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    Classical Comp and writing across the curriculum

    My 10 yo is doing decently in Narrative in terms of understanding. He doesn't love writing though ... we can't do the reduction Paraphrases because his original written narration is always a reduction (get it done as fast as possible, no extra details)!

    He writes a full written narration from the outline (day 5). Then for the paraphrases, I let him just revise particular sentences to include the figures of description instead of redoing the whole draft. Then for the final draft, he rewrites the narration, inserting the figures and some of the revised sentences from variations.

    Is this... okay...?

    Now, he does answer the workbook questions that I assign for all subjects. Again, he takes a reductionist escape when answering questions in the workbook. When we go over them later, I ask him to clarify or give more details, and he can give me so much more information orally. He just doesn't want to write it down.

    Also, in liturature and maybe another subject, it makes a suggestion to do composition assignments. I think it would be good for him to do a handful of these, but I know I'll be met with super resistance for having to write anything outside of CC. Could I replace a week or two of CC in exchange for working on these other writing projects? Or would it be best to skip these and just stick with CC only?

    Thank you for all for your help!
    ~ Carrie
    Catholic mom to four - ages 10, 8, 5, and 3
    7th year homeschooling, 2nd year MP!
    2019-2020: 5M (LC year 2), 3M (LC year 2), and K enrichment!

    #2
    My wife and I were just discussing this very topic with regards to our oldest, who is now working through the Common Topic stage. He, too, had (has!) a tendency to embrace brevity in his writing—across subjects, just as you described. When his younger brother went through the Narrative level we noticed his natural propensity to write with just a bit more detail/description and my wife took advantage of that. She pushed him harder, since there was less resistance, and encouraged him to work through the editorial process more thoroughly, not necessarily writing more in terms of volume, but rewriting what he had and adding/modifying his language. This included writing the paraphrase thoroughly, unlike his brother.

    I share that to say, we now see a significant difference in their writing and in their speech. As I said, the eldest is in Common Topic, and the younger in Refutation and Confirmation. The younger writes with more fluidity, is easier to understand, and enjoys doing so (and I would say the same for his verbal communication). In hindsight, I am confident we should have been more forceful with the older brother, not only because that really was what the curriculum was asking for, but because it would have made things better for him as he went on through the levels. Now, as a 14 year old, he is learning he needs to rethink how he writes and it is a far less organic process, much more forced.

    As someone who has taught many of the levels of Classical Composition, in both a classroom and at home, I would encourage you to push your son on the paraphrases. He is going to be better for it and, while it may be a struggle for much of the year, it will eliminate a greater struggle that would otherwise have lasted many years.

    As for your last question, I would say yes, the writing portion of the literature program is important. I would recommend pausing CC, if necessary, to apply more effort to the literature essay. Essay writing will become a major component of the literature program in coming years.
    Ryan Weston
    Director, Cottage Schools and Distributor Relations
    Memoria Press

    Comment


      #3
      Carrie,
      My son (16 now) was the exact same way as a writer - but even as a speaker he will not say more than is necessary. And he gets incredibly annoyed when people use more conversation to communicate than necessary. It is hands down the way he is wired. You will not be able to fight it, in my experience. Yet, I have been impressed with the ability he has to truly answer the question being asked, or to complete the step assigned in CC, despite the brevity of words.

      Your current routine is exactly what we did as well. I would personally continue with CC, and go as far as you get. We got through book V, into VI,
      before he was raising a coup about it and I said he could be done. He has been writing in his guides, but has yet to really do much outside of CC and his guides. I am pleased with his current writing ability. What he needs before he graduates home schooling is a bit of practical work on writing papers and such. Not sure how we will go with that yet. But it will definitely be someone other than me at this point. Just a thing that happens with boys!

      ETA: I was writing at the same time as Ryan, and I am glad his came through first! Take mine with a grain of salt, as we have been figuring this out with each child too.

      I will also add that our oldest only made it through book IV of CC, if I remember right. Even then, she was a really late start to the program, so we went through the levels with a spit-shine, iykwim. The bulk of the writing she did do was on her guides - both the history style and the lit ones especially. She remarked to me just a couple weeks ago, at about halfway through her freshman writing class in college that she felt very well prepared by MP’s assignments. She’s also a girl and did not mind so much being taught by her mother. Again, boys seem to reach an age where it’s just not manly to be hand held - uh, “taught” - by their mothers.

