Placement for Seventh and Eighth Grade Daughters

Pondering Placement

Please help me with choosing placement for my upcoming 7th and 8th grade daughters.

I need help with choosing placement in Heart of Dakota for my daughters going into seventh and eighth grade. (I also have a daughter going into ninth grade, but she is attending public school now.) We all enjoyed the left side of Missions to Modern Marvels (MTMM) this past year! For this reason, I thought about moving my 2 remaining daughters into World Geography next. However, I know it would be overwhelming for my younger daughter. Also, looking ahead, my eighth grade daughter will attend public high school in 9th grade. Since they offer no ancient history, I’m thinking to combine my upcoming seventh and eighth grade daughters in Creation to Christ (CTC). I know I could add the extension package and up the language arts and math, but I guess I’m not 100% sure about this placement.

A Little Background on My Sixth Grade Daughter Going into Seventh Grade

I thought I’d give a little background on my sixth grade daughter going into seventh grade. She has never used a complete HOD guide. She was able to do Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR) level 4/5 with the 4/5 Girl Interest books for her 5th grade year. However, since then, she has been through several therapy programs to help with her dyslexia. We have needed to make accommodations such as audio books or me reading aloud in most other subject areas. But now, she is testing at grade level for reading comprehension. So, I am planning to use DITHOR 6/7/8 level with her.

She does struggle more with both reading and writing. Although she can narrate and summarize, she often needs help getting through the initial reading assignments. She usually reads for a half hour or so a couple of times a day on her own. But, if she is required to do more than that, I need to read aloud to her, so she can rest her eyes (she has tracking issues, so it can be very tiring). Usually she comprehends well whether she is reading on her own or is being read aloud to. She prefers simpler language, as the effort she must make just to read doesn’t leave a lot of energy for her figuring out unfamiliar words or phrases. This does impact every subject area.

A Little Background on My Seventh Grade Daughter Going into Eighth Grade

My current seventh grader is an extremely self motivated student. She is doing eighth and ninth grade level work in most subjects. She did the left side of the MTMM guide this past year with her older sister. They both took a lit/grammar course as well. Looking at the placement she fits squarely in the MTMM category, but we did that guide this year. So, I feel she could probably move on to World Geography level work.

This daughter is used to writing two to three page long papers on various subjects. She has also completed all the writing and narrations (left side of page spread) from MTMM without any serious problems this year. Her writing and grammar experience is at or above grade level. This is true of her reading level as well. We have used DITHOR in the past several years, and she had done excellent with it!

Creation to Christ looks good, but so does World Geography!

The more I look at Creation to Christ, the more I think it would offer my younger daughter plenty of challenge because of her dyslexia, especially if we add the extension package and pick 6/7 books for DITHOR. Plus, she still struggles with the mechanics of writing. However, My older daughter probably fits best in the World Geography guide. She has studied the samples and read excerpts from many of the book over my shoulder, and she’s excited! However, I just don’t want to overwhelm her. She did well with MTMM, but we had several issues of her not reading directions well and having to redo assignments. I don’t want to push too hard, but the reality is she pushes herself and regularly asks for more. But then she is stressed if I offer more. Hmmm.  So, what do you think?

Carrie’s Reply:

Thanks for taking time to share about your daughters. That really helps, as we look at possibilities for each of them. In reading through what you’ve shared, I am inclined to think that it is wise to look at the two kiddos individually for placement. With your would be 8th grader doing MTMM’s left side this past year and weighing your younger student’s dyslexia in the equation, I think the two kiddos belong in two different guides.

I would place them where they each fit on the placement chart.

I’d be inclined to place them where they fit on the placement chart simply so that they each receive a forward moving experience skill-wise. Skills train kiddos academically for what is to come, and I also think that each HOD guide has a strong Biblical focus along with the skills providing your kiddos with hidden, unexpected spiritual-related gems at each level of their education.

I would place your younger daughter in Creation to Christ.

