Mrs. Michael’s Elementary Course Videos Intro

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    William C. MichaelWilliam C. Michael
    Leslie HickmanLeslie Hickman

    This is wonderful. Thank you so much for posting this helpful video. I have children who are just above this level. Grades 4, 5, and 7. Where would you suggest I start them? These same levels or will there be levels for the middle school ages that I can start them?



    William C. MichaelWilliam C. Michael

    Dear Mrs. Hickman,

    Thank you for posting.

    The Classical Liberal Arts Academy is not a modern K-12 program, so it will not fit into that artificial mold.  The courses have ID codes that identify the age level we believe can get started in the course. Note that these codes don’t mean that these courses are for a certain age or grade level of student, but that they can be STARTED by students of a certain age, based on the content of the course and its necessary method of study and assessment.  These course IDs are explained on the Grade Level Study Plans page.  It states:

    000s = Ages 5-8 or Grades K-2
    100s = Ages 8-12 or grades 3-5
    200s = Ages 12-14 or grades 6-8
    300s = Ages 14-16 or grades 9-10
    400s = Ages 16+ or grades 11+.

    So, when you see PHL-101 for Aesop’s Fables, it means that students ages 8-12 can start this course–along with everyone older than that.  On the other hand, when you see PHL-201 for Pliny’s Natural History, it means that I don’t want a 10 year old in that course.  That course should be started by students age 12 and older.  I will continue to adjust these numbers over time, as they are artificial, but they can be used as a general guide for figuring out who should be where.

    My wife will be working from the bottom up, so that I can work from the top down in the curriculum.  I have to make sure that our best students are constantly challenged and supported as they progress through studies, which is the CLAA’s primary objective–to serve the best Catholic students with a true, classical liberal arts education.  Secondarily, we will be working to make this education as accessible (and affordable) as possible to all Catholic families and students, and my wife’s work here is serving this secondary objective.

    Most courses have prerequisite rules set, so students can’t access them until they’ve completed prior studies.

    Now, the single greatest problem we have had in the CLAA is that we have been focused on research and restoring the classical liberal arts curriculum while students have been working through what we’ve made available.  Assessment has been through written comprehension questions, which are very inconvenient.  This year (2021), I am done with that work and am moving into exam-writing, for every lesson of every course.  You will see this year that hundreds of examinations will be published (I wrote 20 exams this weekend alone), and these will not merely test student mastery, but help develop it.   We’re in the midst of a historic development in Catholic education, which can make things confusing and inconvenient for us in the CLAA, but we have to communicate and prioritize based on what the kids who are studying need TODAY and what the program seeks to achieve long term.

    Hope that helps,
    William C. Michael



    Leslie HickmanLeslie Hickman

    Thank you, Mr. Michael, this was extremely helpful and reinforced that I was doing the right thing with that age group. When I started last week, I put every student of that in between level into the lowest levels of classes. As you pointed out, the 100 levels for anyone under 12.

    Even though they thought it was silly learning “The dog ran,” I told them it was important to go through from the beginning so that nothing is missed. If it is easy, that is great, they will go faster.

    I will continue with the path I started on with my younger children. Thank you for your patience with us “newbies.” Your hard work is much appreciated.

    Leslie Hickman

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