Beyond the Book Report
Evidently there is a lot that lies "beyond the book report." Literary analysis, journalism, poetry, drama, public speaking, essays, and research papers are just some of the places this series takes us. The perfect complement to Analytical Grammar (and by the same authors), Beyond the Book Report combines the reading of excellent literature with video lectures, notes, lots of practice (i.e. assignments), samples, grading rubrics, and flexibility to provide a well-rounded middle school language arts program. All you need to add to these two is a roots-based vocabulary study, and all this can be accomplished in about an hour a day.
The same qualities that make Analytical Grammar so appealing - clear, logical, and time-effective - have been built into this literature and writing component. Just like AG, there are three Seasons. To give you an idea of what to expect, in Season One, the basic book report is used as a vehicle to cover following a rubric, conflict, point of view, climax, protagonist/antagonist, paraphrase and summary skills. From there they use a pamphlet book report to cover the elements of the plot, mood and tone, setting, and genre. Concluding the Season, they use a news article book report to cover headline, byline, dateline, inverted pyramid, lead, objectivity, bias, objective, and point of view. Seasons Two and Three are just as packed with both writing and literary skills. Poetry and Drama are studied in Season Two and the Oral Book Report, Essay and Research Paper appear in Season Three. Continuous reading of quality literature is required, but no specific reading list is designated (with the exception of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream in Season 2). Please note that Season 3 includes expanded versions of the Teaching the Essay and Teaching the Research Paper units (previously published high school writing units from AG).
The course is composed of a Teacher Guide (small collection of three-hole punched papers) and a DVD. The Teacher Guide includes sample teaching schedules (three-year starting in 6th or 7th grade; two-year starting in 8th or 9th; and one-year starting in 10th or above). These schedules incorporate the AG seasons with the BBR seasons and add vocab. Each scheduled year would equal one credit in English (Language Arts). Beyond this helpful schedule the Teacher Guide is minimal - some basic teaching info for each assignment, examples (based on Charlotte's Web), grading rubrics, a glossary of terms, and answers where relevant. Study segments start off with a video "lecture" that includes printable outline/notes and assignments that are laid out step by step. Teaching days are not necessarily consecutive but allow for "writing" and/or reading periods.
The DVD included with each Season has both videos and PDF files. In addition to the teaching modules there are lecture slides that can be printed to give the student a handy reference and a good place to take notes. Any forms or activities needed for the lessons are provided as pdf (printable) files. The DVD lectures provide clear, straight-forward instruction by the two authors although not "glitzy" with animation or high intensity graphics. These lectures take the pressure off you and make this course into a pick-up-and-go option. All printables are well-laid out and eye-pleasing.
I have to admit that I'm a fan of the AG teaching methodology and materials. I believe they cover the material thoroughly and competently but without burdening home school moms with detailed pedagogical options. Having the DVDs to provide all the instructional material further heightens their value to the busy home school mom. This series coupled with the AG series thoroughly prepares the middle school student for high school literature and writing assignments. If your high schooler is lacking such preparation, then these materials offer a speeded-up coverage option that can be very valuable. ~ Janice