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Sunday, October 30, 2011

TOS Review Excellence in Literature

To say that I love literature would be quite an understatement.  For as long as I can remember I have loved books.  I used to ask for them for my birthdays, Christmas presents, etc.  To read the written word has always brought me great joy and filled my imagination with stories and pictures beyond what movies can conjure up.

To further fan the flame my high school had an amazing teacher, Mr. Cramer, that had a way of getting students excited about literature.  He had a class called short stories and each week we would read a story and then analyze it in class.  We would talk about the characters, the plot, the denouement, and the whys and wherefores of each part of the story.   I loved that class!  It was truly one of my favorites and what we learned in that class has stayed with me so that I can now teach it to my kids.

Although I remember what Mr. Cramer taught me, I had trouble translating that into something tangible to teach the girls.  I knew what I wanted to do but couldn’t get figure out the how. 

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Until now.  With The TOS Crew we were given the chance to review Excellence in Literature from Everyday Education and I jumped at the chance.  I think I may have begged actually!  Winking smile  I am so very fortunate to have been selected for this review. 
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I received the download for Excellence in Literature Introduction to Literature and immediately started perusing it.  My excitement started mounting!  The Introduction is written to the student and explains very well how and why we study literature.  Next comes the Overview and Frequently asked questions section.  Don’t skip these.  They contain valuable information and should be read carefully.  The section How to Read a Book I found particularly interesting.  I think this is a lost skill and I am thrilled to have a tool to help my children learn it.  Discerning Worldview Through Literary Periods was eye opening.  What a valuable tool for our children and ourselves to help analyze what we are reading. 

Whew!  Those are just the sections BEFORE the beginning of the first Unit!! 
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When I turned the page and saw what Unit 1’s required reading was I squealed with delight.  I was so giddy that my 13yo asked what was wrong with me.  What could produce this kind of outburst you ask?  Let me tell you.  The first Unit assigns short stories to the student to get them used to the curriculum and the very first short story is one of my all time favorites.  The White Heron by Sarah Orne Jewett.  I read it in Mr. Cramer’s class and have treasured it ever since.  I was thrilled that my girls were going to get to read it and discover the meaning in it. 

But my excitement didn’t end there because the other short stories were some of my other favorites!  Stories from Guy de Maupassant, O’Henry, Poe, Welty, and Thurber were all included and as luck would have it I owned them all. 

The curriculum breaks down the assignments for the Unit by the week and lists the things the student needs to be doing/watching for.  There are great questions aimed toward getting the student to think of the story/book critically and in a way that brings deeper understanding of what the writer was trying to get across.   There is also an honors track if your child is advanced or wanting the honors credit. 
Here is a list of objectives from the curriculum:
By the end of the course, students will:
  • Understand the process of writing, including the use of tools such as a writer’s handbook, dictionary, and thesaurus.
  • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.
  • Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.
  • Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.
  • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.
This is a great curriculum that I look forward to diving into more in-depth with my children.  Just look at this page for more information on Excellence in Literature Introduction to Literature, there is a lot of info here if you are at all interested in this curriculum.  The print book sells for $29 plus shipping and the ebook sells for $27and is intended for grades 8-12.
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If you want to see what other Crew members thought of Excellence in Literature, head on over to The Crew Blog and check them out.

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**I received a copy of Excellence in Literature Intro. to Literature through The TOS Crew in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

Lisa said...

Great review - I like the personalized touch of including your own experience of reading The White Heron ;-)