How the Make the Most of CC’s Challenge B

Welcome to our Challenge B Page!

Our hope is that this series of pages becomes a great resource for CC families. We cover some of the more general info on other pages:

Table of Contents for This Page

  1. Logic (Math)
  2. Grammar (Latin)
  3. Research (Science)
  4. Reasoning (Formal Logic)
  5. Exposition
  6. Debate (Cartography)

I know there’s a lot of information here, but I’m going to try hard to use headings and bold lettering to make it easy to scan!

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Classical Conversations has asked me to tell you that “References to Classical Conversations do not constitute or imply endorsement by the company.” I’m guessing you knew that, but now we’re all on the same page.

I’m assuming you already read about how we do Classical Conversations and about how we do Challenge, so let’s move on to the Challenge B-specific material!

First a Public Service Announcement: The second semester is flat out harder than the first semester, so brace yourself!

1. Logic (Math) Strand

On the Challenge A page, I covered these ideas (jump over there to read about them):

  • If you’re using Saxon math, I recommend Using John Saxon’s Math Books by Art Reed
  • Pick a math curriculum and stick with it!
  • Help your students understand the difference between “learning a new concept in math” and “math practice.” No one loves to practice…

Math 8/7 or Algebra 1/2?

If your student has been using Saxon Math, you have a choice to have here. According to Art Reed in Using John Saxon’s Math Books, “the content of [Algebra 1/2] is almost identical to that of Math 8/7” (p75). If students struggled with the last 5 tests of Math 8/7, then students should go to Algebra 1/2. However, if they didn’t, then they can go directly to Algebra 1, skipping Algebra 1/2. Some families choose to skip Math 8/7 and use Algebra 1/2 instead, but that’s not as ideal.

Here’s how our math plan looks:

  • 6th Grade: Math 6/7
  • 7th Grade: Math 8/7
  • 8th Grade: Algebra 1
  • 9th Grade: Algebra 2
  • 10th-11th Grade: Advanced Mathematics (designed to take 2 years)
  • 12th Grade: Calculus


If your student is using Saxon’s Algebra 1 curriculum, know that in Using John Saxon’s Math Books, Art Reed claims that John Saxon suggests students start using a Scientific Calculator starting around lesson 100. They don’t HAVE to have it until Algebra 2, but it’s nice for them to start developing some proficiency with it at the end of Algebra 1.

You don’t need a fancy graphing calculator yet- just a scientific one with buttons like “sin” “cos” and “tan.” We purchased the TI-30xa for around $12 and it’s been working great.

What Goes in the Binder?

Just like Ch A- Just a few loose sheets of lined or graph paper

2. Grammar (Latin) Strand

On the Challenge A page, I covered these ideas (jump over there to read about them):

  • Books (you need the same purple and blue books)
  • Pronunciation (we downloaded Jone’s Audio files)
  • Answer Key (don’t use the White Henle book! We like Sheppard’s Answer Key)
  • Vocabulary Flashcards (we got ours from the FlashCard Lady)
  • Ch A Cheat Sheet (I have a new one here for Ch B- look below.)
  • Extra Latin Help (I love Magistra Jones’ Latin Companion. You’ll need Vol 1 and Vol 2 for Ch B.)

Pacing for Ch B Latin

The first semester of Latin covers the first 1/3 of the purple First Year book. This is what you covered in Challenge A, just twice as fast. Then in the 2ns semester, you cover the second 1/3 of the book. So now you’re learning new material at twice the pace as last year!

My son and I ended up feeling like the first semester was too easy and 2nd semester was too hard. So, when my younger son goes through Ch B, I will redo the whole Latin schedule! We will condense 1st semester Latin, which is all review, into the first quarter and then expand 2nd semester Latin into the other 3/4 of the year. I’ll let you know how it works!

Latin Cheat Sheets for Ch B

CC has a nice Latin Trivium Table, but I can’t wrap my mind around it. Somehow, it’s just not how I think. So, I made my own. I shared my Challenge A cheat sheet previously. The Cheat sheet for Challenge B is much bigger because we learn more! You can use it in Ch A, but I think it might be too overwhelming… I’m definitely starting my younger son with the simpler one in Ch A!

I hope it helps you out! (The little symbols in the bottom left mean that you can share this with anyone as long as you are giving attribution, giving it freely, and not trying to make any money off it!)

What Goes in the Binder?

Nothing at first. Throughout the year, the kids end up with some loose papers and we add them here

3. Research (Science) Strand

Research is broken into three parts again this year: History of Astronomy, Defeating Darwinism, and Intro to Chemistry

A. History of Astronomy

Each week students research a new astronomer and write a paragraph or two about him or her. Some weeks it’s a project instead- The guide lays it all out

I highly recommend you purchase a few extra books to make research easier. Otherwise, you’re scrambling every week for sources that have the appropriate level of detail. (To make it easy, all the links here are for Amazon, but I found some of mine on eBay.) Here are our favorites:

Heads up: You’ll need a shoebox for one of the Astronomy projects around week 10(?). 

