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)
  8. Artsy Fun
  9. Other Resources

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!

Help Contribute!

If you have some suggestions you’d like me to add here, please send them to me at: Julie (at)

And now for some legal stuff

I try to use affiliate links whenever possible. So, if you use one of these links I may get a few pennies from it. However, the cost to you will be the same. I promise that I never choose what to suggest to you based on the benefit I might receive from it. You can learn more about our affiliate policy here.

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, where I cover:

I also want to remind you to also talk with your CC Director. This page is one mom’s advice and each CC group does things a little differently.

Now 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. 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.

2. Logic (Math) Strand

Whether you’re using Saxon Math or not, I think you’ll find some helpful stuff on my Math in Challenge page. I covered these ideas in more detail (jump over there to read about them)

  • Help your students understand the difference between “learning a new concept in math” and “math practice.” No one loves to practice…
  • Pick a math curriculum and stick with it!
  • Creating a Math Plan
  • When to use a calculator
  • Details on the use of Saxon Math (will you use Algebra 1/2 or skip it?)

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!
  • A calculator like the TI-30xa? Check with your curriculum

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.

How to Grade Logic (Math)

Since most math curriculums include tests, it’s pretty simple to assign a grade. I like to also give points for completing daily work.

3. 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)
  • Latin Grammar 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 Challenge B Latin

The first semester of Latin covers the first 1/3 (through Unit 3 or Lesson 15) 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 (Units 4-8 or Lessons 16-29) 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 Challenge 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!

UPDATE: Here’s what actually happened: When the older started Ch 1 (in Aug 2022), we decide to try out the plan- I wrote a whole new schedule that had us done with review 1/3 of the way through the year so we could spend 2/3 of the year on new material. However, he found it depressing to be so far ahead of everyone else. He really needs the accountability of his classmates (even if they aren’t staying caught up).

So then when my younger got to Ch B (Aug 2023), we had a whole discussion about how busy 2nd semester was. He decided that he really didn’t want to work ahead (for the same reason?) so my idea never really gave it a chance.

I still think 2nd semester is way harder than first and we should have tried it, but I suppose now we’ll never know!!

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

How to Scale Back Grammar (Latin)

The second semester can get really intense! If you find that you’re falling behind in Latin, I suggest you switch to completing 1/2 the work by translating every other sentence. Some exercises don’t number each sentence. In those cases, we numbered them ourselves and translated every odd-numbered sentence.

Translating English-to-Latin is a lot harder than translating Latin-to-English, but you learn so much more too. So don’t skip the English-to-Latin translation exercises, just do fewer sentences if you need to.

How to Grade Grammar (Latin)

Henle Latin doesn’t have any tests, so I usually just assign points for completing the daily work. Since I work alongside my students I’m ensuring they understand it all as we go. As they get older, I would like to transition away from this time-intensive way of working… I know Memoria Press has quizzes for Henle Latin, so I’ll probably start using those soon.

4. 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 Science/Research section in the back of the guide lays it all out.

SAMPLE! Here’s a sample paper my oldest wrote in Ch B about William Hershel. As I mentioned on the Ch A page, He’s a pretty natural writer and enjoys writing, so if your student isn’t like that, you’ll probably want to scale the papers down to a single paragraph.

I highly recommend you purchase a few (2 or 3?) 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, the links here are mostly for Amazon, but I found some of mine on eBay.) Here are our favorites:

  • Science: 100 Scientists Who Changed the World by Balchin ($5 on Kindle)- This one includes information on 8/13 astronomers. Each scientist is easy to find in the table of contents and each chapter is short and easier to read than some of the other books. This was our favorite!
  • The Story of Astronomy by Aughton ($4 on Kindle)- This book includes information on 11/13 astronomers and has slightly longer entries.
  • The Astronomy Book by DK ($10 on Kindle- look for used on eBay!)- This one includes information on 11/13 astronomers. It’s colorful and visually interesting, but some astronomers are covered in far more detail than others.
  • Asimov’s Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. The 1982 version includes information on 12/13 astronomers. It contains the typical dry encyclopedia-type entries, but it’s free! I found a 1964 paper copy to buy but it only has 9/13 astronomers. Most people just print pages from the 1982 online copy. It’s also available for free at other universities online- just google it.
  • The Astronomy Book by Jonathan F Henry (Masterbooks publishing)- This book isn’t about famous astronomers, but it’s a great book explaining some of the fundamental concepts in Astronomy. Some weeks the students are focused on fundamental concepts as much as the astronomer, so it’s good to have a basic book on astronomy. Plus, I’m a sucker for all the Masterbook books- they’re fun to read, colorful to look at, and all written from a Christian creation-based science perspective!
  • Eyewitness Astronomy by Lippincott (DK Publishing)- This book includes information on 11/13 astronomers. The DK books are always very colorful and easy to read, so we added it to our collection as well.

