Wednesday, October 26, 2011

TOS Crew Excellence in Literature Review!

Excellence in Literature - English 1:  Introduction to Literature
Excellence in Literature - English 1:
Introduction to Literature

Excellence in Literature - Reading and Writing Through the Classics
English I: Introduction to Literature
Grades 8-12
$29 plus shipping for the 132 paged print book
$27 for the ebook

Walking through the Vendors' Hall at our statewide Homeschool Convention, I have oggled Excellence in Literature products.  I have wanted to have the opportunity to sit down and really look at this program.  I got my wish!

Excellence in Literature (EIL) is a college-preparatory course of study.  Its' goal is to:

*Introduce students to great literature from the western literary tradition.
* Teach students to read with discernment.
* Train independent, self-motivated learners.
*Provide tools that students can use to strengthen their writing skills.
*Introduce students to sources for high-quality online and offline research.
*Prepare students for college classes by expecting carefully-researched, well-thought-out material to be presented in standard format, with preliminary proofreading completed.

EIL's learning philosophy from Author Janice Campbell:

The foundation of the Excellence in Literature philosophy is the verb "learn."  I believe the acquisition of knowledge and skills is an active endeavor.  The process of learning is focused within one person - the learner.  Just as an infant makes the transition from being fed to feeding himself, a student who wants to be successful will begin to take an active role in absorbing and understanding information that will help him interpret his world.  Although many students wait until college to make this transition, high school is actually an ideal time to learn how to learn.

Introduction to Literature is:

a college-preparatory literature and composition course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.

Our Experience:

I liked that clear expectations were giving in the schedule for each of the 9 units.  The author does stress the flexibility of this program and gives some suggestions on whether to follow a year-round schedule or a more traditional one.   An honors track is also included.

Unit One's Focus is on short stories and begins with defining the focus texts and asks you to read "A White Heron" (Focus Text Part 1) and also the author's biography (Context Reading).
Focus Texts Part 2:  "The Diamond Necklace", "Ransom of Red Chief", "Purloined Letter", "A Worn Path", "Secret Life of Walter Mitty".

Unit Focus - Learn to write an approach paper and discover or review the five elements of fiction: Plot, Theme, Characterization, Setting & Style, in five great short stories.
Write a basic compare/contract essay.

Assignment Schedule: (which we did follow)
Week 1 - Preliminary Reading - certain sections of the guide.

Read "A White Heron" and write an Approach paper (the "how to" is included in the guide).

Weeks 2-3
Read 1 assignment per day

Literary Summary for each story (the "how to" is included in the guide)

Week 4
Choose two of the stories and write a 300 world essay comparing and contrasting ways in which the selected works are similar/different in 1 or 2 of the following areas:  Plot, Theme, Characterization, setting an style.

Use the appropriate section in Writer's Inc. handbook (their recommended writer's resource) or other writer's handbook for assistance (we used Check the Deck).

Edit and evaluate with rubric included in the guide.

From Unit 2 on, the focus is on books.  Unit 2 is based on Around the World in 80 days and is basically the same, but adds elements of Poetry, Audio, Video and Visual Arts, Music and Online Resources as well.

I knew this program would be a challenge for my 8th grader - and I was right!  I was concerned that the "analyzing" and "paper writing" would take the enjoyment out of reading these classics, but I believed he could rise to a whole new level and was ready for the challenge.

When I saw the writing involved, I held my breath.  My son is not a strong creative writer and I did envision him being closed off to these methods.  We both discovered that since this was analytical writing, it wasn't going to be an impossible feat!  (Though he did need guidance here and there to complete the writing assignments).

After completing Unit 1, I asked my son what he honestly thought of the program.  He told me that while he enjoyed being challenged it is not something he wanted to do month after month, but spread out over the year or at least at a slower pace.

Will we continue to use this program?  I am pleased with the selections and the results I've seen in my son's growth and ability.  However, since he already belongs to a wonderful Classics Book Club that analyzes the Five Elements of Fiction, engages the kids in spirited discussions and requires a project for 7 months out of the year, I think we will keep this curriculum for the months book club does not meet or as a "Summer Intensive".

The other programs in this series are:

Literature and Composition
American Literature
British Literature
World Literature

Excellence in Literature - English 1:  Introduction to Literature

A very helpful downloadable sheet listing all 5 programs and books used can be found here.

Everyday Education also offers grammar and spelling courses.  You can check them out at:

Here's what other crew members are saying.

Disclaimer: I received this item free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

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