B. Defeating Darwinism

The reading level for Defeating Darwinism is above what they’re doing in other subjects and they will probably need help. However, it’s a great book and you’ll enjoy reading it with them! This would be a great book to mark up and annotate!

We occasionally used the book Tips for Teens on Intelligent Design: Study Guide for Defeating Darwinism by Kitty Hinkle since it was free on KindleUnlimited. It was nice to have an extra resource when we needed it, however, we didn’t read it cover-to-cover.

Classical Conversations also wrote a great article about the books several years ago: Reading Phillip Johnson by Jonathan Bartlett.

C. Chemistry

During the last few weeks of the semester, students use the CC-created consumable workbook, Discovering Atomos, as an intro to Chemistry. Don’t worry about it being too basic; they’ll complete a full Chemistry course in Challenge 3. At this point in the semester, you’ll really appreciate that it’s a simple and easy workbook students can do on their own! They also complete an Adopt-an-Element project/presentation as well, which is a great outlet for creativity! 

What Goes in the Binder?

  • Astronomy notes and papers, as he wrote them.
  • Any notes he took from Defeating Darwinism
  • Discovering Atomos (which comes as a stack of 3-hole punched paper)

4. Reasoning (Formal Logic) Strand

In this strand we use Canon Press’s Introductory Logic first semester and Intermediate Logic second semester

  • If you want to be able to help them when this gets hard 2nd the semester, you will need to do all the exercises with them during 1st semester. It really really builds on itself!
  • The Cannon Press videos parallel the text- pick your student’s preferred way to learn: reading or watching
  • There are student and teacher books.
    • The student books are consumables. They are perforated so students could tear out the exercise pages, which means cutting off the binding and spiral binding them does NOT work- trust me. I speak from experience! If you want to try to use them for multiple students, tell them to work in a blank notebook. It’s a little more work but it can be done.
    • The teacher books have A LOT more examples and help for presenting the material. We ended up not using it. Instead, we both worked through the student book and graded our answers together.
  • The quizzes and tests from Cannon Press are great for extra practice, which we needed in order to master the material.
  • What CC tells you to memorize over Christmas is very optional. You could just use it as a cheat sheet. 
  • Keep in mind that they do another type of Logic in Ch 1, so this is not their only exposure. 

What Goes in the Binder?

We photo copied some of the appendices in the back of the book and kept them in page protectors in the binder. They were very helpful to glance at while working through the exercises, quizzes, and tests

5. Exposition Strand

A. Lost Tools of Writing (LTW)

1st Sem. is very similar to Ch A. Be sure you understand LTW and the fruit will start to show! I talked about this a lot more on the Challange A page and even gave you a free LTW printable!

B. Short Stories

During the 2nd semester, students read short stories from CC’s book, Words Aptly Spoken; Short Stories. Here are our tips for this Short Stories unit:

  • Compared to the books they read for LTW, The short stories are several steps up on the reading level, so read them with your student or listen to an audio copy. Many of them are available on audio on the LibriVox website or in the free LibriVox app. 
  • Get started actually writing your short story earlier than the guide says! Have an outline by week 8 and a rough draft by week 10!
  • They’re learning about all the elements of short stories weeks 2-14.  However, they’ll need to know it all early in order to start writing, so consider reading the segments about how to write a short story earlier. Here’s how: Each chapter starts with an introduction about an element of a short story (eg Theme, Focus, Setting…), continues with several short stories to read, and end with some exercise about the element. So, over Christmas break, read those introduction pages and the exercise pages (about 56 pages). For example:
    • Intro: read pages 13-15
    • Theme Chapter: read pages 21, 37
    • Focus Chapter: read pages 39, 76-77
    • Setting Chapter: read pages 79, 102-103
    • …and so on

What Goes in the Binder?

Any notes from brainstorming for their essays or short stories

6. Debate Strand

First, let’s talk about the name, “debate.” There are a lot of theories on why CC named this strand (aka subject) Debate. However, rather than retell them all here, I like to just think of this strand as “Social Studies,” and then it all fits.

A. American Experience

-1st Sem. American experience: this is simply interesting reading that they get to discuss in class. If you read along with your student you’ll have some great conversations! If you let them do this totally independently, that works too. 

You can download The Broader American Experience Storybook, Parts I and II for free. This supplement has some extra stories about heroic Americans beyond the individuals covered in the original book.  Go to the product page for the original American Experience Storybook, scroll down and look for the link. (It was in red text last time I looked!)

B. Mock Trial

2nd Sem. Mock trial: It sounds like a big hairy deal, and it kind of is in that it’s a very public performance. However, it’s also not a big deal- It’s just another learning experience and if they misunderstand some stuff here they’re not gonna be behind in any subjects next year. 

  • Be prepared for weekly outside-of-class get-togethers to work on this.
  • Scope out all the Thrift stores and buy a suit a week or two in advance (so they don’t outgrow it before mock trial).

What Goes in the Binder?

Other Resources

I found these other resources very helpful!

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