      AMDG,
      Sarah
      Last edited by KF2000; 11-12-2019, 03:14 PM.
      2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
      DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
      DS, 16
      DD, 14
      DD, 12
      DD, 10
      DD, 7.5
      DD, 5.5
      +DS+
      DS, 18 months

      Comment


        #4
        Argh...edited post in limbo-land!
        🤦🏽‍♀️

        AMDG,
        Sarah
        2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
        DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
        DS, 16
        DD, 14
        DD, 12
        DD, 10
        DD, 7.5
        DD, 5.5
        +DS+
        DS, 18 months

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by rweston View Post
          My wife and I were just discussing this very topic with regards to our oldest, who is now working through the Common Topic stage. He, too, had (has!) a tendency to embrace brevity in his writing—across subjects, just as you described. When his younger brother went through the Narrative level we noticed his natural propensity to write with just a bit more detail/description and my wife took advantage of that. She pushed him harder, since there was less resistance, and encouraged him to work through the editorial process more thoroughly, not necessarily writing more in terms of volume, but rewriting what he had and adding/modifying his language. This included writing the paraphrase thoroughly, unlike his brother.

          I share that to say, we now see a significant difference in their writing and in their speech. As I said, the eldest is in Common Topic, and the younger in Refutation and Confirmation. The younger writes with more fluidity, is easier to understand, and enjoys doing so (and I would say the same for his verbal communication). In hindsight, I am confident we should have been more forceful with the older brother, not only because that really was what the curriculum was asking for, but because it would have made things better for him as he went on through the levels. Now, as a 14 year old, he is learning he needs to rethink how he writes and it is a far less organic process, much more forced.

          As someone who has taught many of the levels of Classical Composition, in both a classroom and at home, I would encourage you to push your son on the paraphrases. He is going to be better for it and, while it may be a struggle for much of the year, it will eliminate a greater struggle that would otherwise have lasted many years.

          As for your last question, I would say yes, the writing portion of the literature program is important. I would recommend pausing CC, if necessary, to apply more effort to the literature essay. Essay writing will become a major component of the literature program in coming years.

          Stands up and applauds .........

          Thank you for this. Excellent advice for me for the future.

          Those poor first born MP kids. It's a wonder they ever make it through.
          Plans for 2019-20

          DD1 - 24 - College Grad and rocking her own bakery business
          DD2 - 13 - 8A Louisville HLS Cottage School and MPOA
          DS3 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
          DS4 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
          DD5 - 7 - MP2, Louisville HLS Cottage School
          DS6 - 5 - MP K

          [url]www.thekennedyadventures.com/all-about-our-memoria-press-homeschool[/url]

          Comment


            #6
            Thank you for your replies! (I can't believe Ryan Weston replied to MY post! ) Guess I better push him some more.

            We've started a short break from CC already. He wasn't getting all the C names in FMOR straight, so we're going back through the book and writing outlines for each chapter together to prep for his next test. Next week I'll work with him on some Heidi essays. Maybe he'll be glad to settle back into CC after all that! One can hope.
            ~ Carrie
            Catholic mom to four - ages 10, 8, 5, and 3
            7th year homeschooling, 2nd year MP!
            2019-2020: 5M (LC year 2), 3M (LC year 2), and K enrichment!

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by rweston View Post
              My wife and I were just discussing this very topic with regards to our oldest, who is now working through the Common Topic stage. He, too, had (has!) a tendency to embrace brevity in his writing—across subjects, just as you described. When his younger brother went through the Narrative level we noticed his natural propensity to write with just a bit more detail/description and my wife took advantage of that. She pushed him harder, since there was less resistance, and encouraged him to work through the editorial process more thoroughly, not necessarily writing more in terms of volume, but rewriting what he had and adding/modifying his language. This included writing the paraphrase thoroughly, unlike his brother.

              I share that to say, we now see a significant difference in their writing and in their speech. As I said, the eldest is in Common Topic, and the younger in Refutation and Confirmation. The younger writes with more fluidity, is easier to understand, and enjoys doing so (and I would say the same for his verbal communication). In hindsight, I am confident we should have been more forceful with the older brother, not only because that really was what the curriculum was asking for, but because it would have made things better for him as he went on through the levels. Now, as a 14 year old, he is learning he needs to rethink how he writes and it is a far less organic process, much more forced.

              As someone who has taught many of the levels of Classical Composition, in both a classroom and at home, I would encourage you to push your son on the paraphrases. He is going to be better for it and, while it may be a struggle for much of the year, it will eliminate a greater struggle that would otherwise have lasted many years.

