Great Works Guides: Instructional Guides for Literature

They're a surprising product to be excited about - literature study guides. After all, we have quite a few series - and most of them are very good. Still, I'm excited about this Great Works series for a number of reasons. Easy to use and comprehensive, these combine all the elements of a good literature study - vocabulary, literary analysis, writing connections, assessments - giving you eye-pleasing, reproducible student pages and a well-constructed, thorough study. But, it's the extras that make them special. First of all, they have culminating activities (Creating with Story Elements) - ways to focus on book specifics, such as understanding the bad guy from Wrinkle in Time. This particular activity starts with a Venn diagram, comparing and contrasting other "bad guys" with the Black Thing and then choosing a project (write a movie scene, create a three-dimensional model, make a movie poster). Another, is the "close reading" of specific sub-sections and the thought-provoking questions that follow. Then, there's the making connections section - using some aspect of the reading segment to "jump" into another subject area. For instance, in Wrinkle, mentally working through geometry dimensions. I like the cross-curricular connections. I like the variety of writing and language activities - in fact there's good variety in all of the activities. And I particularly like the progressive training in writing response to literature compositions. At the earlier levels the student is walked through the response and the writing of it. At the high school level, the student is given choices for different types of writing.

These books are essentially teacher's lesson plans with accompanying reproducible activity sheets. The studies are very cohesive both internally as they work through a literature selection and sequentially as one level prepares the student for the next. In case you're interested, they're also aligned to standards - CCSS English/Language Arts standards as well as various state standards and those for English Language Learners. Coverage includes author background, resource lists for text comparisons, book summary, theme, vocabulary, literary analysis (setting, plot, characters, devices, etc) comprehension, response to literature writing, and language learning (mainly younger levels). A comprehensive answer key is provided in the back of each book. 72 pgs. pb ~ Janice




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