly functionality! 🙂 CC Connected has been updated as well, and it is easier to navigate, particularly the “search” tool. YAY! With the new website launch, it is now possible to upload again to CC Connected. I uploaded my History Statements Copywork pages for our Classical Notebook this morning. I hope to have Science and Bible Memory Work finished soon. The Bible Memory Work is available FREE from CC for all 3 Cycles, 24 Weeks. Download here.

See this summer’s previous post to read more about our Classical Notebook and which pages I have already uploaded to CC Connected. My username is: suzannemosley

Essentials Program: How To Gear Up For Your First Year (Part 2)

22 Jul

Essentials.Part Two

Thanks for joining us for Part 2 of my Q&A with Julie Largent about how to gear up for the Essentials Program of Classical Conversations. If you missed Part 1, you’ll find it here.

Today, we look at 4 additional questions related to preparing for Essentials. This will be my family’s first year of Essentials, and I have been sooooo nervous about it! However, reading Julie’s wisdom has calmed my heart and mind! I pray you will be able to say this at the conclusion of today’s post, too!

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5) For first year Essentials parents who are planning to do Essentials a second and third time, how do you suggest discerning how much or how little of an assignment should be done?

God Almighty has put you as their parent and He will give you the wisdom and discernment on how much can be done. I would encourage you to not push them so hard that they feel overwhelmed, but at the same time realize this program is meant to step things up and move into the dialectic stage so know your child well and be ready to stop and pick up the next day or continue on to show them they can do it. Just remind yourself, it is meant to take 3 years to grasp it…..even now I’m STILL learning and this will be my 5th year in Essentials!

6) What advice do you have for first year Essentials parents whose child will have one year only in Essentials before moving up to Challenge?

Repetition repetition repetition! Truly having a strong foundation of the English language will be extremely beneficial in learning Latin in Challenge. Having said that, don’t go in thinking you’ll have to understand everything in one year. Trust the Sovereign Lord, if He’s called you to Essentials for one year and move to Challenge He will bless your efforts. As in anything, work as unto the Lord. I’m not trying to being over spiritual:), there are just some concerns/fears we need to lay at His feet.

7) Do you have any advice to offer parents of reluctant writers?

This is one, of many, reasons I love IEW because Andrew Pudewa says it allows the young boy who would rather poke himself in the eye with is pencil than write a paragraph about what he did over the summer as well as the young girl who can creatively and effortlessly write five pages without really saying much. It is almost like a math equation because you choose from a list and fill in blanks. It’s much more than that, but it helps those brains who don’t do well with coming up with things on their own. This builds a foundation to build on and I’ve seen it over and over again that they begin to use their own brains and don’t need to simply fill in blanks. It also helps organize the five pages of creativity into a well constructed paragraph or story. I had several 4th grade boys this last year and their moms were very hesitant. I can say without a doubt, those boys absolutely thrived!!! It was beautiful to watch!

8) Now that you’ve been through Essentials, both as a parent and an Essentials Tutor, what do you wish you had known or done before beginning the Essentials program?

Honestly, you can step in to your first year and do fine having only the Foundation English Grammar memory work, but I use First Language Lessons for my younger kids. I feel it feeds nicely into Essentials. I’ve heard of others that also work well, but I’m not familiar with them**. Our very first year with CC my 4th grader was in Essentials. I was doing well to keep my head above the water so I wish I would have been more familiar with the guide before the class started….this seems like the story of my life! haha

**Before starting our first year of CC, I was wisely encouraged by seasoned CC Moms to alter the definitions for whichever English Grammar curricula you use at home to align with the CC definition. In previous years, we have used First Language Lessons and Shurley Grammar. When either curricula had a definition for my sons to memorized, I substituted the CC definition instead. This practice has worked well for our family. By pairing these various curricula with the English Grammar definitions memorized in CC, a bridge between CC and the curriculum concept was provided. This aided my sons by minimizing the confusion of memorizing multiple definitions. The CC English Grammar definitions memorized in Foundations are used in Essentials, so this is another way to prepare your child for the dialectic discussions that await in Essentials!

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Thank you, Julie, for graciously sharing your wisdom with us! For those of you reading this post who have journeyed previously through Essentials, what would be your advice for Essentials “newbies?” Feel free to comment below!

