Tapestry of Grace Rhetoric Level History: Part Two

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For the first part of this post, you need to read: Tapestry of Grace Rhetoric Level History-Part One. I know if you are not a Tapestry of Grace user this post may be confusing but I thought since I actually get asked about the nuts and bolts of TOG so much that it might be easier to have it here to reference to in the future.

Bear with me since this is rather long. You can skip to the recap at the bottom if you just want a thumbnail view of what we do in our home. Remember that I was writing this information in response to a question from a reader who is actually using TOG at the Rhetoric Level.

Also, for the most part, my boys are telling me back at the end of the week what they learned and found interesting. I am not trying to structure their week to tell them what they should learn. I will pick something to focus on each week and if at the end of their narrations and our discussion we have not covered the focus point, I share with them from the teacher’s notes some thoughts and ideas that maybe they did not discover on their own. For the most part, they are reading and making their own relationships with the ideas.

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Second Part of My Answer
So what does it look like in practice? Here is our Week 31 and 32 from Year 2.
(I pulled up our assignments on Homeschool Tracker and the boys’ work from their notebooks.)

Week 31 Monday (Our meetings are about 30 minutes long.)
1. I briefly go over the theme of the week, the objectives, and then we read the General Info together. I ask they what they remember about the American Revolution and the topics listed on the Student Page Accountability Question #1.
2. I allow them to narrate some of their thoughts since we have covered American History and the Constitution before. I make sure they know that they need to have a general understanding of all the events in AQ #1 and to do internet research if they need to because we are not going to go into detail this week. I use the Teacher’s Notes to sort of check mark what they mention so I know where we might need to fill in over the week or at Friday’s meeting.
3. Together we make a rough timeline on a sheet of notebook paper for the main events this week covers. I tell them that I will expect them to know the date of the Declaration of Independence being signed and when the Declaration of the Causes of the Necessity of Taking up Arms was passed.
4. I had previously decided that we would focus our attention this week on comparing the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration of the Causes. I have found them online and make sure the boys know where the bookmark is. They are going to be accountable for Thinking Question #1. I leave the assignment very open ended and let them come up with their own way to record their info.
5. Instead of a map assignment, I have the boys each choose a place listed in the geography section to do a little internet research on and record their findings to share.
6. They are expected to read Revolutionary Period Chapter 4 and Yankee Doodle Boy Chapter 2, with written narration.

Friday: (This meeting can run 45 minutes to an hour.)
1. We go over their Thinking Question #1. One has made a chart and one has written an essay. I fill in some missing pieces from the Teacher’s Notes and they make a few notes as well.
2. They share their narrations from The Revolutionary Period and Yankee Doodle Boy. I think I might have asked them the Thinking Question #4 about their impressions of life of a typical soldier in the Continental Army….seem to remember the talking at length about that one.
3. We look at our timeline and then file it to add to next week. (This is very simple and informal.)
4. We talk a little about Bunker Hill but we had previously done some research on this for a writing assignment. (We wrote a “Revolutionary Times” newspaper with each boy assigned topics to research and write about. We pulled it all together at the end of the unit. This was a TOG Level 7 writing project from the red pages but we decided it would be a fun way to incorporate the boys into one project.)

Week 32: Monday:
1. I briefly go over the theme of the week, the objectives, and then we read the General Information together. Use these thoughts to introduce the idea of the sacrifices made during the war and have them brainstorm some of the men involved and battles they know about.
2. I again use the Teacher’s Notes to sort of check mark what they mention so I know where we might need to fill in over the week or at Friday’s meeting.
3. We add to our timeline started last week some of the dates listed on the yellow Weekly Overview in the timeline section.
4. I have them turn to the Accountability Questions and we read those and let them know we will be discussing them in addition to their narrations from the books assigned.
5. We again have them pick a place from the Geography assignment to research and share on Friday. (We eventually use these as captions with a map on a display at our Unit Celebration.)
6. They are expected to read Revolutionary Period pages and Yankee Doodle Boy Chapters 3-7, with written narration.

Friday:
1. They share their narrations from The Revolutionary Period and Yankee Doodle Boy. I then make sure they have covered and narrated the answers to the Accountability Questions. By this time in the year, they are fairly good about including the answers in their narration but if they miss something or they haven’t found the answer, I share the information from the Teacher’s Notes. It is not at all like quizzing them or prompting but just making sure the info gets shared in some fashion.
2. They share their geography info and we file it away.
3. I skim through my highlighted Teacher’s Notes to make sure that we have discussed anything I thought might be important. I might say something like, “Tell me about Benedict Arnold and was he a good guy or a bad guy.” This sort of question always brings about some sort of debate. I also like to ask questions like, “What would you have done if you were in that situation?” Sometimes I will put the boys on opposite sides and have them explain something from a different point of view, like the Boston Massacre or the Boston Tea Party. I like discussions where they are engaged but not right or wrong.

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Usually I introduce the next week’s theme at the end of the Friday meeting. If we have time, I might even go over a little of the teaching objectives just to get them thinking. I try as much as I can to tie one week to the other as we work through the unit. I think of the complete unit as we work through each week so we keep on track.

Week 31 was the beginning of the Revolutionary War and Week 32 continues and finishes. Week 33 then continues with the Articles of Confederation and then introduces the idea of the French Revolution. Week 34 moves from the Articles to the Constitution. It just keeps flowing through time and if you can weave it together as you go it makes more sense.

I think for the Rhetoric level student it is much easier if they have had at least a taste of the time period before. We don’t have to spend so much time on background. They already have a general idea of the sequence of events, the people involved, and on some level the issues. TOG does things one step further by jumping back and forth across the Atlantic weaving European history to American history instead of keeping them separate. My boys really enjoyed the big picture they got working through this year of TOG, seeing the influences in politics, religion, science, and the arts as well.

To recap:

  • Monday: We have a meeting where we all understand what is going on for the week.
  • Monday (after the meeting) through Thursday: They work independently with a list of books assigned, pages to read, and questions in mind. I am available for oral narrations or discussions as they feel the need.
  • Friday: Our favorite day for history and literature….we get to sit around the table and share the week’s efforts. I have the TOG Teacher’s Notes in front of me. If you are interested in a more in-depth idea of what it is like during these discussions, you may wish to read the explanation of how a TOG “meeting” will look: Socratic Discussions. I especially think pages 4 and 5 give a good idea of how this is different from a textbook approach. It really is what sets TOG apart from other curriculum.
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