Charlotte Mason skills learned in high school give students strong study skills in college!

More Than a Charlotte Mason Moment

Charlotte Mason skills learned in high school give students strong study skills in college!

I was looking back at past posts on our Heart of Dakota (HOD) Message Board. In the HOD Weekly Check-In posts, I found a random past post I’d done about my oldest son’s week in USI. Reading this post, I realized how all of those Charlotte Mason skills my son learned in HOD still help him so much in college! I just was struck by how well Charlotte Mason skills prepared him to study and succeed in college. Below, I’ll share my 2016 post about USI, and then at the end I’ll share how I’ve seen these skills help my son study well in college.

The Study Skill of Giving a Topic Oral Narration Using Notes

This week Wyatt has been learning about The Second Continental Congress and the Declaration of Independence in history. He prepared to give a topic oral narration by listing topics as starting points for a new part of the narration in his US1 HOD History Notebook. Phrases of names, dates, places, etc. that were important were jotted down to help jog his memory. He then referred to these notes as he narrated orally. This activity has so many important skills in it! They are skills I used in college often, and I am glad he is leaning to utilize them already now. He now takes notes and refers to them as he speaks very naturally. It just flows, and he is at ease as he speaks.

The Study Skill of Responding to Critical Thinking Questions

Another great activity is his responding in writing to critical thinking questions from Great Documents in U.S. History. So much more depth is brought out from the readings by the pondering of these critical thinking questions. Then, reading actual Great Letters in American History alongside these assignments – well, what could be better than the actual letters, word for word, written by these amazing people from history themselves! It is like being transported back in time and really being able to ‘know’ that person through his/her very thoughts and words put to paper.

The Study Skill of Researching A Topic and Supporting Your Opinion

A Noble Experiment has Wyatt researching various court cases and their findings, and he finds it incredibly interesting. It appeals to his sense of right and wrong, and he is beginning to see the importance of being able to ‘support’ your opinion by citing the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, etc.

The Study Skills of Watching Presentations, Taking Notes, and Sharing What You’ve Learned

The USI History Notebook is not just a place for Wyatt to record his thoughts and written answers. It is also a beautiful visual reminder of that which he is studying, and every picture, portrait, document, historic memorabilia, etc. has its purpose and is used in some way, shape, or form for assessing what he has learned. This week, after Wyatt watched his American Testimony DVD, he referred to the beautiful pictures in his USI History Notebook as he orally narrated about each portion of the DVD he’d watched. Being comfortable speaking while referring to diagrams, photos, documents – this is a key skill he’ll need for whatever future job he will probably have. He is already becoming quite comfortable with it, and I can envision him giving a power point presentation with notes quite adeptly someday.

The Study Skill of Conveying Your Thoughts and Opinions in Writing

Being an accomplished writer that can convey thoughts and opinions clearly in an accurate interesting way – this is becoming a lost skill for many teenagers. NOT SO, with HOD! The steady diet of completing Charlotte Mason style written narrations inspired by reading timeless living books has made responding in writing to a topic quite easy for Wyatt. Now, this was not always so. I only have to pull out his beginning fledgling written narrations from CTC to be reminded of how far he has come. But, oh, it is so exciting to me to see the progress!

The Study Skill of Internalizing What’s Been Learned

Where many high school students stare at the blank page with no confidence of how to begin, he can begin writing immediately. Why? Because having completed countless oral and written narrations in the past, he knows from experience one must THINK about what one is reading while one is reading it to be able to respond to it afterward. Pretty important stuff if you ask me. So, oral narrations with index card planning, critical thinking questions, and written narration assessments all work together to help our dc learn to internalize and respond to what they have read in an active thoughtful way. So much better than completing a multiple choice quiz every time.

How These Study Skills Help My Son in College

My son just finished his sophomore year of college. He has taken 18 credits each semester. Some of these credits were earned by taking courses. The other credits were earned by taking CLEP or DSST tests. Either way, he uses the study skills he learned in HOD for both. As he reads his college material, he takes notes. He takes notes as he listens to his professors or watches DVD presentations (just like he did for USI’s American Testimony DVD assignments). From these notes, he writes essays (just like he did for his topic narrations in USI). He has to give an overview (i.e. written narration) and share his opinion citing research or court cases to support it (i.e. opinion narration). Throughout all of this, he is taking quizzes and tests. The scores he receives show he has internalized what he has learned!