With this in mind, I would lean toward placing your younger daughter in CTC. The readings, following written directions, and written component of the left side of the guide would be a good fit. I think the poetry with watercolor painting from the right side of the guide would also be inspirational. The Genesis study with The Radical Book for Kids and the Geography of the Holy Lands would also be a part of her day, with the plans from the right side of the CTC guide. The parent reads aloud these two books, so she would not become fatigued with more reading.

Your older daughter could join your younger daughter for the Genesis/Child’s Geography part of the CTC plans.

If desired, you could have your older daughter join you for the alternating Genesis/Child’s Geography part of the CTC study. These studies would fit very well with the World Geography Guide topics your older student would be doing and be enjoyable for your older student to join in doing with you. We actually did this with my oldest son when he was in 8th grade and with my next son when he was doing CTC. It was a good time together for them, and my oldest hadn’t done those particular things previously, as I’d not yet written them. Placing your younger student in CTC would allow for growth in her areas of difficulty without overwhelming her. It would put her on a solid, forward-moving path skill-wise. Additionally, it would give her the exposure to the ancients that you desire.

I would place your older daughter in World Geography.

For your older daughter, I would lean toward the World Geography guide. The World Religion & Cultures study would be very timely, especially in light of the possibility of her heading to public school the following year. The explorer/history-based study of geography, woven with video footage and Biblical-based geography would provide a component to the study that she may not ever have the chance to receive again. It will impact how she views the world. Furthermore, it will give her a firm foundation for future, higher-level history studies to come.

I would also strongly consider having her complete the logic portion of the plans and probably the literature study. The Bible study is excellent as well and is included in the economy package. If you thought the Bible study in the World Geography guide would be too much for your older daughter, you could instead have her Bible study be the Genesis: Radical Book for Kids and Child’s Geography of the Holy Lands from CTC. I think this path would be a good one in meeting the needs of both students.

Blessings,

Carrie

 

World Geography Integrated Physics and Chemistry Questions

Dear Carrie

Are the activity sheets in Integrated Physics and Chemistry ‘open book,’ and do we need to do the quizzes and tests? 

Dear Carrie,

We are just starting Heart of Dakota‘s Hearts for Him Through High School World Geography. I am a bit confused about the Integrated Physics and Chemistry materials. Can you help? I guess I have 2 questions! First, are the “activity sheets” found in the IPC activities books that are to be completed after the lesson’s reading supposed to be “open book”?  The instructions say read the material through once, then read the material again while answering the activity questions. So that seems to imply “open book”, but I wanted to be sure.  Second, do we need to do the quizzes and tests? It doesn’t say anything about them, nor do I see them mentioned in the detailed grading suggestions, but I wanted to be sure. Many thanks!

Sincerely,

“Ms. Please Help Me with Integrated Physics and Chemistry”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with Integrated Physics and Chemistry,”

Great questions! As far as the activity books go, the students are definitely meant to refer back to their reading as they complete the follow-up questions.

We do not include the tests or quizzes simply due to the very rigorous schedule we use to complete the materials in a single year. Tiner’s Integrated Physics and Chemistry course contains 12 chapters, with 742 pages of physics and chemistry related-topics. There are 180 individual readings in the course, each taking up 4-5 pages. The content coverage is very solid, as you can imagine with this many pages of text!   We use all 12 chapters of the text, which results in 1-2 readings a day on most days. We also use all of the accompanying activity books as a follow-up to the readings.

A Note on Awarding Credits for Integrated Physics and Chemistry

The publisher mentions that two credits could be awarded for the Integrated Physics and Chemistry coursework, with one credit for intro to physics and another credit for intro to chemistry. After having each of our own oldest three sons do all 12 chapters of the IPC course during their freshman year, we feel with the time it took to complete the course that awarding only 1 credit is more in alignment with typical high school standards. However, it is one very full credit!

