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Frequently Asked Questions

I like how the cards look, but how do I use them?

A Course Introduction is included in every Task Card Set. The Course Introduction explains the Task Card Approach in detail. This approach combines aspects of several well known methods. The Montessori concept of a 'Prepared Environment'  is adapted for use with the Task Cards and the use of a Montessori style 'Work Period' is encouraged. The objectives on the cards are Classical in scope and sequence. The cards are distinctive in that they present key vocabulary in a variety of ways with the purpose of building vocabulary and critical thinking skills as the students participate in research based tasks. The tasks direct students to investigate by topic and to respond in a variety of ways. Response forms are covered in detail in the Course Introduction where you will learn how to use summary writing as an effective learning tool and how simple projects and time line work can be used to further engage students with learning material. Tips and suggestions for using the cards with emergent readers and those making the transition to independent work are included.   

How did you choose the topics on the task cards?

The task card sets are intended to be used in a sequence that promotes a logical progression through the material. Science sets progress from the concrete concepts covered in Life Science toward the more abstract material covered in Chemistry. Vocabulary and standard key content is emphasized throughout the science task card sets. Our history sets are arranged chronologically and topically. We offer a four year cycle covering world history and individual sets that cover American and Canadian history. These sets are designed to introduce key content by emphasizing major events, movements, and historical figures. Younger, grammar stage students will gravitate toward these points in their responses to the tasks. The tasks on the cards also provide subtle direction in critical thinking skills which allows dialectic stage students to grasp historical movements and patterns. The tasks were purposely designed to correspond to readily available materials at several developmental levels.   

Are these topics specific or broad?

The topics are specific, but they vary in specificity. For example, the task card that notes the Inclined Plane as its topic has a narrow range of focus. The task card that notes the Regions of the United States - New England as a topic is specific, but covers a wider variety of material. As students progress through the tasks on the cards they encounter specific vocabulary, or key content, related to the topic. The topics are standard and will be easily encountered in student encyclopedias, dictionaries, books, and enrichment materials.  

What kinds of tasks are on the cards?

 The tasks direct students to research, explore, and respond. Within the environment that you prepare, students will find age appropriate materials to use in their research. These include an encyclopedia, information books, literature, lab kits, and other enrichment materials related to the course. Students are directed to respond with summaries, charts, posters, maps, and diagrams. Further exploration is done with living books, literature, and enrichment materials. To these they might respond with a literature or biographical summary and by completing labs or activities included in student kits. Further information on how to approach each type of task is included in the Course Introduction.
 

How do you assess work done in response to the tasks?

The use of oversight meetings, preferably after the student has completed their work, is encouraged. These meetings happen on a daily basis with younger students and on a weekly basis with older students. The goal of the Task Card Approach is to facilitate the student's direct engagement with the material. The best way to encourage this is to accept the work as it is and to continually encourage increasing attention to detail. With younger students who are using the cards independently, the focus might be kept to simply following through with the tasks. Older students would be expected to show detail, a depth of understanding, and attention to detail in their responses. The focus required to exhibit these qualities provides assurance that a high standard of work has been done. When faced with a student who is struggling, work on month long goals. Instead of handing out an ultimatum that spelling, for example, improve tomorrow, encourage them to look at that area more carefully next time and make a note to assess progress in that area. As time passes, improvement is seen and another area may be tackled.  

How do you fit task cards into your school day?

Many approaches will work well, but fairly consistent work periods are recommended. My preference is to use a morning work period for core subjects like math and language arts. An afternoon block of an hour or so in length, depending on the age of the student, is ideal for discovery based learning.   

Do you use the task cards with new readers and, if so, how much do you expect of them?

The Task Card Approach may be used with younger students who are not yet reading independently. This time is best used to introduce research and response skills with attention turned toward encouraging students to take care in an environment of ever increasing expectations. This may include reading the tasks together, researching together, and reading material aloud. At this stage, I suggest writing key vocabulary on a piece of paper for students to copy as titles for their posters or other projects.  This allows them to work independently on their response. When summaries are noted, I recommend taking down an oral narration. Children who are emergent readers can be told to read 'captions only' in encyclopedia articles. More detail on how you might approach this stage is included in the Course Introduction.  

How do you assess work done in response to the tasks?

The use of oversight meetings, preferably after the student has completed their work, is encouraged. These meetings happen on a daily basis with younger students and on a weekly basis with older students. The goal of the Task Card Approach is to facilitate the student's direct engagement with the material. The best way to encourage this is to accept the work as it is and to continually encourage increasing attention to detail. With younger students who are using the cards independently, the focus might be kept to simply following through with the tasks. Older students would be expected to show detail, a depth of understanding, and attention to detail in their responses. The focus required to exhibit these qualities provides assurance that a high standard of work has been done. When faced with a student who is struggling, work on month long goals. Instead of handing out an ultimatum that spelling, for example, improve tomorrow, encourage them to look at that area more carefully next time and make a note to assess progress in that area. As time passes, improvement is seen and another area may be tackled.   

Which set of task cards do you recommend for our family?

The answer to this question depends on many factors. See the course descriptions in our catalog here for specific details.

The recommended science sequence is Life Science, Earth and Space, Physics and Digital Science, followed by Chemistry and Great Scientists. The reason for this is twofold. Life Science and Earth and Space contain material that is concrete and readily accessible to younger students. Physics and Chemistry move toward more abstract concepts and include the use of student science kits for labs, which are usually intended for older children. Specific course descriptions located in the catalog linked above will direct you further.

