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Constructing a High School English Class, I feel I am missing something


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This is a resurrected thread with my experiences and new questions beginning at post 70.

 

 

Is it really pretty much read 7 or so great works of literature and write about them? I'm very confused about what constitutes a High School English credit at each of the four years. I've looked at the on-line curriculum descriptions for top prep schools in the nation. I've googled "English 9 Honors syllabus," and read several public descriptions. They are pretty much reading lists and writing assignments across various genres and historical periods. Is that really all we need to do?

When I searched this forum, it seemed that English had several more components. How do you construct your English classes? For anyone who is interested, I have a rising ninth grader who is well versed in grammar mechanics and has an expansive vocabulary.

This feels very embarassing to ask...

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Well, you can certainly read more than 7 great works -- I'd say it was at least 10 assigned works of literature per year for each English credit for my kids. You can add in scholarly essays about those works, assign research on the historical context of a work, include Teaching Company lectures on the authors or on the works themselves. Assign biographies of authors. You can also add in productions of plays, whether live or on video, of works you have read or plan to read, movie adaptations of literary works. Attend poetry readings. If your student likes creative writing you can enter contests or submit works to literary magazines for teens.

 

You can have fun with drawing up the parameters of the courses. You can follow the WTM 4 year cycle and tie it all in with history or you could choose genres that your student would love. A year of sci-fi and fantasy, a year of World Literature, or of epics, or Victorian literature, or satire and comedy.

 

Enjoy -- there are many great discussions in your future!

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To answer your initial question, most English courses include reading, writing, grammar, and composition. We have themes at each level of ps for each grade. For instance, 9th grade is "coming of age". Works include short story stories like Scarlet Ibis, End of Summer, Blues Ain't no Mockingbird, and novels can include Lord of the Flies, To Kill a Mockingbird. Each quarter covers two types of writing.

 

There are so many plans available for viewing online. Take some time to look through these and then decide what direction you want to go in.

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You can also add in a speech or two - as long as you are not in a state which doesn't count 'speech' as part of English (eg Florida)

 

Some grammar books (eg R & S) include note taking and outlining (some study skills)...I think in high school we did a bit of SAT prep...or maybe it was just the vocab for the SAT...

 

It can change over the 4 credits of English for high school too..Where the last two credits are more about literature analysis with writing assignments.

 

You still do want exposure to various kinds of writing for some of those credits (ie not just writing about the literature)

 

Joan

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You can also add in a speech or two - as long as you are not in a state which doesn't count 'speech' as part of English (eg Florida)

 

Some grammar books (eg R & S) include note taking and outlining (some study skills)...I think in high school we did a bit of SAT prep...or maybe it was just the vocab for the SAT...

 

It can change over the 4 credits of English for high school too..Where the last two credits are more about literature analysis with writing assignments.

 

You still do want exposure to various kinds of writing for some of those credits (ie not just writing about the literature)

 

Joan

Even if the public school puts speech courses into performing arts rather than English (which does include rhetoric), that doesn't necessarily bind a homeschooler to do the same.

 

I would hesitate to use an entire year of English time on speech just because there is so much to read, but there are plenty of speeches that are in major English anthologies. I put MLK's I Have a Dream speech in the coop class I taught because it had such good examples of parallelism and allusion.

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One further thought--seven works are too few. I usually shoot for 12-14 "units."

 

Shoot for 100-125 pages of reading per week. On those weeks that you don't read, there should be a hefty writing assignment. Most books should go 1-3 weeks. After three weeks you're all so sick of the book that not much learning will happen, so you should go longer than three weeks on one work only if that work is truly spectacular.

 

Search my name on these boards and you'll see more detailed advice on how to do this.

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Thank you all for the thoughtful responses. Up until now, literature has been a component of TOG, and writing has been a seperate subject along with grammar and spelling. I think I tend to have so many different curriculum pieces addressing multiple disciplines; it was just hard to believe that English is really as simple as read it and write about it! Very excited for the coming year. I feel TOG does an excellent job of presenting and analyzing lit. at the Rhetoric level.

 

Ms. Harriet, I will look for additional wisdom under your name! Thank you.

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One further thought--seven works are too few. I usually shoot for 12-14 "units."

 

Shoot for 100-125 pages of reading per week. On those weeks that you don't read, there should be a hefty writing assignment. Most books should go 1-3 weeks. After three weeks you're all so sick of the book that not much learning will happen, so you should go longer than three weeks on one work only if that work is truly spectacular.

 

Search my name on these boards and you'll see more detailed advice on how to do this.

 

Harriet, I agree that seven books are too few, equating to less than one complete selection per month. However, I was very surprised to see the major works listed by top schools for each of their English Classes. In most cases, students were reading 5-8 major works per year. Hopefully, the programs include several other shorter works.

 

If you would be comfortable sharing, I would love to see the Ancient's list you reference in another thread. We will be cycling back to Y1 (Creation to Fall of Rome) with Tapestry of Grace. If interested, here is their Lit list: http://www.tapestryofgrace.com/year1/ScopeAndSequence1.pdf

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Well I've been studying summer reading lists from various schools, and what I've noticed is that some schools (ones known for having successful AP programs) structure their 9th and 10th grade experiences to feed into that. I also noticed some schools are still working on basics at that level (punctuation, etc.). Nuts, I found a review of basics woven in as once a week worksheets into an AP class! So you definitely want to make sure you're hitting all the angles.

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Harriet, I agree that seven books are too few, equating to less than one complete selection per month. However, I was very surprised to see the major works listed by top schools for each of their English Classes. In most cases, students were reading 5-8 major works per year. Hopefully, the programs include several other shorter works.

 

If you would be comfortable sharing, I would love to see the Ancient's list you reference in another thread. We will be cycling back to Y1 (Creation to Fall of Rome) with Tapestry of Grace. If interested, here is their Lit list: http://www.tapestryo...ndSequence1.pdf

 

FTR, I have a VERY low opinion of the way literature is handled in most schools. Often the choices are dark, poorly written, and not very many.

 

I have taught several high school lit courses at this point and have found the pace I mentioned in my earlier post is about right.

 

Our Ancients year was a little crazy. Along with the Ancients, we also threw in a Shakespeare play (we do one every year because we love Shakespeare) and "The Importance of Being Earnest," just because friends were acting in that play.

 

Our actual Ancients list included:

 

Gilgamesh (with Genesis flood account as well)

ancient Egyptian poetry

The Iliad

The Odyssey

Antigone

Oedipus Rex (briefly, as quickly as we could! yuck!)

