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Thread: Geography Plans

  1. #1
    This question is not specific to Year Two- we are just in year 2 so I posted it here.

    I am struggling with geography- and for the same reason I struggled with the writing portion (ultimately failing, we switched to IEW and love it). Maybe it is just my personality- I like structure and I don't like improvisation.

    So, the question is How to implement geo in a systematic way. Simply having a blank map with a list of things to find, and telling my kids "here's an atlas find them" is way too overwhelming for them. And simply having them copy from the teacher's map (like we did last year) they learned almost nothing. I need some structure- something more fundamental, something more in the realm of daily plans.

    I appreciate the buffet-style of TOG, but sometimes-with the writing and geography it feels like there is not enough direction, it is TOO flexible.

    So has anyone else found a way to make the geography more structured, more directed?

    Thanks!
    Sarah

  2. #2
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    Hi Sarah...I'm struggling with the exact same issues. What did you end up doing for geography? I hope you get this reply as I know you posted a few months ago. Happy teaching! :O)
    3rd year homeschooling
    Y2...First year using TOG... Dialectic daughter (12), Upper Grammar daughter(9), lower grammar son(5)...and baby boy (born in Nov.) using Easy Grammar, Singapore/Saxon Math., Wordly Wise, Sing Spell Read & Write, Exploring Cr

  3. #3
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    Hi ladies,
    We found the TOG Geography to be very systematic in the way we implemented it. I did have the approach of "drop-by-drop the bucket is full," so I knew that we wouldn't accomplish all of our goals in one school year. And, my boys know MUCH more geography than I ever thought about!

    Here's what we did:
    One day a week (usually Tuesday), they took their blank maps from MapAids, along with the three atlases we owned and spread out all over the floor. All of the children worked together and when one found "place x," they showed the others that "it's here between w and y." There were occasions that a particular place wasn't found in any of the atlases we owned, and they were trained to go to the TOG website and/or a search engine to find them.

    So, while it's simple, it is also very thorough. This method worked well for us and I do recommend it to many people.

    Blessings,
    Dana C. in TN
    Vice President
    Lampstand Press

    "Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew,
    like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.
    I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!"
    Deut. 32:2-4

  4. #4
    Hi Dana-

    Thanks for your reply. Actually, that is what we had been doing- and what I am just not too happy with. First of all, the atlas-on-the-floor method just doesn't work for us. I have two dyslexic kids and so just trying to sort through all the words in the atlas is a tearful and exhausting experience. And secondly, I have a (non-dyslexic) 12 year old who still is unsure of where Sweden is on a map. She may be able to tell you where the river Jordan is- and that IS something, but it is not the broad base of information that we are wanting.

    Motherduck-
    Actually, no, we are not using TOG geography. I do use the teacher's map each week to reference where things are as we go through the lessons. But as a geography curriculum? No. I have found a couple things, but have not settled on one in particular just yet, although I am leaning towards Runkle. In the mean time we are memorizing geographical terms (I have actually learned the difference between a bay, a cape, a gulf, and a sound!) with flashcards we found on Currclick and will begin to memorize countries by continent this semester.

    So, I am sure that is a wholly unsatisfying answer! Sorry!! But I am just not sure that TOG geography is what we are after. I guess I had just expected it to be different. Something more like- we are studying Lief Erickson, so we are going to study Greenland in an in-depth way, not just tracing the route he took.

    Good luck! If you find a way to make it work for you- please let me know! I would be very curious to see what you did!

    Much grace!
    Sarah

  5. #5
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    Thank you Ladies. I think TOG has a great program if it works for the way you implement school at home. Lessons with more structure work better for me. For some subjects, I just need someone to tell me (actually my kids) exactly what needs to be done. Something short, sweet, and to the point (which is a lot like me, ironically...minus the "to the point" part. hee hee) Anyway...I did find that Runkle curriculum as well. It looks great...just wish I could see more sample pages and the teacher's guide before I make a decision. Sarah...are you looking at anything else? It seems as though there isn't much out there...with the type of structure you and I are looking for.
    3rd year homeschooling
    Y2...First year using TOG... Dialectic daughter (12), Upper Grammar daughter(9), lower grammar son(5)...and baby boy (born in Nov.) using Easy Grammar, Singapore/Saxon Math., Wordly Wise, Sing Spell Read & Write, Exploring Cr

