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What to do after Windows to the World ??

Guest LisaKay

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Guest LisaKay

:confused: Last year my junior ds worked through Windows to the World, Elegant Essay, and several selection from WEM using SWB's suggested format. We did this with a friend of mine and her ds. All went very well. Us moms were unexpectedly delighted by how much fun we all had discovering the depths of literature with our young men-of-few words. Though neither of our fellas will likely spend much time focusing on literature in college, us teacher/moms are thinking it would be good to reinforce the literary analysis we learned in WTW with a "next step" curriculum for their senior year, but name that curriculum? Formally educated in biological science, my literary education is restricted to the past 8 years of homeschooling. (I tend to be a 150% gal, so forgive me for my insecurity. :001_unsure:)


The other mom and I don't yet feel confident that we will be able to note much beyond the obvious without guidance. We have yet to find a curriculum that provides what we think is adequate assistance (as appears the case with Stobaugh or Excellence in Lit.). Should we just relax a little and continue with the WEM formatting and be comfortable with catching the big ticket items? Should we add to that perhaps Cliffs Notes for guidance on literary devices or a more thorough understanding of the material?


Curriculum and any book selections would be greatly appreciated. I'm still unclear on whether to try something from every genre, keep it historical/chronological, or focus on a type such as British, etc.


Very open to a little help.





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I haven't found anything better than the WEM. I would continue with that. I do like cliff notes. They flag the literary elements, disclose themes and have character analysis. I also like their essay questions.


What type of books does your son like? I like Lori's sci fi list for those interested in that genre. If they have no particular interest you could do a wide survery or focus on a theme: hereos through the ages, utopia, one certain archetype, epics, coming of age etc.

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Guest LisaKay

Well, that's pretty much what I keep coming back to...WEM + Cliffs Notes.


They actually liked Frederick Douglass but would enjoy scifi (I'd make the sacrifice though I wouldn't particularly enjoy that.) Battles are good. They liked Edgar A. Poe. They are open to experimentation for the most part. We even read Moliere's play "Tartuffe" over multple weeks, each taking 3 parts and had a very fun time speaking with French accents. It was a hoot and then laughed our way through the movie version. Suggested in the WEM, it was a real treat.


Though I've heard pros and cons about Stobaugh's studies (Am., British, and World Lit.) Have you per chance used them?



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Guest LisaKay

BTW, Michelle


I just checked out your hsomnibus blog. Very interesting job you've done with the Screwtape Letters. You are obviously well versed and I'm sure a terrific teacher/facilitator. I wouldn't know how to go about leading the boys down such a path. How did you develop your lesson plans?



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Here's Lori D's list (hopefully she doesn't mind my posting it):

10th grader's lit. for English = "Worldviews in Sci-Fi Lit."

We made our own lit., using guides. This turned out to be far more awesome than I expected. DS really enjoyed almost all of the works.


1. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (Stevenson) = Progeny Press guide

Christian worldview -- evil is inherent within man and man can do nothing on his own to remove that evil from himself.

Good, but the language/vocabulary was a a bit tough going for DS. Glad we did it together. While we didn't use every bit of the Progeny Press guide, it was helpful. I just WISH the guide's layout was better -- oog, trying to find the answer is a nightmare, the way all the type is all run together and goes from margin to margin!


2. Frankenstein (Shelley) = Progeny Press guide

Romantic worldview -- the strength of one's passions dictate the validity of one's decisions -- and the beginnings of a scientific worldview (if we can do it, we should go ahead and do it).


Halfway through, DS was tired of the overly-long, romantic, rhapsodic descriptions of the landscapes, even though he understood that it symbolized the internal state of the characters' minds. He was irked at Frankenstein's victim mentality, frustrated that the monster chose to emulate that mentality, and then really annoyed that the character to whom Frankenstein tells his story, chooses at the very end of the novel to hold the very same mindset!


Interestingly, while Frankenstein is an early attempt at the scientific worldview, ultimately the author seems to work against that, as the scientist "creator" even describes himself as not perfect, and that moral failing is definitely passed onto the monster "creation". DS had also read Jeff Baldwin's The Deadliest Monster, which helped him compare the worldviews of the 2 books.