A Note on the Labwork That Has Been Added to Integrated Physics and Chemistry

Since Tiner’s text does not include labwork, in order to include labs, we added the MicroPhySci Kit from Quality Science Labs. This makes the Integrated Physics and Chemistry course a lab science. The kit includes 36 labs and a complete lab manual for recording results. Each lab lasts approximately 45 min – 1 hour and does include science/mathematical formulas and calculations. With the addition of the 36 labs, decisions had to made as far as what to forego in order to complete the course in a year. If you feel strongly about giving the tests or quizzes, you may certainly add those back in! We have found the course to be more than enough as written in the World Geography guide!

We pray your student enjoys the IPC course as much as our sons have! We have had 3 of our boys go through it now at different times, and all have thoroughly enjoyed the course!

Blessings,
Carrie

P.S. To read more about World Geography, click here!

P.S.S. To read more about HOD in general, click here!

Explore the World in a Whole New Way… World Geography for High School

From Our House to Yours

Get ready to explore the world in a whole new way via high school World Geography!

In Heart of Dakota‘s World Geography, get ready to explore land and sea, discover treasures old and new, solve past and present mysteries, and journey from one end of the earth to the other!  If you are like me, fellow homeschool moms, your own past personal trek through World Geography back when (we won’t say how far ‘back when’) might not have been all that exciting.  Well, forget that!  HOD’s World Geography will set your 13-15 year old on an exciting expedition.  Armed with knowledge, filled with compassion, and consumed with love for others around the world, who knows what great things our God has planned for our high school students during their year of exploration in World Geography?!?

High school can be scary for both moms and students, but Heart of Dakota has your back!

I remember begging, yes, begging Carrie to write high school guides.  One year at a time, one guide at a time, one son getting one year older at a time, and the Lord laid it on her heart to do this.  Praise God!  That’s all I can say, because I just couldn’t envision homeschooling high school in any other way.  High school feels a little scary.  Both moms and students can balk at homeschooling in high school. Well, rest easy, friend, because HOD’s high school guides cover it all. Course descriptions, course materials, all typical credits and electives needed, suggested grading, a 4-day week plan, easy-to-use 2-page spread lesson plans, Charlotte Mason focused, Christ-centered, literature-based… ahhhhhhh… need I go on?!?  High school can be scary, but HOD has your back! So, it’s not so scary.  In fact, I dare say, it’s incredible!!!

High school is all about the numbers.  So, how many credits can be earned?

Creating a good transcript is fairly important. We feel the responsibility as homeschool parents of making sure our kiddos are ready – ready for whatever God may have planned for them after high school graduation. It can feel like high school is all about the numbers.  And in some regards, it is.  How many credits should be earned?  Well, the very basic thought on this would be the 4 x 4 – 1 full credit in English, 1 full credit in Math, 1 fun credit in History, and 1 full credit in Science each year.  That is the very basic formula, with required electives thrown in for measure.

Homeschool students should shoot higher than the ‘basics,’ but guard against ‘padding the transcript.’  Too few credits might leave students unprepared for college.  Too many credits raises red flags and can overload a student. World Geography is just right.  With 6 1/2 possible credits, it is perfect for college entrance requirements!  Maybe kiddos won’t choose the ‘college’ path, but should they want to, at least we won’t have held them back from it!

So, what are the 6 1/2 credits covered in World Geography?

There are a total of 6 1/2 credits covered in World Geography, but you always can tailor your student’s transcript according to the plan you like best. The Economy Package alone sports 1 full credit in World Geography, 1 full credit in Bible, and 1/2 credit in World Religions and Cultures. Then, the Complete English Package covers 1 full credit in English, including literature, composition, and grammar.  Next, the science package covers 1 full credit in Integrated Physics in Chemistry, with or without lab.  Add 1 full credit in math Algebra 1 by choosing from our multitude of math options.  Tack on 1/2 credit in Spanish and 1/2 credit in Logic, and voila!  You’ve earned 6 1/2 credits!

What can be expected in the World Geography credit?