A Special Webinar with Jeff Myers

These study skills all came together during an Educational Leadership webinar with Jeff Myers and fellow students. Each student had to write one question for Jeff Myers, based on the materials they’d read. During the live webinar, Jeff chose some of the students’ questions to answer. Jeff chose Wyatt’s question! Wyatt was so excited! Jeff spent nearly 30 minutes answering it and interacting with Wyatt and the other students as he did. It was just such a neat moment! After this, Wyatt wrote an essay on what he’d learned, citing his notes and supporting his opinions with references to the reading material and webinar. So, rest assured, HOD’s Charlotte Mason-inspired skills do much to help your future college students! Even on quizzes and tests – because they truly have the skills to internalize what they have read and what they have heard.  What a blessing!

In Christ,

Julie

How can my high school daughter earn her Fine Arts credit?

Dear Carrie

How can my high school daughter earn her Fine Arts credit?

For high school, my daughter will be doing Heart of Dakota’s Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM), World Geography (WG), World History (WH), and U.S. History I (USI). My question is about an art/music credit. So far, the guides have all had an art or music study. We have loved this! In MTMM, we will have the nature journal. However, I don’t see any art in the WG guide, I don’t know about the WH guide either. Will my daughter be able to earn a credit in art/music in high school if she’s doing MTMM through USI? Thanks!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help My High School Daughter Earn Her Art/Music Credit”

Dear “Ms. Please Help My High School Daughter Earn Her Art/Music Credit,”

Just like you, I have been very pleased by the various areas of fine arts emphasized throughout our guides. I enjoyed the watercolor painting lessons my boys did in Creation to Christ (CTC). Then, I loved the Charlotte Mason-style picture study and art appreciation sessions in Resurrection to Reformation (RTR). Next, my boys and I enjoyed the music appreciation and composer study in Revival to Revolution (RevtoRev). After that, we loved the nature journal and related art-lessons in MTMM. We’ve happily read, written, and discussed poetry all throughout every guide from Beyond on up! To top it off, my boys have all become better drawers through the years as we’ve done Draw and Write Through History!

Making Art Appreciation a Part of the Fine Arts Credit

When we arrived at the high school years, and the Fine Arts credit loomed, it was hard to decide in what direction to go in pursuit of that credit. I must admit that with my oldest son (who didn’t have the benefit of having the HOD guides already written), I floundered a bit in how to pursue this credit in a way that would be interesting to him. So, we tried two different music- related approaches, and one was more successful than the other. Yet, as I looked at my next son coming up, I really wanted to focus more deeply on art appreciation. This made sense because he had more recently (and thoroughly) covered music and the composers already through Revival to Revolution.

Having a Hands-On Component, Narrative Readings, Picture Study, and a Christian Influence Within Our Fine Arts Credit

I also really wanted to have the Christian influence wound within our Fine Arts credit, as well as having a hands-on component to the program too. As part of the study, I wanted some living, narrative textual information about the artists along with some follow-up assessments. I desired for this to be combined with some beautiful picture study/viewing. Last, I wanted students of all levels of artistry to be able to enjoy the program and learn to appreciate art. It was a tall order, and one that I wasn’t able to succeed in finding until I wrote the World History guide. I looked a long time (years in fact) before coming to the combination of resources that I will share below. I am excited and happy with the combination, and I pray your daughter enjoys earning her Fine Arts credit in World History too!

God and the History of Art

The first resource in our Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation course is the 3-part DVD series God and the History of Art. This DVD series is divided into 12 parts, during which Barry Stebbing journeys through the centuries offering Biblical insights into the great art and artists of the ages. This DVD set features beautiful colors, paintings, and classical music. God and the History of Art provides a unique view into many of the great works of art in Western culture. We integrate this series throughout our chronological study of art history. Lessons include the following:

  • What is Art?
  • The Second Commandment
  • Early Christian Art
  • Godly Periods of Art/Byzantine
  • Christian Artists
  • The Dark Ages/Monasteries
  • The Gothic Period
  • The Renaissance
  • The Reformation
  • French Neo-Classical Art
  • American Artist and Other Artists and Styles
Short Lessons in Art History

The next resource in our Fine Arts program is Short Lessons in Art History by Phyllis Clausen Barker. This book includes narrative biographical readings about 37 artists and/or sculptors beginning with “Artists of the Italian Renaissance” and ending with “Contemporary Sculptors.” Short Lessons in Art History brings art to life with lessons that showcase the successes and struggles of legendary artists. The readings build an appreciation for major artists and art movements from the Italian Renaissance to current times. Students are captivated by the high-interest readings on artists and the cultural and personal forces that shaped their work. A full-color insert highlights timeless works of art. Click here to see inside!

