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. How to Grade Challenge B
  2. Logic (Math)
  3. Grammar (Latin)
  4. Research (Science)
  5. Reasoning (Formal Logic)
  6. Exposition
  7. 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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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!

How to Grade Challenge B

I cover all the general information about Grading in Challenge on my general CC- Challenge page. I hope you’ll read that first!

For most students, Challenge B is their 8th-grade year. Since the student is not in high school, you may not need to grade at all. However, I think it’s a good idea to grade at least a few subjects, so your student isn’t shocked when high school rolls around. However you use this spreadsheet, I think it’s a good idea to sit down with your student and explain what this spreadsheet is for and what it measures (it doesn’t exactly measure learning, as I mentioned in the Grading in Challenge segment)!

Within this Excel spreadsheet are two tabs- one for each semester. Each Subject below has some additional details on how I grade that subject.

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 to Purchase for Logic (Math)

  • Your favorite Math curriculum- the Guide gives assignments for Saxon Algebra 1/2, but you really can use any curriculum you want!

What Goes in the Binder?

  • Just like Ch A- We include a few loose sheets of lined or graph paper.
  • If the director has asked students to come with sample problems, I photocopy a page from their textbook and the corresponding answer key page and have my son stick it in his binder for the days he forgets to bring a problem.

2. Grammar (Latin) Strand

What to Purchase for Latin (Grammar)

You don’t need anything new if you completed Challenge A. On the Challenge A page, I covered what to purchase and 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 2nd 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 (in 2023-2024), 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 Latin 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!

A few notes:

  • I include rule numbers and/or page numbers in Helne’s blue Grammar book and/or lesson numbers in the purple book First Year book, when applicable.
  • I struggle with the Subjunctive mood of verbs, so I’ve included a segment on the subjective in the Noun/Pronoun file, since there was room there. This is the section of this chart that I’m least confident about! I’m not an expert and could easily have something wrong or missing in this section!
  • When you download this, you’ll notice it’s on several pages. I like to trim off the margins (so they are small enough to sandwich in between pages of my spiral notebook well) and tape them together so I can stand them up in front of me like the CC trivium tables. I alternate putting tape on the front and back so they accordion fold (they won’t want to fold in a way that tries to stretch the tape- I hope that all makes sense!).
  • 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. (The quote above is from one of these lesser-known scientists.) 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:

  • The Story of Astronomy by Aughton ($4 on Kindle), 
  • Science: 100 Scientists Who Changed the World by Balchin ($5 on Kindle), and 
  • The Astronomy Book by DK ($10 on Kindle- look for used on eBay!). 
  • CC also has put out a great timeline for the history of astronomy on CC Connected! FYI- CC says not to use this as one of your original sources. We printed the pdf for each scientist, bound them all together, (I recently discovered GBC’s ProClick binding and I’m hooked!) and read it as an intro each week.
  • I’ve heard the CC “Famous Scientists” Acts and Facts cards are also helpful, but you’ll want to make sure you get the newer edition so they line up with the scientists we’re studying.

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 Kindle Unlimited. 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 to Purchase for Research (Science)

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 Handbooks 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- it’s what my older son did for the 2nd semester and he had no complaints.
    • The Teacher Edition books have A LOT more examples and help for presenting the material. We ended up not using them. Instead, we both worked through the student book and graded our answers together. We DID need the answer key in the Teacher Edition.
  • 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. 
  • We also found it helpful to create flashcards for the vocabulary in the book as we went along.

What to Purchase for Reasoning

What Goes in the Binder?

We photocopied 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, especially during 2nd semester.

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!

Students end Challenge A with Essay 6, but go back to Essay 2 for Challenge B. I have a lot of mixed feelings about this and I’m tempted to have my younger son begin Challenge B with Essay 6… I’ll let you know if I try it!

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

Once all the stories are written and edited, most communities will have them professionally printed so each student gets a copy! We used IngramSpark (the same print-on-demand company that prints my book), but you could also use Amazon’s KDP services.

Where to Find Each Challenge B Book

My older son loves paper and Kindle. My younger son loves audio. So I made a list of where to find each book in assorted formats. Check with your library and see if they support both the Hoopla app and the Libby app. The selection of books will vary on each app and at each library! We also love the free LibraVox app and, of course, our Audible subscription! (Some of these are also on YouTube, but I’m not a fan of listening to books there.)

Here’s where we found all the books:

*Included free in a paid Audible membership or a Kindle Unlimited Subscription

Here’s where we found almost all of the Short Stories in the Words Aptly Spoken book (Since many of these are translated works, occasionally a slightly different version is the only one available.) Family Style Schooling also has a list of these on YouTube!

What to Purchase for Challenge B Exposition

  • The 5 novels- students will read them in the order they are listed in CC’s catalog. You do NOT need the same version CC sells.
  • The Lost Tools of Writing, Level 1 set (we used this a lot at first and then rarely used it after we caught the gist of it)
  • Optional: CC’s Words Aptly Spoken: Children’s Literature (we rarely used ours)
  • Words Aptly Spoken; Short Stories

What Goes in the Binder?

  • A copy of my LTW charts (explained on the Challenge A page)
  • A set of page protectors, one per paper, with the corresponding rubric in it. My sons can then quickly slide papers in a pocket without having to 3-hole punch them (apparently an arduous task). When they are finished with the paper, they turn in the whole page protector with the rubric, paper, and worksheets/brainstorming sheets.

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 CC product page for the original American Experience Storybook, scroll down, and look for the link. (It was in red text the 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 to Purchase for Debate

  • The American Experience Storybook, written and published by CC
  • Mock Trail Notebook, only available through CC

What Goes in the Binder?

  • Mostly notes for Mock Trail

Other Resources

I found these other resources very helpful!

Now it’s your turn! Let me know how you make the most of Challenge B!

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