Using TOG Part 2: Choosing a learning level

June 13, 2008 at 10:06 am Leave a comment

One of the things that originally drew me to TOG was that it was multilevel. This means that I can teach many children of varying ages the same topic. My children are a little more spread out than some, 15, 13, 9, and 3. Finding something that we can all use is very rare! How does TOG accomplish this? By setting up the curriculum with four learning levels. TOG uses levels similar to the classical model: Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.

How do you choose which level? Here’s how I describe each level and the ages/grades I recommend:

Lower Grammar: This is your young elementary aged child. Children that fall in this group are usually grades kindergarten through third grade. TOG is icing on the cake for these kids as they should be devoting most of their time to the 3-R’s. You will find some wonderful picture books that go along with the older kids’ studies here!

Upper Grammar: This is your older elementary student that is usually third to sixth grade. When a child’s reading develops and they can begin to ‘read to learn’ instead of just ‘learning to read’ then they are ready to move up to this level from LG. This level to me has the broadest reach. If I had limited funds to buy books or maybe just wanted to simplify things–i would keep all my students below high school in this level. I think you could safely keep kids 2nd grade to 8th grade in this level. You might want to choose some of the literature readings from their appropriate level–but the history, government, art, church history readings would be suitable for the whole family here! Keep this in mind if you need to choose books for sharing (we’ll talk more about that in part 2: choosing books) If you are looking for an alternate read-aloud selection, choose a book listed for Upper Grammar.

Dialectic: This is your middle-school aged child from 6th to 9th grade. You know your child is moving to this level when they begin to ask a lot of “Why?” questions. They seem to do this when they are very young then they grow out of it–when they start puberty it all comes back! If your child is 6th or even 7th grade and puberty is still down the road it would be ok to leave them at the UG level. This level moves from learning facts (UG) to connecting the dots and starting to see why things happened and how one event affects others. Although the author of Tapestry recommends only the 1st year of high school at this level you could easily stay here two years (9th & 10th grade.) I think this level is superior to any history class I received throughout all of my high school years! In my relaxed approach–I would even consider leaving a high school student here for there entire high school. But of course, you have to decide what is best for your family.

Rhetoric: Ninth to 12th grade students fall here in the high school level labeled Rhetoric. As a mom, I would love to have the time to do the reading here and learn all that I didn’t in school! The reading here can be intense at times. If you have a teenager that is very active in other activities you will want to take that into account when deciding what you will require of them at this level. If your high school student is able to do 80%+ of the work at this level I would write Advanced World History or list as an Honors class or something to that effect on their transcript. I do think it is totally acceptable to mix the assignments from the Dialectic and Rhetoric levels for your high school student. The first year your student moves up from Dialectic to Rhetoric you would for sure want to do this so as to not totally overwhelm your child! If your child really likes to read, no problem. But what if they are a reluctant reader? I would suggest keeping them at the Dialectic level but try to delve deep into the philosophy and worldview that is in the Rhetoric discussion outline with them each week so they are not missing out on this.

If you were looking at just the grade levels you will notice some overlap. That is because each child is unique and the typical grade levels can mean very different things depending on the child. This is why I tried to explain the different learning levels so that you can place your child accordingly.

One last thing–suppose you have so many children you don’t know what to do???
Only work with two levels! Keep your high school kids in one level together-whether that’s Dialectic or Rhetoric-pick one. And everyone else is in the Upper Grammar. That will simplify your life! Besides–you can’t spend all day every day doing just history!

on to Part Three


Entry filed under: teach.

Using Tapestry of Grace: Part 1 Using TOG Part 3: Choosing Books

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Psalm 78:4

We will not hide them from their children, Telling to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.

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