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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TOS REVIEW: Excellence in Literature (Introduction to Literature)

EIL

Title: Introduction to Literature English I
By: Janice Campbell, Everyday Education, Excellence in Literature
Cost: $29.00 + 4.95 shipping for print, $27.00 for ebook download
Grades: 8-12

One of the greatest aspects of being a part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew is that the products we receive are often right on for our family. This is one of those great products that clicks well for us.

We read a lot of the ‘classics’ in our homeschool but generally analyzing and writing about them haven’t been done. In college I did take a couple of literature classes but I still do not feel confident enough to rely on my own experiences to help my children when it comes to this in our homeschool. I am very thankful to have this product to review.

Due to my lack of confidence in guiding my students in this subject I was so glad to discover that this is a self-directed middle/high school course. The objectives of EIL are as follows:

  • Understand the process of writing, including the use of tools such as a writer’s handbook, dictionary, and thesaurus.
  • Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.
  • Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.
  • Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.
  • Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics. (from the website) emphasis mine

The books that are incorporated in this course are ones that we either have already, can borrow from the library, or that can be found free online. You can read here how the literature is chosen for the course. This course is the first of five Excellence In Literature courses offered by Everyday Education (Janice Campbell). Here is a pdf of the books used in the five year series.

In the book the objectives are worded much the same as at the website but this one hits on what I really am striving for:

Prepare students for college classes by expecting carefully researched, well-thought-out material to be presented in standard format, with preliminary proofreading completed. (page 7, Excellence in Literature: Reading and Writing Through the Classics) emphasis mine

She also tells the student (because it is written to the student, not the teacher):

Rather than spoon-feeding you basic, easily-researched information (and having you zone out in the middle of paragraph two), I have provided resources and links that will enable you to perform the context research you’ll need in order to fully understand the novel, play, essay, or poem. This is the kind of research you’ll find yourself doing for college courses, so if you learn how to do it now, you should be quite good at it by the time you graduate! (page 8, Excellence in Literature: Reading and Writing Through the Classics) emphasis mine

The works that are read through are some of the best literary works. These are what I want my students to read!

I personally am enjoying the course (although *I* am not doing the work Open-mouthed smile) because it has the same objectives that I have (even if I could not put them into words quite as well). There are rubrics included for both the student and the ‘writing mentor’ (that’s me) to help give feedback for each assignment. The assignments are a mixture of different writing styles: literature summary, approach paper, compare/contrast essay, author profile, essay from prompts, journal entry, historical approach paper.

It was pleasantly surprising that each reading is accompanied by various formats for learning more. Included are poetry, audio, video, art/illustrations, and/or music when appropriate. The clickable links in the ebook (sometimes you may need to highlight, copy and paste into the browser address bar) and have proven to be invaluable.

A note about scheduling: this course does not give a schedule like some curriculums do. It gives suggestions* for how to go about it. One of the reasons (other than the fact that all families are different, as are learners) is because time management is an objective as well. My daughter (a 9th grader) has been planning out her own schedule for quite a few subjects for two years already. She reads what is ‘planned’ for a Unit and then decides what needs to be done each week (daily if needed) in order to accomplish her assignments in a reasonable time frame. I am not concerned if she does not finish this course in a year.

There is an Honors track that the students can choose –we did not choose this:

In each unit, you will find additional reading suggestions under the “Honors” heading. If you would like to earn an honors-level grade (.5 weighted grade points), or take an AP or CLEP test at the end of the year, you need to read these extra books and do an approach paper on each. At the end of the school year, you will also write an additional research paper, which is assigned in the “Honors Unit.” This will complete the honors track. (page 10, Excellence in Literature: Reading and Writing Through the Classics)

The most difficult part of the course thus far with my daughter is learning to be more detailed in her writing. I do believe however that as she progresses in this course, she will improve. There are many samples at the end of the book for help with writing the papers/essays for assignments.

What does my daughter think of this?
In her own words… Winking smile :

I enjoy it, even though there is a lot of work you have to do, lots of papers to write. But you also get to read a lot of interesting stories, and I enjoy the mental work. I think it is a good course.

Bottomline:
I would definitely recommend this product to other homeschoolers. This is very well done and well worth the cost!

Everyday Education offers a free sample unit at their website. They also have products pertaining to Transcripts, College Preparation, Spelling and Grammar.

* Our family is different—do we have to follow the schedule exactly as it’s written?
The schedule I’ve provided is the one my students followed when I taught these courses online…It works efficiently, and will help you cover a lot of material over the course of the school year…You may change the schedule, drop a unit, take two years to cover the book, or alter it in any way that will help it better serve your family. (page 18, Excellence in Literature: Reading and Writing Through the Classics)

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See what other homeschoolers think of this product at the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.

***Disclaimer: I received this ebook from Everyday Education as part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew for no charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and/or those of my child(ren). I was not required to write a positive review and I only recommend products that I feel would be useful to other families. See Disclosure/Policies.***

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