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By Heather Idoni

Added Thursday, April 22, 2010
Vol. 11 No. 23, April 22, 2010, ISSN: 1536-2035
© 2010, Heather Idoni - www.FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to The Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
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Notes from Heather
-- High School Literature
Helpful Tip
-- Online High School Classes
Winning Website
-- DailyLit.com
Reader Question
-- Suggestions for Literature?
Additional Notes
-- Newsletter Archives
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

High School Literature


Teaching literature at the high school level doesn't have to be difficult --
and you don't necessarily need a fancy curriculum.  Choose several classics
from recommended lists online -- and then let your teen just read!

If you have a reluctant reader, do not hesitate to get good, unabridged audio
books.  If you go this route, make sure the narrator is interesting and not
boring.  Blackstone Audio and Books in Motion * are good companies who hire
exciting readers -- preview anything you get from Recorded Books, a company
that is a big supplier to libraries, as we've had a few that weren't great.

(*If you are interested in any audio books from Books in Motion, contact me
for a discount!)

Once you have that great list of books and the reading/listening has begun,
start learning literary terminology.  Many of the terms at the link below
(scroll down the page) will come up on college entry exams.


Here are a few links to great classic book lists... there are others out
there but this will give you a place to begin.

Start here to get your feet wet with a child who hasn't read any classics:

Here is the next level:

And here is the next:

Literature is one of the most painless subjects to teach because it really is
all about *exposure* to great books.  TIME is all that is needed -- and the
habit of picking up a book and reading during quiet interludes... or turning
on an audio book whenever it is easy to listen.

My 14 year old son listens mostly at night while in bed -- and then picks up
where he left off (or fell asleep!) first thing in the morning before other
routines begin.  His two younger brothers usually listen, too.  In the past
few weeks they have listened to White Fang, Call of the Wild and Howard Pyle's
Robin Hood.  (Coming up they have Pyle's Men of Iron and Otto of the Silver
Hand.  We have used Blackstone Audio's versions for these stories and Books
in Motion has a great rendition of King Solomon's Mines and others.)

One HUGE advantage to listening together is that it makes the opportunity for
discussion very easy.  We often listen on family road trips and this provides
wonderful memories!

A few years ago my oldest read the first of the original Tarzan novels, which
had first been published as a serial in a magazine.  He enjoyed it so much that
he recommended it to the next brother, 2 years younger.  Then he picked up the
second book.  A third brother got involved and over the course of several weeks
they had wonderful literary discussions!  It happened naturally, and I was
thrilled to see the interaction and true appreciation -- and the real learning
happening without anything having been "assigned".  It has been my experience
that when good literature is available (even a modest home library can accomplish
this), they will eventually pick it up and start reading it.

If you want to create a quick and cheap home classics library, go to a good
used bookstore and find their classics section.  It isn't hard to find the small
paperbacks published by Bantam and others for a dollar or two.  Library book
sales usually have bunches of them and you can assemble quite a collection!

My advice for a high school literature course/credit is this:  Choose good,
challenging books together -- to read and/or listen to throughout the year.
Have great discussions about the stories, learn the literary terminology and
watch for examples in the literature, keep good lists of all that your student
has read/enjoyed/studied, and give credit for literature.  You can read books
in any order over all 4 years of high school and then divide them up into
American Lit, British Lit, World Lit, etc.

Happy highschooling! :-)

-- Heather


Do you have a student approaching or already IN high school at your house?

Are you prepared?  Overwhelmed?  Don't let self-doubt, or lack of knowledge
rob you and your teen of these very exciting years!

All you need are a few basic "how-to's" and your high schooler can be well
on his way to academic success and a very bright future.

Terri, I wanted to take a moment to write to you about your Upper Level
Homeschool course
. This is fantastic so far (on lesson 3) and has been
such a boost to our confidence level. Thanks a lot! I am looking forward
to the next sessions! -- Kathy



Helpful Tip

Online High School Classes


"Hello everyone -- Here are a few links to new online high school online
classes. Think about signing up your student with their best friend together
in an online class so they can study together for some of the assignments.
The newest one I stumbled upon down at the Cincinnati Home School Conference:
It is for an online classical school taught by a husband-wife team of Ph.D.
archaeologists.  Check it out -- it's really cool!  They teach four years of
Latin, Greek, Roman and Greek history, Mythology, Archaeology, and a bunch
of really interesting summer workshops.  They also take families on tours
of Turkey, Greece and Rome!

1.  http://www.lukeion.org/

2.  Memoria Press has an online academy.  Here is the link to an excellent
Economics class online:


3.  http://www.aphomeschoolers.com/ - This is the organization which offers over
15 AP classes online.  We've taken AP European History, AP World History, AP US
History, AP Macroeconomics, and AP English Language and Compostion.  Excellent!

4.  http://registration.pottersschool.org/courses - This is an excellent online
school which offers a live class of 90 minutes each week.  Our favorite French
teacher, Mrs. Starosciak, is a French teacher for them.

5.  http://www.hslda.org/highschool/curriculum.asp#OC/DL - Here is the HSLDA
link to a huge list of online classes available.  Notice Patrick Henry College
is now offering online classes (they are on this list) as well as some other
Christian colleges for dual enrollment."


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: mailto:HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Winning Website

Daily Literature!


Daily Lit sends daily email installments of - you guessed it - literature
(their inventory contains some great literature, some not so great, but you
choose what you want sent to you). Register and choose from over a thousand
titles in dozens of categories.

