Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy)
Who better to record the story of Mark Twain than his own daughter? This delightful book is a story about the real life of Samuel Clemens according to his daughter Susy. There are even real excerpts throughout the book from Susy's actual diary located inside separate mini-book inserts. In this book, you will gather a small glimpse of Samuel Clemens' childhood days, peculiar habits and hobbies, days spent with his family on the farm, and many more interesting details. hc. ~ Gina
Susy Clemens thought the world was wrong about her papa. They saw Mark Twain as "a humorist joking at everything." But he was so much more, and Susy was determined to set the record straight. In a journal she kept under her pillow, Susy documented her world-famous father-from his habits (good and bad!) to his writing routine to their family's colorful home life. Her frank, funny, tender biography (which came to be one of Twain's most prized possessions) gives rare insight and an unforgettable perspective on an American icon. Inserts with excerpts from Susy's actual journal give added appeal.
Language arts programs listed in this section cover most areas of language arts (reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling and handwriting) in one curriculum, although some skill areas may be covered with less intensity than a focused, stand-alone course.
Lightning Literature and Composition brings Five in a Row to mind. Utilizing the same "read-through-books-multiple-times-a-week" methodology yet with a focus on literature appreciation as well as systematic grammar and writing instruction, the goal is both developing a love of great literature and a loving, gentle introduction to language arts. Snuggle up on the sofa, use this course as a road map, and read good books with your child. You'll accomplish the goals of this program!
A Teacher's Guide, a Student Worktext, and lots of classic (along with a few contemporary) children's books are the components for the program. Both years include weekly extra read-aloud stories/books (i.e. Aesop's Fables in Grade 1; Winnie the Pooh and Just So Stories in Grade 2). There are 36 weekly lessons; each with daily instruction for Monday through Thursday (Friday is a day off). Lessons in Grade 1 are each based on a well-loved children's picture book. In Grade 2, the lessons start with picture books but in the last third of the year move into chapter books which are studied over a multi-week schedule. Grade 2 introduces Poetry lessons (four weeks interspersed throughout the year) using the Random House Book of Poetry for Children. Daily instruction includes three segments: literature, grammar & mechanics, and composition. Each book is read at least twice with comprehension and literary questions provided. Grammar lessons are brief and tied to the reading selection and then reviewed in subsequent weeks. Diagramming (a helpful graphic organizer) is introduced in Grade 2. Compositions are assigned weekly with daily guidance towards completion. Handwriting instruction and practice can be incorporated into each lesson as desired/needed.
The Teacher's Guide is the heart of the program and necessary. It's here that the general flavor of the program is most obvious including its orientation toward teacher-student interaction rather than independent student work. Detailed daily instructions are written in first person to the parent/teacher. The flexibility built into the program is reiterated often with examples of how to adapt the teaching instructions for students who are sluggish or need extra challenge. Weekly schedules have a basic structure, though. Books are read on Monday and Wednesdays and, optionally, on Tuesdays. Each day includes literature study, grammar/mechanics study, and work on the weekly composition assignment.
To give you some idea of how the TG is set up, let's look at Grade 1, Week 23. The At a Glance page gives an overview of the week, listing the book for the week (Story About Ping), a fable, and optional materials, while stating that the grammar/mechanics lesson is on contractions, and the composition is an instructional article. Daily literature questions include story retelling, examination of the story, character, setting, external details, internal details and conflict, as well as some thought-provoking "consideration" questions. Comprehension questions are designed as a tool to improve comprehension rather than to test for it. Answers are provided where they would be helpful. Grammar and mechanics lessons are typically short and usually involve a workbook page (answers provided). Coverage includes punctuation, capitalization, parts of speech, sentence diagramming (beginning in Grade 2), and occasional literary concepts. Daily composition segments lead the student through the writing process including brainstorming, ordering, rough drafts, and final drafts. The variety of writing assignments includes creative writing, essays of all sorts (description, personal, opinion, etc.), research paper, and poems. If any of this seems to you a bit advanced for first and second grade, keep in mind that assignments are well-tailored to the child's level. Plus, there is a constant emphasis on remembering that the goal is to love literature and language arts with suggestions for adapting the lessons to the needs of your student. Each week ends with suggestions for extending the lesson. A teacher's handwriting guide in the back of both teacher books includes instruction, a letter stroke alphabet, and reproducible masters for handwriting pages with various sized lines.
