Ambleside Online

amazon.com

Art Study    
♪ Composers    
Nature Study    
Plutarch    
Shakespeare    
Poets    
Hymns    
Folksongs    
Bible    
High School    
Exams    
Site Map    

Booklists:    
Yr 0 (K)    
Year 1    
Year 2    
Year 3    
Year 4    
Year 5    
Year 6    
Year 7    
Year 8    
Year 9    
Year 10    
Year 11    
Year 12    
7 Lite    
8 Lite    
9 lite    
10 Lite    
11 Lite    

By Week:    
Yr 0 (K)    
Year 1    
Year 2    
Year 3    
Year 4    
Year 5    
Year 6    
Year 7    
Year 8    
Year 9    
Year 10    
Year 11    
Year 12    
7 Lite    
8 Lite    
9 Lite    
10 Lite    
11 Lite    

Other:    
3.5    
Pre-7    
9-11 in 2yrs    

Resources:    
CM Series    
PR Articles    
PNEU Progr    
Books    
AO Articles    

Front Page:    
What is CM?    
About AO    
AO Advisory    
Intro to AO    
AO Curriculum    
Library    



AO Exam Project AmblesideOnline.org

The Ambleside Online Exam Project

AO Exam Page in Progress.

Our goal is to make a CM exam available for every term of AO's scheduled Years. Many of us working on this project attended the third annual ChildlightUSA Charlotte Mason Conference in Boiling Springs, NC in June, 2007 and heard the session on assessment (tests). From that session, we learned that exam questions should be based on the "big idea" from the book or subject, and exam questions can be used to guide instruction as parents discuss books and narrations with their students. In a way, this might be considered "teaching to the test," but these tests are much broader in scope and seek to make students think and reflect rather than memorize lists of data.

To see the kinds of questions Charlotte Mason asked her students, see these compiled sets of questions grouped by subject.
Exam Questions she gave to her youngest students (grades 1-3)
Exam Questions she gave to her middle students (grades 4-6)
Exam Questions she gave to her older students (grades 7-9)
There are also exam questions (and answers) at the back of Volume 3, from page 271-300, and 308-330
And in Volume 6, starting on page 166 (the first book of Volume 6)
Read also email list posts from Advisory members about CM exams here.

We'll be using these questions as examples and templates as we come up with questions of our own from AO books and studies.

How are these tests graded? With a rubric, which is a grid designed to assess different facets of the student's answers. (Visit Rubistar's rubric-creating website.)




Leslie Noelani attended the CM Conference in June, 2007, and included these notes about assessment on her blog:

This conference was about assessment - in other words, testing and how to grade tests in a CM education. I've been wanting to have prepared tests like the ones CM used in her PNEU schools, only with questions that pertain to AO books, so I was anxious to learn all I could from this conference. And, although the assessment session was geared for school settings (complete with lots of official-sounding educational-ese jargon), I did have a revelation. One thing that public schools are criticized for is that they "teach to the test." But guess what? Charlotte Mason can be "taught to the test," too! By having your exam questions already laid out, you as the teacher know what to bring out in discussions after the child narrates, or what to write on the board before the child reads. The teacher who spoke about this called it "guided instruction," but it simply means that, if the teacher knows what concept she wants toemphasize in a reading, she can bring it up as she discusses the book with the child. AO Moms sometimes ask about lesson plans, or "shouldn'tmy child be getting more out this book, like the theme, or something?" and I think that this "guided instruction," directed by knowing what question will be asked on the test, is the answer.

The difference between traditional "teaching to the test" and CM's "teaching to the test" is that the traditional way has kids memorizing facts so they can fill in the right blanks on a test. But a CM exam question is going to be open-ended, designed to make the child think about "essential" issues, so "teaching to the test" will look more like getting him to think about big issues like hypocrisy, or the role of religion in government, or the topical geography of an area as he reads. It means that the parent has to have an idea of what concept is being brought out in a book - why is this book important enough to be used as a school text? So, creating AO exams will partially take the form of figuring out what major concepts are in the books, and why they're being used. In year 7, for example, The Once and Future King is scheduled because it considers different approaches to leadership (I never would have gotten that by reading it myself; I happen to know that because of a post that Wendy C. sent to the HEO list!) I think that will be harder than just coming up with questions that are like the questions CM used (which is what I had originally planned to do!)

