Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide

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From Sharon Watson, the author of the composition programs, Jump In and Power in Your Hands, comes a high school literature program designed to help your students become more knowledgeable and discerning analytical readers and, thereby, more powerful fiction writers.

Watson asserts that a key element in literature (and in our fallen world) is conflict. Therefore, this course highlights literature with multiple levels of conflict—hence the "worlds collide." Not only can literature reflect our fallen, sinful state, but it can also uplift and encourage us. It is from these premises that this program approaches literature study. The Program Goals are to identify literary elements, terms and writing devices; interpret novels from a balanced, Biblical perspective; provide group and multiple learning-style activities; engender a love of fine literature; and strengthen vocabulary.

Two particular course components of note are the Novel Notebook and group discussion. Students are required to create their own Novel Notebook to record specific observations and answers to questions as they read. Free downloadable notebook pages are available from the publisher. The group discussion might seem a little contrived if you are working with just one student—but once you and your student get to discussing literature, I think you'll have a grand time. To facilitate the group discussion component, homeschoolers could also use the curriculum as a spine with other students for a book-of-the month club (suggestions included).

The course design studies a literary classic each month (8 total). The literature was selected based on the particular "colliding worlds" (the various types of conflict exposed), literary value, and the potential to help students make moral, ethical, spiritual and life choices from a Godly perspective. The author strongly advises using approved editions (ISBN's provided) since questions and discussions reference exact literature pages. The order of the unabridged literature is Pudd'nhead Wilson; The War of the Worlds; The Friendly Persuasion; Peter Pan; Warriors Don't Cry; A Tale of Two Cities; Farenheit 451; and The Screwtape Letters. We will have a literature pack for your convenience. You may think Peter Pan an unusual choice for high school curriculum—I did. However, Watson states that this novel's inter-generational conflict themes are missed by young readers and she assigns this book at the teen level to revisit and explore issues in more depth. Keeping the curriculum teen-friendly is a central theme. The literature choices and the tone/style of the student books were written with a teen audience in mind (students take a vocabulary "quizzola," for example). The author intends this as a 2-semester literature class (1 high school credit). Since the author writes assuming an audience with no literature background and the grading is strongly completion based, this course would serve well as an introduction to literature. The Teacher Guide and Student Book are required for this course. The Quiz and Answer Manual is required only if you do not wish to use the available online quizzing.

The easy to follow Teacher's Guide is written directly to the teacher. If you feel a bit intimidated teaching literature, this guide, although not scripted, will provide what you'll need to aid your student. Four pages of the TG provide an overview of the key topics covered each month. Answers for all student work and detailed responses to discussion questions, along with where to locate these answers in the literature, are provided. Grading and evaluation are straightforward and fairly simple. The overall course grade is comprised of 3 components: the Grading Grid score, a vocabulary grade and activity grade for each book. The teacher will use the reproducible Grading Grid to evaluate the student's work. With this measuring tool, students are graded on 7 tasks. For five of the tasks, teachers evaluate only the student's level of completion/involvement in certain tasks. The final two evaluations are comprised of the Yes, I Read It (reading comprehension) and Literary Terms quiz grades.

At the end of each chapter, students choose from various multiple-learning-style activities that expand on and respond to literary themes: mapping, writing music, reenacting, history, imitating, responding to author or characters, etc. The TG provides brief suggestions and guidance for these activities. However, the teacher will decide how activities are evaluated. 8.5" x 11" 182 pp, sc.

The Student Text is fairly self-directed, written as a conversation to the student. Students are guided, step by step through learning about and responding to their reading. Each chapter covers one book in 6-9 lessons. The lessons combine instruction and workbook into one format so that students respond to questions as students read through the text. As they complete their study of the literature, students must evaluate the conflict "colliding worlds" (man vs. man; man vs. ideas, etc.) involved, complete the quizzes and survey, take a vocabulary "quizzola," and complete the final, culminating activity. An "If You Liked This Book" section includes a list of additional readings. 8.5" x 11" 285 pp, sc.

The Quiz and Answer Manual is designed for those who prefer their students take quizzes and surveys on paper rather than online. For group classes, the author recommends completing quizzes, etc., by following online links through the publisher's website (link included in texts). It contains all quizzes and answers for each literature book studied: Yes, I Read It quiz, Literary TermsOpinion Surveys. Each quiz utilizes a form of multiple choice. Don't let the term "survey" make you think these are optional. These encourage students to apply what they've read to their own situation with multiple choice and also some written "response to literature" questions. Permission to copy for personal use. 8.5" x 11", 101 pp, sc.

If you select the free Online Quiz option (for the Yes I read It and Literary Term quizzes and Opinion Surveys) answers are graded automatically. For each quiz, students will receive an emailed report including the questions with their original answers, the correct answers and their final quiz score. The online quizzing and online grading option is interesting. Many colleges incorporate some online course component, so this would be a way to introduce your homeschooler to this method without a costly investment. ~ Ruth

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