The Student Books include some instructional material but are essentially consumable worktexts. Most of the grammar exercises are included here along with space to write thoughts about the reading selection (i.e. Reading Journal Pages: What this Story is About, What I Think of this Story, and My Favorite Sentence). The books are full-color and appealing. Artwork related to the week's literature selection is included with each lesson. Grade 1 handwriting lines are 5/8" with dotted middles. Grade 2 handwriting lines are ½" with dotted middles. A build-it-yourself dictionary (students write words they've encountered under various letters) is included in the back of each student book.
My first assumption about this program was that it would provide a light overview of grammar and composition with an emphasis on settling back and enjoying the literature. While there is a decided emphasis on enjoying and understanding the literature, the program is also decidedly comprehensive in its grammar and usage coverage and just plain expectant in its composition assignments. Students are encouraged to write a wide variety of compositions although those expectations are never to get in the way of enjoying the story. You might be wondering about the role of phonics/reading instruction in this program. To put it simply, it's not included. There seems to be an underlying assumption that the student is reading at a basic level and that phonics instruction is underway. Personally, I think Explode the Code workbooks would be the perfect complement to the completeness of the Lightning Literature language arts instruction. Eventually, the author intends this program to reach upwards and join the Jr. High program by the same name. This is an excellent start.
Grade 2 Teacher - 340 pgs, pb; Grade 2 Student - 354 pgs, pb. ~ Janice
Grade 2 Literature (in order of lessons): Max's Words; Old Woman who Named Things; Bee Tree; Teedie, the Story of Young Teddy Roosevelt; Insect Detective; Three Questions; La Mariposa; Random House Book of Poetry for Children; Sequoyah; Anatole; Pop's Bridge; Patchwork Quilt; Sylvester and the Magic Pebble; Extraordinary Mark Twain; Polar Express; Enormous Crocodile; Snowflake Bentley; Many Moons; Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine; This is New York; Bears on Hemlock Mountain; Mouse Called Wolf; Boxcar Children; My Father's Dragon; 26 Fairmount Avenue; Mr. Popper's Penguins.
"Reading should be fun, and writing should be satisfying." The author of this series believes this, and she has produced a course that tries to keep that goal ever present. She wants the students to enjoy themselves! Accordingly, reading assignments are not as strenuous as in some courses - two novels, two non-fiction books, two short stories and several poems for the 7th grade course, for instance. However, the lessons are well-constructed and coverage of vocabulary, comprehension, literary elements, and writing instruction is thorough.
The three components of this program are designed to be complementary for use together. The Student Book is the student's textual companion as they study the literature selections. There are eight chapters in Grade 7 and twelve in Grade 8, one for each of the major pieces of literature that are studied throughout the year, but the chapters do not necessarily correspond to a specific time period. For instance, in the 7th grade course, Chapter 5 is covered in two weeks, Chapter 6 in four weeks, Chapter 7 in two weeks, and Chapter 8 in nine weeks. There is a consistent pattern in the chapter contents, however: Introduction (to the literary work), While You Read (what to look for), Vocabulary List, Comprehension Questions, Literary Lesson, Mini-Lesson (writing lesson), and Writing Exercises.
The consumable Student Workbook is the place for the student to "do" their work. It provides worktext space for all the essential exercises as well as some optional fun/reinforcement exercises. There are 8-12 exercises per chapter, in seven different coded types - L for literary lessons, M relating to mini-lessons, C practicing composition skills, T for thinking skill pages, G exercises that review grammar and mechanics, P for puzzles, and E for extra-challenge (the last two being the optional ones). There's a nice variety in these exercises and a well-thought-out relationship between the literary and composition activities. Frankly, I like the step-by-step skill building that is integral to the worktext.
The Teacher Guide is the "glue" that holds the whole program together providing a philosophical and methodical overview of the program and a weekly planning schedule (lesson plans) as well as chapter-by-chapter answers and teaching helps.
To some, the reading selection choices might seem a little light, and perhaps atypical, but there is good variety in terms of genre, and the lessons are effective vehicles for grade-level skills. To give you an idea, in Chapter 6 of the 7th grade course, Helen Keller's autobiography, The Story of My Life, is covered. Lessons, in addition to the usual background, vocabulary, and comprehension, include these writing skills: lists about yourself, developing an idea, putting ideas into a paragraph, identifying resources, determining fact or opinion, identifying a biased viewpoint, and identifying sentences plus a crossword puzzle, a word search and an extra challenge exercise on autobiography and culture.
If your goal is to prepare your student for high school literature and composition skills, then Lightning Lit & Comp is a good, solid choice. Although there is a conservative moral "feel" to the series and an occasional mention of God (by authors Stephen Crane and Mark Twain, for instance), there is no obvious Christian content. ~ Janice