Saturday, May 26, 2018

Reflections on Ambleside Year 7 Science and Nature Study...

RileyAnn completed AO's Year 7 Science and Nature Study list of books this year. Yes, she was in 8th grade, but I don't fret over assigning certain books in certain grades. I look more for content and interest. Are the books I'm choosing going to meet my end goal? In this particular case, I was aiming for scientific literacy. Some of you may remember this post I did last summer on Scientific Literacy, in which I explained what it is and why it is important. With that said, the AO Year 7 suggested books held the variety of content I was looking for in order to foster scientific literacy at the middle school level. I want my students to have the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes that allows them freedom in personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity. I want them to be able to ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences. I want them to stand in wonder and awe of God's creation. I believe Riley's experience this year in AO science has given her that freedom.

The AO Year 7 Science books are living, making science come to life and allowing the student to make relations or connections within their own mind. I would even be inclined to read several of them as an adult, so I was certainly not worried about assigning them to my 14 year old.

After studying the way Charlotte Mason taught science in her school, as well as the way science is studied in other countries around the world, I was anxious to combine the various branches of science in one year. It was kind of an experiment to see how RileyAnn liked and learned from studying multiple streams of science at one time as we are in the decision making process for high school.

The books Riley read from and studied this year were....

Eric Sloane's Weather Book by Eric Sloane
The Social Life of Insects by Jean Henri Fabre
Secrets of the Universe: Discovering the Universal Laws of Science by Paul Fleisher
The Wonder Book of Chemistry by Jean Henri Fabre
First Studies of Plant Life by George Francis Atkinson
Adventures with a Microscope by Richard Headstrom
Signs and Seasons: Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy by Jay Ryan
Great Astronomers by R.S. Ball (Intro, Ptolomy, Copernicus, and Brahe)
Lay of the Land by Dallas Lore Sharp

One thing about doing science by use of living books that I like is the fact that there's no workbooks. There is no comprehension, true/false, multiple choice questions. No preconceived notions, no one right answer. It's simply the student's mind dancing with the penned ideas of the author. In order to further develop these ideas and nurture relations, I do require my student to notebook as they read. Here's what that looked like for Riley...

At the beginning of the year, I gave her a schedule of the readings, which was roughly from two books per day since we schedule our school on a 4-day week. I then requested she complete one notebooking page per day based on her reading. That was it! Riley was free to choose which book she notebooked on and the topic of her notebooking page. To me, this was one written narration per day based on her science reading. Riley could write, draw, illustrate, copy a passage, or whatever else struck her that day. At the end of the year, I bound her pages into a book and I found the results quite amazing! Here is just a sample....


This may seem like a lot of pages, but it's only about 6 out of 36 weeks worth of work. What strikes me about these pages is the diversity. Riley covered many streams of science including: biology, botany, animals and their habitat, astronomy, weather, physics, and chemistry. She didn't do a single stream per term, but rather, intermingled throughout the year. I'm really pleased with her level of competence. Riley's notebook pages far exceeded my expectations and I really believe she enjoyed the creativity she was afforded. We are still in the planning stages of high school, but I'm sure we will continue some measure of living books and notebooking throughout. 

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