The Birds

Greek and Roman mythology

 

Other selections from the Norton Anthology of World Literature (vol 1-Ancients)--The tough thing is that we are moving in a few weeks, and almost all our school stuff from last year is currently in storage. I don't have my copy of TWTM handy, and I don't have the Norton handy. I cannot remember what other works we did!!! But I know that we did ten (?) units that year.

 

Dd enjoyed Gilgamesh and The Iliad and The Odyssey, but hated The Birds and the Greek tragedies.

 

Edited to add--We had previously done Job, Psalms, and Beowulf (which is more early medieval but could be counted as an ancient work).

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Even if the public school puts speech courses into performing arts rather than English (which does include rhetoric), that doesn't necessarily bind a homeschooler to do the same.

 

I don't know how all the states work - but in Florida - where we used an umbrella school, it couldn't be part of English....It's true that I don't know how homeschoolers do all their record-keeping in FL, so maybe it doesn't matter if you are not using an umbrella school?

 

Joan

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What they do here for French, German (or Italian) and a third language....for the end of high school exam (Swiss maturite)...is have an oral exam where they analyze some sections of a book they have read (chosen from 3-6 books submitted to the testers by the student). And then have a written exam where they have to write an argumentative essay.

 

So I see the end result of high school language as being able to analyze written text, develop an argument, and communicate the results orally and in writing. :-) That makes it sound so simple.

 

And now in the foreign language AP's that have been changed to reflect new thinking at the CB...they are working towards this although the literature analysis level and depth of the argumentative essay for foreign languages is much lower than what is expected here.

 

Joan

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Harriet, I agree that seven books are too few, equating to less than one complete selection per month. However, I was very surprised to see the major works listed by top schools for each of their English Classes. In most cases, students were reading 5-8 major works per year. Hopefully, the programs include several other shorter works.

 

Are you sure there wasn't also a text for those classes? When I was in HS, we read 5-6 major works, but we also had a standard Prentice Hall English text that included poetry, short stories, excerpts from longer works, writing assignments, etc. I don't think the text would have been listed in a course description because it was assumed that there would be a standard text as well as the readings. That is generally the way the PS & private high schools do it here, although the PS classes tend to only read 1 or 2 full-length works.

 

Jackie

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... several public descriptions. They are pretty much reading lists and writing assignments across various genres and historical periods. Is that really all we need to do?

 

When I searched this forum, it seemed that English had several more components. How do you construct your English classes? For anyone who is interested, I have a rising ninth grader who is well versed in grammar mechanics and has an expansive vocabulary.

 

 

When looking at public school descriptions, it matters that they often do not follow a classical approach and especially at 9th grade they are often tackling a very diverse student population, with a diverse background in literature studies, grammar, vocab, spelling, logic, general rhetoric, composition skills and so forth. High school often joins multiple middle school populations and thus at 9th grade there is a need to cover broad ground. Just saying this to note the difference in public school challenges and how it may explain what you see when looking at their syllabus.

 

I actually don't even call what we do in our homeschool English, opting to call it Literature and Composition instead. It may be a bit of semantics, but it also reflects that in some models, "English" is the advanced study of our language in some way very similar to the way the advanced study of a foreign language would be. I remember in foreign language studies, beyond a given point of basic grammar, oral/written fluency and mechanics the study continues with studies in Literature and the practice of effective composition of various forms of communication.

 

My approach is to take each year and look at what skills and background knowledge is needed to make DD more fluent and competent as a writer, speaker, reader and to some extent crafter within our language. Thus, if she needs grammar review it makes up a bit of the credit. If she needs to read more nonfiction, or have more experience with logical construction of written/oral communications then we focus a bit of time in each credit on those feature. If a student is doing some grammar practice, reading some nonfiction pieces (articles/excerpts), learning basic conventions for research composition, practicing persuasive writing/communications and so forth, it is entirely possible that 7 novels is ample as part of the overall scheme in a given year.

 

One reason I have always seen for a year with a focus on American Literature, and another on British Literature, is the very nature of how different the varieties of English used over time and geographically is in both. To communicate effectively it helps to develop an understanding of those differences.

 

Thus, what constitutes the first in a series of 4 high school "English" credits depends a great deal on where the student is in terms of a vast array of skills related to sending and receiving communication effectively in a language that varies greatly globally and over time. There are so many skills to be learned and practiced and so many variations on where students enter the study that it is difficult to cull it down to a single one size fits all 9th grade English credit.

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Are you sure there wasn't also a text for those classes? When I was in HS, we read 5-6 major works, but we also had a standard Prentice Hall English text that included poetry, short stories, excerpts from longer works, writing assignments, etc. I don't think the text would have been listed in a course description because it was assumed that there would be a standard text as well as the readings. That is generally the way the PS & private high schools do it here, although the PS classes tend to only read 1 or 2 full-length works.

 

Jackie

 

A text? What's that? Our ps just hands out copies of short stories or poems. Sailor Dude was scheduled to do four complete works including Romeo and Juliet along with the reading packets for this year as a freshman. This was part of the reason he came home to do English class with me. Since January, he has done:

 

The Epic of Gilgamesh

The Iliad

The Odyssey

Theogony

Oedipus Rex

Oedipus at Colonus

Antigone

 

We have also read numerous pieces from the ancient Egyptian and ancient Mesopotamian literature books that TOG uses, parts of the Mahabarata, the Analects, and The Art of War.

 

By the end of the year in a few weeks, ds will hopefully have finished Genesis and Exodus and The Wasps.

 

We are getting a bit side-tracked though as the kids bought me a fancy hard-back copy of The 1001 Arabian Nights for my birthday. I am now reading it aloud to ds at his request. It will probably take all summer if we survive Sir Richard Burton's rather over-the-top language, but we are having a lot of fun with it.

 

English classes really can be fairly simple. The reading list in TWTM is great and you can trawl the AP Literature reading list for more ideas. A book like Webster's New World Student Writing Handbook will give you an idea of all the different kinds of writing you can cover. SWB's The Well-Educated Mind is helpful for handling analysis and the basics of genres. Keep several good anthologies on hand for short stories, essays, poetry, and speeches and you will have incredible flexibility.

 

Have fun with it. Literature conversations with my teens make my homeschool world go round.

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Would you mind sharing a few titles?

 

Okay Chucki, you asked for it. :D These are the titles that are on my shelves. I have sorted them in my own unique fashion:

 

Anthologies

 

I like to use entire works where I can, but anthologies are particularly inexpensive for providing a large selection of short stories, essays, and poetry. I look for anthologies that offer a wide selection, but also additional materials that help me teach.

 

The books I wouldn't teach high school English without:

 

The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction - amazing selection of most of the best short stories, but unfortunately it has only author biographies. If I need a lesson for the work, I pull from a TC course or online lesson plans. My kids have just sat and read the book at leisure.

