Our Fall 2015 Core Curriculum: Classical Conversations for grades 7 & 11

Overview: Our core curriculum for 2015 was chosen by the Classical Conversations people. Here's what my 7th- and 11th-graders will be doing this year!

I've posted already about how we're switching things up for our core curriculum this upcoming school year by choosing to do Classical Conversations rather than being on our own again. [If you're reading this and have never heard of Classical Conversations before, I recommend you click on the link to read that post first.  That way this one will make more sense.]

One thing signing on for Classical Conversations does is make the curriculum-choosing process about a thousand times easier.  CC determines all the curriculum that is used in their program, so all I have to do is buy the books they tell me to.  Woot!  I'm all about minimizing effort, as you may know by now, if you've been with me for awhile.  So this is right up my alley, lol.

Certainly, after MANY MANY MANY years of choosing curriculum, I'm very content to allow someone else to do it for me this time. In fact, one of the factors behind our decision to pursue CC was the depth and content of the curriculum that they require.  To be frank, I know they've picked better and more challenging stuff than I ever would have.

Are you needing some ideas for choosing your core curriculum? We're doing Classical Conversations this year and adding some extras of our own!

I know that I am only one mom, after all.  On my own, I can only do so much.  And that is reflected by our choices for curriculum in previous years. But with CC, someone else is doing a lot of the heavy work of creating accountability and motivation to guide my child through the curriculum. I am still the teacher, but one day each week my children's tutors will challenge their mastery of what they've learned and spur them on to continued effort. So as far as I'm concerned, CC can choose the curriculum that best suits that model. In the words of Frozone in The Incredibles, “That's all right with me. I'm good… I'm good.” :-)

Here's a selection of what #5, our youngest daughter, can expect in Challenge A this year (which is for kids who are at least 12 years old):

Math: Saxon 8/7. She actually just did this last year, in 6th grade. I frankly have no problem with her repeating it, though she probably does. Life's rough. :-)

Language Arts: The Lost Tools of Writing. I have heard nothing but good about this curriculum over the years. I was just always afraid it would be too much for me. Now I don't need to worry about that, because I'll have help. Happiness! It's a bit pricey, though. Not sure how I feel about that…

Reading Selections:  She's actually already read most of these (thanks to our family library). But they are such timeless selections that she would have re-read them at some point anyway, I'm sure. This year she'll have the benefit of class discussions about themes and characterization. I confess I'm pretty excited about that. The spine used for the study of these books is Words Aptly Spoken, Children's Literature.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis
Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham
The Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis
Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
Amos Fortune, Free Man, by Elizabeth Yates
The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli
A Gathering of Days, by Joan W. Blos
Crispin: the Cross of Lead, by Avi
The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare

Grammar: Here's another thing that #5 is not gonna like.  I'm going to have her continue with Rod & Staff Grammar.  This year she'll be doing English 8.  I think Rod & Staff is the best grammar instruction out there, and I'm not willing for her to stop using it yet.  It's not part of the CC curriculum, but we're going to do it anyway.  We're rebels like that.

Latin: Ah yes, one of the foundations of the classical education. You may remember in my Homeschool Journey post that I've tried three times already to make Latin a part of our day with the older girls… and eventually gave up. This time, though, we won't be alone; so maybe this goal that we've had since we started homeschooling, and then had to abandon for awhile, may yet be fulfilled… stay tuned!  The text for this is Henle First Year Latin. A book we already have! Gotta love that!

Logic: In the Classical model, kids at this age are taught to reason and debate. I don't know if you've noticed, but it's something this age level loves to do… :-)  These are the books they will use:

It Couldn't Just Happen, by Lawrence O. Richards
The Fallacy Detective, by Hans Bluedorn

Science: The students in Challenge A learn the human body by heart. (No pun intended, lol!) By the end of the year they can free-hand draw and label all the major body systems. Is that cool, or what?  The aid used is a book of drawings to copy called 100+ Biology Activities.

My son will be in Challenge 2, even though he will be a junior. In Classical Conversations, high school students are not bound by grade levels, especially if, like us, they did not start with Challenge 1. Based on my son's academic and social maturity, I think this will be a perfect spot for him.

But his curriculum choices become a little more difficult than his sister's, because some of the courses in Challenge 2 are ones that he has already done. For him, it would not a good idea to repeat coursework – it doesn't look too good on a high school transcript, if you know what I mean. So we'll be doing our own math and science, although he will still partake in the classroom sessions for these subjects.

Math: PreCalculus by Lial, Hornsby, & Schneider. See my full review in my Math Curriculum Sequence post. We love Lial!
The rest of the Challenge 2 students will be doing Saxon Algebra 2. I think the class homework discussions will be good review for my son.