Exercises and Activities for Short Lessons in Art History

Exercises and Activities for Short Lessons in Art History is designed as a companion to Short Lessons in Art History. It includes activities that move from basic comprehension (through fill-in-the-blank, word puzzles, crosswords, and matching) to synthesis (through short answer questions) to deeper insight (through independent writing or research topics). Used in combination with the Short Lessons for Art History text, students increase their awareness of various artists and their work and draw their own conclusions about what makes the work of certain artists timeless. Note: Since the art projects within these lessons are not described or laid out very clearly, and often are overwhelming to perform without more instruction, we omit the “Art Projects” part of the activities and cover this area in a more manageable way. Click here to see inside!

Our Charlotte Mason-Inspired Art Gallery Student Notebook

As narrative as the Short Lessons in Art History text is, it does not shine in the area of full color artwork. While it would seem easy to add to a book of art prints to accompany the text, this route had many barriers. First, many of these types of full-color art print books are very expensive. Next, the prints often contain multiple images with nudity. Last, even after overlooking cost and the lack of clothing issues, many books didn’t contain prints of all of the artists the students were studying. To remedy these problems, we designed an Art Gallery Student Notebook that contains at least one full-color print for each artist. The Art Gallery Notebook is used in conjunction with the Short Lessons in Art History readings and provides a beautiful collection of paintings by famous artists throughout history. It is a very CM-inspired part of the program!

Pat Knepley’s Art Projects DVD Set

The final component of our Fine Arts program is the Art Projects DVD Set from See the Light. When I found this set, I knew the final piece of our Fine Arts program had (at long last) fallen into place! This is a 9 DVD Set of art projects designed to be completed at home. The projects on each DVD are narrated, modeled, and taught with a Christian emphasis by master artist Pat Knepley. Each DVD focuses on a different artist and a different type of art project. Projects are divided into 4 separate sessions, and Pat takes you through each step of the lesson on the DVD.

Pacing and Details About the Art Projects Portion of the Fine Arts Credit

We have students do one art project session each week, completing an art project every 4 weeks. The design of the projects makes this an art class that your students can enjoy and excel at in the comfort of your own home. We plan for sessions to last about an hour with the DVD running about 30 minutes. This allows time for students to pause and work along with Pat and take their time to be creative and do the project well. Some students may take longer to work.

Each DVD includes art history, art elements, art principles, step-by-step tutoring, and integrated Biblical truths. At the end, students have created a portfolio of 9 completed projects as part of their Fine Arts study. Artists and corresponding projects are the following (the art history style and medium are listed in parentheses):

  • Tiffany Window in the style of Louis Comfort Tiffany (Tiffany Windows: Marker)
  • Repeated Sweets in the style of Wayne Thiebaud (Pop Art: Watercolor)
  • Paper Jungle in the style Henri Rousseau (Naive Art, Collage: Paper Collage)
  • Pointillism Fruit in the style of Georges Seurat (Pointillism, Impressionism: Still Life)
  • Poppy Collage in the style of Georgia O’Keefe (Realism, Abstraction: Tissue Paper Collage)
  • Dreams of Joseph in the style of Marc Chagall (Surrealism, Symbolism, Fauvism: Wet-on-Wet Painting)
  • Horsing Around in the style of Edgar Degas (Impressionism: Chalk Pastel)
  • Peaceful Seas in the style of Winslow Homer (Realism: Mixed Media)
  • Sunflowers in the style of Vincent Van Gogh (Post-Impressionism: Oil Pastel)
Two Options for Earning Credit 

The last benefit to the Fine Arts program that I’ve outlined is that there will be two options for credit with this program. The first option (and the recommended option) will be to earn one-full credit in Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation by using all of the resources outlined above and scheduled in our guide.

The second option will be to earn 1/2 credit in Fine Arts: Art History/Appreciation by omitting the Art Projects DVD Set. This option will utilize all of the remaining art resources outlined above, but will omit the once weekly art project session. This option is only recommended if you have already met part of your Fine Arts requirement some other way, or if your state only requires 1/2 credit in Fine Arts.

Blessings,
Carrie

What lit path should I take for my daughter who will do World History for 11th grade?

Dear Carrie

What lit path should I take for my daughter who will do World History for 11th grade?

