Thursday, March 15, 2012

Tapestry of Grace: Part Two - Rhetoric Level

Sometimes when I sit to grade papers, I start with my high school student's work - because I know if I start with the little ones and work my way up in age order, I'll run out of steam before I get done!

(Remember:  Please leave a comment if you have a question about Tapestry that you'd like me to answer!  I'll try my best!)

I've decided that the next blog post in my Tapestry "series" should work in the same way.  I've seen a few great posts about TOG used with Grammar students, but fewer with Rhetoric & Dialectic students.*  And for me?  The way TOG works for my older kids is the. best. part.  Let me 'splain.  No, there is too much.  Let me sum up. . . . . .

I found Tapestry of Grace when this guy here was in 5th grade.  My oldest, then a 9th grader, was getting "lost in the shuffle" of a house full of younger kids.  (We had 9th, 5th, 3rd, 1st, and a 2 year old.  Wow.  That makes me tired just TYPING that!)  She would do her work, turn it in, go on about her merry way, all the while I was drowning in a pile of little people and wishing I had more time to devote to hearing her heart and give her a good, solid, Biblical education. 

Tapestry - for our family - fit the bill.  Because all the kids were studying the same topic, I had less prep work.  And, truthfully?  Reading those Lower Grammar books to my younger ones WAS my prep work for high school discussions, some weeks!  (Shh. . .y'all, don't tell Marcia Somerville!  I mean, the teacher's notes are amazing and wonderful, but some weeks I had to read with my little people and wing it!  And you know what?  God still worked, and He still used my inadequacy!)

Now, I could let my high school student study all week long, learn independent study skills, and know - KNOW - that I would be able to interact with her in a concentrated, rich, deep, excellent discussion session during the week.  She was now being held accountable to me, and we enjoyed four wonderful years of discussing our way through history.**

This year, our high school discussions often look like this:

Yes, it's true.  Monday afternoons, you can find me and The Boy stretched out on living room sofas, plowing our way through God's sovereignty in the face of Stalin & Hitler, the Civil Rights movement, hippies, and whatever else Year 4 throws at us.  I'm so thankful that I have the time to hear his heart, and shape his worldview.   And because the whole family is on the same topic each week, we have some really engaging discussions around the dinner table - even the 7-year old joins in!  I love that the Lord uses Tapestry to knit our hearts together.

A few more things to keep in mind as you are thinking about using Tapestry with older students:

First:  Tapestry offers amazing, FREE help on the Loom portion of the website in terms of understanding credits and planning your high schoolers' course work.  For those of you staring down the big, dark, scary barrel of the "Homeschool High School Tunnel" - I highly recommend "Mapping High School" found on this page.  It is a very thorough, uncomplicated, easily understandable look at how to plan a course of study.

Second:  I was - ahem - a skeptic about the whole "4-year cycle" concept.  When my son approached 9th grade, I was very concerned about his transition to Rhetoric level work.  Then - lo and behold! - we had our first discussion, and he REMEMBERED things from his previous Tapestry rotation!  Wow!  It has really surprised me. . . . and pleasantly so.

Third:  Tapestry offers online classes - and they are amazing.  As I looked at our year's schedule, I realized that I just couldn't do it all.  And with gas prices rising, and time limited, I couldn't commit to driving my son to a co-op each week.  I also didn't want to give up the wonderful history discussions we were having, or have to change my curriculum altogether.  My son ended up taking a Rhetoric Literature class this year - he logs in on Friday mornings, and enjoys discussion sessions with a group of students from all around the country and a very gifted teacher.  It has been one of the highlights of his school year!

Finally:  I just want to add a personal note.  You can do this.  It is a joy, a blessing, and a privilege to be able to spend these hours and days with our high school students.  These are the best years!  It has been a wonder - and a source of praise to God - to see these amazing people grow and develop a heart to love and serve Him.  God has definitely used Tapestry of Grace in our home for His glory.

It's been a wonderful, humbling, amazing thing.

Next stop?  Tapestry with the Dialectic Duo!  Stay tuned. . . . . . 

*For this discussion, Rhetoric is 9th-12th grade; Dialectic is about 5th-8th grade.
**My oldest daughter is a freshman at a local Christian liberal arts school.  She is a part of their honors program, which is a four-semester redo of the Tapestry Rotation!   Here's her very collegiate quote: "Tapestry gave me a strong historical and biblical framework in which to place the events & ideas of our complicated world  And it provided the rigorous education to help me succeed in the Honors program and be a straight-A student (at least for right now!!)"  Yeah, I solicited that - but I did NOT tell her what to say :)


Kelli said...

I enjoyed your post. We're finishing up our second year with TOG and I have one transitioning to rhetoric next year. Dropping by from the WTM board.

Nancy said...

Yay! Enjoyed this...and agree completely (now that we are finishing up a year of Rhetoric discussions :-)

Lexi said...

I cannot wait until my kids are older and we dive into the discussions! I enjoy Tapestry now but know that it will be even better as the years go by and I get to work through the levels with my kids. It's so helpful to see how Tapestry works with all levels of your kids.

Christy said...

How do you handle weeks when one child gets behind the group because of other commitments? Do you all pause TOG, or do you all move ahead and said child catches up?

The girl who painted trees said...

Thanks for leaving the links at WTM. I am considering TOG eventually. My littles are just too little right now (5 and 3).

Missy said...

Just had our first rhetoric discussion today and really needed the encouragement you gave! :)

The history stuff flows so easily; but throw the poetics discussions in and my 9th grader's eyes start to glaze over! Hoping that each discussion will flow more smoothly as we go along. I L.O.V.E this curriculum; but feel a little overwhelmed during discussions so far!

Missy said...

Just had our first rhetoric discussion today and really needed the encouragement you gave! :)

The history stuff flows so easily; but throw the poetics discussions in and my 9th grader's eyes start to glaze over! Hoping that each discussion will flow more smoothly as we go along. I L.O.V.E this curriculum; but feel a little overwhelmed during discussions so far!

Jen in Al said...

Enjoying these posts again!:) Thank you for taking the time to share how you use TOG. Hugs sweet precious friend:). jen

Beth said...

I am considering Tapestry of Grace for two of my teenage daughters (one in 8th grade and the other in 11th) and I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me concerning the curriculum? We are coming from the Classical Conversations curriculum and are considering a more relaxed year of school due to some very busy schedules and the need for family time. How much time do (or did) your children invest each day in their homework? Did you find it difficult having rhetoric discussions with your students? Were they nightly discussion or weekly? Did you have any regrets, concerns or frustrations with the curriculum that would be helpful for me to know in making my decision? Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions.
Blessings In Christ,