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Literary Lessons in Lord of the Rings or Starting Points

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I am trying to decide which one to use for 8th grade and which one for 9th. SP seems to have some simplier reading but it has at least 7 or 8 essays over the year. SP has some American history tie-ins which would be a good fit for our BJU American history lessons that year.David Quine's Starting Points is for grades 7-12 and I was hoping to use it as a Lit/ Bible course. I believe LLLOTR is for the same grade range. LLLOTR seems to be a workbook aproach that uses a lot of fill in the blanks and matching. My ds is a very reluntant writer so I do not want to overwhelm him so soon. We are using Apologia's Jump -in writing program in 7th and will do IEW SWI C in 8th to better prepare him for the writing portions.He will be 12 in 8th. Does anyone have experience with these programs ? Does LLLOTR have a strong writing component? I would greatly appreciate any suggestions from someone who knows the difficulty of the programs and how they compare. Thanks.

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Hope something here helps! Feel free to ask me about Lit. Lessons from Lord of the Rings, or Lightning Lit. as we've used both of those. BEST of luck in finding what works best for your family! Warmest regards, Lori D.



Starting Points (SP)

Haven't used Starting Points, but in looking at the website, it looks like a program that is not about literary analysis, but rather, includes a unit on literary analysis in order to learn how to use literary analysis as a tool for looking at the worldview of a book, film or other medium, and seeing how it supports or doesn't support a Christian Biblical worldview.


Starting Points website: http://www.cornerstonecurriculum.com/Curriculum/SP/sp.htm




Literary Lessons From the Lord of the Rings (LLftLotR)

In brief, I would say that the Literary Lessons from the Lord of the Rings is a VERY in-depth study guide to the the Lord of Rings trilogy, plus 12 additional units of material on related topics. There are some suggested writing assignment ideas -- about one every 2-3 weeks. They are pretty open-ended and could be as long or short as you like, or could easily be skipped entirely.


Samples of LLftLotR: http://www.homescholar.org/samples.htm



We are using LLftLotR this year with 8th gr. and 9th gr. boys. Like your son, our 8th gr. is using Jump In this year, as he has always struggled with writing, and is just this year starting to turn the corner on it becoming a little easier. He will finish Jump In in one year, and does some additional writing in other curriculum areas. We are not doing any of the writing assignments in LLftLotR. We are enjoying the many themes and literary terms brought up by the additional notes, and are very much enjoying the discussions sparked by the additional notes, discussion questions, and the additional units.


We've slightly modified LLftLotR:

1. We read the books aloud together 1-2 evenings a week.

2. We don't do the "fill in the missing words" worksheets which review the main action for each chapter. (already know the story very well)

3. We do the vocabulary aloud, rather than fill in the worksheet blanks. (already know most of the words)

4. We read the Additional Notes for each chapter aloud together. This is the "meat" of the study, where all of the literary terms, the themes, and other things like author influences are introduced and examples from the chapter are brought up.

5. We do the Discussion Questions for each chapter aloud together. Again, the meat of the study for us -- lots of interesting parallels and other points get discussed at this time.

6. We read/discuss the additional units aloud together. (We've done them out of order, so that some of the information matches up with other things we're doing.)


In addition to LLftLotR, we are slowly reading/discussing our way through about 4-6 "great books" this year to go along with our history on the ancients, plus the boys are each reading 6-8 books on their own that are either historical fiction to go along with the history, or are classic lit. books for their grade levels -- not requiring much discussion or writing on those books.




Figuratively Speaking

If you're just looking for exposure to literary terms (what they are and examples of them in classic literature), a great resource is "Figuratively Speaking: Using Classic Literature to Teach 40 Literary Terms" (available at http://www.rainbowresource.com or http://www.amazon.com). We did 1-2 terms a week, each takes about 10 minutes; each term is covered in 3 pages, with definition, examples, and exercises for practicing or pointing out the term. As you learn the terms, you can start pointing them out in whatever literature you're reading.