              As for your last question, I would say yes, the writing portion of the literature program is important. I would recommend pausing CC, if necessary, to apply more effort to the literature essay. Essay writing will become a major component of the literature program in coming years.
              This is interesting! And in light of Sarah's comment about certain kids just leaning more in one direction or another and watching for that, isn't it a bit hard to know now whether the older brother could have been pushed to be what the younger brother is? As you stated, the younger brother showed a "natural propensity" for descriptive writing, which would have made it easier to push him in that direction. Is it possible you would have seen the significant difference in their writing and speech no matter how much you pushed them? I know that doesn't mean he can't learn it, but this is something that interests me as I watch how my kids naturally do or do not gravitate toward a subject. And anyone who has followed my questions on the forum in the past will know that I'm always wondering how you actually "push" a kid to do something they have little interest in doing. We have the ideal in mind, but how do you push and require in a reasonable way?
              2019-20
              DS--9, 3M/4M
              DD--7, mix of 1 and 2
              DD--5, MP K
              DS--3
              DS--1

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Emilylovesbooks View Post

                This is interesting! And in light of Sarah's comment about certain kids just leaning more in one direction or another and watching for that, isn't it a bit hard to know now whether the older brother could have been pushed to be what the younger brother is? As you stated, the younger brother showed a "natural propensity" for descriptive writing, which would have made it easier to push him in that direction. Is it possible you would have seen the significant difference in their writing and speech no matter how much you pushed them? I know that doesn't mean he can't learn it, but this is something that interests me as I watch how my kids naturally do or do not gravitate toward a subject. And anyone who has followed my questions on the forum in the past will know that I'm always wondering how you actually "push" a kid to do something they have little interest in doing. We have the ideal in mind, but how do you push and require in a reasonable way?
                I think when many of us say “push,” we simply mean “expect solid work done well.” Solid work will look different depending on age and development, but we all know what it looks like when a specific child applies himself.

                You can’t make a child like something, but you can require them to be diligent despite their feelings. Interestingly, when you expect diligence, they learn more (in spite of their feelings) and sometimes end up liking the subject they originally hated. That’s not always the case, but it does happen.

                A friend (and mostly-unschooler at that), once told me we can’t guarantee how our kids will turn out. All we can do is show them truth [and beauty and goodness] and enforce expectations for living virtuously. What they do with it is between them and God. They have free will and while I can inspire a love for what is lovely, I can’t make them love it. This is true for education as well. Our job isn’t to make them love learning; our job is to show them what is worth loving and that it is beautiful and true and good. Requiring diligence helps show this — it says, “This is worthy of our time and attention.” What they do with that knowledge, or how they feel about it, is between them and God. The only time I have to step in is if they choose to be disrespectful. My crew is free to be unhappy about something and even say that they’re not happy; but they’re not free to be sassy, defiant, or throw a fit about it.

                Amazingly, whenever I increase expectations (based on what is appropriate for the child in front of me), there is usually a period of push-back and then school becomes more peaceful overall.
                Jennifer
                Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

                DS16
                MP: Lit 10, VideoText Algebra
                MPOA: High School Comp. II
                HSC: Spanish I, Conceptual Physics, Modern European History, and electives

                DS15
                MP: Biology, Lit 10, VideoText Algebra, Greek Tragedies
                MPOA: High School Comp. II, Fourth Form Latin
                HSC: Modern European History

                DS12
                7M with:
                Second Form Latin, EGR III, and HSC for US History

                DS11
                SC Level 4

                DD9
                3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

                DD7/8
                Still in SC Level 2

                DD 4/5
                SC Level C

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by Emilylovesbooks View Post

                  This is interesting! And in light of Sarah's comment about certain kids just leaning more in one direction or another and watching for that, isn't it a bit hard to know now whether the older brother could have been pushed to be what the younger brother is? As you stated, the younger brother showed a "natural propensity" for descriptive writing, which would have made it easier to push him in that direction. Is it possible you would have seen the significant difference in their writing and speech no matter how much you pushed them? I know that doesn't mean he can't learn it, but this is something that interests me as I watch how my kids naturally do or do not gravitate toward a subject. And anyone who has followed my questions on the forum in the past will know that I'm always wondering how you actually "push" a kid to do something they have little interest in doing. We have the ideal in mind, but how do you push and require in a reasonable way?
                  To build upon what Jen had to say, this conversation has everything to do with expectations. We cannot "push" a student if we do not have clear expectations already set.

