Group Narrations & Unit Studies
I’m really interested in learning more about the CM method, I’ve read both of your books and [another book] and I’m still a bit confused as to How I would incorporate CM’s methods using curriculum that I already have? We are using TOG this year and I really like it and would prefer to continue using it. Does this mean it would be better for me not to try to use CM’s methods? I know she wasn’t too keen on unit studies. How would I go about doing narrations with four kids? How short should the lessons be for a 9th, 8th and 5th grader? I was thinking 20min. for the 5th grader and 30min. for the 8th and 9th grader. Would they use these time limits for lit./history reading also? I have some more questions, but I thought I’d post these first.
To answer one of your questions this is how you do group narrations with four or more children when working all together. Read the material, or go on the field trip or anything in between, in other words cover the subject matter. The key is to not tell any of them which child you will call on. When the time for narration comes choose a child randomly, or make it appear as though it were random, and have only one narrate the information. All the other children will hear the narration, of course, and powerful thought processes will occur even to those children who are only listening to the narration. Within their own mind they may disagree or find that the key points being shared are not the key points they would have spoken. Much of the benefits of narration will still happen for them, they will remember the material better even when they are more passive during the narration. I know this happens when I listen to narrations. My mind protests to some degree as I listen and think of how I would have narrated the passage. As long as the brain is active and is concentrating on the material to be learned then everything is good. Not to mention, if the children do not know who will be called upon then all 4 have to listen and pay attention as if they will be called upon. Make sense?
As to short lessons with varying ages I think your own answer is correct. 20 mins. for the 5th grader and 30 or so for the 8th & 9th. And yes, the time limits, aka short lessons are for the history and lit reading as well.
I cannot answer any questions about TOG because I am not familiar with it. I can say that you are correct that CM is not “keen” on unit studies in every aspect. I think unit studies are beneficial when a topic is tackled and covered thoroughly, that is a good thing. The difference with CM topical studies and the standard unit study is that CM believes that life is connected and that children will very easily form connections (with very little effort). What that means is that Mom does not have to bend over backward “connecting” details in the unit study. Instead select a topic. such a bird species or historical period and study it hard and look at it from many angles. Connections will happen and coinciding events and documentaries and the like will be all around you. It’s just like learning a new word and then hearing and reading it all the time right after you found it.