Some of my favorite classes in school were my English classes, although until 11th grade, the literature selections and coursework didn't move fast enough for me.
I loved reading the classics, for the most part, even though sometimes they were tough reads. Well, except for maybe Moby Dick. Hmm. I'm not going to get started on that one!
What I found to be disappointing, though, was that often my grades in those earlier high school English classes were based on a multitude of short quizzes used to determine if we had actually read the chapter selections or not. We were rarely asked in-depth questions that required actual reasoning skills. Usually, it was the typical "who", "what", "when", "where", questions.
And I dreaded those. Since I read quickly but don't have an incredible memory, I'd forget what the main character's mother's name was. Or what time of day he was supposed to meet someone at the park. Those types of questions caused me to never receive a 4.0 on my report card.
But I could tell you about the emotional connections I had with the story and why the author chose to write with a particular perspective. Unfortunately, until my 12th grade AP English class, we weren't asked to write papers or answer questions that required us to use our brain cells in a deeper, creative way.
Since my oldest daughter is in 8th grade, I've been contemplating which high school curricula to purchase for her for next year.
We have a solid history program that combines classic literature with the various eras of history. While I like that program, I find the weekly preparation times to be murderous. If I had 5+ children using that program at the same time, I'd be willing to put in the extra time to plan and prepare. But even after attempting to use it for three years in a row, I'm not succeeding very well.
I heard that some of the members of the TOS Crew were going to be able to review Everyday Education'sIntroduction to Literature program. I was open to giving something like this a try, especially since we've never needed or used a stand-alone literature program other than reviewing a couple of different literature options a few years ago.
When I found out I was selected to begin using the 8th grade year Introduction to Literature curriculum from Everyday Education, I was elated! And I was not disappointed. Kelsi and I are loving this!
What does Introduction to Literature cover? According to Everyday Education's website:
Introduction to Literature is a college-preparatory literature and composition course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.
Students will gain an understanding of the development of literature and will practice the skills of close literary analysis through essays, approach papers, and other evaluative writing. You may learn more about how I chose the literature for Excellence in Literature in this blog post.
By the end of the course, students will:
Students are to complete one unit per month, independently. Of course, as with all homeschooling curricula, this can be modified. Extremely fast readers and writers can complete each unit in less time; students who need additional time can easily stretch each unit over two months.
Here's what I like about Introduction to Literature. After I printed out the year's curriculum and placed it in a 3-ring binder, I tabbed each unit for easy use, read through the intro and Unit 1, downloaded the free classic books for our Kindle, printed out the short stories for Unit 1 using the links provided by Everyday Education, and gave the entire 3-ring binder to Kelsi.
She was easily able to pace herself through reading the introduction and how the curriculum works. She read the first short story and understood how to write the required Approach Paper to accompany each short story.
Each unit is broken up into four weeks of study, and the directions are very simple and easy to follow. There is very little to prepare ahead of time.
After the literature selections are read, the author has provided links to internet resources that discuss and demonstrate the life of the author, links to additional readings by that author, poetry, stories in audio MP3 format, possible videos to watch, visual arts, music, and other online resources.
I find this so helpful! I don't have to do the searching for these additional resources that will help Kelsi understand the historical era of when the book was written and when the book's setting takes place. This is already provided!
The writing instructions are simple and easy to understand.
Honors level materials are also provided (additional reading; additional resources).
I guess what impresses me so much is that this is written in such a straightforward manner that most junior high aged students could easily work through the entire curriculum on their own.
And there are no "waste of time" pop quizzes with those silly WWWWW questions to see if our children have actually read the book selections. You won't find "busywork" in this curriculum.
Right now, I'm leaning toward using this company's literature curriculum throughout our high school years. The material is solid, contains grading rubrics to help grade student work, and provides a multi-sensory study for each unit in the binder.
If you'd like to view and download a free sample unit from Excellence in Literature, you'll find that HERE. That will give you the best feel of whether this type of curriculum is for you or not.
Introduction to Literature: English 1 Print Book (hard copy) $29 + $4.95 Priority Mail shipping
Literature: English 1 e-book- $27 If you'd prefer using the book in three-ring binder format, an e-book is perfect for you. It is laid out to be printed double-sided, and each volume is exactly like the print book. Free shipping.
Janice Campbell's blog also has valuable articles and information for use with your junior high and high school students.
I'm excited to find something that is so much better than most of the material used with me in my high school years! And Kelsi is enjoying this study very much. It takes little prep time for me, as it's written so Kelsi can use this on her own. Excellence in Literature: Reading and Writing Through the Classics looks like a winner to me!
Find out what other TOS Crew members have to say about the Excellence in Literature curriculum!
I received one electronic copy of Introduction to Literature from Everyday Education in exchange for my honest review of this product. No other compensation was provided.
10/27/2011 07:09:46 am
I too really have enjoyed this with Nathan! Great review!
11/20/2011 01:33:18 pm
So glad that Nathan's also enjoyed using EIL! Kelsi is enjoying not only the reading selections, but the writing process that goes along with it!
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Hi! I'm Julieanne!