 

Perrine’s Structure Sound and Sense - This has not only the actual works which include fiction, poetry, and drama, but it covers writing about literature, literary elements, how to read a poem, a discussion concerning drama. If you are not ready to fly solo a la TWTM, this can be a good place to start. I pull from it for short lessons when I am not feeling especially creative.

 

The Brief Bedford Reader –Kennedy - I prefer my kids to study essays done by professional writers versus peers in order to understand how to write an essay. This particular volume isn't very big, but it offers a lot of instruction and it probably one of my favorite high school English resources. The first part of the book talks about reading critically, writing effectively and using and documenting sources. The second section talks about the different methods for writing essays: narration, description, example, comparison and contrast, process analysis, classification, cause and effect, definition, argument and persuasion. So for comparison and contrast, you will read about the writing process and then read Suzanne Britt's Neat People vs. Sloppy People. At the end of the essay, there are several questions for discussion regarding the topic and the writing strategy. This is followed by essay topics and finally the essay's author gives their own thoughts on writing.

 

The Language of Composition – Shea -This is a relatively new resource for me, but it is another multi-talented volume that offers a great introductory section on rhetoric, a close-reading section, and the incredibly helpful section on synthesizing sources. My youngest struggled initially with pulling from a couple of resources and making them into a whole, coherent essay. I find the Exploring the Text questions to be deeper than most English resources.

 

I could teach for at least two years if not three with these volumes and complete works from TWTM lists. Most of my editions are older and can be obtained for $4-5 on Amazon including shipping.

 

Remember that essays are an efficient way to teach analysis and writing at the same time.

 

Next up: Anthologies that are mighty handy.

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Anthologies that are mighty handy:

 

The Bedford Anthology of World Literature: The Ancient World, Beginnings-100 C.E. (Vol. 1)

The Bedford Anthology of World Literature: The Middle Period 100 C.E. - 1450 (Vol. 2)

The Bedford Anthologies of World Literature are great if you are on a tight budget time-wise or money-wise. We add world literature to our WTM Great Books work so we were able to pull works from ancient Egypt, China, and India as well as classical western works that we didn't own. This first volume weighs in at 1400 pages and offers a brief history for each area covered, connections to other ancient works and discussions about each of the works. The only thing missing for me, would be some discussion from a literary sense. Again, cheap on Amazon for individual volumes.

 

50 Essays: A Portable Anthology – Samuel Cohen - another small, but indispensable volume with a wide variety of authors: Maya Angelou, George Orwell, Frederick Douglas, Langston Hughes, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dave Barry. There are questions for discussion and writing at the end of each selection.

 

The Norton Anthology of Poetry - it's not that I am in love with this volume, it's just huge and offers a lot of choices. I find it difficult to accumulate individual poetry volumes.

 

Sleeping on the Wing: An Anthology of Modern Poetry with Essays on Reading and Writing - love this little volume, but that is just a personal choice.

 

Everything’s An Argument – Lunsford - More essays, a lot of solid instruction on argumentation. Often used in AP Lang. courses. Another favorite.

 

 

The Kitchen Sink - I have pulled from all of these at one time or another, but I don't consider them essential. I won't pay for Norton and usually pick them up on PaperbackSwap. I also picked up the huge Bedford volume on PBS, but I would have paid for it. It's another resource like Perrin's and is handy. I am partial to Bedford/St. Martin's language arts materials so I can seldom resist them.

 

The Writer’s Presence – McQuade (essays, AP Lang.)

The Nature of Life: Readings in Biology (I like science essays and am looking for a collection for chemistry)

Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages - just fun and left over from middle school

The World’s Great Speeches - handy as we do a speech class

The Bedford Introduction to Literature

The Norton Anthology of English Literature - meh

The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces - older volumes are really just western choices with a token eastern work or three

The Rattle Bag, edited by Heaney and Hughes - good poetry

 

College Book of English Literature – Tobin, Hamm, Hines 1949 - mother's college book, three generations have now written in it. Solid commentary.

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I like the older anthologies from the Adventures in Literature series. Especially the Classic edition. The last edition with stained glass windows on the covers was really watered down. But I think the older books had a pretty good set of essential short texts and just enough bio and commentary.

 

How to Read a Book like a Professor is good.

 

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So...all this has been very interesting. But, what do you do when plans don't come together?

 

I have tried for 2 years now to compile a reading list in advance. It has fallen to the wayside. Ds ends up reading other titles and fewer of them. We can't keep the pace of 10 books or units in a school year along with his textbook readings for History and Science.

 

I had planned on having him read a variety of World Literature this past year to go with his World History survey textbook...about 8 titles. Didn't happen. We started with Gilgamesh and it went downhill from there. Next on the list was Odyssey...that ended quick. Neither of us could get into it. Ds read the Sutcliffe version a few years ago and had no interest in reading it again in verse form. The rest of the list was abandoned and I let him read titles of his choice, of which there were only about 4 plus some short stories. He is a slow, methodical reader and there's just no rushing him. We also use study guides for everything which slows things down and really drags out the reading.

 

I am in awe of those of you whose kids can get through a list of 10 or 12 books.

 

Tell me: do your kids read without using a study guide? Do you just discuss at intervals and then write at the end? I'm beginning to think we've been going about this all wrong. We don't particularly like the study guides. I think they take the joy out of reading...all that stopping to answer questions seems to cause ds to lose interest.

 

I know the kids in "school" only read 2 novels a year (in our area). I'm guessing they use a textbook as well. Mostly, I think they spend time practicing for standardized testing. That's a big deal around here.

 

I will continue to follow...

 

 

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So...all this has been very interesting. But, what do you do when plans don't come together?

 

I have tried for 2 years now to compile a reading list in advance. It has fallen to the wayside. Ds ends up reading other titles and fewer of them. We can't keep the pace of 10 books or units in a school year along with his textbook readings for History and Science.

 

I had planned on having him read a variety of World Literature this past year to go with his World History survey textbook...about 8 titles. Didn't happen. We started with Gilgamesh and it went downhill from there. Next on the list was Odyssey...that ended quick. Neither of us could get into it. Ds read the Sutcliffe version a few years ago and had no interest in reading it again in verse form. The rest of the list was abandoned and I let him read titles of his choice, of which there were only about 4 plus some short stories. He is a slow, methodical reader and there's just no rushing him. We also use study guides for everything which slows things down and really drags out the reading.

 

I am in awe of those of you whose kids can get through a list of 10 or 12 books.