Julie Largent lives with her husband and 4 kiddos in the Philadelphia area. If you’re in the Philly area, checkout their church plant!  Find Julie on Twitter: @j_largent 

 

Essentials Program: How To Gear Up For Your First Year (Part 1)

21 Jul

Essentials.Part One
For those of you who are avid followers of my Facebook page, I owe you a HUGE apology! I promised 10 days ago that I would have this post up on the blog. Upon just completing the busiest 10 days of my life (2 sons’ birthdays, a birthday party for both, hosting 45 family members for a family reunion, and getting ready to depart for a mission trip), time vanished before my eyes! Please forgive me, friends! This is SUCH a great post (thank you, Julie!), so I hope you’ll find it was worth the wait! 🙂

One of the greatest joys from this blog is getting to know other amazing women across the country and around the world! I am so blessed to have “met” Julie Largent (via the internet only, sadly! Hoping we can meet in person in the future!). She and I instantly connected as we are both married to church planters and are Classical Conversations moms! Our family will be starting the Essentials Program with Classical Conversations this fall. Julie is a veteran Essentials tutor and parent, so I asked her if she would do a Q&A with me regarding preparing for Essentials, an “Essentials-for-Newbies,” if you will. She graciously agreed! Today, Julie answers 4 questions to help us gear up for Essentials. Join us tomorrow as we will finish up with 4 final questions.

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1) At the first Classical Conversations Practicum that I attended, an Essentials tutor conducted an Essentials demonstration. At the conclusion of the demo, she said, “If I can just get the parents to not freak out in front of their kids (The children aren’t freaking out; it’s the parents!) and make it through the first six weeks of Essentials, all will go well.” What advice would you give new Essentials parents to talk themselves off the ledge those first six weeks of Essentials? How can parents (and children) thrive, not simply survive, those pivotal first 6 weeks?

So true! Except I feel it’s more like the first 3 weeks. I love how Leigh puts it; this is a 3 year tour. You are not meant to grasp it all in one year. Also, the first 2-3 weeks we are showing the entire massive puzzle of the program. Then, we take it apart and rebuild it piece by piece. It’s kind of like putting your mouth around a fire hydrant and trying to drink. Just remind the parents to stick with it; it does slow down. I would encourage the parents to read the lessons each week with your student. Explain to the parents to not to get discouraged, but do their best. It does pay off!

 2) What would you recommend as “summer reading” for new Essentials parents from the Essentials of the English Language (ELL) guide and Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) guide in order to get their Essentials year off on the right foot?

Become extremely familiar with the EEL guide. Read, highlight, underline, take notes or whatever you need to on pages 3-23 of the EEL guide. If you feel your student would understand some of it, I would have them also read it, or you can simply read it together. Talk with your Essentials Tutor or other Essentials moms on how to organize your binder. There will still be a learning curve, but this will help start off well.

For IEW, I would say organize your SRN (Student Resource Notebook) with tabs in order to make it easy to find things. Become familiar with the teacher’s guide as well. I just received my ‘new’ IEW books for cycle 3, and I anticipate looking over them. The format is just slightly different than the previous years’ books, so even experienced moms might want to familiarize themselves with it. Read up on suggestions on how to organize your time through the week for each assignment.

3) What are your “must have” resources for at-home use with the Essentials program?

Must haves: EEL guide (Essentials of the English Language), dry erase markers, a spiral notebook, pens (Andrew Pudewa strongly encourages only the use of pens:), TWSS notebook (Teaching Writing Structure and Style), dry erase board, SRN, IEW Student book, the EEL tri-fold, and a synonym finder and thesaurus.

4) What does a typical day look like at home for completing Essentials homework?

If you read in the EEL guide, Leigh gives an example of what a typical day may look like (p. 19-22 of EEL guide). This depends largely on the student and where they are on this journey. For 1st year students, it may work well to set a timer for 15 minutes and stop wherever you are; start there again the next day. Another option is to copy 1/2 of the chart or every word that is in bold or in a box or everything except what’s in italics or everything including italics. For 2nd and 3rd year students, they may be able to whip through some of these charts quickly! If your student struggles with handwriting or it exhausts them, have them dictate it to you sometimes. You scale it to what fits your student. This is just one of many options of how to schedule your day at home. It may take several weeks to get in a routine and find what works best. Then, I say work on a sentence a day and do the assigned number of tasks listed in your weekly lesson in your EEL guide. It may take your 15-20 at the beginning of the year and longer towards the end. Again, this will depend greatly on where your student is and what they are ready for. IEW may look differently each week depending on the assignment. We would spend about 30-45 a day on IEW after the first few weeks.

