Sunday, July 7, 2013

IEW's Teaching the Classics (Review)

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Homeschoolers everywhere are familiar with the high quality, stellar products of the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).  For many of us, Andrew Pudewa is somewhat of a ROCK-STAR, and we flock to hear him speak at conventions.  The company continues to introduce me to new products and authors/lecturers that knock my socks off. 

My children are still too young for many of IEW's products.  However, my experience with this company thus far has solidified my desire to utilize their incredibly organized, detailed, solid programs in the future.  Although, recently, I was able to review a product I can use with the kids in the present.
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Teaching the Classics is a course divided into six sessions on 4 DVDs. A workbook accompanies the seminar. (View a sample of the workbook.)  The package retails for $89.

The intended purpose of this seminar is to be teacher training.  However, it would be appropriate and possibly of interest to older teens to participate in the course alongside their parents.  In fact, you can view sample lesson plans for using these materials to teach a 6 week class to middle and high school students. 

Being that my big kids are 6, 7, and 8, this was one of those rare occasions when the product in review was just for Mommy.  Not gonna lie - I savored that a bit :)  I didn't rush through the course in a matter of days.  I actually took several weeks to process, absorb, and begin to implement all the fabulous information imparted.  

The session breakdown of Teaching the Classics is as follows:
1. Preparing for Literary Analysis
2. Plot and Conflict
3. Setting
4. Character
5. Theme
6. Practicum, Scope and Sequence
When putting this into practice and interacting with a piece of literature, it is most helpful for the parent/teacher to have read it previously.  Then, a Story Chart and the Socratic List of questions can be employed.  The story chart serves as a visual organizer for the student to house the information for the 5 basic elements of the story.  Then questions from the Socratic List can be asked and answered.  There are 21 questions listed ascending in degrees of difficulty.  Rather than answer all the questions, choose age appropriately and discuss only 3-5 for each literary work.   

What I LOVED about Teaching the Classics....

***First, I want to point out that author and creator Adam Andrews "gets it."  He is not some stuffy suit so far removed from the education arena.  Actually, he and his wife homeschool their 6 children.  As a homeschooling mom, I must say that knowing a tidbit such as this always causes me to give a product more credence from the very get-go! 

***Likewise, I find myself applauding Mr. Andrews again because it is clearly made known that the program includes distinctly Christian content.

***I appreciated the use of familiar literature in teaching the method.  With snippets from The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Casey at Bat, I didn't feel like I had to focus on a new story, but instead, I could hone in on the "guts" of the program. 

***The story chart is a wonderful tool.  For now, it will guide me in discussing literature with the kids, but in the future, they can fill the page out themselves.

***The methodology can be used with all literature opposed to being genre-specific.  Want to read biographies and historical fiction or classics, plays, and poetry?  Whatever your preference, if it tells a story the teachings apply.

***At a loss for what stories to choose?  There is a large list of recommended titles.  Some are gems the kids and I have already enjoyed, others I remember from my own childhood, and still others are new to me.  I can't wait for us to read and explore together!

As with the last IEW product I used, it's hard not to write a gushy review, but folks, this company is phenomenal!  I encourage you to connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.  Click below to read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members are saying.  Some families reviewed Teaching the Classics and others reviewed the Teaching Writing: Structure & Style Set and Student Writing Intensives - Levels A, B, and C.


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