                  Obviously as educators, we should be setting realistic expectations of our students. Perhaps less obviously, we should be aiming (in our minds, not communicated to the student) higher than those expectations. When this is the case, we are ready to "push" the student at the moment that they meet those realistic expectations. When we are comparing students, then, we may say that the realistic expectations are not the same (as Jen said), based on what we know of each. Regardless, when a student has met their expectations we don't want to stop there.

                  I could use an analogy here that may be helpful. If I am going to hike a trail with two friends, one of whom is an avid hiker and the other a novice, I will set different expectations for each. However, if I know that there is something more that the trail offers just beyond where I expect them to want to turn back, I will use it to encourage them to go on, particularly when that thing is in accordance with some interest they have expressed during the hike. The key here is that I don't attempt to encourage them to go further (push) until we have reached the "reasonable expectation" I had previously set—and had communicated to them. Had I set the visible bar higher than was "reasonably expected" it may have turned into a source of discouragement rather than the encouragement I want. I hope to utilize where they have come to encourage them to go further (i.e. the view may be better ahead than it was a moment ago, another animal sighting may be coming up, a higher waterfall may be around the next corner).

                  That "trail" is the academic course load and my "friends" are my students. The 4th (or 5th, or 6th, etc) grade course load will not change. However, my expectations will. I may expect student 1 to traverse 5 of the 7 miles, but when I hit mile 5 I am going to push him to make it around one more turn and see what happens. Likewise, student 2 may have only been expected to go 3 of the 7 miles, but I'll do the same with him as I did with the other. Who knows, perhaps the second student is energized by something you did not expect (a waterfall he otherwise would have missed?) and continues on further and further, maybe even beyond the student (or hiker? I'm lost in my own analogy!) with higher expectations. I wouldn't have known had I let him turn back at mile marker 3, his "reasonable expectation." The difficulty, I admit, is in finding what things in his academic studies correlate to the views, the wildlife, and the waterfalls of my analogy. They are there, you just need to find them.
                  Ryan Weston
                  Director, Cottage Schools and Distributor Relations
                  Memoria Press

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thank you, Jen and Ryan, for the thoughtful responses! I guess I’m just finding it a challenge to figure out how to require the diligence and have them meet the reasonable expectations. I agree with you both
                    2019-20
                    DS--9, 3M/4M
                    DD--7, mix of 1 and 2
                    DD--5, MP K
                    DS--3
                    DS--1

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by Emilylovesbooks View Post
                      Thank you, Jen and Ryan, for the thoughtful responses! I guess I’m just finding it a challenge to figure out how to require the diligence and have them meet the reasonable expectations. I agree with you both
                      So long as your signature is up to date, my two kids are the same age as two of yours (9 & 5). I find their motivation to be a lot simpler than older kids I've taught. My young ones' ability to enjoy a subject is almost entirely dependent upon their ability to do well at it. If they haven't committed the information to memory or don't remember a detail, they are more likely to be frustrated and give up easily. Frankly, I don't know many children who dislike a subject in which they can rapidly and easily answer questions. The pure joy of having correct answers to please a teacher is very rewarding for most primary-aged children. Where many children start to lose their diligence (outside of behavioral issues and special needs students) is not completely understanding the material. Some kids zone out while you've "perfectly explained" something, and they don't want to have to sit through hearing it again, so they press on without full understanding of the assignment, give up in frustration, and hide their incomplete work or try to whine and get out of it. Just last week, I thought I was having a massive behavioral/defiance issue with my eldest doing ATF&F. She was given the assignment that I assumed would be easy independent work because I fully explained the lesson, marked the reference pages for "strong verbs" and adverbs, completed an example with her, and left to work with her brother. When I went to check her "completed" work, half of it wasn't done. After a long lecture in diligence, honesty and gravitas, she was a puddle of tears. After getting to the heart of it, it turns out she just did not have a full understanding of what adverbs were. She somehow thought you had to take a verb and turn it into an adverb (i.e., replace "said" with "declare," and then write "declaringly," which she couldn't find on any of the adverb lists). Of course this is not the only reason for my child's inability to get down to work, but it is at the root of much of it. She most dislikes the subjects she has least practiced and reviewed. When *I* take the time to review with her so that she is confident in the material, she attacks her assignments with alacrity and ease.