So, I’ve promised an intriguing year in World Geography, but what exactly can students expect?  Amazing chronological history readings from ‘real books’ provide the backbone of the credit. Add in Charlotte Mason style key word, summary, detailed, and topic oral narrations. Stir in full-color beautiful Expedition Journal Entries peppered with bulleted notes, outlines, sketches, primary source documents, questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy, video viewing guides, research topics, Socratic discussions, and more!

Mix in breathtaking Reader’s Digest DVD viewings and follow-ups that transport students visually to the very places they are studying!  Sprinkle in some geography reading based written narrations and some one-of-a-kind Book of Centuries portrait gallery and lined timeline entries. Amp up the flavor with Ellen McHenry’s guided mapping lessons and hands-on navigational projects in Mapping the World With Art. Spice it up with extra credit Living Library readings, and you have the recipe for a fantastic year in World Geography!

So, why are the 1/2 credit in World Religions and Cultures and the 1 full credit in Bible part of the Economy Package?

Good question, and there is a good answer!  As students are taking their tour of the world via their World Geography history credit, World Religions and Cultures takes them on a matching tour of the major religions of the world.  With inspiring biographies of people who converted from their first religion to Christianity, what could be a better match?!?  Likewise, the Bible and Devotional Study introduces students to unreached people groups and how to pray for them!  Moving readings about unreached people groups from the very places students are learning about in World Geography correlate with annotations, Scripture memorization, the Biblical model of prayer, a personal prayer journal, and devotions.  What an inspiring match for World Geography!

Why should your student do Integrated Physics and Chemistry for science?

Why not, I say?  Doing Integrated Physics and Chemistry (IPC) earlier on in high school has its definite advantages. First, completing it earlier helps it not be so heavily math-based. Second, completing it earlier gives students more options in 12th grade. How? Well, by 12th grade students will probably know if they are going to require physics for their future plans post-graduation.  If they are going into a field that requires physics, then they can take a full-blown physics course their senior year.  If they are not, they’ve already fulfilled their physics requirement in IPC, and they can enjoy our awesome 12th grade Astronomy/Geology/ Paleontology course instead!

What can your student expect in the English credit?

Heart of Dakota’s English credit includes a balance of literature, composition, grammar, and dictation.  BJU Fundamentals of Literature provides the spine of literature study. It includes readings, discussions, literary analysis, Biblical worldview, and critical thinking questions.  Classic girl or boy set novels are interspersed at balanced intervals. So, Charlotte Mason’s living books, oral and written narrations, and Common Place Book entries are married with BJU’s plans beautifully! Next, Essentials in Writing covers the composition portion of the credit. DVD lessons, follow-up assignments, personal/persuasive/expository/compare and contrast essays, and a final research paper are all included. Finally, Building Securely English includes grammar/English skills, and studied dictation keeps students progressing in spelling.

Finally, add 1 full credit in Algebra 1, a 1/2 credit in Logic and a 1/2 credit in Spanish!

With multiple choices in Algebra 1, you can choose what fits your student best.  Each math option has its benefits. With a wide range of options, one of the math programs is sure to fit your student well. Next, your student can enjoy a 1/2 credit in Logic via The Fallacy Detective and The Art of Argument.  Finally, your student can learn Spanish via Getting Started with Spanish.  And there you have it!  6 1/2 credits earned in one year of high school, just like that!

In Christ,

Julie

P.S. For more information on Heart of Dakota in general, click here!

P.S.S.  To read more about Carrie’s choices for World Geography, check out her sneak peaks specific to each subject area by clicking here!

 

 

Alexander the Great: Brilliance and Brutality

History with Heart of Dakota

Who was Alexander the Great? 

Conqueror, explorer, leader, and visionary. These are just a few of the words that describe Alexander the Great. Born the son of legendary warrior-king Philip II of Macedonia, Alexander went on to outshine his father.  Philip transformed Macedonia from an unremarkable country to a ruling power in Greece; Alexander made Macedonia the ruling power in the entire known world. His conquests would stretch the Macedonian empire from the mountains of his homeland, to the sands of Egypt, to the expanses of Persia, all the way to the banks of the River Beas in India.

