Call of the Wild Thrift Edition
Of good literature guides, there appears to be no end. At least one might come to that conclusion when looking through this section of our catalog. However, there are differences between the many guides that we carry - and good reasons why we have added this series. From a secular publisher, this series reflects both the literature choices common to public schools as well as the content issues reflected by state standards. In general, these guides are well organized and easy to adapt to a homeschool or co-op. Although there is a consistent structure across the grade levels, there is also an increasing depth in terms of discussion and heightened expectations in terms of written output. There is also movement from a focus on reading strategies toward vocabulary development and literary analysis, although all three are covered at all levels.
Practically all of the guides include a Resources Overview on the inside front cover, dividing the literature selection (a.k.a. book or novel) into manageable reading assignments. Middle school guides typically have 4-5 assignments/sections while the high school guides have 6-7. Usually you can figure about a week per assignment section. Also included in the Resources Overview is a list of reproducible worksheets to be used with each section. Since each guide includes quite a few of these reproducibles (perforated and hole-punched), preparation is easy and minimal. The Overview also includes a "Connections" section. This refers to supplemental material - often excerpts from other books or magazine/newspaper articles - that is part of an (expensive) Holt library edition of the books which we do not carry. Although this material looks interesting and in some instances could be supplied from other sources, this portion of the guide is small (less than 10%) and will not be missed.
Which brings us to the excellent study material you will not want to miss. After a brief To The Teacher section (you know, objectives, tips, inclusion strategies, etc.), there is background info on the author as well as the historical and literary context for the book. This is followed by critical response information. [I found this fascinating - reading how contemporaries responded to the book. For instance, did you know that Charlotte Bronte was less than impressed with the work of Jane Austen?] Then on to a section called the novel at a glance - structure, major characters, themes, and literary elements. All of this serves to equip the teacher for a thorough and enjoyable study of the book.
The rest of the guide is the individual (weekly) lessons. Each reading assignment/section lesson includes: Making Meaning (first thoughts, reading check, shaping interpretation, connecting with and challenging the text), Reading Strategies (graphic organizers), Novel/Book Notes ("newspaper" with culturally related info), and Choices (project ideas - performance, art, creative writing, group discussion, etc.) all with worksheets. The beginning and ending lesson follow a different pattern. The first introduces the book while the last "Extends and Assesses" - a novel review, literary elements worksheets, vocabulary worksheets, writing projects, cross-curricular projects, and multimedia and internet connections. The remainder of the guides include a three-part test (objective, short answers, and essay questions) and a complete (both test and worksheets) answer key. As mentioned before all worksheets and the test are reproducible.
These guides are referenced to hardback library editions published by HRW. However, since most assignments are divided according to natural divisions in the book (i.e. chapters, acts, etc.) unabridged editions of the book will work. We don't carry a collection of either American or British short stories that match the ones covered in these guides. However, it's relatively easy to obtain copies of these from the internet by searching for the "story
Complete and unabridged versions of great literature with no "frills" to save you money!
Wow! These incredibly thick and thorough teaching guides are some of the best I've seen (and I've seen lots of them)! These provide both an in-depth study of the novel at hand and many opportunities for improving student reading skills. Several pages of background information at the beginning of each guide put the literary piece in context. My review sample for Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl includes information about Anne Frank's world (meant to be shared with the student as a page of reproducible questions follows) and Background to the War to help the reader understand both characters and setting prior to beginning the novel. Because this novel is actually a diary, the guide is broken into sections (rather than chapters) that correspond to groups of diary entries by date. Each section of the guide contains Teacher Notes, a Check for Understanding exercise, Vocabulary Building, and two Literary Skills activities. The Teacher Notes are essentially lesson plans for that section. They include a helpful section summary for the busy teacher, pre-reading focus activities/discussion questions, a vocabulary preview, an "After Students Read" grouping that references appropriate student pages, and post-reading discussion/writing questions. The Check for Understanding student pages are designed to test comprehension. These vary in format (multiple choice, cause and effect, true/false, matching, etc.) but are intended as a quick check to insure that students have a basic understanding of that section. Answers to these are in the back of the guide. The format of the Vocabulary Building student pages varies also (which is refreshing after having used some guides that utilize the same technique over and over, guide after guide), including analogies, selecting the closest meaning, multiple choice, sentence completion, etc. Again, answers to these exercises are included in the back of the guide. Literary Skills pages abound and are very well done. They, along with the discussion/writing questions contained in the Teacher Notes, contain the higher level thinking skills activities. To give you an idea of the scope, topics included in the guide to Anne Frank are: Genre, Setting & Comparison/Contrast, Idioms, Conflict, Simile & Metaphor, Characterization: Role Reversal, Objective & Subjective, Mood, Character Relationships, Dynamic Characters, Suspense, Inference, Internal & External Conflict, Allusions, Characterization: Opposites and Point of View. Many of these require a significant, organized written response - often a multiple- paragraph essay. Once skills pages are completed for the section, the post-reading Discussion/Writing Questions are provided for synthesizing and evaluating important plot, theme, and character developments in that section. You can either discuss these orally or have your child keep a Response Journal and record his answers there. After reading through the novel, a section of Culminating Literary Skills Activities helps you wrap it all up. In Anne Frank, these consist of three summary literary skills pages plus many options for a final student project. Each guide is between 87-160 pgs. These win hands-down for a thorough, in-depth literature study. Please note that guides are transitioning from print to PDF format on CD.