  6. #6
    Yes, I know! TOG has so many amazing aspects, particularly Marcia Sommerville's insight as to how God's plan fits into the framework of human history. That is the main thing that attracted me to this curriculum. But the vagueness of implementation has been our downfall! I just wish that instead of volumes of teacher's notes from the encyclopedia, it was condensed into what I am supposed to read TO the kids! With her insight all tying it together. I just don't have the time to read all the notes, synthesize the information, respeak it at their level, and then help them make the connections to what they are reading. I also thought I would be able to use more of the aspects of TOG- but I find the writing, the geography, and the art are all too vague. Again, just not enough direction. I don't need my hand held (I have been hs'ing for nine years!) but just a LITTLE more direction would be such a help (something like My Father's World) to help bear the brunt of the planning, you know? So anyway, I am only loosely using TOG at all this semester.... maybe we will get into it more when my kids hit the rhetoric stage. And I SO wanted it to work, because I do love that viewpoint that is so unique to TOG. When I look at other curricula they all fall short because they may have the info- but not this viewpoint. Oh how I wish I could just combine the directed lessons of MFW with the philosophy and attitude of TOG! *sigh* The perfect curriculum! :-)

    Anyway! Geography. I know- I couldn't commit to Runkle because I couldn't look at it! So frustrating. And no- I haven't really found anything better! There is a HUGE gap in the homeschool curriculum industry on this topic. So, if you find something- let me know!! :-)

    Much grace in your endeavors!
    Sarah

  7. #7
    President, Lampstand Press
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    Hi, Ladies

    One reason that you may be finding TOG guides "vague" is that no two families implement a curriculum guide the same way. However, that said, if you can hit upon an approach that works for you, TOG can probably be implemented in that way.

    Let's take Geography for example. IF the atlas-on-the-floor approach isn't meeting your goals, why not use simplified maps (our Teacher's Answer maps in MapAids for instance) and simply let your students copy the information onto their blank outline maps? The copying is valuable because it slows them down and they use a combination of tactile and visual learning such that they start to NOTICE where Sweden is. And, if they do this work regularly and don't fight it, it's like a lot of education: repetition year by year as they mature and as they revisit parts of the globe as history evolves will grow their knowledge.

    Another approach would be to make the whole endeavor friendlier by doing it all together. You might sit with them, brew some tea, put out some snacks, put on some soothing music, and have a jolly chat while finding places. Again, you wouldn't have to do this forever, because they WILL get their geographical bearings over time.

    Finally (and I think this has less bang for the investment of time and effort, because I really believe that the tactile reinforcement is the quickest way to geography retention) you could simply sit with them and have them point out each place while saying the name aloud. (This is a combination of visual and auditory learning.)

    Now, once you figure and approach, I think that the TOG labels and integration with the actual history that they're studying and literature that they're reading will help to cement the geography in their minds and also make the whole geography lesson more meaningful. Just my $.02.

    In reply to the comments that you've made about Teacher's Notes, the educational approach here is not read-aloud based, as it is with other curricula. We believe that children need to read independently and learn to critically process what they read. The Teacher's Notes are meant to summarize--but not for THEM! They are meant to summarize for you, the busy mom, so that you have in ONE place a summary of the important information that ALL of your kids on ALL levels are reading. This is crucial to the overall approach, because if you are going to teach your kids to think, then they need to do a step-by-step process:

    1. They read for themselves. In so doing, they really will LEARN stuff (more and more stuff the older they get).

    2. They discuss with someone older and more mature the information that they read. The mother's role is NOT go go over the details of what they read. We BELIEVE that they got the basic facts in their independent reading, once they are fluent readers. Your goal (and this is what we prep you for in the TNs) is to take your students BEYOND what they can understand independently. Just as Jesus walked with His disciples and patiently did life in front of them day after day, so we are meant to process information with our kids day after day. "Drop by drop, the bucket is full." At least, this is our approach.

    3. Ideally, they then follow up their reading and discussion with some kind of writing project. In this way, they resort the information yet again, select facts and concepts to put into their own words, and practice with various writing genres. Again, most adults in our modern world need to be able to express themselves in writing, and this discipline does double duty of cementing the week's information and giving them something to write about that is relevant, ready at hand, and useful for learning how to write.

    Given this view, can you see that it does not make sense to streamline our notes for the kids to read? We are looking for more and more complexity in their reading as they grow older, so that they can do more and more complex processing. Our modern world is a confusing place. How will they know how to interpret the terrorists hitting the World Trade Center, or a massacre of school children by an irate fellow-student. We don't believe that someone will hand them a streamlined summary! Actually, the evening news WILL attempt to do just that: how will your student parse through the variety of interpretations that the culture hands him, most of which don't even reference Yahweh? Our goal with TOG is to mentor you in developing thinkers to the glory of God; this is why we construct TOG as we do. If this is not your approach, then I think what you might be more comfortable with would be a textbook or read-aloud approach.

