B is for Block Scheduling: Finding a Schedule That Works for Challenge B

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October is upon us. The school year is not so shiny and new and exciting anymore. We aren’t tired and bored yet (I hope!) but we’re finding a groove and getting comfortable with what works–and identifying what does NOT work.

I am directing Classical Conversations Challenge B this year. It’s incredible, for so many reason.  I am falling in  love with Challenge B and I didn’t think anything could top Challenge A!

Much of what the kids learn in Challenge A carries over. The Latin is the same (but faster), the writing curriculum is the same (but the books they write about are different), the math presentations are done using the same methods. The research is similar–but instead of anatomy and animals, we are focused on astronomers right now and will move on to chemistry later. But there are new things. LOGIC! And current events! And the biggest NEW THING is that our Challenge A homework schedule is just NOT WORKING for Challenge B.

Practicing Latin vocabulary with alphabet pretzels in Challenge B at Classical Conversations!

In Challenge A, I told my daughter to spend one hour per day on each strand. That was what was recommended by the guide and it worked in A. Obviously A students needed to spend time daily on math and Latin. And studying catechisms for Rhetoric/Reasoning. And practicing map drawing. And practicing anatomy drawings. The only thing that didn’t REALLY need time set aside every day was Expo/Comp and even then, the Lost Tools curriculum is new and unfamiliar and took more time.

But Challenge B is a completely different beast! There are a lot of small projects that need dedicated focus, not random time, an hour here and an hour there. We have discovered that a block schedule works so much better in Challenge B.

What exactly does that mean? It means setting aside a whole block of time to do an entire subject/strand each day instead of doing bits and pieces of all of them each day.

Here’s the schedule we’ve come up with for first semester. Now, this will probably change second semester because Mock Trial will become a daily thing, and Atomos will need a little review each day, as well.

Ptolemy project for Challenge B

For at least the first semester, we are saying B is for Block Scheduling. Here’s what it looks like in our house:

Wednesday: Community Day

Thursday: Math, Logic, and Latin before lunch.  Put books on hold for research project. Do entire Expo/Comp assignment for the week after lunch.

Friday: Math, Logic, and Latin before lunch. Do entire Current Events assignment for the week after lunch.

Monday: Math, Logic, and Latin before lunch. Do entire Research assignment for the week after lunch.

Tuesday: Math, Logic, and Latin before lunch.  Do any last minute editing and adjusting to Current Events, Research, and Expo/Comp. Print finalized projects. Pack bag for community day! Also, on Tuesday evenings, we get together with our entire class and watch the Logic DVDs together.

This schedule means that heading into the weekend, two of their three projects for the week are already DONE. Obviously, different community days make this play out differently, but for us, going into the weekend knowing she has two big things off her plate means the weekend is a heck of a lot more enjoyable.  We save Research for Monday so we can put books on hold Thursday and have time to wait for them to show up at the library. But if they haven’t arrived, we go in the library and spend some time finding sources. Our library is pretty great with the hold system, though, and we haven’t had a problem.

The only thing left off the schedule is reading the next expo/comp book. In our house, those books are usually enjoyable enough (with the exception of Little Britches!) that they can be read in the evening and on the weekend without it feeling like work.

In our house this looks like doing Math, Logic, and Latin from 9-12. Lunch break and back to work by 1 and working until she’s done. That could be anywhere from 1 to 3 hours depending on the particular project. An ANI chart takes longer than an outline. A short paper on Hipparchus is quicker than Cassini’s timeline assignment. But overall, schoolwork is over and done by 4pm and no school work other than reading literature has to be done on the weekends.

Maybe this doesn’t work for all students. Maybe your student can’t focus on one single project for the entire afternoon. I’m sure that block scheduling isn’t the answer for every Challenge B student but it is working at our house and if it helps another B family out there, fantastic!

Another Ptolemy project



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