3. Time Machine (Wells) = found an obscure online guide

Worldviews of socialism and science/evolution

Quick read. DS found it paradoxical/amusing that Wells "shoots himself in the foot" at the end of the novel by really believing in socialism and evolution as the answer to man being able to evolve and also to use science to create a bright future -- and the ultimate future he portrays is very bleak -- first, the "de-evolved" eloi and morlocks, and then even farther into the future, a nasty, slimy red crab-like predator on the shore of a dying earth. That's it -- mankind's future. Blech!


4. Animal Farm (Orwell) = Sparknotes guide

Worldview of communism.

Quick read. Very fun, very biting. One of DS's favorites from the list.


5. The Giver (Lowry) = Garlic Press guide; Sparknotes guide]

Worldview of utopia / dystopia

Quick read. Easy, gentle intro into a utopia / dystopia. The Sparknotes guide discussed the theme of remembrance -- and how the lack of knowledge of your culture's past history allows you to be manipulated -- that theme showed up again and again in the next 3 books!


6. Brave New World (Huxley) = Sparknotes guide

Worldview of utopia / dystopia

Definitely glad we did The Giver first to ease us into this one. And, while this one is not for everyone, the author so clearly makes sex NOT lustful/arousing -- the point is to show how dehumanized everyone is. DS found LOTS of parallels with \ present-day culture. As a family, we had recently watched the worldview series, The Truth Project, and found ourselves referring to that a lot in our discussions about this novel.


We found a lot of themes not covered in Sparknotes. The novel prompted a lot of discussion, and wasn't as hard or ugly as I expected.


7. Farenheit 451 (Bradbury) = Progeny Press guide; Sparknotes guide

Themes of literacy, thinking, word vs. image.

Unexpected favorite of DS. He said, "It's such a pleasure to read such a well-written piece of literature!" -- he liked Bradbury's poetic style. This book sparked a lot of discussion, too -- comparisons to our culture today, but also to the 2 previous books. Both guides were helpful.


8. A Canticle for Leibowitz (Miller) = wikipedia article

Post apocalyptic work; theme of the state and it's cycle of rise of power/self destruction, while the Church remains as the steadying, preserving force throughout history

Another unexpected hit for DS. The language, many allusions, and sentence structure definitely make this one to do together. A lot of discussion and comparison with Farenheit 451 and the importance of preserving literature/writings. Both books are also structured into 3 parts.


I do wish there was a guide for this one; I'm considering writing one myself, because it is such a RICH work.


9. Cosmi Comics (Calvino) = wikipedia article

Existentialism and evolutionary worldviews.

Didn't have time to get to this. We'll enjoy it over the summer informally.


10. Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy = no guide

Absurdism worldview

Enjoyed this this one and the sequel, Restaurant at the End of the Universe, out loud just as a family read aloud. A much-needed lighter, fun work after all the darker, more depressing worldviews! The boys enjoyed the "pokes" at traditional sci-fi.

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I just checked out your hsomnibus blog. Very interesting job you've done with the Screwtape Letters. You are obviously well versed and I'm sure a terrific teacher/facilitator. I wouldn't know how to go about leading the boys down such a path. How did you develop your lesson plans?


Screwtape Letters was a very difficult read for me. I had to read each letter at least twice to be able to understand it. To come up with most of the lesson plan, I would take notes on the letter after I read it. I try to read most things I teach ahead of time and then take notes as I go (otherwise I forget).


Some of the discussion questions for Screwtape Letters may have come from here: http://www.lovetolearnplace.com/LitGuild/Screwtape/index.html


Please feel free to use anything off the blog. Screwtape Letters provided some great discussions!

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For ideas of what classics to read, I use TWEM, Invitation to the Classics, book lists from Ambleside and Sonlight, online lists, ask people here, etc. I also take into account our DSs' personal interests (for example, this past year we focused on Sci-Fi); and I also consider what works show up in most high school students literature classes. Then I narrow it down, often by theme, genre, time period, or culture. (For example last year, we created our own "Worldviews in Sci-Fi Literature"; this coming year we'll do American Lit. And I try to include a mix of various types of novels, plus short stories, non-fiction, and poetry.