Next year my oldest daughter will be a junior. She’ll be using Heart of Dakota’s (HOD’s) World History. I always love your book choices! My daughter won’t finish all of the high school guides though. So, should I just follow the lit path you have laid out for World History? Or, should I take a different lit path? Since we’ve used HOD since she’s been in 5th grade, she has obviously read tons of great books. However, I don’t want to miss some of the classics that she should have. What are your thoughts on what my daughter should do for lit for her 11th grade WH year?  Thanks for your thoughts on our lit path!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me with a Lit Path for My Daughter’s 11th Grade Year in World History”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with a Lit Path for My Daughter’s 11th Grade Year in World History,”

Good question! As far as the novels for the literature portion go, I made a point to put novels I consider especially important in the opening guides of the high school program. The novels in the World Geography guide are classics that are a tremendous stepping stone to the more difficult reading and difficult themes found in the World History guide’s literature. In my opinion, many of the novels in the literature portion of the World History guide are unmatched for their quality and their themes, while still being enjoyable reading. They are memorable and timeless, lingering in the mind long after the book is completed. They have stood the test of time! Still today, they remain classics. I think they should be a part of your daughter’s lit path!

“Ben Hur,” “The Count of Monte Cristo,” and “Les Miserables” – All Important Parts of Your Daughter’s Lit Path

I felt these novels were so important that I had my oldest son read several on that list (as a senior). Why? Well, I did not want him to exit high school without experiencing those books. (I hadn’t written all of the high school guides by the time my oldest son was a senior). He read Ben-Hur, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Les Miserables (along with other novels). They were his favorite books of that year. My husband read all 3 as well, simply because our son was so enthused about them. I cannot say enough about these titles. The life lessons to be learned as students read these books, the quotable lines of the characters, the rich language, and the allusions to the Bible in these books are amazing.

“The Scarlet Pimpernel” – A Winning Part of Your Daughter’s Lit Path

My oldest son also chose to read several sequels to The Scarlet Pimpernel, simply because he loved the first one so much! My husband enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel too, and my older sister (who was a high school literature teacher and has homeschooled her 7 kiddos for the last 15+ years) said it was one of her favorites of all time. This makes The Scarlet Pimpernel a winner here. Our son had read the other books on the World History literature list in previous years, with the exception of Pearl Maiden, which we included because of its terrific themes and because it is a great Haggard book (much preferred by me over Haggard’s classic King Solomon’s Mines, which I did not like due to its dark violence).

“A Man for All Seasons” – An Important Classic on Your Daughter’s Lit Path

After watching the movie version of A Man for All Seasons, and having our pastor refer to it in a sermon, my husband and I discovered that play was such a picture into the time of Henry the VIII that it had to be included. What a classic I found it to be after I read it alongside the study of that time period! It brings up another side to Cranmer and Luther. This book too shows up on many classic book lists for a reason!

“King Arthur” – A Legendary Part to Include Within Your Daughter’s Lit Path

In my opinion, reading about the legend of King Arthur (even with the character of Merlin), is very important. This is because the legends of Arthur are a part of understanding medieval times, because they show Britain at a time when the Christian religion was overtaking the religion of the Celtic Druids of the past. Known for his themes of bravery, honor, and love, Howard Pyle’s Arthur and his noble traits illustrate the selflessness a king should have for his people. It was for these traits that Arthur is remembered in legend, and those legends show up in so many ways everywhere! Please note that this is the only version of the Arthurian legends that we recommend!

“Julius Caesar,” “Animal Farm,” and “The Celestial Railroad”- Each Important Parts of Your Daughter’s Lit Path

Julius Caesar is one of the “tamer” of Shakespeare’s plays (and omits the bawdy humor that is found in other Shakespeare plays). Exploring the issue of how the thirst for power affects those who desire it is a good life lesson that comes out in Julius Caesar, plus the play draws you in with the inner-workings of who is really able to be trusted as you see the conspiracy play out (and watch its aftermath).

Animal Farm is a book that really shows socialism in a way that students will never forget. It is terrific to read along with the time period of WWII, which is where we include it.

The Celestial Railroad is a wonderful book to read after reading Pilgrim’s Progress. This is because Hawthorne’s version of travel to the Celestial City has been updated to reflect modern times. Travelers no longer have to walk to the city, but can instead travel by train. Their burdens are no longer carried on their backs but instead are stowed in the luggage compartment! When Celestial Railroad is read as students are completing Pilgrim’s Progress it has a huge impact! This is the book that will end your year. As you can see, I wouldn’t want your student to miss the books on the World History literature list. I feel they are amazing classics that all students should read!