    Hope this clarifies and helps: I'd love to hear back to see what you think of what I've said.
    Blessings,
    Marcia

    No one can do me a greater kindness in this world than to pray for me.
    --Charles Spurgeon

  8. #8
    Hi Marcia- thanks for chiming in. I have always admired and appreciated your availability to all us moms!

    I understand thoroughly the methodology of TOG and all of the things you have explained. I have read almost every single thing written on the website. I really and truly appreciate your insight, and this is why I have found it hard to leave TOG, even though I am having trouble using it.

    In response to your thoughts I would say this. All my fluent readers DO all the reading themselves. (I have one LG, one UG, and one D). The problem is that they don't tie the different books they have read together- for example. We read about Martin Luther and Gutenberg recently. Just from reading the books they didn't connect the significance of these two things. So of course, they need a time with mom, a discussion, to tie it all together. Now with this example the connection (at least for me!) is obvious- I don't need notes. But with many things, such as the nuances of how God used the Renaissance to further advance His move on the earth, these escape me! And I have depended upon your notes to help ME make these important connections. But I have to wade through all the info to pull it out- and then try to respeak what I have learned at their level- to help them tie all the "threads" that they have read together. Maybe some have no problem breaking things down into child-size bites, but this is not my forte. I need help. I don't want notes that they read- but that I can read and can respeak to them BUT without so much information to wade through and without having to "translate" them.

    Honestly, I think your insight into history has truly been divinely inspired. This insight is what I want my children to take away from history. But what I have felt is that ToG is like someone handing me a cow to eat for dinner. It may be AMAZING, with lots of nutritive value- but I am overwhelmed with all the preparation required to access it.

    As far as the geography and writing go- I understand the principles you have mentioned. And I agree with them! But all I am saying is that I need the curriculum to do more to tell me WHAT to do. Which is why we switched to IEW. It has history based writing lessons that match what we are doing (for the reinforcement you mentioned) but with more instruction as to what we are doing each day.

    It may be that while Tapestry is a phenomenal curriculum- I just don't have the tools to "butcher the cow." :-) (forgive my crude analogy!!) I have LOOKED on the web a lot to see if anyone else shares my view- hoping someone could help me make it work (we have been using TOG for two years now), and the truth is- I can't really find anyone. So maybe that means I am the minority, and something in my brain just can't make the connection! (Which is very possible! :-) Anyway, I know that there is no universal curriculum- and perhaps TOG just doesn't fit into our particular school life. I have two dyslexic kids who require a LOT of one-on-one instruction for every subject, so that may the reason for our struggles, I don't know. There is already such a pull on my time already.

    But I do know that the Lord won't let me walk away from TOG altogether. Which is why I still haunt this forum! I really do believe that these views are the ones that God shares- and wants for my children. So... the dilemma remains, but I know that He is faithful to lead us!

    I appreciate all your help and concern.

    Much grace!
    Sarah

  9. #9
    President, Lampstand Press
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    Sarah,

    Thanks for chiming back in! I never know how much people HAVE understood of our method and approach, so I always start there. I did read above that you wanted TNs to read TO your kids, so that's why I took the direction that I did.

    Thanks for all the kind words about TOG. I'm not in ANY way trying to defend what we do. More trying to clarify, for you and for others reading/contributing to this post. I'm glad that some of what we've written is so helpful to you (the insights you mentioned) and I'm seeking to see if there aren't more ways that more of your TOG investment can't be turned around to help you.

    IEW has been a GREAT help to many: I'm GLAD that it worked for you. You may find, as others have before you, that as you grow in confidence from what you've learned with IEW that TOG assignments might make more sense to you and you can use them in the future as well.

    Dislexia has to be a real concern in a reading-intensive approach such as TOG's. So, that's going to be a given in your situation.

    In terms of you reading thru the information, tying it together, etc. -- that is why we did the TNs as we did. Our hope was to give you information (via the World Book based notes--that are written at a sixth-grade level, so about as simple as we could get. When we started with our Beta group, they were longer--from Britannica--so we've tried to make it as streamlined as possible ) Obviously, if all moms knew history well enough, we wouldn't need to print those. But, we are trying to make it as easy as we can by providing edited, simplified summaries of what ALL the kids are reading about at their levels. Then, the discussion outlines that we provide are really MEANT to be "point and shoot" tying it all together--as you say--so that you can help your kids make the connections, assuming that they've done their readings.

    What I'm puzzling over is how those discussion outlines aren't the answer to the less-than-vague direction you feel you need. Can you explain that part with any more specificity?
    Blessings,
    Marcia

    No one can do me a greater kindness in this world than to pray for me.
    --Charles Spurgeon

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