                      There is a great book by Daniel T. Willingham called Why Don't Students Like School? He asserts that building a knowledge base requires the ability to layer new information on top of a solid foundation of facts, vocabulary, and repeated exposure to consistent topics. The more exposure a child has to words, concepts, etc, the more new information about a topic they can assimilate. A child's ability to think critically and employ higher order thinking skills is directly dependent upon a child's mastery and fluency with a certain topic's foundational aspects. Ergo, parents cannot expect a child to complete an assignment with which they have not begun to master the material. At our kids' ages, they are in the information gathering stage. They need many helps with procedures, study skills, expectations, and direct review and drilling by a teacher/parent. Getting kids our age to be independent with their work is still going to be a work in progress. Willingham also speaks to the issue you mentioned in regards to kids' natural "proclivities." Yes, some kids are gifted in one area over another, but he asserts that a child's repeated exposure and familiarity with certain topics more readily explains their ease and interests. He has some cool experiments and data he tracked on kids' ability to comprehend a passage about baseball. Anyway, the book is highly worth reading.

                      Mama to 2, Married 17 years

                      SY 19/20
                      DD 8-3A
                      DS 5-SC C

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Thank you all for this topic/post. It was so timely for me!

                        Embateau, I love the Willingham book, too, and reread it every fall. One of my favorites!
                        Gina
                        Honored & Blessed to be teaching my children at home
                        (since 2001)

                        DS-sophomore in college
                        DD-soon-to-be college freshman!
                        DD-9
                        DS-8

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Emilylovesbooks Enbateau makes a great point. But you still have the problem of getting them to do the work that will lead to them really knowing, and therefore enjoying (or at least not minding) their school work. We've been going through this for several years with my now 11yo son.
                          • First, it was because school was very challenging for him. He had some struggles we didn't know about at the time and he ended up being improperly placed.
                          • After we got that straightened out, we had to deal with the result: he shut down whenever he even thought something would be difficult.
                          • Then there was the "it takes too long" issue.
                          • Finally, after trying everything we could think of, my husband took him to our home office every morning at 7am and they worked until done. My son was finished by 9am every.single.day. and proud of it — even though my husband required him to do all three pages for every lesson in the dreaded math book.
                          • Once we were sure he could handle higher expectations, we transitioned him back to me...and the problems started all over again even though I kept up everything my husband had been doing.
                          • We then tried a goal-based motivation thing. It worked for the first week. He earned his goal, then couldn't think of what to work for the next week and it all fell apart.
                          • At that point, my husband insisted we were being played and I laid down the law. I pulled out his Curriculum Manual, highlighted what I knew he could do independently (even if it took awhile due to lack of focus) and told him it was on him. He wasn't leaving the school table until every highlighted item was done well and had been checked by me.
                          • He finished in two hours and proceeded to do this every day for the last week. We go over his work in the afternoon when I do any teaching that is needed and then I highlight the next day's independent work. We took today off due to a crazy day yesterday, but he's already mentally set to do his independent work tomorrow morning.
                          A wise mentor once told me that we have to make things "their" problem, otherwise we'll end up doing all the lifting for them. I'm no longer sitting here for 3 hours while he whines and complains the whole way through. My only job is to make sure he doesn't leave that seat; and if he does, to calmly/firmly bring him back to it. Nothing else happens in his life until he has met his responsibilities.

                          And he is now acing Latin and Math and very proud of himself for it. Delectare (delight) here we come.
                          Jennifer
                          Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

                          DS16
                          MP: Lit 10, VideoText Algebra
                          MPOA: High School Comp. II
                          HSC: Spanish I, Conceptual Physics, Modern European History, and electives

                          DS15
                          MP: Biology, Lit 10, VideoText Algebra, Greek Tragedies
                          MPOA: High School Comp. II, Fourth Form Latin
                          HSC: Modern European History

                          DS12
                          7M with:
                          Second Form Latin, EGR III, and HSC for US History

                          DS11
                          SC Level 4

                          DD9
                          3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

                          DD7/8
                          Still in SC Level 2

                          DD 4/5
                          SC Level C

                          Comment


                            #14
                            enbateaujen1134 I might take a look at the Willingham book. It sounds like one I'd like! But yes, Jen, you nailed it. It's the getting the actual work done part. I so appreciate your sharing how you have made that happen with your son! I have seen how the kids love knowing the things once they have learned them. Figuring out how to make it happen in a way that we are comfortable with and that is doable every day has been the hardest part. It is helpful and encouraging to know how you've handled it in your home. Thanks again!
                            2019-20
                            DS--9, 3M/4M
                            DD--7, mix of 1 and 2
                            DD--5, MP K
                            DS--3
                            DS--1

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