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Thank you, Julie, for sharing your wisdom with us! Join us back tomorrow as Julie answers four additional questions to help us prepare for Essentials!

Julie Largent lives north of Philadelphia with her husband and 4 kiddos. If you’re in the area, checkout their church plant!  Find Julie on Twitter: @j_largent

 

Tutor Tip: A “How To” for Classroom Management

19 Jul

imageIn yesterday’s post, I shared about a Classroom Management strategy that I used in my Abecedarians class last year. When I first began as a Classical Conversations Tutor, the necessity of having a plan for Classroom Management was no where on my radar screen! Isn’t that hilarious?!?! I had, literally, given it no thought! The GREAT news is that, in general, I have had minimal, minimal, minimal issues arise in my class during my 2 years of tutoring. However, I am thankful to now have a strategy for managing my class.

I had the wonderfully amazing opportunity earlier this month to serve as a Tutor Trainer at our local practicum. During my time with my Tutor trainees (who were oh-so-fabulous! I learned a TON from them, and I was supposedly the “professional.” ha!), I gave them four steps to work through in order to develop a plan for Classroom Management. Here are those four steps:

1) What are my classroom rules?

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned the 2 rules that I use in my class. They are shown in the picture above. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list! 🙂 As you think about your class, think through what your expectations are for and of them. Make a list of those expectations and formulate those into rules. My personal opinion is “less is more.” Having 15 rules to remember might be taxing for a kiddo, but they could easily memorize three or four. 🙂 Make them memorable, use alliteration or use a familiar tune to make them “singable.” Present your classroom rules to your children on the first day of class. No matter what rules you decide to employ, know that you’ll need some. This will make your classroom more peaceful and will create an environment where children are ripe to learn!

2) How will you enforce them?

“Enforce” sounds so mean and heavy-handed, but you know what I mean! This was where I failed miserably my first year. I shared my 2 classroom rules with my Abecedarians, but I had no plan of action in the event that a rule was broken. I shared my Mr. Stoplight yesterday (download him free) . That is one option to aid and encourage a peaceful classroom, but there are a multitude of others. Just don’t make the same mistake I did and walk into your class the first day with no plan. 🙂 Poll the veteran tutors from your community. Glean their wisdom about how they enforce rules and expectations in class.

3) Communicate with your parents

Once you have completed steps 1 and 2, make sure, sure, sure, sure that you have communicated this information to the parents. This will help the parents know your expectations within the classroom, and it will also allow them to have conversations about behavioral expectations with their children prior to class starting. It’s kind of like in marriage–how will my husband know what I need or how I feel if I don’t communicate with him? How can your parents be your biggest advocates and cheerleaders in class regarding behavior if they don’t know? Classical Conversations encourages Tutors to send a Welcome Email to parents before the school year begins, this is a wonderfully appropriate time to communicate expectations for your class. 🙂

4) Remember Matthew 18

If behavioral problems arise in your class this year, remember the Biblical model found in Matthew 18: 15-17. Talk privately with the parent and make a plan together. If the problem recurs, talk with your Director. I know that confrontation scares most people, me included, so I try not to think of it as “confrontation.” I try to think of it in terms of a conversation with a parent of a child I love dearly. I usually walk into the conversation, not with guns blazing, but in a very dialectical way, I ask lots of questions. I also try to listen a lot, give grace, and remind the parent that I love this child and desire to partner with him/her to help the child in any way possible. When the parent sees and senses that you are FOR his/her son or daughter, the necessary conversation usually flows into a positive, helpful discussion.

I pray that you have a wonderful CC year as you prepare now for ways to manage your classroom! 🙂 Seasoned Tutors, what other advice would you offer regarding classroom management?