Science: We'll be continuing our use of the Apologia science courses with Exploring Creation through Physics. The Apologia books are written so well. They are directed to the student so as to facilitate independent learning. That's my kinda curriculum! I was able to find a used set at the iHomeschool Network used curriculum sale (which is still going, btw, so click on the link to check it out).
The other Challenge 2 students will be doing Apologia Biology, which my son has already completed. But he'll get to do labs with them! That way he'll have the experience of dissecting a frog with friends. No one should miss that! :-)

Language Arts: Words Aptly Spoken, British Literature.  Oh, the books he gets to read and discuss! I'm actually a little jelly… It seems like a LOT of books to fit into one year, though. We'll have to wait and see how they do that.

Selected Canterbury Tales, by Geoffrey Chaucer
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, by J.L. Weston
Paradise Lost, by John Milton
The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan
Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë
Animal Farm, by George Orwell
A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster
Something Beautiful for God, Malcolm Muggeridge
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
Favorite Father Brown Stories, by G.K Chesterton
A Morbid Taste for Bones (if you're not familiar with Ellis Peters, she writes great mysteries!)
Out of the Silent Planet, by C.S. Lewis
The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Screwtape Letters, by C.S. Lewis

Logic: Traditional Logic 1, from Memoria Press. Memoria Press has been around forever as one of the forerunners of the homeschool Classical education movement. This is one of their classics.

Latin: Henle Second Year Latin. This could get interesting, as my son has never had Latin before. We're working through Henle 1 this summer to get him spooled up.

Western Cultural History: This looks like a great course. Students will learn art history and music history and how these affect culture and ideas. Did I mention I'm excited about all this stuff?  This is so much more than I could have done on my own.

The Annotated Mona Lisa, by Carol Strickland
State of the Arts, by Gene Edward Vieth
The Gift of Music, by Jane Stuart Smith
Classical Music for Dummies, by David Pogue
How Should We Then Live?, by Francis A. Schaeffer – this is an absolute classic. I am SO GLAD my son gets to study this!!
Saving Leonardo, by Nancy Pearcey

It's true that I am looking at these lists of books and realizing this is going to be a bit of money, above and beyond the tuition for Classical Conversations. Phew! My frugal self is taking deep breaths right now. Guess who'll be doing a post soon on finding cheap textbooks??? :-)

But I am struck again by how much I wish we could have done this type of curriculum for our oldest children.  It's only possible now because we only have two students to provide for.  Sigh.  I need to remind myself that there are times and seasons for everything.

Are you excited for the new year to begin?  If you are still working on your own core curriculum choices, you may find help in my post on Curriculum Planning Tips.  Most years I have still been picking out our own curriculum in late August, so if that's you, I can totally relate! :-)

It's Not That Hard to Homeschool

7 thoughts on “Our Fall 2015 Core Curriculum: Classical Conversations for grades 7 & 11”

  1. Welcome to CC! Last year was our first year; my son was in Challenge A, but he will be doing Challenge I this year. Just some food for thought, if your daughter wants to move on in math it really is not a big deal to be on a different level than what is suggested. We only had two kids in our Ch. A group last year (both were 9th graders) and they both did pre-algebra. When I’ve gone to practicums, it seems like it’s almost as common to be on a different level of math (and/or using different curriculum) as it is to be using the “right” level. And that way if she struggles later on or some life event happens that slows school down she won’t be under as much pressure to “catch up”. Of course, it’s also helpful to have the foundational skills down really well, so I’m sure your plan is great too. Just didn’t want you to feel like you had to do things just because that’s what the guide says. :) Enjoy your school year!

    1. Wow, I am so sorry I haven’t answered this sooner! Especially because I am so thankful for the encouragement, Kellie! After reading your comment, I started re-thinking the decision for her to redo Saxon 8/7; and then when I went to our Challenge A organizational meeting this past weekend, I found out that MOST of the kids will either be doing a different math curriculum altogether or will be in other levels of Saxon. So we just might forge on ahead! I like the idea of her having space to slack a little later if we need it. Good advice! Thanks!! :-)

  2. I hope you’re enjoying your CC year! I’ve directed Challenge A, B and I. It’s such a cool experience to see these kids learn, discuss, and grow together. It’s quite an adventure and I’m learning so much! Math and Latin experience/levels are all over the place in my class, but that doesn’t keep us from having great conversations. Blessings on your spring semester!

    1. Thanks, Betsy! We are really enjoying CC so far–I’ll be publishing a post soon about what’s working for us and what’s not. I have had the opportunity to be substitute director for Challenge A on two different days, and I had a blast! CC really is a neat way to do homeschool. Thanks for stopping by! :-)

  3. Thanks for sharing about your Challenge curriculum. We did foundations last year, but did not continue this year. I always enjoy learning more about the CC programs!

    1. I would have loved to have known about CC when my kids were smaller… but Challenge is really fun so I’m thankful for it! Thanks for stopping by, Amy! :-)

  4. I bought The Fallacy Detective. It is a lot of fun I wished that. I would have purchased it when my son Joshua was in high school. It would have built his critical thinking skills.

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