Trumpet of the Swan
Sam Beaver is a young boy who loves nature, and unlike most little boys, has a deep respect for it. Although he lives in Montana, Sam is camping in Canada. He discovers a pair of trumpet swans building a nest on a lake. He observes them carefully, and comes to visit after their eggs have hatched. Trumpet swans may be the most glorious breed of birds. Besides being marvelously beautiful, they also have the ability to trumpet joyously. Well, all of them except for Louis. When the father swan brings over his children to show off to Sam, all of them give him a polite beep, except for Louis, who can't beep or make any other sound and instead just tugs on Sam's shoelace. When fall comes, the family flies south to Montana. Here Louis decides that he must learn to read and write so he can better communicate. He finds Sam and begins attending school with him. Louis falls in love with a beautiful swan named Serena, but not even his education compensates for his inability to trumpet his love. Then his father finds him a real brass trumpet. Will Louis be able to use the musical instrument to win Serena's love? 272 pgs, pb. By E.B. White; illustrated by Fred Marcellino.
Embracing the Socratic methodology of literature instruction outlined in Teaching the Classics, the Ready Readers provide a welcome pick-up-and-go option.for those who want fleshed-out lesson plans. The Readers are exactly that - whole book studies that encompass both comprehension and literary analysis. Discussion-based, the studies are designed to involve the student in question answering and analysis in several general areas - setting, characters, conflict, plot, theme, literary devices, and context. Having identified the best Socratic questions in each area for this particular book, the teacher is aided in handling the discussion by talking point answers. Also provided for each study is a one page summary of the book and a story chart. Although they don't specifically say so, there is an "empty" story chart that looks like it's designed to be copied and then filled out by the student. A completed chart graphically outliming the major structural and thematic elements of each story is provided for the teacher.
Each of the Readers features books in a designated reading level range. The studies however, can be used with students who are somewhat older. In fact, the authors recommend that each year begins with a study that is somewhat below the student's reading level. This serves to acquaint the student with the Socratic methodology and familiarize both the student and the teacher with the discussion environment. The Readers can be used with any unabridged version of the literary selection.
These Readers are a welcome addition to the Teaching the Classics line-up of literature studies. With Teaching the Classics, the parent/teacher receives an excellent introduction to the world of Socratic literary discussion and the tools she/he will need to effectively set up meaningful literature studies. Reading Road Maps - by the same authors - flesh out the process a little more and provide all the "answers," so to speak for 100 favorite books. Still, there are many of us who want more - more guidance and direction - as we embark down this discussion path that we may enthusiastically embrace "theoretically." The sample studies in Teaching the Classics are a starting place, but I would probably be one of those who would like more examples before feeling entirely comfortable setting out on my own armed only with my literature selection and a list of Socratic questions. So, thank you Missy Andrews.
The Readers thoroughly provide all the elements needed for a comprehensive and meaningful literature study. I can already hear the question being asked. "If they're so thorough, do I really need to watch the Teaching the Classics video seminar?" I have no doubt that the Andrews would answer with an emphatic "yes!" The Readers are obviously designed to complement the TTC series rather than replace it. While someone picking up a Reader could probably do a passable job of leading a discussion on any particular book, the fullness and richness of that same study conducted by a TTC "graduate" will make that "passable" job seem pale by comparison. So, to summarize the relationship between these products: Teaching the Classics provides the philosophical and methodological foundation. Reading Road Maps provides "framing" for 100 books, while the Ready Readers provide a complete finishing off of a literary "room" for a different series of books. ~ Janice