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    School Prep 2014: Year Seven Planning Notes

    August 6, 2014 by Brandy Vencel
    Ramblings about planning AO Year Seven...for the first time.

    This is what I’ve been putting off. I did Year Four, and also Year Two (which I didn’t have any real thoughts on other than that I used a template for her spreadsheets, which I already explained in my post on Year Four), and then I thought about Kindergarten a bit. I did a couple of my Course of Study forms for our state paperwork.

    And then I decided that I couldn’t avoid Year Seven any longer.

    Planning for my oldest is the most difficult because he’s always the one in the uncharted waters. With the others, I make adjustments, but there isn’t this sense of the unknown.

    Here are some notes I have taken so far during my planning process. I will write a follow-up post if anything else comes up that I think is worth noting. I actually use these posts as references for myself when I plan for my future students coming up, so I NEED these posts to be thorough!

    • I started by making a template of our week. I based this upon our Average Day Chart.
      Ramblings about planning AO Year Seven...for the first time.
      The first thing I did was decide that we are only doing dictation once per week, and that’s on Friday. I need to get better at teaching dictation in general before I start assuming that if I put it on the normal schedule, it’ll actually happen. I also noticed that Wednesday is running long when compared with the Chart. I thought about it, and decided I don’t care. He can continue writing while I’m prepping lunch — he needs to write. I’ll do the lesson portion with him, and then he can write while I’m doing something else. He’ll also do short, written narrations on the other days, but these are factored into the total subject time.
    • The next thing I did was begin to fill in the template with actual assignments. This was way harder for Year Seven than for other years … again because it is uncharted territory. I do make sure I have the books with me, but I still never know if I’m planning the “right” amount of time until we’ve done it.
    • Reminder: anything I placed into Circle Time is not on this template.
    • For “composition,” we’re using Classical Composition Chreia/Maxim. I blogged about my decision to do this here. Other written narrations are fit into the time periods, like I said before. So, for example, 45 minutes on history might actually be 30 minutes of reading plus 15 minutes of written narration.
    • The Year Seven list includes The Fallacy Detective and How to Read a Book for Logic. You may be surprised to know that even though I’ve owned both of these books for years, I decided on a totally different option. You see, E-Age-Twelve is taking an informal logic class with a group of homeschoolers one afternoon per week, so I don’t feel as much need to cover much logic during the morning. With that said, Karen Glass told me about a wonderful little book called The Square Root of Tuesday that will offer us some formal logic in living style at just a couple pages per week.
    • On the template, I had two spots for Geography — 1 for 45 minutes and another for 20. I decided that the 45 minute slot was enough, and put The Square Root of Tuesday in the 20 minute slot instead. We are going really slowly through that book, working problems as we go, so that is easily followed by The Grammar of Poetry, I think.
    • In general, I view these categories fluidly. So, for example, if I don’t have enough history readings to fill all the slots, but I do have extra literature, I’m not going to look for a history reading — I’m filling the slot with literature. My main goal is to use the times as guidelines so that we don’t bleed over into the rest of the day.
    • I have mentioned Push to Kindle before, but you really should be using it. I didn’t buy Bede. Instead, I used the AO version, already broken up into weekly assignments, and sent it to our Kindles. I use the Chrome extension for P2K and it’s super easy.
    • I put two readings into the Thursday morning slot. I found that the chapters in both books were short, and could be completed in thirty minutes total, as long as the narrations were oral instead of written, so that is what we’re doing.
    • I dropped How to Be Your Own Selfish Pig. I considered replacing it with something else, but decided that I didn’t really have any time left. I dropped it because I decided it covered things that my child wasn’t ready for. It’s not that we avoid talking about hard things, and if they came up in daily life, we’d talk them through, but I think there is a reason why the book is usually recommended for high school.
    • I dropped Age of Chivalry because I didn’t have room for it. I’ve decided to encourage my son to use it as a reference. For example, he was drilling me on Merlin the other day. I didn’t realize that this book had a couple paragraphs outlining the Basics of Merlin. That would have been nice to know! So I’m basically going to direct him there as those sorts of questions come up.
    • We did the normal Year Six science last year. If you know about the new Year Seven science, then you know that Year Six was also changed, and some of what was in Year Six is now in Year Seven. In other words: some of the assigned science for Year Seven is stuff we’ve already done. The solution that Jeanne suggested for me — and perhaps I already mentioned this? — was to pull some of the stuff from the new Year Six that we haven’t done and use that instead. So, for example, we are doing Mystery of the Periodic Table. The only problem is that this makes my Year Seven science a bit light. I occasionally ended up with a 20 minute or even a 30 minute slot unfilled. I’ll talk more about what I did with that in a minute.
    • I added in 10 minutes of poetry, three days per week. I might also add in a poem to our Enrichment Friday, but we’ll see.
    • I added in a row for Keeping. Every time he makes an entry into one of his notebooks, he’ll check one of these boxes. The boxes are generally how many entries I expect per week, though there are sometimes reasons to make exceptions, and he’s always free to do more.
    • Yes, we use Wrap Ups for our math drills for all grades. The set I bought for my oldest is still going strong after six years of use. So far, so good!
    • I debated over whether or not to put the chapter and page numbers into the sheet. I decided I wanted to, because I really want to compare what is assigned to what is actually accomplished, and if I don’t include it here, well … I just know myself too well. I’ll never actually go look it up. What I told my son is that our first week is research. I want him to use a stop watch and read the assignment and then record how long it took him to read it. He can just jot it right there in the assignment square. If he starts to go way over, he can come tell me immediately. If he’s short on time, that’s okay. I don’t want him reading too long, but I don’t necessarily want him starting in on more than what is assigned. I’d rather him develop a better written narration or something with that time.
    • With all of this said, here is an example. It’s Week 1:
      Ramblings about planning AO Year Seven...for the first time.

