What's The Big Idea? (Gr. 7 & 8)
In 2003 Tree of Life launched its Great Ideas program (A Study of the Great Ideas Through the Great Books). Since then all four levels have undergone some revision and, overall, we are pleased with the response we have received from parents and students. Good literature is being read, considered, and applied.
However, it has also been our experience that some students have found the transition to the Great Ideas studies, and high school in general, very challenging. There is a lot of reading, a very healthy amount of written work, and plenty of hours to put in. In short, not all students have the necessary skills to succeed right away. Most, however, have overcome this with perseverance, patience, and good old-fashioned hard work. But, wouldn’t it be better if all students were ready to take our secondary school courses when they arrived? Indeed!
“What’s the Big Idea?” for students who are normally in grades 7 and 8 (ages 11 to 13) has a specific purpose – to develop essential academic skills in young adolescents. Reading, taking notes, outlining, summarizing, logic, composition formats, grammar, editing, memorization and recitation, Bible study,…all these skills are specifically taught and practiced in this comprehensive, two level program. You simply add your own Math, Science, Second Language, Art, Music, etc.
The student manual is organized in a series of specific instructions over a 120 day period. Why 120 days? We feel that in a course like this the student will stand a better chance at success if he is scheduled for a four day school week with the fifth day to be used for “catch up” or supplementary activities. It also provides extra time for reading, memory work, composition, or just plain “think time”. Specific writing assignments are designated for evaluation and are spaced in such a way as to allow valuable feedback. This will both encourage the student and help him to improve. The other great aspect of this course is that the writing assignments are frequently taken from work the student is doing in other areas such as literature and history. Also in the student manual are note-taking pages for English Composition, History, and Bible. These pages will help the student develop good organizational skills as well as the ability to get the most out his reading. In addition, a supplementary reading list, poems and space to plan daily work in other subjects make this a valuable learning and organizational tool.
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