HMH Collections Homeschool Packages
If you collect something, no matter what that something is, you have multiple items tied together around a theme, connected in some way. Appropriately named, Collections is a unique language arts program which brings together multiple components to help students learn to become experts at hearing, seeing, analyzing, discussing and writing about such connections in literature and other forms of media in their world. The curriculum pulls together multiple literary genre, multiple student activities and multiple tools to help students become better critical thinkers and communicators (written and oral).
Let's start with the multiple tools provided in this homeschool package. Yes, there is a student book, but it serves as just about half of the full program. This is a hybrid course and its second half is an online digital component and is mandatory to complete the course as designed. Each Student Text is organized by 6 topically themed collections rather than chapters. Themes, varied based on grade level, might be Dealing with Disaster, The Bonds Between Us, or Chasing Success, for example. Each collection, like any good collection, has subcategories. You'll always find multiple genre, but always at least two anchor texts (those which form the basis of the collection) and then a handful of comparison texts. So, the student learns to analyze each text, but also view each text in light of the others. Imagine, for example, examining one gemstone's strengths, weaknesses and uses, and then comparing it against the other gem stones in the same category. Thus, you have this program's concept. I was impressed with the depth and breadth of the selected texts. Your student will be exposed to a variety of writing: short story, speeches, science writing, informational text, poetry, literary classics, political argument, essays - the list goes on. Your student will also be introduced to writers across the centuries and from different cultures and world views. To give you an example of the variety, the 12th grade collection, Gender Roles, includes as anchor pieces, The Wife of Bath's Tale (Chaucer's 14th century narrative poem); Mallam Sile (a 20th century West African writer's short story), and Vindication of the Rights of Women (an 18th century woman writer's political argument), among others (such as a modern news article). A word about literary content: this is secular material. From what I examined, though, the material seemed fairly age-level appropriate, didn't seem to push "an agenda", and was typical of college prep. As a Christian using this material, I would also personally take time with my student to discuss the presented ideas in light of my Christian world view. Applying critical thinking to a text and lining it up with Scripture is a priceless skill.
After each individual text you will find features that help teach analysis, literary modes & terms, critical vocabulary and the like. Then your student will be asked to analyze the text, responding to various questions. The main student "assignments" are two Performance Tasks per collection. Typically, these are writings of different types (literary analysis, expository essay, opinion essay, argumentative essay, etc.), but in each grade, the student will be asked to give at least one speech and one multi-media presentation or some other non-traditional method of presenting ideas-sometimes as an individual and sometimes as part of a group (this can be adjusted for one student fairly easily). The tasks require students to pull evidence from the material they've encountered either in the written or digital component and respond on the topic in some way. Thus, they are also developing research skills. The Performance Tasks are explained thoroughly: details include what makes an effective response, planning tips, and detailed reminders about the processes involved in completion (such as drafting, revising, etc.). Finally, they (and the teacher for that matter) are provided with a detailed rubric which explains what a student response will look like (from advanced, to competent, to limited, to emerging) in the categories of evidence, organization and language.
A final, nice component in the student book is the Student Resource guide included in back of the text. These are ready references (close to 100 pages) for all the students' assigned tasks: a guide for Performance Tasks, helps for reading arguments, grammar reference and vocabulary/spelling references, etc. Also included are glossaries of literary terms, academic terms and critical vocabulary. An index of skills taught and