      This particular child is accustomed to directing his own schedule, so following mine will be an adjustment. He’s took it well, though, because I explained to him that I’m trying to solve a problem we had last year. You see, he was frustrated because he couldn’t give his oral narrations when he wished; he had to wait for me to finish up with his sisters. Now, we’ve planned it where there is a designated time for morning narrations, and then there will be some written in later morning, and so it should all work much better. He’s willing to let go of the freedom he had in order for the big picture to work better for all of us.
    • On some weeks, I ended up with less material than the schedule provided for. This is mainly because of the Year Six/Year Seven science issue I mentioned before. It is so tempting to fill in those gaps, isn’t it? I briefly considered adding Age of Chivalry back in — maybe that was the answer? But really, all the empty slots were for science, not literature. In the end, I decided that this was the breathing room we needed in order to make sure that science journal entries are really happening, that he has the time to make them nice. So I’m going to mark those slots as “notebook catch up time” and he can use them as he wishes.

    That’s all I have for now. Year Seven is a lot to think though, I have found. I’m getting excited about implementation, but I have to finish planning first! Every year, though, I am so glad that I bothered to plug in all 36 weeks this time of year. It saves me so much time during the school year, even though I do have to move things around as we go along.

    Ramblings about planning AO Year Seven...for the first time.

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  • Reply E January 4, 2020 at 3:00 pm

    I know you used Nicole from A SabbathMoodHomeschool’s PUS schedules to make your matrix, but the CM schedules only had 1 30 min for Literature in Form III. Where did you get 4 x 30 min for AO reading? and 5×30 min free reading? I’m doing my schedule based on Nicole’s scheduling cards, which roughly go along with her PUS schedules matrices, but there’s NO WAY that all of what AO assigns for Year 7 will fit in the Form III schedule, especially when it comes to literature, logic, and economics. I don’t see logic on the CM schedule at all and Economics isn’t until 11th & 12th grades. I mean in week 1 alone, there’s 6 literature assignments, 2 logic assignments, and 1 economics assignments in AO7. CM having 1 x 30 min literature spot would assume that ONE book was assigned, not 6. AO seemed to work well through AO3, where CM had 6 x 30 min reading spots, but once into Form II and III, it just seems like there’s not enough spots for all the things AO assigns. I understand that you just uses the slots for whatever fits there (and I’ve done that too last year), but I still don’t understand how you ended up with 4 slots for 30 min AO reads and 5 more for free reads; all of that is not on CM’s schedules that I can see. Please help me understand 🙂 🙂 🙂

    And on another semi-related note, CM advocated for history learned close to home (ie; US History for Form I) and learned at the same time in different streams (from Form II and up), so for us, that’s US History…then adding probably British History…then by Form IIA adding Ancient History. (ie: ) Why does AO not adhere to that?

    Thanks for the help! I want to adhere to the PUS schedules b/c otherwise I’ll just do way too much and we’re finishing school at dinner time and nobody’s happy.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 4, 2020 at 4:27 pm

      This post was written five years ago, so I don’t remember exactly my line of thinking. My kids have always finished AO in 4 days per week. The days are a bit longer but we’re usually done by 1:00. Maybe they read fast? I don’t know. I’ve seen a lot of CM’s schedules over the years. I went to a seminar one time where the gal was advocating SO MUCH SCIENCE (I think AO does too much science, by the way, in Year 7 especially — or did when I first did it so many years ago). She handed out a PNEU schedule. It had to be from after CM died but she never cited the year. Anyhow, they fit all the science in by dropping language. I was a little floored. There was no foreign language on that year’s schedule at all. I don’t even know what to think about that one.

      I’m rambling.