Personality of a Genius 

Alexander was a genius in more ways than one. First, his grasp of military tactics was unequaled in his day. He perfected the use of the phalanx – a tactic which his father had introduced. The phalanx was an infantry formation where soldiers grouped tightly together with each man’s shield protecting himself and his neighbor. In addition to this, each man also carried an 18-20 foot pike which he would thrust outwards from the shield wall. (Wasson) In a time where armies usually fought in a haphazard manner depending on sheer force of numbers to win, the phalanx gave Alexander’s soldiers a huge advantage. Oftentimes, enemy soldiers would simply break off his phalanxes like water off a rock. In addition to this, Alexander had distinct knack for sensing his enemy’s weakest position and massing his men to exploit it. Therefore, when his phalanxes came crashing through there was usually no stopping them.

Second, Alexander was a genius when it came to leading his men. He routinely made a point of leading the charge in battle rather than staying back in safety. Initially, he also insisted on sharing his men’s hardships. For instance, while marching his troops through the desert, according to biographer Peter Green, “…when a helmetful [sic] of muddy water had been found for him in some nearby gully – but no more was to be had – he laughed, thanked the donor, and then tipped the water out into the sand. So extraordinary was the effect of this action that the water wasted by Alexander was as good as a drink from every man in the army.” (434) Alexander lead by example, as all great leaders do. When his men saw him facing and overcoming the same challenges they faced, it inspired greatness in them as well.

Fatal Flaws

Nonetheless, Alexander was far from perfect. “Like many brilliant men,” historian John Gunther writes, “he was unstable…he ran from one extreme to another…” (46) While he could be caring and understanding, he also could be irrational and violent. He had a burning temper which resulted in him murdering some of his most faithful soldiers, such as Clitus and Parmenion. Also, during his final years he firmly believed himself to be descended from the Greek god Zeus. Those who did not acknowledge this were executed. (Gunther 138-139) Sadly, with no god to serve except himself, Alexander – once great – ended his life in drunkenness and confusion.

Lasting Impressions

Even though Alexander’s life was dramatically short (he only lived to be 32!) what he accomplished in that time has had repercussions that affect us to this day. His use of soldiers as disciplined units formed the gold standard in military tactics for hundreds of years afterward. In addition, by bringing many different countries under one empire, he spread the use of a universal language – Greek. Many scholars believe this was instrumental in spreading the Gospel 400 years later. He also founded many different cities – some of which remain to this day. (Many of these he named Alexandria, after himself.) Ultimately, much like God had used prior civilizations and kings to carry out His purpose in history, God used Alexander the Great to mold the world according to His own plan.

Which HOD guides can you find Alexander the Great in? 

Alexander the Great can be encountered in several of Heart of Dakota’s guides! You can find him in Little Hearts, Preparing Hearts, Creation to Christ, World Geography, and World History. You can also find a more in-depth study of him in John Gunther’s book Alexander the Great, which students can read in the extension package for Creation to Christ.

Bibliography 

Green, P. Alexander of Macedon, 356-323 B.C. (University of California Press, 2013).

Gunther, J. Alexander the Great. (Sterling Publishing, 2007).

Wasson, D.L. The Army of Alexander the Great. (Ancient History Encyclopedia, 2014). 

How Best to Use the BJU Teacher’s Guide in HOD’s World Geography

Dear Carrie,

How do I best use the BJU Teacher’s Guide in HOD’s World Geography year?

We have used Heart of Dakota for many years and enjoyed it very much. My son and I just started World Geography, and our start went so well!  However, I have a quick question about the BJU teacher’s guide for literature. There are so many facets to the BJU teaching guide. So, my question is, do I have my student only answer the questions after the story when HOD’s World Geography plans say to do so? I hope so!  But, I am just checking to be sure. Thanks in advance for your help!