 

Tell me: do your kids read without using a study guide? Do you just discuss at intervals and then write at the end? I'm beginning to think we've been going about this all wrong. We don't particularly like the study guides. I think they take the joy out of reading...all that stopping to answer questions seems to cause ds to lose interest.

 

I know the kids in "school" only read 2 novels a year (in our area). I'm guessing they use a textbook as well. Mostly, I think they spend time practicing for standardized testing. That's a big deal around here.

 

I will continue to follow...

 

 

Two thoughts:

 

First of all, what I highlighted in red is key (above). Stopping the reading pace frequently will kill even the best story. I teach group classes to high school students, and the first thing I do is teach them how to develop a personal shorthand for taking notes right in the text. I also teach them how to read large chunks without stopping all the time--this allows the brain to "fall into" the language and the story. (There are studies that show that it takes about ten minutes for the brain to fully acclimate--so if a text is hard to read, you should press on for more than ten minutes because the brain will learn the "language" and it will get easier and quicker after that.)

 

I do not encourage the use of insipid comprehension questions. Rather, I ask students to note certain things in the text, and I have them write a quick, short timeline of events at the end of each reading session (rather than stopping frequently while reading). For example, in any text they should note symbolism and metaphor. In text they would just note this with a quick symbol in the margin, also underlining the appropriate part of the text. Often I require them to write up character descriptions--in the text, they would simply write the character's name to the side, and underline what is relevant. They then refer back to those in-text notes later to write a simple character description.

 

As the teacher, you can use a study guide to give you ideas about what themes to look for in the text. You can then assign your student to note those themes. For example, when reading The Great Gatsby, I instructed my students to note anything have to do with money with a $, and to also note class issues.

 

The idea here is to get used to making quick markings right in the text as you read. You then use those markings to write about the text, LATER. This way you are able to keep reading at a pretty good clip with a minimum of interruption or distraction.

 

Second, the issues you describe with maintaining the list and the pace are peculiar to homeschoolers. You might want to ask yourself if you are being too flexible. A typical high school student will have to keep up with history and science and literature somehow--part of the learning process is learning where to give lots of attention and where to do just what is "good enough."

 

I have found, too, that having a reading group helps me keep on track with the list. Sometimes that outside accountability is key.

 

The beauty of homeschooling, though, is the ability to customize. If literature is not the focus, then plan on a max of 100 pages per week of reading, allowing less as needed. You should still do larger works, but you can choose to fill out your list with short stories and shorter works (like plays or shorter novels).

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Robin,

 

I make a reading list which usually has too many choices. I allow the occasional abandoning of a work that I do not consider foundational if they find they don't get into it (Thucydides for DD), and the kids are free to select from the "lesser" works what they want to read - but there are some things that are not negotiable. (For us, the Odyssey would have been one of those). For Ancients and Dante, we benefited from listening to TC lectures that gave us a better understanding of the works.

 

We use no study guides! I want them to enjoy their reading and develop their own thoughts. We discuss, but usually after the book has been finished. I would not want to stop my reading just to answer some dumb questions.

Often the kids themselves want to talk about things they read, while they are still at it. These are often the best discussions.

I assign few longer papers, and my DD chooses her own essay topics.There is no way I would want my DD to write about every single book, that kills the joy.

 

How much time is your son spending on reading? If he is a slow reader, he simply might have to spend more time. My DD reads a lot, but DS reads less, so I can see myself requiring a mandatory reading time.

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Our discussion time changes depending on:

 

1) how much time I have at the moment to discuss

2) how quickly they are/were reading the book - sometimes they like the work so much that they're done before we've discussed anything.

 

Same goes for the discussion guides if dd is using them independently:

 

1) if she is curious about interpreting the text - she'll start reading the background and other info when she wants to

2) sometimes the guides only come into use after she's finished with the book

 

About the reading list - I have most of the books recommended on TWTM and some others and then pick ones I think are essential and let her choose from the others, some of which would typically be more appreciated by a girl and others not. I think it's good that they get to handle the book, start to read it to see if they can get into it, etc....

 

Joan

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Robin, the last time I made one of my elaborate plans for reading literature with my youngest was at the beginning of eighth grade. He is now finishing 9th grade and I have learned to hold loosely to my plans and be very flexible in changing direction. My son is a reluctant reader in that he does not pick up a book outside of class time, so it is more important to me to choose works that can engage him than it is to following a set plan.

 

My older kids are voracious readers, but I have tried to keep in mind the complaints they have brought home from their high school English classes: x number of carpe notes per page even if the page didn't warrant it, and the flogging the work to death to the point that it is unlikely the kids will ever reread the book since there is nothing left to discover. In response to these complaints, I seldom use study guides. We discuss the books a la TWTM and resources like the book Sebastian mentions above. I also use Teaching Company lectures or those from Annenberg. Elizabeth Vandiver's lectures on the Iliad and the Odyssey increased our understanding and enjoyment of the works.

 

Since the works listed in the 9th grade list begin with epics, we reviewed the Unit 5 on "Exploring Epics" from the Literary Lesson of the Lord of the Rings. It's an excellent unit and it discusses oral tradition, folk epics, literary epics, pastoral poetry, diction, the issue of translations, as well as literary conventions of in media res, flashback, invocation, epithets, catalogue, and epic simile. One of my son's papers discussed the qualities that Achilles had as an epic hero, which are discussed as well in LLoLOTR.

 

For another paper, ds compared and contrasted the ways in which as primary sources The Epic of Gilgamesh and The Iliad reflected the values of their respective civilizations. This worked as a history/English paper.

 

My personal opinion is drop the study guides that often suck the joy right out of reading. Read and discuss. My son reads some of his required reading on his own and I read some of it aloud.

 

Let your son follow rabbit trails. My oldest son picked up a war anthology at the high school's library sale. He read a piece by Edith Hamilton in which she stated something to the effect that everything you needed to know about the effects of war was in Euripides Trojan Women. So know my senior who is wrapping up his high school career, and not with me, wants to read the play. He'll read it with me and his younger brother. I am looking forward to the discussions and we'll probably trot out another Vandiver lecture. An organic study of literature can be highly profitable and pleasurable. Relax. Enjoy.

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Excellent post, swimmermom.

 

My older kids are voracious readers, but I have tried to keep in mind the complaints they have brought home from their high school English classes: x number of carpe notes per page even if the page didn't warrant it, and the flogging the work to death to the point that it is unlikely the kids will ever reread the book since there is nothing left to discover.

 

and yes to the bolded. Less is more.

Contrary to popular belief that teenagers are idiots and need everything spelled out for them, I find that my teenagers are quite capable of understanding literature just from - gasp - reading it. I highly doubt the authors of the great books had intended their books to be dissected and peppered with study questions; I am quite sure they meant their books to be read.