      Anyhow, personally I LOVE that AO does more econ than CM did. I think starting it in Y7 is just about perfect. I’m on my third time through this year and Penny Candy is just perfect at that age. Likely nothing was available for younger minds when CM was doing things. AO used to start with This Country of Ours but after a number of years decided that Island Story works much better. I completely agree. I’m not sure why you think they don’t start with US History, though, just because they are doing British, too. British history IS American history, and kids that don’t know British history don’t understand why America is the way that it is (The Roots of American Order is an adult book that explains this well). I recall Y1 studying George Washington, Pocahontas, Ben Franklin, and more. As someone on the West Coast, though, my kids thought colonial history was as foreign as British because it talked about places they still have never seen in their teen years, so I added in some California history and we did a lot of field trips. 🙂

      Remember that AO started with CM schedules and page counts (I find their page counts are much closer — still a little under — what CM was doing compared to a lot of the new CM curriculum where there is more focus on being “gentle” with the children), wrote an American version, and then refined it over the years after getting feedback from first hundreds and now thousands of graduates (there are over 10,000 families using all or parts of AO currently). Because of this, it changed a lot over the years. Of course, writing a Charlotte Mason curriculum is a lot more about adhering to Charlotte Mason’s principles than her hundred year old schedules. I find the schedule super helpful to get a visual, but I doubt she’d consider them something we ought to duplicate. She said, after all, “What worked even fifty years ago will not work to-day, and what fulfils our needs to-day will not serve fifty years hence; there is no last word to be said upon education; it evolves with the evolution of the race.” (Vol. 3, p. 46). When you’re planning, AO is a great starting place, but I would focus on making sure you are handing on that fullness of living Miss Mason so wanted children to have. If the day is too long, teach them to be efficient, and then cut as needed. You can move things to free reading or Sunday reading, of course. A lot of CM’s literature was done in the afternoons.

      I hope this helps a little!

      • Reply E January 4, 2020 at 6:58 pm

        Thanks for the thoughtful response.
        Another Q: I don’t see Beowulf in your schedule. Do you remember if you dropped that too?
        Last year, I used your planning posts and videos to create our matrix and schedule and I still had to add slots of time to every day (we school 4 days too) in order to fit all the literature and reading in for my Form II child. AO3 seemed to fit well into the schedule for my Form I child, but Form I has 6 30 min slots to fit big chunks of reading into. I guess I just expected AO to fit into CM schedules, but it doesn’t…at least not after Form I. With my chart totally filled in, I still have 8 readings left (4 of those you said you dropped…plus I didn’t see Beowulf in your chart) and I had already dropped Grammar of Poetry. I’d have to add an hour to each day for all AO7 to fit and my schedule is already 5 hours per day so that would make it 6 hours per day plus whatever was left for the afternoon, like drawing, nature study, PE, handicraft, piano, etc. That doesn’t sound doable to me. Ugh, now I’m rambling. I’m just trying to wrap my head around how people accomplish it. The irony is that I moved to AO last year b/c school was taking too long (probably too much assigned in our previous curriculum) and our new AO schedule, for the most part, worked last year. Both kids liked their AO year and my AO3 kid cried multiple times when books ended. Thanks again.

  • Reply Pre-reading: How to Move Beyond Winging It | Afterthoughts September 28, 2019 at 5:40 pm

    […] to complete my student’s school schedule for the week. It’s essentially the same as what Brandy uses here in excel. After a few weeks, it doesn’t take too long at all. I print it out, and put it on my […]

  • Reply Dovey July 15, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Where can I see some discussion about journals for science/math? We had done AO exclusively until Year 4, and I don’t remember any of that. Or is that in the Keeping book?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 15, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      The Living Page has a section on that, yes. Also, if you search through the blogs Peaceful Day {Jeanne Webb} and Sage Parnasus {Nancy Kelly} you will see some example entries. That actually helped me more than The Living Page in terms of putting it into practice. 🙂

  • Reply Dovey July 13, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Ahhh! I see it. Thanks for the encouragement on Year 7. Your blog has been such an encouragement to me as we are implementing some significant changes this year. I really appreciate your posting on margin, and if it doesn’t fit, making some difficult decisions rather than just forcing it. That’s been my problem in the past. Too many good books to read that I try to force it. Now to make those decisions…. 🙂

  • Reply Dovey July 13, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Brandy, you may have seen my recent post in the Ambleside Online facebook page. I’ve been following you closely as we are coming back to AO this year, and my oldest son is the exact same age as yours. Since he would be Year 8 this year and is totally capable of doing AO’s Year 8 work, I decided to pick and choose between Years 7 & 8. That means I’m doing A LOT of Year 7! 🙂 I noticed on your schedule that you didn’t do Churchill but did Bede. Could you speak to that? I’d be curious as to your reasoning. Thank you.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 13, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Hi Dovey! We did do Churchill, actually. If you look on my sample, I just used the title Birth of Britain rather than Churchill’s name. Sorry for the confusion! I was using whatever would help my son find the book on the shelf, and that one has the title really large and the author’s name really small. 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 13, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      ps. Year 7 is *such* a wonderful year. I keep wondering if it will always be my fave because I do adore that era so much…

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