Tag Archives: Classical Conversations

On the Eve of My 1st Day as an Essentials Mom: Essentials Encouragement

17 Aug

Essentials

I posted last month a two-part Q&A: How To Gear Up For Essentials. (Missed the posts? Find them here and here.) A reader commented and shared her wonderful wisdom, and as I head to bed tonight and will awaken an Essentials parent on the morrow, I am repeating her sage sentences in my mind. Starting or recently beginning your Essentials journey? These words are for you and me:

I have had the pleasure of attending Essentials for five years and tutoring for three of them. I would like to also add that Essentials is a class that enables the parent to meet the needs of their student wherever they are academically. The degree of ability of the students and parents will vary, and it all works out quite nicely. Since it is designed to be a three year course which mimics the Trivium, no prior formal preparation in an English grammar program is necessary particularly if the parent chooses to spend those years simply engaging their child in good literature. Most parents will be learning right along side their students, and that is okay! If you are a first time Essentials parent, I recommend to adjust your expectations accordingly, be diligent in your efforts, and remember your second year will look nothing like your first year!

Thank you, Melinda!

Also, heading to bed reminding myself that the Lord is with me—always, and that includes Essentials class. :)

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121 ESV)

Repost: How Our Family Tackles CC Presentations

6 Aug

CC Presentations

Here’s a blast-from-the-past post regarding how our family puts together our Presentations for Classical Conversations. I hope that it will be helpful!

 

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Son # 2 (age 5) with his Presentation Paper and picture prompts.

Here’s another nugget of wisdom that I gleaned from a seasoned CC Mom last year: build into your school week a time to work on a portion of  your Presentation daily. Brilliant, right?!?! I took her advice, so this was our weekly planning-of-Presentations schedule last year:

  1. Monday–CC Community Day
  2. Tuesday–No Presentation prep–a HOLIDAY, of sorts, from Presentations :)
  3. Wednesday–Pick your Presentation topic for the following week. Our Director gives us an AWESOME list of suggested topics for each week. This is invaluable to me as a parent because most days my brain is fried! Coming up with something on my own seems a daunting task.
  4. Thursday–Put pen and paper to the Presentation. Draw pictures on our construction paper form (see this post) or use a key word outline.
  5. Friday–Practice presentation 2-3 times.
  6. Saturday–Practice presentation 1 time.
  7. Sunday–A final run through before bed takes place, one to two times depending on how “stellar” the performance. :)

AND…lest you think I’m Wonder Woman, Super Girl, or She-Ra (Please tell me someone remembers She-Ra, Princess of Power?!?! Or, am I THAT old?!?!), we did NOT follow this plan weekly because, life happens! Children get sick, field trips are to be taken, or we find ourselves lost in a good book. However, just having this “target” to aim at was an amazing gift and prevented us, most weeks, from waiting until Sunday night to throw a Presentation together!

Tutor Tip: Science Detectives During Science Experiments

5 Aug

For my fellow Abecedarian tutors out there, I have been working these past 2 days on the first 6 weeks of Science Projects. (Trying to do some advanced planning and get my ducks in a row!) One fun thing that I am doing with the Science Projects this year is to dub my Abecedarians–“Science Detectives.” I will refer to them in calls as “Science Detectives” and encourage them to help solve the science mystery of the day (aka “the experiment”) using the Scientific Method. I will explain that the Scientific Method will be our “map” that we will follow to conduct our experiment, and it will lead us to SOLVE THE MYSTERY of the experiment!

Suzanne, the Science Detective

I might even dress up as a detective (or at least carry around my trusty magnifying glass) to get into character. I’m thinking that my little Abecedarians will enjoy being Science Detectives, don’t you?!?! (Their tutor probably will enjoy this as well!)

For those of you with older kiddos, you might be able to pull this off as well?!?!? I just finished a “Detective-Themed” VBS in Chicago two weeks ago, and I was the 5th grade/rising 6th grade teacher. I thought they would scoff at pretending to be “detectives,” but they whole-heartedly jumped in and loved it! So, maybe those of you with Apprentices, Journeymen and Masters might have some fellow Sherlock Holmes Science Detectives in your classroom this year, too! :)

Have fun LEARNING this year! To know God and to make Him known!

[photo credit: My Cute Graphics]

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: 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 hereStoplight

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?

CC Readers: I Need Your Help! :)

9 Jun

Are you a Classical Conversations Tutor? Have you already attended your Tutor Training this summer? If so, I would love your help!! I am a Tutor Trainer for our local Practicum at the end of the month. I would love to know what was the MOST helpful thing that your Tutor Trainer did during your training. If you would be more comfortable sending via email, you can send your answer to suzanneshares AT gmail DOT com. Or, feel free to comment here!  Thanks, in advance!

What is a Parent Practicum? This is a FREE 3 day event for parents who are interested in learning more about the Classical Model of Education and/or Classical Conversations. Find more information and locations near you on this website.

CC Tutor Resource: DIY Tri-Fold Dry Erase Board

8 Jun

Tri-fold Dry Erase Board

 

I could NOT have made it through my first two years as a Classical Conversations Tutor without this handy, dandy Tri-Fold Dry Erase Board! When a new Tutor asks me the first thing he/she needs to do to prepare to tutor, I immediately burst out with this, “Make a Tri-Fold Dry Erase Board!” Even if you are not a part of Classical Conversations, I would still recommend making one of these to use at home! You will be surprised how many uses you will find for it! It’s inexpensive and simple to make!

To see how to make your own and how I use it in class, read this post from the archives! Enjoy!

Hey fellow CC Tutors? What is your favorite resource(s) for class?!?!?

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