Sincerely,

“Please Help Me Know How to Best Use the BJU Teacher’s Guide”

Dear “Please Help Me Know How to Best Use the BJU Teacher’s Guide,”

I’d be happy to help you decide how to best use the BJU Teacher’s Guide!  I’ve had some practice figuring that out myself. We just completed the HOD World Geography guide this past year with our third son. So, I’ll share a few things we’ve discovered about the literature.

You can view the Student Reader as a series of living stories to be enjoyed.

As far as the BJU lit goes, it really helps if you can view the Student Reader as a series of living stories that we want the students to primarily enjoy as they read. We don’t want them to feel like they must also be dissecting as they read.  Likewise, we don’t want them to feel like they must elicit a whole host of specific responses. So, in order to allow them to enjoy the story, we must not get between the story and the reader. This means we need to let students just read the story from the reader without the aid of any Teacher’s Notes or without focusing on the end story questions the first trip through.

You can follow the HOD World Geography guide’s plans to know how to assign the questions in BJU.

Next, after reading the story, the HOD guide will assign the student questions from the end of the story. The World Geography plans will note when to answer in writing and when to meet with the teacher to discuss. Even at this point, it’s not advisable to be sharing all of the Teacher’s Notes for each question with the student. In fact, we don’t want to expect the student to answer even remotely as fully as the notes suggest. In my opinion, the notes are exhaustive and are meant to provide any and all possible answers that any student may share.

You can think of the Teacher’s Notes as Cliff Notes rather than as required answers.

I see the Teacher’s Notes as a Cliff’s Notes version meant to aid the teacher rather than as a grading rubric meant to show the ideal answer a student should give. Keep in mind that these notes were written for a classroom teacher. In a classroom, the discussion of a question would result in many varied responses. There would be a lengthy discussion from a whole group of students. This is a very different situation than we have in the homeschool setting with a single student being required to answer all the questions alone!

Students can read through the Teacher’s Notes just for the questions they are struggling to answer.

If the student is struggling with an answer to a question or has been especially short with an answer, then this is the time I’d have the student read through the Teacher’s Notes for only that question. The purpose of this is to simply give them a few more ideas of the direction he/she could have gone with his/her response. There is no need to have the student read the Teacher’s Notes for every question. This may result in the student feeling inferior and inadequate in his/her responses. We definitely don’t want the student thinking he/she can never come up with the breadth and insight the manual suggests for a response.

I learned a lot from using BJU American Lit along with full-length novels for my oldest son’s 11th grade year.

Before scheduling BJU lit for grade 9 in our World Geography guide, my oldest son and I went through BJU American Lit for his 11th grade year. The BJU American Lit is even fuller than the grade 9 lit! I also added a lot of full-length novels to my poor oldest son’s year. We learned a lot that year about what was too much for lit, about how many novels are appropriate to read,  and about what was really helpful or enjoyable overall.

So, as I began World Geography with my second son, I took a lower key approach to the BJU lit. I simply allowed him to read and do exactly what it says in the HOD World Geography guide’s plans.  Likewise, I did not delve so deeply into the BJU Teacher’s guide and all of its materials. We had a much better year, my son loved the stories, loved the boy set novels, and learned a lot!

You can use the manual more as a reference for your student’s answers.

So, I would encourage you to keep the manual only for reference for you as your student answers. Share the answers from the manual for only the questions that the student either misses entirely or answers very succinctly. Make sure you let your student know that the manual gives every answer you might encounter in a classroom of students. Be sure the student doesn’t feel like he never gets the answer “right.” So, by following the lit plans in the World Geography guide and by using the BJU Teacher’s Notes in this manner, your year in lit should be a terrific year!

Blessings,

Carrie

P.S. If you are new to Heart of Dakota, check out our Top Ten Questions!

P.S.S. If you are wondering about placement in high school in Heart of Dakota, click here!