Odyssey (Robert Fagles)
Translated by Robert Fagles, 560 pgs, pb.
Please note that a brief synopsis of many of the books included here are provided in our Library Builders section. Study guides for the same book are often available from several publishers, so we found it more efficient to give a description of the book only once.
These are excellent literature study guides which cultivate appreciation in literature, improve reading comprehension, and encourage development of insight. The guides are meant to be used by the teacher, although they contain student reproducibles. In the regular guides, chapter by chapter analysis includes student directives, chapter vocabulary and a chapter summary. Student directives are questions about the chapter that can either be used as discussion questions or as a guide for the student to use in developing his own summary. Vocabulary sections contain both word and description. The summary is intended for use by the teacher and gives pertinent details about each chapter. Many chapters are followed by a reproducible skills page which cover literary concepts such as character development, setting, elements of a narrative, plot development, etc. For example, in the guide to My Side of the Mountain, the flashback device is used in chapter one. So, following that chapter's analysis is a skill page on Flashback Development in which students learn about how the flashback is used effectively in the chapter. Other skill pages focus on other non-literary (but essential) skills such as outlining, sequencing, categorizing, comparison and contrast, etc. Another unique and appreciated feature is the incorporation of Writer's Forum pages. These are sprinkled throughout the guide and provide writing opportunities based on the novel. Some guides contain more of them than others: My Side of the Mountain includes three such pages which explore conflict, reality (vs. artistic "license") and a page which contains eight different writing suggestions to use for a culminating presentation. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry has five such pages on a variety of topics including poetry, discrimination, and round vs. flat characters. Some of the guides also include a final, culminating project. Besides all of this, tests are included at the end of reading "blocks" (My Side has them every five chapters, Roll of Thunder has them every three). These include multiple choice, vocabulary and essay questions. Each book also contains a reproducible page to use for student summaries and chapter vocabulary plus answers for all skill pages and tests (including model essay answers). Challenging Level guides are formatted somewhat differently, with much more emphasis on reading strategies and analysis. Chapter by chapter discussion still centers on questions, vocabulary, and summary, but there are many more Strategy (the counterpart to the middle school level skill pages) and Writer's Forum pages. These are just excellent, exploring and examining many literary constructs and techniques. For example, in The Giver, while studying chapters 1 through 5, Strategies include: Beginning a Book, Setting and Mood, Irony, Plot - The Design of a Story, and Foreshadowing and Flashback. During this same span, three Writer's Forums are included: "Shades of Meaning," "Anecdote," and "A List of Rules." As with the lower level guides, testing occurs regularly at the end of specified chapter "blocks." Tests no longer include multiple choice answers, but concentrate on vocabulary and contain more essay (both short and long answer) topics. Again, answer pages in the back of the guide contain suggested responses for all student exercises and tests. While chapter summaries are usually sufficient for answering chapter questions in the regular level, the challenging level guides (thankfully) include answers to these questions also. These guides are well conceived and highly recommended.
Imagine a classically-based history course where your child reads great history books and period-related literature, keeps a running timeline of the period studied, writes outlines and summaries of important people and events, completes history-related map work, and does all of this without extensive planning on mom's part. Although it may sound too good to be true, luckily for you it's not! Author Kathleen Desmarais has done an awesome job of combining an excellent variety of resources and activities and presenting it all in a very straight-forward, professional way that takes the stress of lesson planning off of you and puts the accountability and expectations squarely on your history student.
History Odyssey is basically a series of study guides, with one guide covering one era of history (Ancients, Middle Ages, Early Modern, or Modern) in one year. There are three levels to the program, so if you completed the whole series, you would cycle through world history three times - once in elementary, once in middle school, and once in high school education. The first level is intended for grades 1-4, the second level for grades 5-8, and the third level for grades 9-12. There will be twelve guides when the series is complete; currently, there are still several guides in production. The guides are loose-leaf and 3-hole punched, designed to be placed in a binder. You'll probably want a thick one; students will be adding a lot of material!
