Essentials in Literature
Reflecting on Life Through the Mirror of Literature. Can you think of a better mission for a comprehensive and substantive literary analysis program? This series takes its mission seriously, and when you combine that with excellent organization, ease of use, and informational video instruction, it is compelling. Course author and video instructor Matthew Stephens has the heart of a teacher (in fact, he was a teacher before he started producing amazing homeschool curriculum) as well as an obvious love for beautiful, written language. Like the companion series, Essentials in Writing, these courses will be favorites.
Connecting is emphasized in the program, and students are taught to analyze literature as a way to connect with authors, characters, events, and places. This is not faith-based, although the author is a Christian. Occasionally literary selections are edgy, such as the 8th grades coverage of Night by Elie Wiesel, an autobiography of a young Jew who was in Auschwitz. The content is always handled with discernment and discretion, and the parent is given advance notice of anything that might be considered graphic content. A list of the shorter literature needed is included inside the Resource Book. Selections are typically public domain.
Courses have a consistent organizational structure. There are four units: fiction, nonfiction, novel, and poetry. Lessons in the Fiction Unit focus on short stories and cover plot, conflict, mood, tone, setting, theme/symbol, characters, point of view, foreshadowing, and flashback as well as author/story background and figurative language (onomatopoeia, simile, imagery, personification). Lessons in the Nonfiction Unit - excerpts from biographies/autobiographies, informative, propaganda techniques, and narrative nonfiction - cover bias, tone, purpose, types of nonfiction, research, letters, informative articles, book reviews, taking notes, self-monitoring, perspective, and structure. Lessons in the Novel Unit cover character development, skimming/scanning, setting/mood, internal/external conflict, making inferences, problem/solutions, foreshadowing, making predictions, and theme. Lessons in the Poetry Unit cover elements of poetry, poetry structure, sound devices, figurative language, metaphor, mood/tone, dialect, simile, rhythm, symbolism, voice, rhyme scheme, hyperbole, personification, diction, and imagery. Units often have introductory lessons/lectures, and all units have summative assessments. The Novel unit also has a culminating activity.
Lessons follow a pattern typically a 5-6 day pattern (except for the Novel Study Unit). There are Before You Read lessons (meet the author, analyzing literature lectures, vocabulary, story background), While You Read lessons (reading focus), and After You Read lessons (analyzing literary elements, comprehension checks, vocabulary, and analyzing figurative language). Independent Practice activities summarize the instructional emphasis from the lessons and give the student literary composition practice.
Combo sets include the spiral-bound Student Workbook, a small Teacher Handbook, the teaching videos for the course in either DVD format or online subscription format, and a print copy of the course novel. The Student Workbook is both instructional text for the course and analytical worksheets for completing many of the non-composition assignments. The instructional information is thorough and comprehensive, reflecting the content from the teaching videos. The Teacher Handbook is packed with important information. There is a general overview of the course, some instructions for handling content (particularly difficult or questionable content), a course syllabus, and a detailed answer key. Lesson plans are a combination of the course syllabus and the student workbooks clearly marked daily lessons which include video cues and all needed student worksheets. The instructional videos (DVDs or online subscription) are a significant component of the course and are very well done. Please note if you purchase a set with Online Video, you will receive the print components of the course in your shipment and a separate email from Essentials in Writing with information on accessing the online video.
We understand this program will eventually have courses for grades 4-12 (we cant wait!). In the meantime, these middle school courses are excellent and a great first step. ~ Janice
If you opt for DVD format, please note that they work best in a DVD player. Some customers have had issues with discs running on their computer DVD-ROM player, but typically the disc will work in a DVD player.