Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Institute for Excellence in Writing: Teaching the Classics ~ SchoolHouse Crew Review

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When I first heard about Teaching the Classics by Institute for Excellence in Writing, I thought it was a lesson, course, source of information for the teacher or parent.  I was excited to listen to the Andrews to teach me to teach the kiddos. Then the book came in and I wasn't sure if this was the case... because just flipping through, it looked like they would be involved right off the bat.  Upon closer inspection, it is actually a seminar for me - to listen and to learn- so I can be more confident in teaching the classics to my kiddos.

Teaching the Classics is a 4 disc seminar that includes six sessions.  These sessions include Preparing for Literary Analysis, and then lessons over the five elements of fiction - Plot, Conflicts, Setting, Character and Theme. I was really surprised at the length of the seminar- these four discs contain HOURS!  Since I wasn't sure what exactly I was getting into, I decided that I needed to use the disc and notebook for me... to see if I could learn to teach this stuff to my kiddos!!   I set my computer up with the first disc and turned it up and started putting away my laundry while I was listening (I was following along in my book also - and taking some notes!).  I worked my way - sometimes slowly - through all of the discs.

I think that I am possibly scared of this... as I look through the list of classics that is one of the appendix in the back, I am scared. Or, at least I was.  After listening to the seminar, I feel a little more comfortable about stepping off into this - not so blindly any more!  As I look over this list of suggested reading for the classics... I only see two, maybe three on this list that I have actually read.  Adding such a serious literature lesson to our daily schedule is going to be a huge adjustment for us - a step out of our comfort zone.  Since I am scared of this, I am going to step up and learn the classics along with my kiddos.  We will be reading through this list and pick out the ones we want to read and just make that a starting place - to read through these - together!  (any input on your favorite that you suggest we start with? We have read To Kill A Mockingbird and we all loved it - maybe we should revisit it and start with it with the Socratic Method of discussion and our story chart! Thoughts? Share your favorite classics with me!!)

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I'm glad I got this to review during the summer.  There was A LOT of information to take in... A LOT!!  I listened, rewound, listened again and tried to process it all.  I think it will be a lot for my kiddos to take in also, however, it will be on the lesson plans this fall!  We are going to slowly (so we get it) work through the five lessons that breaks down the parts of a story.  

Throughout the book, there are poems, short stories and pieces taken from longer stories.  After each one, there are discussion questions- the Socratic Method.  The Socratic Method breaks down the elements and makes you aware of the literature piece you are studying.  (the list of questions is pretty intense!).   In addition to the using the Socratic Method to really get into the book, the use of the Story Chart is encouraged- which I love because I am a visual learner!  Seeing the story chart makes the story just "just make sense".   It just shows the flow of the story.

Teaching the Classics is available online through Institute for Excellence in Writing  for $89.00.  Yes, that sounds like a lot - and it kind of is... BUT.. this 4 DVD set is PACKED with information!! You do get a lot of information for this price! I think in the long run, the price is not so bad after all... especially if you want to learn to teach your kiddos the classics! 

The Crew reviewed a few different products from IEW, so check out what others have to say about this and others!

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