Tutor Tip: Classroom Management & FREE Printable

18 Jul

 I received an email from a reader who will soon be a new Classical Conversations Tutor. She asked for advice on tutoring and keeping it simple (Here’s a previous post where I addressed some of those things.), and she asked specifically about Classroom Management. Having never been trained as a teacher (my undergraduate degree is in social work and my Masters is in Intercultral Studies), I was flying blind in that realm my first year. I wanted to write up a couple of things that I have used and done in my Abecedarians class in hopes that they will be encouraging to this reader who asked the question and to others of you who may be wondering the same thing. 🙂

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My first year as a tutor was memorable for many reasons! One memory from year 1 of being a Classical Conversations Tutor was that I had no real game plan for classroom management. I did have 2 classroom rules. They were these two, simple things as shown above:

1) Be Good To Each Other and 2) Take Turns Talking

I teach 3 and 4 year old Sunday School at our church, and those 2 rules had been effective in my Sunday School classroom. Consequently, I decided to give them a try in my Abecedarians class. I love the simplicity of these two rules because they pretty much encompass every “misbehavior” imaginable. Little Johnny pinches his neighbor. My response, “Little Johnny, was that being good to little Suzie when you pinched her? Remember we want to be good to each other. Thank you for serving little Suzie by not doing that next time. Ok? (Little Johnny nods.) Awesome!”

Or, it can be used proactively to prevent mishaps in class. I only have 4 rulers during our Science Experiment. “Boys and Girls, we are going to be good to each other and serve one another during Science today by sharing the rulers with one another. Jesus desires for us to serve one another, so we get to do that today by putting others first and sharing the rulers!”

“Take Turns Talking” helps to reinforce the importance of ‘hand raising’ during class. I help my little kiddos know that when Mrs. Suzanne is talking it is my turn to talk. If they need to talk, I let them know that we can take turns, and to take turns talking, they will need to raise a hand until I call on them.

Stoplight only

These rules worked well in my Abecedarians class my first year of tutoring. However, I had no plan of action in place in the event that one of my kiddos in class failed to uphold one of the rules. I loved my little Abecedarians, and I guess I forgot that these little angels would have moments when they would disobey! 🙂 Without a game plan that first year, I truly was “wingin’ it” when it came to Classroom Management.

When my second year of Tutoring rolled around, I knew that I needed to make a plan and stick with it. From talking with children in my neighborhood and at church, I knew that teachers often used systems of “clipping up” or colored cards in class to promote and foster rule following in class. I decided to create my good buddy shown above–Mr. Stoplight. Each child in class started the day on green. If I had to redirect a child during class, I would do so verbally in the kindest, most gentle, trying never to shame him/her way, and I would quickly reference Mr. Stoplight. I would remind the child to obey and follow the Classroom Rule, and if the behavior occurred again, I would need to move him/her up to the yellow circle. If there was another mishap during the day with the same child, he/she would end up on red. At the end of class each day, I had a sticker chart, and each child remaining on green or yellow would receive a sticker. After they received 6 stickers in a row, I had a “prize bag” where the child would pick out some little treat. 🙂 Mr. Stoplight was a welcomed addition to my Abecedarian classroom this past year, and he will be joining me again this upcoming year. He served our classroom well; I never had a child end up on red all year! 🙂 Again, any redirection or interaction that I had with the child my ultimate goal was to be gracious, loving and kind with the goal of restoration. I love these sweet little kiddos and desired to model and demonstrate grace and love while also encouraging obedience. I would often remind myself of Proverbs 3:12 as I’m correcting one of my sweet kiddos because I’m often a big pushover!

StoplightLast year was a comical adventure hanging Mr. Stoplight on my classroom wall each week. The children would laugh when they entered my room each Monday. “I wonder when he is going to fall down, Mrs. Suzanne???” I tried taping him to the wall, and inevitably, he could only stay stuck for 30-60 minutes. He seemed to always come crashing down in the middle of one of those magical, the-world-stopped-because-we-are-all-happily-learning moments, and that was all that was needed to get my 4 and 5 year olds (and their tutor) off focus for several minutes. HAHAHAHA! So, this year I have hold punched the top and added a ribbon where I can hang him from the door knob in my classroom.

If you would like to have Mr. Stoplight in your classroom this year, you can download him here: Stoplight

Also included in the file are the three colored smiley faces to the right of Mr. Stoplight in the above picture. These three circles can be used during Presentation time to give each child an indication of how he/she is doing on time. Green=go, Yellow=1 minute remaining, Red=time to wrap it up/stop. They could be attached to popsicle sticks or simply held in your hand. Of course, I laminated both of these because I’m addicted to using my laminator!

I hope these are helpful for you! For those of you who have Tutored previously, what Classroom Management advice would you offer to those who are first year Tutors?