Benjamin Banneker and Maria Mitchell are the two scientists that are hardest to find and not in most of the books above.

Here’s a simple table to help you see which astronomers are covered in which book (Click to download the PDF). This table is designed to help parents decide which books to purchase to supplement the Challenge B Research Strand. Since challenge students are practicing the skill of research in this strand, it’s best practice to only provide students with this table if they are struggling with finding information.

Here are a few more resources I’ve heard people like:

  • CC’s “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. (I have the old edition from 2013 or 2014, and I wasn’t willing to purchase a whole new set for the few new cards we needed.)
  • CC also has put out a great resource for free on CC Connected that they call “Science Snippets.” They can be found under each week or by searching for those terms. (The first one is called “CH B – Research Snippet – S1 W02 – Hipparchus.”) They contain a timeline for the history of astronomy and info about each scientist.
    • FYI- CC says not to use this as one of your original sources. (Of course, you’re the teacher, so you get to decide!) 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.

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 for Challenge B 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)

How to Grade Research (Science)

  • I used my IEW rubric (more about this on my Essentials page) to grade the science research papers during the beginning of the year. A few of the assignments weren’t papers, so those I just gave full points if he completed the assignment to my satisfaction. (Remember, we work until mastery, so if it wasn’t up to speck, he had to re-do until it was!)
  • For Defeating Darwinism, he read each chapter and then we had a discussion about it afterward. Then we created an outline for each chapter together, which he wrote down. I assigned points for the oral exercise
  • For Chemistry, I just graded the Discovering Atoms workbook (made by CC) that he was completing each week and then also gave points for the “Adopt an Element” project.

5. 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!
  • If you get behind, I think you’re better off slowing down and going over a lesson again rather than moving forward without understanding.
  • 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.
  • We also found it helpful to create flashcards for the vocabulary in the book as we went along. CC Connected has some pre-made flashcards you can print out. One set is vocabulary and the other is key concepts. Last time I checked they were under Semester 1, Week 1.
  • The Canon Press videos parallel the text- pick your student’s preferred way to learn: reading or watching
  • The quizzes and tests from Canon Press are great for extra practice, which we needed in order to master the material. If you’re using the quizzes and tests, you might want to also use our alternative schedule.
  • What CC tells you to memorize over Christmas is very optional. You could just use it as a chart / cheat sheet. 
  • Keep in mind that they do another type of Logic in Ch 1, so this is not their only exposure. 

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.

How to Grade Reasoning

6. Exposition Strand

On CC Connected, you’ll find “literature spotlight” videos for each week of both semesters. These have a quick summary of the book or story and a bunch of discussion questions you could ask based on the 5 Common Topics and the Lost Tools of Writing method of brainstorming. If you need either of those you’ll find them useful. I found that a summary of the short stories was especially helpful since I didn’t get around to reading them all.

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 (but not fully until Ch 2)! I talked about this a lot more on the Challenge A page and even gave you a free LTW printable!

I know there are some different opinions on this, so I’ll explain that I tell my kids that the purpose behind this assignment is to defend one position. It doesn’t have to be their own personal belief.

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.) (YouTube’s Internet Grandpa also has each book read audibly, but I wonder about the copyright of his videos…)

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.

How to Grade Exposition

I grade each paper using my LTW checklist as a rubric but send them back for revisions until they are A-level work.

7. 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

How We Grade Debate

  • During the first semester, students have two presentations, for which I assign grades.
  • During the second semester, students are very focused on Mock Trial, so I assign a participation grade for that.

8. Now Let’s Add Some Artsy Fun!

I haven’t made any art lesson plans specifically for Challenge B, but here are some ideas from what I already have:

9. Other Helpful Resources

I found these other resources very helpful!

  • Challenge Planners from Amanda Craig and Andrea Salzman (free with a suggested donation)- These break down the guide’s weekly work into daily work.
  • Kristi Lane has some great helps for Writing (including a bunch of sample papers), Debate, and more!

Help Contribute!

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

Want to say thank you and help support this kind of content?

You can buy me a cup of tea and help pay for the hosting of this website with a simple Thank You Donation.