For how to analyze, we use literature guides. Ones we especially like:

- Garlic Press publishers (secular)

- Sparknotes (free online guides; secular)

- Progeny Press (Christian perspective)

- The Great Books (Christian Worldview perspective)


Other helpful guides:

- Wikipedia articles on the work and/or author

- Glencoe (free online guides; secular)

- Cliff's Notes (free online guides; secular)

- Portals to Literature (secular)

- google search for an online guide



I find it helpful to try to read the works in advance (usually the summer before we do them), and jot down a few notes of literary elements and themes that struck me. I find it helpful to at least read background info and ideas of themes just before diving into the book helps us have a launching point for discussion. We also read aloud/discuss together, which also sparks interest and thoughts. Lit. guide questions can be helpful to guide discussion; they can also provide ideas for writing assignments; sometimes we work out our own essay question.


Windows to the World gives you a great specific foundation -- now you can just go forward and use it to go where you wish! Enjoy your Great Books journey! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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Here's a list of the 25 classic works I've found to be most often included on high school literature lists. They are listed chronologically as to when the work was written. And below that list is a short list of five well written, very inspiring and moving real life or realistic works (or works that really help with understanding of other cultures) that I plan to make sure our DSs read at some point in their high school careers.


Another thought in helping you decide what literature to include for a student who will be headed into science might be works that are most often referenced (alluded to) in our culture, films, and other books. That would be the third list below. BEST of luck as you decide your literary journey for 12th grade! Warmest regards, Lori D.



25 Most Frequently Listed Works for High School

- The Iliad (Homer) -- Ancient Greek epic

- The Odyssey (Homer) -- Ancient Greek epic

- a play by Shakespeare (while more high schools do Hamlet, I personally think Macbeth is a better high school starting point) -- Renaissance British -- tragedy/play

- Pride and Prejudice (or Emma) (Austen) -- British romance novel

- The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne) -- American gothic novel

- a short story by Edgar Allen Poe -- American gothic/horror short story

- Moby Dick (or the short story Billy Budd) (Melville) -- American adventure/realistic/naturalism novel

- Great Expectations (or Tale of Two Cities or A Christmas Carol or Oliver Twist or David Copperfield) (Dickens) -- British industrial age/overcoming obstacles novel

- Adventures of Tom Sawyer -- OR -- Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Twain) -- American adventure/realistic novel

- Treasure Island (Stevenson) -- British adventure novel

- The Red Badge of Courage (Crane) -- American coming of age short novel

- Call of the Wild (London) -- American adventure/naturalism novel

- All Quiet on the Western Front (Remarque) -- (set in WW1) German anti-war/existential novel

- The Great Gatsby (Fitzgerald) -- American "the lost generation" novel

- Catcher in the Rye (Salinger) -- American novel

- The Old Man and the Sea (Hemingway) -- American existentialist novel

- To Kill A Mockingbird (Lee) -- American coming of age/racism/fighting for justice novel

- The Grapes of Wrath (Steinbeck) -- American Depression/Dust Bowl tragedy novel

- The Diary of Anne Frank (Frank) -- (set in WW2) Dutch-Jewish coming of age journal/autobiography

- Lord of the Flies (Goldman) -- British tragic fallen nature of man novel

- Death of a Salesman (Miller) -- American tragic death of the American dream play

- Things Fall Apart (Achebe) -- Nigerian change vs tradition and masculinity in African culture novel

- Animal Farm (Orwell) -- British biting parody/moral tale novella

- 1984 (Orwell) -- British brutal physical and psychological control of the individual by the state sci-fi novel

- Farenheit 451 (Bradbury) -- American loss of literary and ascendency of the image sci-fi novel



Five Inspiring and/or Enlightening Novels

- The Hiding Place

- Cry, The Beloved Country

- The Chosen

- I Heard the Owl Call My Name

- Black Like Me



Works/Authors Most Often Alluded To

- The Bible

- Shakespeare plays (esp. Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, Merchant of Venice)

- The Iliad

- The Odyssey

- Greek myths

- Oedipus the King

- Arthurian myths/tales

- Charles Dickens (esp. A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations)

- Edgar Allen Poe short stories and his poem The Raven

- Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien

Edited by Lori D.
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Guest LisaKay

What a great help! Thanks to Lori D. and Michelle in Al! I truly am feeling better already. I'm going to print these tips and get my list going.


God bless,



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