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So...all this has been very interesting. But, what do you do when plans don't come together?

 

I have tried for 2 years now to compile a reading list in advance. It has fallen to the wayside. Ds ends up reading other titles and fewer of them. We can't keep the pace of 10 books or units in a school year along with his textbook readings for History and Science.

 

I had planned on having him read a variety of World Literature this past year to go with his World History survey textbook...about 8 titles. Didn't happen. We started with Gilgamesh and it went downhill from there. Next on the list was Odyssey...that ended quick. Neither of us could get into it. Ds read the Sutcliffe version a few years ago and had no interest in reading it again in verse form. The rest of the list was abandoned and I let him read titles of his choice, of which there were only about 4 plus some short stories. He is a slow, methodical reader and there's just no rushing him. We also use study guides for everything which slows things down and really drags out the reading.

 

I am in awe of those of you whose kids can get through a list of 10 or 12 books.

 

Tell me: do your kids read without using a study guide? Do you just discuss at intervals and then write at the end? I'm beginning to think we've been going about this all wrong. We don't particularly like the study guides. I think they take the joy out of reading...all that stopping to answer questions seems to cause ds to lose interest.

 

I know the kids in "school" only read 2 novels a year (in our area). I'm guessing they use a textbook as well. Mostly, I think they spend time practicing for standardized testing. That's a big deal around here.

 

I will continue to follow...

 

I have that slow reader too. We didn't get through as much as I had hoped, but we made it through what I felt was important. We still do most of our literature as read-alouds. I appreciate the other answers as those are helpful to me too. Here's a few things I've done/plan to do:

 

1. Read ahead - As someone who didn't read classics in school, I needed to understand what I felt was important. I'm still reading ahead. I read Homer a few years before we needed it. I'm so glad, but I adore Homer. If you can't read ahead - read a summary at someplace like sparknotes or grade saver. Gradesaver seems to have pretty detailed summary of most works, also read some analysis. The Vandiver lectures made a world of difference in ds' interest and comprehension of Homer this year. ETA: Read the summary for you, that can help you guide discussions

 

2. Don't just put it on the reading list because it's on someone else's reading list - Reading through a summary can help you prioritize what is important reading for YOUR school. I want to challenge ds, cover certain books well, and make sure each selection has a purpose in our school year.

 

3. We don't use many study guides either. Since we do most as read-aloud, we'll stop and discuss along the way. I use a different project at the end of some of the works for the grade.

 

4. There is a difference between dragging out a work and taking time to enjoy it. We spent 10 weeks on the Iliad. I had 8 planned, I think. Ds enjoyed it, we moved at his pace, but I kept it moving enough to not feel stale by the end. We're finishing up the Aeneid now and I feel like we're rushing it. He's not enjoying it as much (I don't think it sparkles quite like Homer), but we'll finish after school is officially over.

 

5. They're not going to read it all in high school anyway. This goes back to prioritizing. Some works I think are vital for becoming a literate person, some I think can be picked based upon preference.

 

6. Audiobooks - I plan to use these for a couple of titles next year. Amazon and audible have a few classics if you buy the kindle book (free) you get the audible book for free too. The titles do change. If you look at this book, you can get the audio book for a reduced price, there will be a few that say "free". I have about 10-12 titles in that way.

 

7. I buy two copies of our literature books most of the time. This way I'm building a library for ds, I can take notes in my copy. He often starts reading a chapter aloud, I take over after a bit, then if my voice gives out, I have him finish as quiet reading.

 

Ds has increased his reading speed, but he'll never whip through a large number of books in a year. My goal now is to cover the important ones, preserve/develop a love of reading and curiosity about life in general that you get through reading fiction.

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Your responses make me want to cry. I have been so overly focused on having a record of what we are doing (study guides) that I have lost sight of the real reason for reading...enjoyment. I spent my childhood/youth devouring books without ever dissecting them. I'm not sure I walked away with some deep insight, but goodness, I LOVED reading and learning.

 

My son is a reluctant reader also, swimmermom. He reads a lot of nonfiction on his own...how to make things, field guides, things of interest---weapons, military, science...but uses the internet for those. But, he doesn't just pick up a book for the sake of reading.

 

I guess I need to quit worrying so much about whether or not he has some sort of epiphany from reading Gilgamesh...or whatever.

 

My downfall last year and this was trying to choose titles that lined up with our history. We do a geography, world, u.s., gov/econ route that doesn't really work well with reading things chronologically.

 

I am going to talk to my son about the goals we need to focus on for the next two years. I feel we have not accomplished much the last two years. And, YES, I feel I have been too lenient with him. He's my last one...'nuf said.

 

Right now I feel very anxious and confused. I feel like our last two years of Literature have been mediocre, if that good. We've had some good discussions and we've worked on composition a lot, but when I read about all that gets accomplished in your homes, I'm discouraged.

 

I do have some questions about resources, if anyone wants to answer...what versions of The Odyssey and The Iliad do you use? Prose or verse? how do you know what to discuss as far as literary devices in a particular work? This is one reason we use study guides...they usually address this sort of thing in a nice, tidy package. I feel unprepared and inept at doing this "freehand".

 

I am hoping to do some things with ds over the summer. He must continue Geometry, Chemistry and History in order to finish by fall so he can move on to his junior year subjects...we are behind in so many areas. I should clarify that we've had a lot of doctors' appts this spring...ds has pectus excavatum and will be having surgery at the end of June...I feel like we are doomed to be behind (my plans) forever...

 

Thanks again...lots to ponder.

Robin

 

 

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Excellent post, swimmermom.

 

 

 

and yes to the bolded. Less is more.

Contrary to popular belief that teenagers are idiots and need everything spelled out for them, I find that my teenagers are quite capable of understanding literature just from - gasp - reading it. I highly doubt the authors of the great books had intended their books to be dissected and peppered with study questions; I am quite sure they meant their books to be read.

 

My slow reader has surprised me with some of his observations and commentary this year. I love it when my kids come up with points that I had completely missed.

 

About the whole annotation thing - I teach annotation using short stories. My kids know that it is a tool; they know that it may be expected of them for AP English courses, but it is their choice to use it in my classes. My kids have long been resistant to writing in their books, but my dd recently changed her mind. She picked up my copy of Dorian Gray read a few chapters and returned with a request for her own copy. It seems that she was finding things to contemplate all over that work and that she wanted to make notes that were relevant to her. This is how it should be, not some artificial, meaningless practice.

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I do have some questions about resources, if anyone wants to answer...what versions of The Odyssey and The Iliad do you use? Prose or verse?

 

 

We used and loved the verse translations by Fitzgerald.

