Small People

Small People

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

One of the most intimidating aspects of homeschooling for me is homeschooling my high schoolers. Trying to make sure they get a strong foundation in the courses required for high school graduation and college admissions can be quite daunting. I truly appreciate good quality curriculum that will help me teach my high schoolers what they need. The literature aspect of the English credit is extremely important so I was excited to have Ballerina use Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon Watson.

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis

For this review, we received:
  • Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis student book - This 293-page, soft-bound consumable book contains instruction, questions, and assignments for the student. I'll share more about this in a little bit.
  • Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis teacher's guide - This 173-page, soft-bound book contains everything the teacher/parent needs to guide the curriculum. I'll also share more about this in a little bit.
  • Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis quiz and answer manual - This 53-page, soft bound book contains physical quizzes and opinion surveys for students who prefer to take them on paper.
  • Access to the online quizzes and opinion surveys - For students who prefer to take these digitally. These are graded online automatically, which is extremely helpful to me since I have multiple children who are homeschooling. This is one less set of papers that I have to grade. Plus after completing the quiz online, she inputs her email and then is sent a report of the questions, her answers, the correct answers, and how she did.
  • Access to the Novel Notebook - a free 86-page, colorful digital download to accompany the curriculum.
Ballerina has been using this as the literature component of her English credit. There are several strong literature pieces used in this curriculum. Some of them are short stories included in the student text, while others are novels to be purchased separately. The ISBN numbers are provided for those books that need to be purchased separately so we can make sure to get the correct version since some of the questions and assignments refer to specific page numbers in the novel. Some of the literary pieces to read include
  • "A Jury of Her Peers" by Susan Glaspell
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • Silas Marner by George Eliot
  • Much Ado About Nothing by WIlliam Shakespeare
  • "The Lady, or the Tiger?" by Frank Stockton
  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
The first part of the student book dig in-depth into literary terms and concepts such as character labels, like "protagonist", "antagonist", "dynamic", "static", etc., as well as forces of antagonism (types of conflict). Throughout each literary study in the curriculum, more literary terms are introduced and thoroughly explained.

After reading each literary assignment, there are questions to answer in the student book - some are comprehension questions, while others have her applying the literary term learned about in that unit to how it was used in the piece. There are also questions for each piece in the Novel Notebook; these questions are designed for critical thinking and have led to good discussion.

At the end of each book's unit are questions for discussion and a list of activities. The discussion questions are open-ended and really call for deep thinking. Ballerina would choose several from those listed, and she and I would discuss them. The list of activities included a variety of different choices, such as research, create, rewrite, hands-on, and others that were more specific to each literary piece. For "A Jury of Her Peers," Ballerina chose to paint a scene that was meaningful to her from the story.

The teacher's guide provides several helpful items for me as the teacher. These include suggestions for how to assign grades for each book along with a sample grading grid for each book. There are also suggestions for how to use this curriculum with a co-op group as well as a suggested teaching schedule for a Book of the Month group. 

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Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

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