How are these tests graded? With a rubric! A rubric is a grid. An essay/answer is graded on a scale of 1-5 according to how correct the student got his facts, how thoroughly he understood the concept, how well he spelled and used grammar, etc. If he understands it well enough to compare it to something else, or make up a story or example based on it, or apply it to another situation, he would get points for comprehension. Then you total up the points. On the grid I just described, with three facets scoring 5 points each, a student could earn a possible 15 points on a question. If he got a total of ten points, he'd have a 10/15 for that question, which would give him a 66 percent for that question. An average of his percentages for all the questions would give him his grade. Brilliant, isn't it? There is reason to suspect that CM herself used some kind of percentage to grade exams - her students were graded. At the conference, they showed us a teacher's grade records of her students with numbers beside them that looked very much like percentages.

Join the email list here.

Some Big Ideas That Were Important to Charlotte Mason:

Thinking about conduct and morality in order to develop the conscience  (Vol 1 pg 337)
The Solidarity of the Race (Vol 2 pg 264-267)
Reason Can't Prove or Disprove the Existence of God, Self or The World (Vol 3 pg 114-117)
The Limitations of our Reason (Vol 3 pg 114-117)
The fallacy That Intellect is Man's Own Sphere, and Knowledge is His Personal Discovery (Vol 6 pg 142)
Life, Love, Duty, Heroism (Vol 3 124)
Learning How to Act (Vol 3 pg 178-180)
Knowledge about People and Governments (Vol 3 pg 245-246)
Character and behavior (Vol 6 pg 25)
The Difference Between Want and Will; Anyone Can Train Their Will; Choices and Will Make Character (Vol 6 pg 129-130)

Read about those Big Ideas in CM's Series (the following are from the paraphrase version)

Thinking about conduct and morality in order to develop the conscience (Vol 1 pg 337)

Tales Draw a Child's Attention To Conduct - Appropriate parts of the Bible are the most important elements of teaching morality, but any true depiction of life helps a growing conscience, whether it's a tale of noble deeds, or the story of a flawed, struggling life. The child will get into the habit of thinking about conduct in these stories. He'll start off weighing actions by their consequences.

The Solidarity of the Race (Vol 2 pg 264-267)

Feeling compassion for someone else and feeling that connection of one-ness with the human race are two different things. We're bold enough to believe that this feeling of connectedness is where the education of mankind, under God's direction, has come in our day.

Serving is a Privilege and an Honor (Vol 2 pg 264-267)

Children are as vulnerable to vanity as they are to any other evil disposition that humans fall to. They need to learn to give and help without any smug concept that giving and helping makes them good.

Knowing about Needs, and that even countries choose right or wrong (Vol 2 pg 264-267)

Children should learn, for instance, that atrocities in Armenia are the real reason that British people are having trouble in their families. There are cases of abstract right and wrong for nations as well as individuals, and they don't make allowances for what's most practical or convenient. Helping our neighbor when he's in mortal distress is one of those cases. Anyone who is suffering at the hands of a cruel oppressor is our neighbor, whether it's a person or a nation. Let's not bring up our children in glass houses because we fear that the ravages of pity will be too much strain on their tender hearts. Let them know about any distress that they would naturally know about, and let them ease their sympathy by doing something helpful to relieve some of the suffering that they're upset about. Children weren't given to us with unlimited potential for love and compassion so that we could choke up their wellsprings of pity and train them to harden their hearts. No, it's our mission to prepare these little ministers of grace for the wider, fuller revelation of God's Kingdom that is coming upon us.

Reason Can't Prove or Disprove the Existence of God, Self or The World (Vol 3 pg 114-117)

There are three things that man's reasoning will never be able to prove or disprove, even though men in every age have tried. God, Self and the World are the three things.

