Excellence in Literature: Reading & Writing Through Classics
We've come to expect excellence in the writing programs from IEW. Should we expect anything less in their literature programs? Well, this series proves that we won't have to. Designed to both teach students to read with discernment and to train them to be independent, self-motivated learners, they will likewise be introduced to great literature from the Western tradition and provided with tools to strengthen their writing skills. In other words, they will be well-prepared for college classes.
Each course is a nonconsumable manual with outlines for nine units of study each with four weeks of assignments. Students read and respond to great literature - great because the selections reveal truth through the power of story. And although each unit has a focus text, additional reading is also expected - contemporary poetry, essays, biographical sketches, etc. Also provided are suggestions for additional reading and writing assignments for those wanting to count the course as an Honors English course. Assignments follow a typical path but they have been carefully chosen so that knowledge and skills build sequentially although a competency level of literary analysis and writing skills are assumed. If the student is unsure about these, he should consider two resources as prerequisites (or do them concurrently) - Teaching the Classics and Elegant Essay. Although the student is expected to do his own contextual research (information about author and story background), directed paths are provided in the form of quality web links and research suggestions - and these are extensive (audio, video, visual arts, music, historic/geographic context, places to go, and relevant quotes).
During the completion of each four-week unit, students will complete a number of written assignments including author profiles, approach papers, historical papers, and 750 -word essays usually from a choice of topics. Not to worry, though. A Formats and Models section provides exactly what it sounds like - formats for the various types of papers accompanied by sample (model) writing papers prepared in accordance to the suggested format. Very helpful! Also helpful is the How to Evaulate Writing section and its Evaluation Rubric.
The courses are designed for the student to work through independently. Assignments contain specific instructions. So what does that leave for the teacher/parent to do? Become a Writing Mentor, of course. Plan to spend some time each week with the student talking through assignments, literary gleanings, and preparation. The mentor should also be prepared to either evaluate the papers - or find someone else to do so. Oh, and by the way, students will be compiling a binder-notebook-portfolio.
Although it may be hard to believe that the author, Janice Campbell, has packed so much into such a tidy package, it's true. Introductory information includes a course overview, FAQs, and short sections on How to Read a Book and Discerning Worldview through Literary Periods. At the back of the book is not only the amazing Formats & Model section, but also a helpful section on Honors preparation, and a glossary. The detailed unit lesson plans make up the rest of the course.
The British and American Literature courses are published by the Institute for Excellence in Writing. However the other three courses, published by the author, are similar in organization and structure. The author suggests the following scope and sequence: Introduction to Literature, Literature and Composition, American Literature, British Literature, and World Literature, but a student with appropriate literary course experience could "jump in" at any point to do one or more of the courses. These are excellent college-prep courses that allow the student to work independently, take a whole-book approach with a suitable emphasis on essay responses to literature, and can be easily "upgraded" to an Honors level.
Introduction to Literature (English I) starts with an in-depth look at five popular short stories and then covers Around the World in Eighty Days, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Jane Eyre, Pygmalion, Treasure Island, Animal Farm, The Tempest, and Gulliver's Travels. 132 pgs, spiral-bound
Literature and Composition (English II) covers Robinson Crusoe, Walden, The Count of Monte Cristo, Heart of Darkness, 'Til We Have Faces, Death Comes to the Archbishop, Julius Caesar, Ivanhoe, and The Importance of Being Earnest. 158 pgs, spiral-bound
American Literature: A Survey Course (English III) takes an in-depth look at Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin, Rip Van Winkle, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, The Last of the Mohicans, The House of the Seven Gables, Moby Dick, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, House of Mirth, The Great Gatsby, and The Old Man and the Sea. 146 pgs, spiral-bound
British Literature: A Survey Course (English IV) covers Beowulf, Canterbury Tales, Edmund Spenser, Sir Gawain, the Arthurian Legend, King Lear, Paradise Lost, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations, Wuthering Heights, and To the Lighthouse. 147 pgs, spiral-bound
World Literature (English V) covers The Odyssey, Antigone, The Aeneid, The Inferno, Don Quixote, Les Miserables, 19th-Century Russian selections by Pushkin, Dostoyevsky, et al., Faust (Goethe), and Out of Africa. 163 pgs, spiral-bound ~ Janice