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Ready for Chreia and Maxim?

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    Ready for Chreia and Maxim?

    My student is fine doing CC Narrative (he did Fable last year) and there are no complaints from him. Since we are homeschooling, I consider him 6th grade in January. He is a few weeks shy of 11 years old and doing mostly 6th grade level work. Narrative seems to be on the tedious side and I would love to move him into Chreia and Maxim in January. He will likely go back to public school eventually so by putting him into a more thinking composition sooner, I think that would better position him for the type of writing on standardized tests by 7th graders.

    Here is the latest sample of lesson 6 paraphrase 1 and the final draft. I usually have him edit them later because he is more likely to find his mistakes after a few days have passed.

    Giufà and the Judge

    Giufà walked home from picking herbs and sat on a rock to watch the twinkling stars. He also watched the moon go in and out of the clouds that were moved by a strong gale across the sky and said “It rises, It sets.” each time the clouds moved across it. Some furtive bandits heard Giufà’s clamorous noise and thought it was the law coming to get them. They dropped there freshly killed and stolen calf and ran away. Giufà found this calf and walked home happily. He told his mother that she was to sell it and that he was to get the money. The next day Giufà’s mother sold it to some flies on credit. Weeks had passed and the flies had not given Giufà any money so Giufà went to a Judge. “The flies are not paying me for the calf I sold them.” Eager to get rid of this impossible claim, the judge pronounced that all flies could be killed. Then a fly landed right on the judge’s nose. Giufà slowly picked up an nearby boat oar, snuck close to the judge, lifted the boat oar up and brought it down strongly and swiftly. The fly, at the last moment, flew just out of reach of the boat oar and out the window. Though the fly was lucky, the judge was not, and the boat oar broke over his head.

    The Judge and Giufà

    One day a judge was struck on the head by Giufà because a fly had landed on his nose. The judge had given Giufà permission to kill all flies including the one on the judge’s head. The reason Giufà went to the judge is because his mother had sold his meat to some flies. Giufà found this meat the night before. Giufà had said up and down when the moon went in and out of clouds, this had scared some robbers and they dropped their stolen meat.

    So it seems like he has the 9 components, or at least the ones that were in the original as well as did a good job with the required figures of description. I think he would be fine moving along to the next level, but would love a second opinion.


    Thanks so much for including samples! They are so helpful at really understanding where a person is in the process. My first response is that your student is definitely getting "the big picture," which is good! There is a definite understanding of the 9 Narrative Components and the basic plot line. I also saw some inventive ideas about a boat oar, which was a great paraphrasing touch, as your student "sees" this happening when he thinks about how the story happens in his head. I did not see any figures of description labeled, so it was difficult for me to evaluate those. Perhaps if you have time, you could repose with the figures labeled? That would be wonderful.

    I do see some areas that perhaps need a bit more development before moving on. I see parts of the original that are almost word for word from the original, "Sold it to some flies on credit" "weeks passed." I also saw in Paraphrase 1 all the details about filling his sack with meat was completely taken out, so it sounds like Giufa carried the whole thing home instead of cutting off the meat. Removing this simplified the story and took out detail.

    In the reduction (which was also an inversion although that is not a part of the instructions, but that it is completely allowed to add extra skills together!), it does not make sense in the story when "Giufa went to the judge because his mother had sold the meat to the flies on credit." This does not give the reader enough understanding as to what happened when the meat was sold to the flies on credit, to warrant visiting the judge.

    This is where the outlines (whether you take the time to walk through the whole thing with your student, or just work part of it out and then provide your student with the rest of it) are so valuable, since they hold the narrative to the details and prevent accidental reduction.

    I am attaching a couple of Giufa and the Judge Paraphrase #1's for your comparison. Something that is a bit less tangible than re-writing the story is the "real art" of paraphrasing., but one more than worthy of making a study. Paraphrasing is taking the heart of the story and thoroughly expressing it in your own words. Sometimes this includes added elements, like that excellent oar Giufa used in the paraphrase 1 rendition. It also includes more than variation, which is taking the original and varying the words and then the original structure. That is the beginning step to paraphrasing, but the eventual idea is to "make the story your own" by retelling it with vocabulary, words, and expressions that are yours, not the original scripting. Ideally, the "new story" is the same basic story (RSV don't change!) but expresses it in a manner that does not intone the original sentence cadence or vocabulary expression.

    Variation is:
    (original) He took his knife and cut off flesh enough to fill his sack.
    Variation: He carved off enough meat with his knife to load his pack.
    Paraphrase: Carefully, Giufa sawed at the carcass and placed the best bits into his pouch.
    As you can see, the last one is the most original, replacing the noun knife with the verb sawing, and meat with the source, "carcass." Also, I have heightened the detail with the best bits, for just "meat." Usually good paraphrase will also be a bit longer than the original, in order to be thorough, and to also have the added amplification of figures of description.

    If you would like, please have a look at the attached stories, and then please let's continue this conversation in order to full prepare your student. I think he is definitely making progress, but I want to make sure that thorough, inventive paraphrase skills are in place before we spring into creation of the Chreia Heads of Development, which require the writer to invent much more content than paraphrasing does. Thus, we want to be amply fluent in paraphrase in a thorough, detailed manner before proceeding.
    PS Please note that the attached samples also implemented inversion, which was an additional requirement for the class from which I pulled these.
    Attached Files


      Thank you so much for your detailed response. The samples were so helpful. I have searched far and wide for student samples to be able to compare and share with my child, but I was never able to find any at all.

      The first sample is paraphrase 1, which asked for a vivid description of wind (anemographia), so I accepted the "clouds that were moved by a strong gale across the sky" for wind. Astrothesia was also requested so I took "twinkling stars" for the vivid description of stars although I know that could have been better. Paraphrase 2 was simply a reduction, and I did have him rewrite it as it was missing key information, but I didn't post that one. The Final Draft said to rewrite paraphrase two and invert the sequence of events. That is the sample I posted.

      We are enjoying Winter Break all of December. We will continue with narrative in January for at least 3 more lessons. It helps to have some suggestions for directing him a bit better.