Blessings,
Carrie

Weighted Grading for Foerster’s Algebra

Dear Carrie

Weighted Grading for Foerster’s Algebra 

We are starting our first year of high school, and we are so excited to be using Heart of Dakota (HOD)! Weighted grading, however, is brand new to me. I really appreciate the weighted grading instructions provided in the World Geography guide. What a tremendous help! I know there are multiple math options for Algebra I, so I understand why the guide says to refer to the math text for grading. However, I looked at the Foerster’s text, and I am still at a loss on how to grade it. Any help is appreciated! Specifically, I am wondering what you would suggest for weighted grading in Foerster’s Algebra? Thanks in advance, Carrie!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me with Weighted Grading of Foerster’s Algebra”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with Weighted Grading of Foerster’s Algebra,”

At the high school level, the way that you weight your grades can vary widely. Almost any combination of daily work, reviews, and assessment grading will work. For example, you could use daily work as 50 percent of the weighted grade, or you could change that percentage up or down. Daily work can just be earned by effort and completion (and correcting one’s mistakes). This is because quite often in daily work the material is new, and as students are trying to learn new concepts they often falter. So, grading students first efforts at something new is not a true grade.

At the high school level, I’d lean toward a weighted grading of 30 percent for tests and 20 percent for reviews.

Next, let’s consider how to handle weighted grading for tests and reviews. At the high school level, completion of chapter reviews often takes up a portion of the assessment grade. So, I might lean toward 20 percent for chapter reviews and 30 percent for tests. Again, these percentages can be changed up or down.

Open-book testing is another grading option used in high school and in college.

Another option that is used for grading with increasing frequency is for tests to be open-book. Or, instead you might allow your student to write down on an index card any helpful formulas or notes to be used during the test. This was something that was done in my college math classes. I learned to write very small!

Weighted grading varies greatly and is the instructor’s prerogative. 

Even at the college level, where tests are weighted much more heavily, there is quite a bit of variation as to how much other output students are required to complete for the rest of their grade. Some courses are almost wholly test-based, and others split the grading out more with a large amount of other output. My oldest son’s college classes have varied widely in how the grading is weighted. It is often the instructor’s prerogative. Since you are the instructor, your prerogative reigns. You just need to be able to justify how you arrived at the grade.

Blessings,
Carrie

Will R & S English 7 still benefit my high school student if she completed other programs?

Pondering Placement

Will my daughter benefit from doing R & S English 7 for 9th grade if she has already completed several other grammar programs?

My 9th grade, 15 year-old daughter will start using Heart of Dakota’s World Geography this coming year. My placement question is actually about grammar. She has already previously completed Analytical Grammar twice in her 6th and 7th grade years. Last year for 8th grade, she used the high school reinforcement book from Analytical grammar along with Easy Grammar Plus. She has always done most of her grammar on her own now. My question is will she still benefit from R & S English 7? She has been independent in this area and used to correcting her own work. I will confess, I’d love to hand her the teacher’s manual and student book and let her do this on her own. I’m not sure if I’m supposed teach it at this point, but I do want her to get all the benefit she can from English these high school years.

Carrie’s Reply:  Yes, I think your daughter would still benefit from using R & S English 7.

In my opinion, I think that your daughter would still benefit from using Rod and Staff English 7 because it integrates writing and a whole host of other English skills within the program. This will provide a different feel from what she’s already had in the past.

How My Oldest Son Completed R & S English in High School

As far as using Rod and Staff English, I’ll share that at our house my oldest son preferred to do his lessons orally with us rather than write out all of the answers. However, due to time constraints for his senior year, he did benefit from doing the last half of English 8 just the way you are describing in your post. He did the lessons and checked them himself using the Teacher’s Guide key. He did share that it was more difficult, and less interesting, to do Rod and Staff English this way. However, it did work for him for that season. 

How My Next Son Completed R & S English in High School

With my next son in line,we still went over his lessons regularly. However, he did enjoy writing out the answers ahead of time to save time during the meeting with us later. Sometimes he had the whole lesson done before he ever met with us. To me, this was still of benefit to him as well. We just orally did whatever he had left. With my younger kiddos, we definitely meet each time with them and do 2/3 of the English lesson orally and 1/3 on paper.

Students do benefit from some oral discussion and application, simply because English is a spoken as well as a written language.

So, with your older daughter you can decide how best to approach Rod and Staff English to best fit your needs and hers. There are benefits to both ways! It may be a changing approach from year to year, depending on what your schedule allows. I do feel that kiddos benefit from some oral discussion and application of the English lessons, simply because English is a spoken as well as a written language!

Blessings,
Carrie