Although the same eras in history are covered in each level, the expectations on the student become more sophisticated, following the classical education progression. In Level 1 (the grammar stage), students are encouraged to approach history as a great story as they read (or are read to) and complete map work, History Pockets activities, copywork, and coloring pages. This level will require more attention from the parent than the two upper levels. Depending on the reading ability of the child, some reading selections may need to be read aloud or read together. There will also be copies to make and supplies to gather for each lesson. Level 2 (the logic stage) introduces the timeline, outlining as a writing skill, research, and independent writing assignments. Students are expected to read all assignments on their own, and critical thinking and analysis are emphasized through the assignments. Parental involvement should be reduced at this level, as parents should be only checking the quality of each day's work and making sure that it has all been done. By Level 3 (the rhetoric stage), students will be reading much more demanding history selections (including classic literature) and will be writing plenty of expository, descriptive, narrative and persuasive essays. Research, timeline work, and map work are continued from Level 2 but are more in-depth at this level. For each level, history, geography, and writing are strongly represented. Although the writing practice is extensive, you will probably want to be using a separate course in English and writing.
Now that you're familiar with the basics of the course, let's look at the lessons. Lessons are presented to the student in a checklist-type format. All assignments, including reading, timeline, writing, and others are listed for each lesson with a box to check when the task is complete. In Level 1, lessons are structured a bit differently, in that there is some parent preparation (highlighted in gray), a "main lesson" of assignments, and then several "additional activities" listed. Lessons typically include a mix of readings from resource books, map work, timeline work (in the upper two levels), and writing assignments/copywork to be added to the student's master binder. Exceptions may be lessons which ask the student to begin reading a required book. In this case, a recommended time frame is given in which the book should be read, and follow-up writing assignments may be listed. Occasionally websites may be listed to check out more information, but these are not absolutely necessary to the course if you are not able to visit them. Following the lessons, you'll find worksheets referred to in the lessons, outline maps used in map activities, and several appendices. Although the guide is not reproducible, the author does give permission to copy the maps and worksheets for your family's use only.
There are several important aspects of this course. First of all, with the exception of Level 1, there is little parent preparation. A "Letter to Parents" at the beginning of the guide explains the course, while the "How to Use This Guide" lists required resources and other necessary supplies, describes the organization of the student's binder, and briefly discusses several aspects of the program. For the upper two levels, parents will be primarily making sure the necessary books and resources are on hand and ensuring that each lesson's work has been done and is complete. This leads to my next point, which is that at the end of this course, the student will not have "completed a workbook," but will have compiled their own meaty notebook with all their work from the course. Instruction is given at the very beginning of the course on how to organize the student's notebook, and from that point on, the student will be putting all of their work into the binder. The binder will be not only a tremendous keepsake but a collection of all work done in the course. Finally, the timeline is a very important tool used in Levels 2 and 3 of History Odyssey. This can be made by you, or you may choose to purchase Pandia Press's very attractive Classical History Timeline, which is described below. Events and people studied are added to the timeline throughout the course, and when they're finished with the guide, the timeline can be folded up and included in the student's binder.
One bonus to the course is that they use well-known resources and literature that you may already own! Level 1 heavily uses Story of the World books, A Child's History of the World and History Pockets. My sample of Middle Ages Level 2 lists the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia, The Story of Mankind, Usborne Internet-Linked Viking World, The Door in the Wall, Tales from Shakespeare, Beowulf: A New Telling, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Castle (by David Macaulay), The Canterbury Tales, and many more. Check out the lists of resources beneath each History Odyssey Guide below - I'm sure you'll see many familiar
Composed nearly 3,000 years ago, this great epic is attributed to the poet Homer. It is about a man, a great traveler and hero who, after many journeys and great struggles, tries to make his way back home after the Trojan War.
Please note that this curriculum was originally written to use with the 4th edition of History of the World by J.M. Roberts. That book is currently on its 6th edition and while technically still useable, it does not match up with the curriculum well. The publisher has put the History Odyssey curriculum for this level out of print until it is rewritten at a later date for a newer edition of History of the World.
Please note that the Level 3 History Odyssey curriculum was originally written to use with the 4th edition of History of the World by J.M. Roberts. That book is currently on its 6th edition and while technically still useable, it does not match up with the curriculum well. The publisher has put the History Odyssey curriculum for this level out of print until it is rewritten at a later date for a newer edition of History of the World. We will have stock on this curriculum while quantities last.