The Trojan War
Allow me a moment for a bit of background information, please. As some readers may recall, when Jude worked on the Second Grade Memoria Press literature program, he really struggled. Although the program was marketed for second graders, his skills at the time were not quite on par with Memoria Press' expectations. I have long felt that the program's expectations are higher than average. Combined with Jude's early struggles with reading, I have intentionally used levels that are below his chronological grade level. In fact, for his sixth-grade year, we began with literature guide for A Cricket in Times Square, part of Memoria Press' fourth-grade program. To my surprise, he easily completed this study, as well as the one for Homer Price, so we skipped ahead to fifth grade's The Chronicles of Narnia. I felt that if he could manage this book, we'd move on to sixth grade; if not, we'd complete the rest of the "fifth-grade" literature. Jude proved to me that he really was beginning to mature in his thinking process, so this summer, we moved up to sixth-grade literature. There was an added benefit: while these books were still a year behind Jude's chronological grade level, they were high-interest for him. I felt this interest would be the ridge between "want to read" and "hard to read."
When offered the opportunity to try the 7th-grade package, I was a little hesitant to try anything intended for an even higher level student. However, hope springs eternal and I figured maybe the challenge would be good for him. If worse came to worst, we could set it aside after the review period and try again later. When the books arrived, I gave him the choice of reading any of the three options besides Anne... because I knew that set was going to Celia. As he is an avid reader of all things Greek, Roman, and Norse mythology, I was not surprised when he opted for The Trojan War.
If you are familiar with the Memoria Press Classical Studies program, then you know that students begin by studying Greek Myths in the first year of the program, and then continue on to learn about Ancient Rome and Greece. While The Trojan War is included in the literature program, it is also part of the Classics Year 4 Program. While you might be tempted to skip it, especially if you intend to continue through and have your child study The Iliad and The Odyssey in Year 5, this retelling by Olivia Coolidge is an excellent introduction to the epic. It provides enough details to draw the reader in, but not so much that he gets lost in the minutiae of them. I think Jude will be well prepared for studying these two epics in depth next year.
At our current rate of a chapter a week, it will take Jude a full semester to complete this guide. I'm comfortable with this pace for two reasons. First, this work sets the foundation for something he will study again, so I'd rather him understand what is going on well so that when he studies The Iliad, he will again be "adding on" rather than "starting new." Secondly, I want him to begin to have better study habits. Jude only likes change when it is his idea, so I have a feeling it is going to take some time before he realizes that he wants to make the changes.
My only complaint about the set is that the tests and quizzes are only in the Teacher's Guide. I know that some parents do not administer tests, but I find them helpful to assess what Jude is retaining as he transitions to working independently. However, doing so is not a smoothly integrated process.
I wish the Student Guide had the Student's tests, either interspersed or in an Appendix at the back of the workbook, or that there was a separate (reproducible or consumable) Test Booklet, and that there was a reminder/test placeholder for to help the newly independent student not to race ahead.
Anne of Green Gables
Ah, Anne-with-an-E...I think Miss Shirley is one of my favorite literary ladies. I was probably in middle school when I found my first kindred spirit (Anne), my first Book Hero (Matthew Cuthbert), and my first Book Boyfriend (Gilbert Blythe). Anne has been on Celia's reading list for quite some time, so this was a perfect opportunity for her. While Celia was finishing 9th grade during the review, so technically "older" than the program's intended age, she has had a literature-heavy year. I decided to substitute Anne for Henry V for the last of her 9th-grade reading. Do I think this made it too "easy" for her? Not at all.
L. M. Montgomery may have only written books on paper, but her character's words bring them to life. I think anyone who has read any of the Anne books knows Anne's grandiose imagination supports her flair for the dramatic while providing a foil for the prosaic Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert. In addition to Vocabulary, Comprehension, and Enrichment exercises, each chapter explores Expressions for Discussion. These could easily be done as an oral discussion, but I asked Celia to write her interpretations of what the expressions meant.
Classics become classics because they are enduring, but it would be easy for a book published in 1908 and set in the late 1800s, to contain archaic vocabulary. I can remember doing vocabulary studies myself and wondering, "When am I ever going to use these words?" However, Memoria Press has focused on words that remain pertinent today.
Celia has been working at a rate of a chapter every other day. On Day 1, she does vocabulary, reading, and the expressions for discussion; on Day 2, she finishes the comprehension questions and completes the enrichment. It could easily be done at a slower pace (one workbook section a day over the course of a week), but I'm hesitant to recommend doing a full chapter a day. It is possible if your child is a fast reader, but it would take close to 90 minutes a day just for literature. I have done this with Memoria Press literature when we are in a time crunch (trying to get to a logical stopping point before an extended vacation, or when Luke or Matthew was trying to finish a study guide in the countdown to graduation), but it's not necessarily sustainable long term. At a rate of 5 chapters per week plus review sections and two exams (also only available in the Teacher's Guide), it will take about 8 weeks, or one academic quarter, to finish the book. I think that's reasonable for a high school student.
The Hobbit and The Bronze Bow
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