"We got the idea for DailyLit after the New York Times serialized a few
classic works in special supplements a few summers ago. We wound up reading
books that we had always meant to simply by virtue of making them part of our
daily routine of reading the newspaper. The only thing we do more consistenly
than read the paper is read email. Bingo! We put together a first version
and began reading War of the Worlds and Pride and Prejudice. We showed it
to friends, added more books and features at their request, and presto,
DailyLit was born."

-- TheHomeSchoolMom.com Site of the Week Newsletter

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I am looking ahead to the upcoming school year and trying to figure out what
curriculum my freshman will need.  Right now, I am stuck on deciding which
literature program to go with.  They all seem to be really good.  If anyone
can give me their reviews on a program that they liked or even disliked, it
will help me greatly in my decision making.  Thank you so much!" -- Jennifer

Our Readers' Responses

"One specific suggestion I have is to look at the Notgrass curriculum.
Although technically Notgrass is a history curriculum for high school,
the study for the year includes Bible, English, and history.  I have
only used the American history book, but we loved it.  It is written
to the student and has two volumes.  The gem of the series is the book
of primary sources that the student reads -- selections of American
poetry, government documents, etc.  Also, with the American history
course, the student will read 13 entire novels written by Americans
during the time frame being studied.  These include writers such as
David Crockett, Louisa May Alcott and Mark Twain, among others." -- Anne


"Rather than using a literature study curriculum, I chose books that my
girls enjoyed and ones that I thought they should read. Then they would
create discussion questions and activities to go along with the books.

Literary terms like: analogies, figurative language, point of view, genre.

Sometimes I would create questions for them to answer.

My son is just beginning high school, and we're taking the same approach.

Being able to choose books that they enjoyed or wanted to read made
literature come alive for them... and I never hesitated to slip in some
'teacher' assigned reading, too." -- Liz


"My daughter used The Best Series advanced level.  One thing I liked about
this series is that there is a built in writing program.  There is also a
handy Comprehension Skills Profile form on which the student charts progress
in developing skills such as recalling specific facts, knowledge of word
meanings, drawing a conclusion, understanding main ideas, and appreciation
of literary forms.
Best Nonfiction  - Seven selections for teaching literary analysis. Biography
sources and interpretations, author's viewpoint, persuasion, Inferences, generalizing,
recognizing fact and opinion, identifying cause and effect, and drawing conclusions
are covered by the seven selections.

Best Plays - Seven plays teaching literary analysis, each unit is built around a
concept used in writing plays. Concepts cover include characters conflict and plot,
setting and staging, dialogue, theme, the radio play the screenplay, and
evaluating a play.

Best Short Stories - Twelve short stories for teaching literature and developing
comprehension. Students read literature chosen to highlight concepts used in writing
and reading short stories. Each unit begins with an introduction to the story,
background information on the author, and a brief presentation of the concept.
The reading is followed by a study of the use of the concept in the reading,
comprehension questions, and suggested writing exercises.

There is also Best Poems, which we did not use.
-- Judy A. in Florida


"We have used Sonlight and my daughter loved it." -- Laryssa


"We chose not to use a formal literature program, but to tie our literature
to the history they studied each year. For example for Ancient History our
reading included Aesop's Fables, Greek and Roman myths, and an anthology that
included stories and essays from various ancient cultures. For US History we
included Of Plimoth Plantation, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, Red Badge of Courage,
The Grapes of Wrath, The Great Gatsby, etc. English Lit could be covered either
during Middle Ages or European History, and more contemporary literature with
a Current Events or Modern History class. You can include both biographies
and fictional accounts of the period.  I felt like the literature helped to
illustrate the history for them and make the dry facts come more alive with
some insight into the time period and the people who lived then." -- Luanne


"What I did was to look through the catalogs of the places where I regularly
get books and see what they have listed in their curriculum.  I have searched
such places as Seton, Our Lady of Victory and Koelbe.  There is also a list
of books in the book High School of Your Dreams put out by Catholic Heritage
Curricula.  I will probably use these to pick some classics for our children
to use.  Because they have a high level of reading, I have found that they
have already read some of the books on the lists, so that will help,  I just
have to find ones they haven't read yet." -- Mary in DE


"Hi Jennifer -- I too have a student going into the 9th grade and I have been
making decisions about which programs and curriculum I want to use throughout
high school.  Before I had children I was a high school English teacher.  I
think that you've got to first decide the purpose of your son's study of
literature.  If he is planning to go to college, then he will probably need
to read works that his college professors will expect him to have read.  I am
certain that you can find lists of recommended works online.  If he's not
planning to attend college, then you can help him to pick works that he would
enjoy reading.  I'm not sure that a literature curriculum is really necessary
as much as just reading good books.

I have used the Language Arts Through Literature program and I like it pretty
well.  But I ended up skipping some works simply because I didn't think my
kids would enjoy them.  There are too many good books to read to spend time
reading something you don't enjoy.  I plan to try some of the Progeny Press
literature studies next year.  I have an idea what I want my son to study and
I'll just get the studies that go with those particular works.

I hope you have a successful year next year!" -- Tina J.

Answer our NEW Question

"I am looking for a new Grammar/Spelling curriculum for a 3rd grader and
a 5th grader.  I currently use Learning Language Arts through Literature
and have to fight my kids to open their books.  I'd love some suggestions
on curriculums that are fun and have short sections to keep it from getting
boring.  Also, material that is self-guided by the student would be a plus.
Right now I am jumping back and forth between my kids trying to answer
questions and direct their work.  Thanks for any suggestions!" -- Janine


Can you make recommendations for Janine?  Please write!

Send your answer to: mailto:HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

Ask YOUR Question

Do you have a question you would like our readers to answer?

Send it to mailto:HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
if we can help you out in a future issue!

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