He compromised on the meter, because the original meter does not work very well in English, and the result is a translation that flows beautifully in English.

 

how do you know what to discuss as far as literary devices in a particular work? This is one reason we use study guides...they usually address this sort of thing in a nice, tidy package. I feel unprepared and inept at doing this "freehand".

 

 

No idea, we tend to just pick up on things. *I* have sometimes peaked into a study guide for ideas like this, but I have never used any study questions with my kids. They just, hm, notice?

I handed my DD the "Essential literary terms" book and she browsed through it. You don't need to practice a dozen times to recognize an alliteration, once you know what it is, you'll just find it. Personification speaks for itself and makes sense in context; all you need to know is that such a concept exist, and it will jump out at you. If you know that "foreshadowing" is a thing, you'll recognize when it is done.

I can't explain it better, since my background is science and not English - somehow my kids do just fine with literature, so i tend to believe less direct instruction and more being left alone with the reading does the trick.

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I have that slow reader too. We didn't get through as much as I had hoped, but we made it through what I felt was important. We still do most of our literature as read-alouds. I appreciate the other answers as those are helpful to me too. Here's a few things I've done/plan to do:

 

1. Read ahead - As someone who didn't read classics in school, I needed to understand what I felt was important. I'm still reading ahead. I read Homer a few years before we needed it. I'm so glad, but I adore Homer. If you can't read ahead - read a summary at someplace like sparknotes or grade saver. Gradesaver seems to have pretty detailed summary of most works, also read some analysis. The Vandiver lectures made a world of difference in ds' interest and comprehension of Homer this year. ETA: Read the summary for you, that can help you guide discussions

 

2. Don't just put it on the reading list because it's on someone else's reading list - Reading through a summary can help you prioritize what is important reading for YOUR school. I want to challenge ds, cover certain books well, and make sure each selection has a purpose in our school year.

 

3. We don't use many study guides either. Since we do most as read-aloud, we'll stop and discuss along the way. I use a different project at the end of some of the works for the grade.

 

4. There is a difference between dragging out a work and taking time to enjoy it. We spent 10 weeks on the Iliad. I had 8 planned, I think. Ds enjoyed it, we moved at his pace, but I kept it moving enough to not feel stale by the end. We're finishing up the Aeneid now and I feel like we're rushing it. He's not enjoying it as much (I don't think it sparkles quite like Homer), but we'll finish after school is officially over.

 

5. They're not going to read it all in high school anyway. This goes back to prioritizing. Some works I think are vital for becoming a literate person, some I think can be picked based upon preference.

 

6. Audiobooks - I plan to use these for a couple of titles next year. Amazon and audible have a few classics if you buy the kindle book (free) you get the audible book for free too. The titles do change. If you look at this book, you can get the audio book for a reduced price, there will be a few that say "free". I have about 10-12 titles in that way.

 

7. I buy two copies of our literature books most of the time. This way I'm building a library for ds, I can take notes in my copy. He often starts reading a chapter aloud, I take over after a bit, then if my voice gives out, I have him finish as quiet reading.

 

Ds has increased his reading speed, but he'll never whip through a large number of books in a year. My goal now is to cover the important ones, preserve/develop a love of reading and curiosity about life in general that you get through reading fiction.

 

 

Paula,

 

I always follow your comments/threads. I want to homeschool like you when I grow up...and swimmermom and regentrude...sigh.

 

I know I should just go with what feels right...I have graduated one from homeschool already. She's in college and managing nicely. But, she's a different learner than my son. She read for enjoyment and was mostly independent during her high school years (she wanted it that way).

 

I feel like I have been easy with ds because he came home from ps under not-so-pleasant circumstances. Now he has this surgery looming and recovery and I think I'm feeling a little sorry for myself (and him).

 

Thanks for your suggestions. I'm thinking I need to get an e-reader.

 

I also need to sit down and come up with a real plan for what WE want to accomplish before graduation. And, what's important for our homeschool. I need to keep reminding myself to concentrate on US and not on OTHERS.

 

Robin

 

 

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My slow reader has surprised me with some of his observations and commentary this year. I love it when my kids come up with points that I had completely missed.

 

About the whole annotation thing - I teach annotation using short stories. My kids know that it is a tool; they know that it may be expected of them for AP English courses, but it is their choice to use it in my classes. My kids have long been resistant to writing in their books, but my dd recently changed her mind. She picked up my copy of Dorian Gray read a few chapters and returned with a request for her own copy. It seems that she was finding things to contemplate all over that work and that she wanted to make notes that were relevant to her. This is how it should be, not some artificial, meaningless practice.

 

 

My kids have an aversion to writing in their books, too. I cannot get ds to do this. Dd20 would not do it either. My oldest did it in ps, but it was artificially imposed by the teacher. She hasn't done it since...she's 24.

 

But, for short stories, that's a great idea. I can make copies of short stories and they can be marked up like crazy.

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. I should clarify that we've had a lot of doctors' appts this spring...ds has pectus excavatum and will be having surgery at the end of June...I feel like we are doomed to be behind (my plans) forever...

 

 

I assume he will spend some time recovering from surgery, with little energy and ability to do anything - that is the perfect time to fit in a bunch of audiobooks. Nobody says you must actually READ all the classics ;-)

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I assume he will spend some time recovering from surgery, with little energy and ability to do anything - that is the perfect time to fit in a bunch of audiobooks. Nobody says you must actually READ all the classics ;-)

 

 

Thought of this after reading Paula's response. That e-reader is looking better and better ;)

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I assume he will spend some time recovering from surgery, with little energy and ability to do anything - that is the perfect time to fit in a bunch of audiobooks. Nobody says you must actually READ all the classics ;-)

 

 

Great idea! We listened to Seamus Heaney's reading of his translation of Beowulf. We read it during the dead of winter around the fireplace at night with candlelight.

 

Check and see if your city has Shakespeare in the Park. Usually, somewhere in a major city and not so major cities, somebody is performing Shakespeare for free in the summer. This can go on your transcript.

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Thank you all for the thoughtful responses. Up until now, literature has been a component of TOG, and writing has been a seperate subject along with grammar and spelling. I think I tend to have so many different curriculum pieces addressing multiple disciplines; it was just hard to believe that English is really as simple as read it and write about it! Very excited for the coming year. I feel TOG does an excellent job of presenting and analyzing lit. at the Rhetoric level.

 

Ms. Harriet, I will look for additional wisdom under your name! Thank you.

 

 

I am now using TOG also. We use it in a co-op for history/geography & literature/vocabulary. We use CW for composition and grammar/logic though. On transcripts I put down their Literature class as well as a Composition class and they get credit for both.

