Saturday, July 11, 2009
Calvert 7th Grade Review
Well, I'm only 5 or 6 weeks late in writing this. I'm sure none of you was holding your breath anyway, right? This is the Calvert 7th Grade Academic Curriculum; their Scholastic curriculum uses one or two fewer novels, and some number fewer compositions.
Ryan hates math. That being said, he did wonderfully with 7th Grade Calvert math. They write their own math curriculum, and it's very well organized and comprehensive. One of the things I like is that they have a test to be administered at the beginning of the course to see what the child remembers from previous years. They then offer 10 lessons for review of anything in which he's rusty. Ryan was so proud that he didn't need any of those reviews! This was a great pre-algebra course, introducing equalities and inequalities, variables and formulas. There was plenty of geography, including the Pythagorean Theorem, complementary and supplementary angles, polygons, parallel and perpendicular lines, etc. There was also some statistics, graphing, patterns and number theory, as well as the usual math and plenty of word problems. Right after we finished the course, Ryan took the Algebra I placement test, and aced it! He's excited.
Spelling was the Scott Foresman book. Ryan finds it rather tedious, and I would have preferred it if Calvert had continued using their original spelling course. I've sung this song before, and I'm sure everyone's bored with it.
Reading was an excellent course. Scattered through the course was poetry from the book Classic Poems to Read Aloud. Neither my student nor I was much excited about Poetry. That being said, I suppose it makes him a more well rounded person, and there's a lot of good to be said for exposure to many different literature forms. The first book we read was Kidnapped, followed by Around the World in 80 days. Both of these books are beyond exciting for a 12 year old, especially one whose mother does not allow TV to speak of, and whose computer use is severely limited, to the exclusion of all video games. These two factors give my children very vivid imaginations, a necessary factor in finding the excitement in books (in my opinion). After these two books, we read The Miracle Worker. Ryan expected to dislike this book based on two factors: (a) it is a play, and (b) it's about Helen Keller. He was very pleasantly surprised by the book indeed, and was cheering for Helen and Annie Sullivan at the end! Following that was Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, another book Ryan expected to dislike. He was surprised by this one as well. It's about a black family in the deep south prior to WWII, very well written and riveting. The last book was Anne Frank, and Ryan didn't like it at all. He found it very dull. Truthfully, I understand and don't disagree.
Composition and Grammar are somewhat intertwined, being taught from the same textbook. I found the publisher and ordered a workbook from them, so Ryan wouldn't have to write out the grammar exercises. This may somewhat defeat the purpose, but as parents we must choose our battles. I choose to have the child identify parts of speech by circling them in a workbook rather than copy the sentence and then circle the parts of speech. Another aspect of grammar is diagramming sentences. This is a somewhat tedious chore, but it's invaluable in teaching the child parts of speech. There is a review booklet included which can be used at any time during the course. It goes through everything taught in 6th grade sentence diagramming. We read through it several times, although Ryan declined to use it. Grammar included sentence and paragraph structure, including simple, compound and complex sentences. These lessons were interspersed with the Composition lessons. As a generality, the child wrote one composition every week or two, and had a large project due every 20 lessons (one month). Assignments included narrative and descriptive compositions, letters, book reports, interviewing and a research report. By and large, Ryan enjoyed the assignments - as much as a 12 year old will, at any rate.
Geography was a study of the climate, landforms, vegetation, minerals, demographics and economies of North and South America, Europe and Russia (following the same course covering Asia, Africa and Australia/Pacific Islands last year), along with map reading and an introduction to global issues. There was a lot of information in this course, and we enjoyed it.
History covered the time following the fall of the Roman Empire, and went through the American Revolution. It covered political, social (including religious) and economic changes in the world. There was even a unit on the history of the Muslim religion, an area about which most of us know painfully little. Ryan really likes history, and this course led to some great dinner time conversations with his father and big brothers, who really love the subject. Of course, as I stated in my review of 4th grade, this is a much more in depth course, and quite age appropriate.
Also included was an Art History course covering architecture. It includes everything from early architecture and pyramids to new modern buildings. They cover styles of columns, interior and exterior trim and embellishments, and styles of architecture. The is the third in the Child's History of Art series written by Calvert School, and it is a wonderful enrichment for any child's education (and some of us parental figures can learn something, too!). The course also includes art lessons based on this art history course.
Science used 5 books from the Science Explorer series: From Bacteria to Plants, Animals, Human Biology and Health (remember my rant about the food pyramid?), Motion, Force and Energy, and Sound and Light. As has happened in times past, the Science curriculum spirals into ever more detail. Ryan enjoyed every book except the Human Biology book. Oddly enough, he doesn't like Science about people, but finds it rather boring. Well, I guess we don't have a burgeoning doctor in our midst (for which the college fund is grateful). There were plenty of experiments, and, for the first time, the test service required that some experiment results be turned in with the tests. One thing that I appreciated is that when multiple books are used for a course, the child feels a sense of real accomplishment when he finishes a book and can put it away.
As with 4th grade, Calvert includes online technology lessons for 7th grade. They teach such things as word processing, desktop publishing, networks, use of the internet and hyperlinks.
The lesson manual for 7th grade is written to the student, but I kept it and read the material to my son, except when it was a very long introduction to a new topic or a new book. He didn't like reading the lesson information to himself, and I feel that doing the introductions, and acting as teacher, kept me more "in the loop." I'm sure there are people out there who are happy to hand the manual off to the child, and just ask the discussion questions, but I like to control my environment and my child's education. The lesson manual is a really invaluable tool. Even for someone not trained as a teacher, it gives me the confidence to believe I can teach every single thing in this curriculum to my son. His excellent grades, as given by the Calvert School Advisory Teacher (I pay extra for this service, very happily), prove that I am right. If you have any questions about this, or any Calvert course grades K through 7, leave your email address with your comment, and I'll try to respond. And Paula, I'd love to see you write what you thought of Calvert's 7th grade interactive program!