Lightning Literature & Composition for gr. 7 or gr. 8 (LL7, or LL8)

Another option you might want to look into for beginning literary analysis is LL. I'd suggest starting with the full-year program for grade 7, even if he'll be in grade 8, as it is a gentler program, with 8 units, compared to LL8 with 12 units and slightly more mature literature that is read. Both LL7 and LL8 cover realistic novels, fantasy novels, short stories, and poetry. Each unit covers a different literary element with extensive teaching text (written to the student) and examples from the work being read for that unit. There are workpages to help practice the literary element, and then a 2-3 page "mini-writing lesson" in which "how to take notes" or "how to cite a source" is discussed. Each unit ends with 4-6 assignments from which to choose for an optional, longer writing assignment.


See downloadable sample lessons at: http://www.hewitthomeschooling.com/book/blight.asp


We did LL7 and LL8 last year and enjoyed both -- the literary selections were all enjoyable; the worksheets were helpful and not too much; the writing assignment at the end of each unit was not too overwhelming, and we were able to do it while also doing a separate writing program without it being too much. Our younger son (8th grade this year) who struggles with writing will do LL8 next year as a 9th grader, and it will be right on target for him.




Christian Light Education

I've also heard a few people recommend the Christian Light Education (CLE) literature materials as being very helpful and in depth in teaching literary analysis. I know nothing about this program.


CLE website: http://www.clp.org/index.shtml




Resources for YOU in teaching literary analysis:


- Teaching the Classics -- a DVD/video series on how to discuss/analyze literature (for you the teacher, to help you lead/teach your student through discussion on literature)


- The Well Educated Mind -- Susan Wise Bauer's book on how to read/think through a book and "enter the great conversation"; one of the early chapters has a great list of questions you can use with your students on thinking/talking about the literature you're reading.


- Deconstructing Penguins -- by the Goldstones; a book on how the authors ran an elementary aged child/parent book club -- great examples of walking through a book and thinking/discussing it to get to the author's underlining theme.


- How to Read a Book (Adler)

- How to Read Literature Like a Professor (Foster)

- Reading Strands (Marks)

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We have been using Starting Points this year with our 8th grader. Although she has gotten a lot out of it as far as being able to articulate her Christian world view, I find it slow going. This is due mainly to the lack of any teacher's guide, and the middle section that covers the Narnia books (which we have read and discussed many times). I'm hoping that the next section on American History is easier to get through, but I know it will be hard to find the time to perpare for our discussions.


For next year I am considering TOG, or the on-line Great Books I course by schola tutorials. has anyone done GB I?



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  • 2 years later...
Guest david.carroll01

But LOTR is so much more epic than Gatsby!

Actually, I think that the Lord of the Rings is a trilogy of very considerable substance. It stands up well to literary analysis. You may find that its content seems to deepen as you grow older--by which I mean, a *lot* older, as I am now. smile.gif

I will mention two symbols:

Water--to mention a few, the Brandywine (Baranduin), the Ford of Bruinen, Galadriel's bowl, the Black Marshes, the flooding of Isengard (earlier, the river/creek in the Gladden Fields where Gollum acquired the Ring; and the pool where Gollum fishes later).

Color--especially green, white, gray, yellow, gold

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My 12 yo 7th grader is currently using LLfLOTR. He's just completed the first book, unit studies one and two, and the unit test. Overall, I'm really pleased with this program. I actually like the fill in the blank worksheets and vocab worksheets and quizes. DS will be attending PS for high school, and I wanted to prepare him for a more classroom like exerience that includes testing. We read the chapter notes aloud together and discuss each day. We're using the schedule recommended by the author for middle school students which includes 180 days of assignments. We've paused as we've reached the unit studies to complete these. This has added on an extra week of assignments for each unit study. He'll complete the second book (or The Fellowship of the Rings) by the end of 7th grade. We'll continue it into next year.


Much of the value of this program is in the notes. Literary devices are explained and examples are provided within the text. I love that it is scheduled and I have an open and go program that covers literary elements and vocab within the context of reading good literature. The unit studies cover related but broader topics. Frequently, in the past, I've wished we could take a rabbit trail when studying a particular book but have lacked the resources, time, or even motivation to coordinate the study. The unit studies really do this for you, bringing in related and interesting topics to dig deeper.


There is no writing instruction within the program, only suggested writing assignments. The unit test include an optional essay question that I've used as a seperate essay assignment to be completed over a weeks time.


Here's a link to the middle school schedule: http://www.homescholar.org/Middle%20School%20Lesson%20PLans.htm


Hth, Stacy

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