 

I disagree that English class is as simple as read it and write about it. You need to read, yes, but how you read counts. How you read is a skill to learn while in high school (by pre-reading questions, noting page numbers as you read or using post it notes, annotations, etc.) Following up with notes after reading is another skill. Understanding difficult reading is a skill (grammar and vocabulary are helpful here too). Analyzing what you read and learning how to discuss it is another skill... here literature terms and skills are learned and applied not to mention logic. More, note-taking skills can be applied. Then, yes, there is writing. Various forms of composition is another set of skills that use all the others plus grammar, logic, plus all the skills for writing (outlining, using your notes from reading and from discussions, editing, thesis, essays types, logic/arguments, paragraphs, sentence structure, etc.)

 

So yes, English is reading and writing but those are just the means to teach all the skills or to build their box of tools for communicating both in oral form and written form.

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I am now using TOG also. We use it in a co-op for history/geography & literature/vocabulary. We use CW for composition and grammar/logic though. On transcripts I put down their Literature class as well as a Composition class and they get credit for both.

 

I disagree that English class is as simple as read it and write about it. You need to read, yes, but how you read counts. How you read is a skill to learn while in high school (by pre-reading questions, noting page numbers as you read or using post it notes, annotations, etc.) Following up with notes after reading is another skill. Understanding difficult reading is a skill (grammar and vocabulary are helpful here too). Analyzing what you read and learning how to discuss it is another skill... here literature terms and skills are learned and applied not to mention logic. More, note-taking skills can be applied. Then, yes, there is writing. Various forms of composition is another set of skills that use all the others plus grammar, logic, plus all the skills for writing (outlining, using your notes from reading and from discussions, editing, thesis, essays types, logic/arguments, paragraphs, sentence structure, etc.)

 

So yes, English is reading and writing but those are just the means to teach all the skills or to build their box of tools for communicating both in oral form and written form.

 

 

Your post has just sent a dozen board members straight into the stratosphere because they now believe that teaching a solid English class requires elaborate classroom-based procedures and special voodoo knowledge available only to the erudite.

 

There has been a trend over the last ten years to take the results from some research into what makes a good reader and to make that into an elaborate methodology that routinely shows up in middle schools and high schools. So do we now have a nation of book-loving, competent students? Nope. If anything, we have a handful of successful AP students and the remainder of the students running far and fast from their English classes. Who wants to read Fahrenheit 451 if you have to read questions beforehand that give away the story so you will know what to look for so you can note the page so you can write an essay and support your point? Who wants to read the Iliad if you must mark every frigging metaphor and simile in a 500 page book that has 400 pages of simile and metaphors? Oh yes, assigning a student to make 5 annotations per page so you can prove they have read the work is a really worthwhile.

 

I will teach a student the methodology you outline above with regards to reading a text or preparing for an AP course, but I am blunt. I tell them that it is a methodology, someone else's idea of the ideal way to learn.

 

I have made my English classes as complex as you described, but find that our simplified ones are far more productive.

 

Sorry, but your post really rubbed me the wrong way. There are more than a few folks on this board whose kids have done well in their college lit classes and on AP exams with the majority of the process being reading, discussing, and writing.

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Your post has just sent a dozen board members straight into the stratosphere because they now believe that teaching a solid English class requires elaborate classroom-based procedures and special voodoo knowledge available only to the erudite.

 

There has been a trend over the last ten years to take the results from some research into what makes a good reader and to make that into an elaborate methodology that routinely shows up in middle schools and high schools. So do we now have a nation of book-loving, competent students? Nope. If anything, we have a handful of successful AP students and the remainder of the students running far and fast from their English classes. Who wants to read Fahrenheit 451 if you have to read questions beforehand that give away the story so you will know what to look for so you can note the page so you can write an essay and support your point? Who wants to read the Iliad if you must mark every frigging metaphor and simile in a 500 page book that has 400 pages of simile and metaphors? Oh yes, assigning a student to make 5 annotations per page so you can prove they have read the work is a really worthwhile.

 

I will teach a student the methodology you outline above with regards to reading a text or preparing for an AP course, but I am blunt. I tell them that it is a methodology, someone else's idea of the ideal way to learn.

 

I have made my English classes as complex as you described, but find that our simplified ones are far more productive.

 

Sorry, but your post really rubbed me the wrong way. There are more than a few folks on this board whose kids have done well in their college lit classes and on AP exams with the majority of the process being reading, discussing, and writing.

 

 

Lisa,

 

ug, sorry! I soooo did not mean it to read that way! I'm glad you posted your comments. I too like the idea of just reading and discussing, I'm not against it. And I do get how all the questions can get in the way of enjoying a book. Teaching English or Literature or Writing does not require any special degrees... any of us can do this ... with or without a curriculum or study guide.

 

hmm, I guess I was just trying to point out that English class is not just read it and write something. That sounds so small. There are so many skills that can be learned here... and frankly many are used in all classes. These study skills tend not to come in their own class, so I try to find places to teach them and it is usually in some form of an English class and used in the other classes.

 

So, for a really good English ( well actually this is the literature part) class I'm more for a mix where some works are just read and enjoyed, some are analyzed as they are read, and others are only analyzed some. For the Illiad, once they know what a simile is, we can all just discuss which ones we remember from the story... they don't need to find them all ... so long as they *can* spot some... that is the skill.

 

I think the bigger skill to focus on is writing/composition... there's plenty there to work on during high school years and this skill will be needed for all other classes as well.

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My downfall last year and this was trying to choose titles that lined up with our history. We do a geography, world, u.s., gov/econ route that doesn't really work well with reading things chronologically.

 

 

I do have some questions about resources, if anyone wants to answer...what versions of The Odyssey and The Iliad do you use? Prose or verse? how do you know what to discuss as far as literary devices in a particular work? This is one reason we use study guides...they usually address this sort of thing in a nice, tidy package. I feel unprepared and inept at doing this "freehand".

 

I am hoping to do some things with ds over the summer. He must continue Geometry, Chemistry and History in order to finish by fall so he can move on to his junior year subjects...we are behind in so many areas. I should clarify that we've had a lot of doctors' appts this spring...ds has pectus excavatum and will be having surgery at the end of June...I feel like we are doomed to be behind (my plans) forever...

 

Thanks again...lots to ponder.

Robin

 

 

 

Sorry that he's having some health problems! Here are some things that worked with my boys and might be helpful to you....

 

I decided that we'll just read classics, but not necessarily chronologically or in any order. I try to pick books that I think they will enjoy or are somehow important. However, there are so many out there that they'll never read them all, so why not pick the ones that are most interesting to them. So, my daughter read different lists than ds 1. And ds 1 read different books than ds 2. There was some overlap.