The Limitations of our Reason (Vol 3 pg 114-117)

I want to emphasize is that children should understand that a lot of our reasoning and thinking out is actually involuntary. It's a natural function in the same way as our blood circulation. This very fact means that the Reason has to be limited.

Reason Provides Logical Proof for Any Idea We Entertain

Certain individuals might or might not be trusted to come to a morally right conclusion about any premise on their minds. In any case, the reasoning ability itself acts in a mostly mechanical and involuntary way. It doesn't necessarily arrive at the right conclusion . . . it's so important for children to learn that their reason is limited. Then they won't confuse logical arguments with eternal truth. They'll know that the important thing is the ideas they allow themselves to entertain. The conclusions they draw from those ideas aren't foolproof because they evolve all by themselves.

Vol 6 pg 142

After lots of experience in reasoning and following the process of reason in others either in real life or in their books, children will be ready to conclude that reasonable isn't the same as right. Reason is their servant, not their master. It's just one of the servants that helps to govern his 'kingdom of Mansoul.' But reason shouldn't be trusted to govern a man, much less a nation, any more than appetite, or ambition, or love of comfort.

The fallacy That Intellect is Man's Own Sphere, and Knowledge is His Personal Discovery (Vol 6 pg 142)

We tend to assume that intellect is man's own sphere and his exclusive domain. Even knowledge--clever inventions, knowledge about mankind, nature, art, literature, the heavens and earth--is assumed to be man's own discovery. He thinks he found it out all by himself, thought it out for himself, observed, reasoned, collected, worked, gathered his forces, all of his own accord for his own purposes as an independent agent. This is intellectual pride and it comes from man's arrogance. It isn't just true of our modern age, which I think is the best age the world has seen, but in every age, mankind has tended to lift his head and say, 'We are the only people who matter. There's never been anyone as advanced as us before, and there never will be.' But when we come to our senses, we realize that our Creator and Father has not given over any aspect of our lives to our sole care.

Life, Love, Duty, Heroism (Vol 3 124)

Concepts of nature, life, love, duty, heroism--children will discover and select for themselves from the books they read.

Learning How to Act (Vol 3 pg 178-180)

[Narration is] only one way to use books. Some other things that can be done are numbering the statements in a paragraph or chapter, analyzing a chapter, dividing a chapter into paragraphs with suitable subtitles, arranging and classifying series, tracing causes to results and tracing results back to causes, analyzing the characters of people in a book and considering how character and circumstances work together to produce a certain outcome--getting life lessons and learning how to act, which is the living knowledge that can make practical science out of any book. All of this is possible for students. In fact, they haven't truly begun their education until they start using books this way.

Knowledge about People and Governments (Vol 3 pg 245-246)

All children naturally have an inborn capacity and love for knowledge. Knowledge about people and governments is best gotten from books, and children should get that knowledge for themselves out of their books.

Character and behavior (Vol 6 pg 25)

The ideas that influence life: character and behavior. It appears that these kinds of ideas pass directly from one mind to another.

The Difference Between Want and Will; Anyone Can Train Their Will; Choices and Will Make Character (Vol 6 pg 129-130)

Children must learn the difference between "I want" and "I will." They must learn to distract their thoughts when tempted to do what they may want but know is not right.

One thing we do know about the will: its function is to choose. It decides for us. It seems certain that the harder the act of making up our minds becomes, the weaker our general will becomes. Opinions are spoon fed to us. We absorb our principles second-hand, or even third hand. Our habits are whatever is most convenient and accepted as mainstream. What more do we need for a decent, orderly life? However, the one thing that's within reach of any person to accomplish, and the one thing that's necessary for every person, is character. Character is like wrought iron beaten into shape and beauty with the repeated and habitual action of the will. We teachers must make ourselves understand that our aim in education isn't so much conduct as it is character. We can get decent conduct from students via various indirect methods, but good behavior is worthless to the world if it doesn't stem from inward character.

