Q&A: What is Connect the Thoughts Geology? (review included)

In my Smashing Rocks for Science post, I mentioned that we are using Connect the Thought’s Geology curriculum as a framework for our geology study, specifically because it gives me high school geology for K and allows me to adjust for the rest of the kids. 

Since then, Michael asked:

First of all, thank you for providing the link to the Geology curriculum you’re using with your kids. I’m very interested in trying it with my own homeschool high school aged son. Can you tell me what it consists of? Is it a textbook? Are there lesson plans or tests? And finally, about how much time are you planning on devoting to the course? I’m trying to find out if it would count as a full credit or half on his high school transcript.
I appreciate any help you can provide. Sort of new to the whole homeschooling thing, and a bit overwhelmed.

First, Thank you Michael for the question.  I’ll try to explain things in writing below, but if you have the ability to watch it, here’s a video review I did today for you, answering the questions and showing you exactly what Connect the Thoughts Geology is, and what you need for it. 

What does it consist of?

Connect the Thoughts Geology is a complete secular high school (ages 11 and up) geology curriculum written for the student, and designed for indepedent study.  It consists of 78 lessons, about 90-100 hours of study. Each lesson follows the Connect the Thoughts study methodology, which is a little bit different than most curriculums.

For each lesson, there’s

  • vocabulary for the reading
  • geography for the reading, if needed
  • hands-on exercises and experiments to help concrete the concepts
  • 25-50 word writing prompts or questions to further concrete the concepts (I use these as discussion questions)

Overall, this is a thorough exploration of geology, originally written to give the students the education they needed to be well-educated without going on further to college. So it uses and covers materials that would be covered in more advanced geology classes, but with a study methodology that works well for students as young as 11 to do indepentently. (I’m adpating it for students age 7, 9, 11, and 13)

Topics wise it covers:

  • What is Geology
  • Plate tectonics
  • How Earth was made (conventional view point, including Panagea)
  • Minerals
  • Rocks
  • The interior of our planet
  • Earthquakes and how they’re measured
  • Volcanoes
  • Weathering and Erosion
  • Geology and history  (conventional viewpoint)
  • Geology in our everyday lives

I do need emphasize that this is a secular geology curriculum. It covers conventional explanations of how the earth was created and developed. It does *not* include a creationist view of how the earth was formed; that’s up the parents to provide and compare and contrast with their students. For me, I’m good with this, but if you aren’t, then you will either need to skip these section of the course  or look for a geology course that covers it from a creationist view point.

Is it a textbook? Are there lesson plans or tests?

Many of the Connect the Thoughts courses including the textbook reading, but not Geology. It does require the additional purchase of a relatively inexpensive book called Geology: A Self-Teaching Guide  I got my copy off of Amazon for about $13 and you can find it used on Amazon for less. There’s also a Kindle version.

You also need access to The Amazing Earth video and the Journey to the Center of the Earth video. I ordered The Amazing Earth used from Amazon for less than $10, and am getting Journey to the Center of the Earth via Netflix.  So in all, with the curriculum (purchased on sale), plus the added book, video, and clay I needed for the plate tectonics section, I spent about $45 total.

Basically what you get with Connect the Thoughts Geology is a complete independent study guide for the student to go through on their own (though I’m using it with a group of students). It explicitly tells the student what to do.  And the end of each major section, there is a test. But tests in Connect the Thoughts are not-graded, instead they are used to verify mastery and understanding.

For more on how a connect the thoughts studyis laid out, I recommend downloading the free “how to do Connect the Thoughts” course. And of course you can see the actually Geology course in the video above.

If you go with this curriculum, your student will need access to the outdoors to do some of the investigative exerices and experiments (like smashing rocks :)

Also, there’s a few miscellaneous materials needed (like clay or magnets) for some of the experiments, so it’s a good idea to have the students give you a list of what they need for the coming week, or to read ahead yourself to make sure you have everything on hand. To my knowledge there is no materials list available just for this purpose of making sure you have everything you need (a pet peeve, but workable still)

About how much time are you planning on devoting to the course?

The geology course is designed specifically to be a semester course, but is actually longer than the normal 60-70 hours. It is part of the Connect the Thoughts 3 part Earth Sciences series, which in all covers 1.5 credits.  I’ll be awarding a .5 credit (semester) to K when we complete the Geology course. 

We’re doing the course about 3 hours a week, so we should be done with it in 20-25 weeks. But this also lends it self well to intensively working through the Geology curriculum as well, in which case you can complete the course easily within a month.

A few more key points

This is not our first connect the thoughts course, we’ve done several. and I go into on the video a little more about what I like and don’t like about the curriculum and how I’m adapting the Geology course to suit my needs.  But overall, if you are looking for a secular high school geology course, this is a good one to consider.

I will emphasize also that this curriculum as well as all of the Connect the Thoughts courses we’ve tried are designed for the kids to think for themselves. It introduces a variety of information, but doesn’t want the students to regurgitate it back, but rather to own their own education and their own thoughts and opinions. If this is your goal, like it is ours, this is a wonderful benefit to the curriculum. If you aren’t ready for that…well, might want to look else where.

To give you a further idea of how the Connect the Thoughts science curriculum is structured, I recommend watching the videos that Steven has on the Connect the Thoughts site and reading through some of the articles. It’ll give you more of an idea of the man behind the curriculum and his thoughts and style.

(A side benefit to using Connect the Thoughts is the access to it’s author. Steven is really good at personally answering quesstions and is active in the Connect the Thoughts Yahoo Group.)

If Connect the Thoughts Geology sounds like something you’d like to try with your student, you can download your copy from CurrClick. And be sure to agree to get the email updates, because Steven does a great job of doing sales for those of us on a budget, and the sales are announced through those email updates.

So there you go…  If you have more questions about our experiences with Connect the Thoughts or the Geology course in particular, feel free to ask.

…Shannon

P.S. Looks like Steven is running a 20% off sale on all Connect the Thoughts courses this week too, The geology course is coming up on sale for $16 until Sunday, February 20th.

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One Response to Q&A: What is Connect the Thoughts Geology? (review included)

  1. Sharon says:

    I enjoyed reading this and watching your video. It was informative and helpful. I am teaching my 3 boys at home, a missionary in Japan, and I’m strongly interested in using CTT as we get ready to move into high school age. At their web site, I’ve seen the 10 part “course” for the teacher or parent to take before starting. Each costs $, and they take around 12 to 20 hours each. That’s a lot of time. Do you recommend the courses? I’m willing to invest in it if it necessary. Thanks for your opinion.

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