 

We use audio books for some books. My oldest son loves the Odyssey and the Iliad, but had read that they were oral tales. So, we got the Robert Fagles versions of both in book and in audio form (we borrowed the audio from the library). They were nice versions to read. My son followed along in the book while listening to the audio. Perhaps while he's laid up, your son might enjoy listening?

 

For discussions, I just used the guiding questions in The Well Trained Mind or perhaps The Well Educated Mind as a spring board. You might also want to look at Shmoop. It is free online and I use it to prep for a book club that I facillitate for our guys. I'm just learning as I go, but it has been valuable to have a book discussion group for the guys as it comes with a built in deadline for finishing the book : ).

 

Hang in there....it's okay to have an off season. He'll be okay. Learning to think, engage, read and write is important, but there's no magic number of books.

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hmm, I guess I was just trying to point out that English class is not just read it and write something. That sounds so small. There are so many skills that can be learned here... and frankly many are used in all classes. These study skills tend not to come in their own class, so I try to find places to teach them and it is usually in some form of an English class and used in the other classes.

 

 

Ack! :svengo: Kathie, now I get what you are saying and I apologize for jumping on your comments so fast. To someone who is concerned about teaching English classes on a college preparatory level a comment like "just read and write" can sound understandably irresponsible.

 

I have been thinking since I have spent so much time on English class threads today that maybe we all might want to start a thread on that specific topic. Perhaps something like the major chemistry sticky at the top of the forum?

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Sorry that he's having some health problems! Here are some things that worked with my boys and might be helpful to you....

 

I decided that we'll just read classics, but not necessarily chronologically or in any order. I try to pick books that I think they will enjoy or are somehow important. However, there are so many out there that they'll never read them all, so why not pick the ones that are most interesting to them. So, my daughter read different lists than ds 1. And ds 1 read different books than ds 2. There was some overlap.

 

We use audio books for some books. My oldest son loves the Odyssey and the Iliad, but had read that they were oral tales. So, we got the Robert Fagles versions of both in book and in audio form (we borrowed the audio from the library). They were nice versions to read. My son followed along in the book while listening to the audio. Perhaps while he's laid up, your son might enjoy listening?

 

For discussions, I just used the guiding questions in The Well Trained Mind or perhaps The Well Educated Mind as a spring board. You might also want to look at Shmoop. It is free online and I use it to prep for a book club that I facillitate for our guys. I'm just learning as I go, but it has been valuable to have a book discussion group for the guys as it comes with a built in deadline for finishing the book : ).

 

Hang in there....it's okay to have an off season. He'll be okay. Learning to think, engage, read and write is important, but there's no magic number of books.

 

Great post!

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Contrary to popular belief that teenagers are idiots and need everything spelled out for them, I find that my teenagers are quite capable of understanding literature just from - gasp - reading it. I highly doubt the authors of the great books had intended their books to be dissected and peppered with study questions; I am quite sure they meant their books to be read.

 

 

No idea, we tend to just pick up on things. *I* have sometimes peaked into a study guide for ideas like this, but I have never used any study questions with my kids. They just, hm, notice?

I handed my DD the "Essential literary terms" book and she browsed through it. You don't need to practice a dozen times to recognize an alliteration, once you know what it is, you'll just find it. Personification speaks for itself and makes sense in context; all you need to know is that such a concept exist, and it will jump out at you. If you know that "foreshadowing" is a thing, you'll recognize when it is done.

I can't explain it better, since my background is science and not English - somehow my kids do just fine with literature, so i tend to believe less direct instruction and more being left alone with the reading does the trick.

 

This is where I hope to land; directed reading selections, education about literary methods and means, writing and discussion that reveals an understanding of the structure and significance of the text - something that is not quite as formally driven as a specific curriculum, but rather is an organic interaction with the author and his concepts.

 

So yes, English is reading and writing but those are just the means to teach all the skills or to build their box of tools for communicating both in oral form and written form.

 

 

Lisa,

 

ug, sorry! I soooo did not mean it to read that way! I'm glad you posted your comments. I too like the idea of just reading and discussing, I'm not against it. And I do get how all the questions can get in the way of enjoying a book. Teaching English or Literature or Writing does not require any special degrees... any of us can do this ... with or without a curriculum or study guide.

 

hmm, I guess I was just trying to point out that English class is not just read it and write something. That sounds so small. There are so many skills that can be learned here... and frankly many are used in all classes. These study skills tend not to come in their own class, so I try to find places to teach them and it is usually in some form of an English class and used in the other classes.

 

So, for a really good English ( well actually this is the literature part) class I'm more for a mix where some works are just read and enjoyed, some are analyzed as they are read, and others are only analyzed some. For the Illiad, once they know what a simile is, we can all just discuss which ones we remember from the story... they don't need to find them all ... so long as they *can* spot some... that is the skill.

 

I think the bigger skill to focus on is writing/composition... there's plenty there to work on during high school years and this skill will be needed for all other classes as well.

 

For me, affirmation that high school English class is essentially interacting with literature feels very elegant and freeing, not small. We are probably very close in philosophy (both being TOGers!) The directive of our schooling is to produce boys who think well, write well, and speak well. When I say "simply" I mean, no worksheets, no diagraming, no vocabulary words, no dress-ups and checklists, no additional curricula that constrains independent thought and pre-digests the material.

 

I hope I am understanding correctly that the very act of reading, considering, and writing about great works will build the logic structures and communication skills which are our goal. Isn't this what we have beem preparing for in all of the grammar and dialectic years?

 

I'm so grateful to all who gave such thoughtful and detailed answers; you have inspired and challenged as I face this new phase of learning!

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Anthologies that are mighty handy:

 

The Bedford Anthology of World Literature: The Ancient World, Beginnings-100 C.E. (Vol. 1)

The Bedford Anthology of World Literature: The Middle Period 100 C.E. - 1450 (Vol. 2)

The Bedford Anthologies of World Literature are great if you are on a tight budget time-wise or money-wise. We add world literature to our WTM Great Books work so we were able to pull works from ancient Egypt, China, and India as well as classical western works that we didn't own. This first volume weighs in at 1400 pages and offers a brief history for each area covered, connections to other ancient works and discussions about each of the works. The only thing missing for me, would be some discussion from a literary sense. Again, cheap on Amazon for individual volumes.

 

 

Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to write up all of these resources and comment on them! I found the Bedford Anthology in our local homeschool consignment store. Lo and behold, it contains the Fitzgerald translations of Illiad and Odyssey required for Y1.

 

I already have a set of Britiannica's Great Books that I scored at a garage sale several years ago, I think we have all of the ancient literature selections we could use and more.

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