Every attack on a person's flesh and spirit, no matter how subtle, is an attempt to compromise his integrity or will. However, in these days, we're threatened with a war upon us. This war is no longer indirect, but it's aimed deliberately and directly at the will, which is the person. The only thing preventing us from becoming a nation of idiots is that there will always be a few people with strong wills among us who will resist the general trend. Our mission as parents and teachers is to make sure that our children are in this group.

When people don't learn how to manage their own will, which should be their main function, it's easy to undermine their power of choice. A person's will is his safeguard against the unlawful intrusion and control of someone else. We're taught that offenses against the physical person of someone else is wrong and not to be tolerated. But who teaches us that it's just as wrong to intrude and influence someone else's mind and override their will? Who teaches us that it's immoral to let one person probe the thoughts of the unconscious mind of a child or adult? We should all be conscious of the fact that we make our own choices. The teacher's job is to provide each of her students with a full tank of noble, right thoughts to draw from. Right-thinking doesn't come from self-expression. It flows when an idea stimulates the thoughts. And the best place to get these noble, right ideas to fill a child's mind is from books and pictures and histories of individuals and nations. That's what trains a child's conscious and stimulates his will, and it's his will that makes the choice.

Patriotism (Vol 6 pg 170)

Their elders don't have stories to pass on and information that might inspire the young people with the idea that every country in every period of time has had important deeds to be done, and great men who have risen to the occasion.  Any day, a person -- maybe even themselves -- might be called on to do some heroic service that will change the course of history. Patriotism that is logical and thought-out depends on a thorough knowledge of history from reading many books. Our youths need to be informed patriots, not emotional fanatics.

The Following May Also Help when Considering Big Ideas from Books:

Vol 3 pg 300-

APPENDIX III

What a Child Should Know at Twelve Years Old

The six years' curriculum--from ages six to twelve--that I suggest, should and does result in the ability of the students--

(a) To grasp the gist of a rather long passage at a single reading: and to narrate the substance of what they've read or heard.
(b) To spell, and express themselves in writing easily and fairly correctly.
(c) To give a sequenced and detailed account of any subject they've studied.
(d) To describe in writing what they've seen, or heard from the newspapers.
(e) They should be familiar with the common objects nature in their environment, and have the ability to paint some of these in brushwork.
(f) Should have skill in various handicrafts, such as cardboard Sloyd, basket-making, clay-modelling, etc.
(g) In Arithmetic, they should have some knowledge of simple and decimal fractions, percentage, household finances, etc.
(h) Should have a knowledge of basic Algebra, and should have done some practical exercises in Geometry.
(i) Of Elementary Latin Grammar, they should read fables and easy stories, and, perhaps, one or two books of 'Caesar.'
(j) They should have some ability to understanding spoken French, and be able to speak a little; and to read an easy French book without a dictionary.
(k) In German, pretty much the same as in French, but with less progress.
(l) In History, they will have gone through a rather detailed study of English, French, and Classical (Plutarch) History.
(m) In Geography they will have studied the map of the world in detail, and have been at one time able to fill in the landscape, industries, etc., from their studies, of each region of the map.
(n) They will have learned the fundamental elements of Physical Geography, Botany, Human Physiology, and Natural History/science, and will have read interesting books on some of these subjects.
(o) They should have some knowledge of English Grammar.
(p) They should have a considerable knowledge of Biblical History and the text of the Bible.
(q) They should have learned a good deal of Scripture and of Poetry, and should have read some Literature.
(r) They should have learned to sing using the Tonic Sol-fa method, and they should know a number of English, French, and German Songs.
(s) They should have learned Swedish Drill and various drills and calisthenic exercises.
(t) In Drawing they should be able to sketch common household and field objects with paintbrush or charcoal; they should be able to express ideas in a general way; and they should be acquainted with the works of some artists by using reproductions.
(u) In Music, their knowledge of theory and their ear-training should keep pace with their ability to make music.

This is the kind of progress that an average student of twelve should have made under a teacher with knowledge and ability. Progress in the disciplinary subjects, such as languages and mathematics, depends entirely on the knowledge and ability of the teacher.

(The pages following this appendix have sample exams of CM's students)