Our history sets may follow a four year world history cycle or they may extend to five or six year cycles with the inclusion of Geography and Culture, American History, and Canadian History. Each set may be used by one student through two cycles through history (grades K-8) with the use of developmentally appropriate material. Specific course descriptions are located in the catalog linked above.  

My son has learning challenges. Will these cards work for him?

It is possible that students with learning challenges benefit the most with the Task Card Approach.  Allowing them to enter a prepared environment for a time of uninterrupted work demonstrates respect and belief in their ability. The freedom to explore, discover, and respond uniquely provides balance, contrast, and affirmation for a student who is doing remedial work in other areas. The Course Introduction provides tips for use with younger students and assessment. Those thoughts apply here in double measure. Assist only as needed, taking care to support the facilitation of the student's direct involvement with the material. Encourage increasing levels of neatness and attention to detail over the long term.  Consider a variety of presentations within the prepared environment. Audio-books, on-line encyclopedias, and access to a word processing program are all viable options.   

Do you approach the subjects from a religious or secular point of view?

Key figures and events are included on the cards, but no attempt has been made to frame them according to my worldview. Martin Luther is included on the Reformation and Counter Reformation card because he is a pivotal person in world history, not because I am a Lutheran Christian. The Counter Reformation and Council of Trent are also included. Charles Darwin has his place on a Great Scientist card because his work generated a far reaching impact, but his work is not framed in a religious or secular manner. One distinctive of this approach is that research happens within the materials you select. I'm comfortable with my children reading many points of view, but you are in charge of the prepared environment in your home. 

Even so, note that the Ancient World Task Card Set begins with Creation. I've also included the Great Flood, Moses, and the Ten Plagues within the history tasks. These are events that have far reaching consequences within Western civilization, but these cards may be set aside according to your preference for historical study.
*A public school version of the Ancient World Task Card Set is available for public charter school home school programs. Email the address in the Contact Us tab to specify or make note in the Comments section of your order. 

I want to use a specific book for our history studies. Will it work with the task cards?

A list of recommended resources is included in your Course Introduction. You are always free to use comparable materials. 

I like the look of the Recitation and Enrichment Volumes, but how do I use them?

The Recitation and Enrichment Volumes are designed to prioritize and pace memory work in history, science, math, Latin grammar, English grammar, poetry, and literature. The recitation portion follows a four year history cycle that corresponds with the world history Task Card Sets and many other history resources. The recitations are primarily cumulative and are meant to be spoken aloud daily. Also included are history timeline cards and selections for copywork and prepared dictation.

The enrichment portion of your week plan provides several objectives pulled from the work of Charlotte Mason. Here you will find objectives for nature study, fine arts, geography, vocabulary, literature, poetry, as well as a customizable section. Manners and character traits are also covered in alternating volumes. The introduction describes how to use this section in detail, but plan to use the vocabulary portion daily. Manners, character traits, and geography may be touched on once each week. Plan to spend an hour or two each week on nature study and twenty or thirty minutes each on the art and music objectives.  

We aren't studying Latin. Can we skip that Recitation?

Yes, feel free to set aside anything that doesn't apply to your family's goals. Perhaps you want to focus on the English Grammar Recitation and leave Latin for another year. That said, I heartily recommend giving it a try! You might be surprised at the interest that is piqued and at what can be learned through systematic recitation.

Note that while the Latin Grammar Recitation is designed to introduce the structure of Latin in a sequential and incremental manner. This recitation may be used to reinforce Latin studies or introduce the structure of the language to those who have not studied it previously. 

How do I use the Using Recitation and Enrichment with Multiple Grades?

I have laid out a tiered approach for each of the Recitation and Enrichment sections. This allows students in grades 1-12 to work with the same material. For example, when doing copywork and dictation, students in grades 1-2 are directed to copy the title and first line from a model. Students in grades 3-4 are directed to copy the entire selection. Upper grades are instructed to take down a prepared dictation of the entire selection. Each content area is accomplished in a similar fashion. This approach is described in detail in the introduction. 

Can you explain how you approach copywork, dictation, and nature study?

The copywork and dictation portion should be familiar areas for home-schoolers along the Charlotte Mason and Classical continuum. Copywork involves neat copying from a model and dictation, for our purposes here, refers to the prepared dictation as described by Charlotte Mason. Details are included in the introduction located in the front of each Recitation and Enrichment Volume.

Nature study objectives follow the topics on Anna Comstock's Handbook of Nature Study and rely on a few other select resources listed in the appendix. All of the music listening and art or picture study assignments may be found in supporting links at Creek Edge Press's web-site. Those links and a few others are included in the Resource Lists for those sections. Specific instructions are included for interacting with the geography and vocabulary portions. All instructions include a tiered approach to be sure all students are involved and challenged.  

How do you schedule recitation and enrichment?

 The recitation portion of the week plan should be used daily as memorization is bet done in small chunks on a regular basis. Recitations will gradually increase in length as the amount of memorized material grows. Even so, expect all recitations to take no longer than thirty minutes daily.

The enrichment portion of your week plan may be completed in a variety of ways. Generally, I recommend touching on the vocabulary portion daily and devoting an hour or two each week to nature study and perhaps twenty to thirty minutes of weekly exploration of the fine arts. The geography, manners, and character trait portions are best done on a weekly basis for five to ten minutes.