Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Writing With Sharon Watson ~ Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide

I had the opportunity to review Illuminating Literature ~ When Worlds Collide, by Writing With Sharon Watson. The set includes: Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Student Book, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Teacher's Guide, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Quiz and Answer Manual, and Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Novel Notebook (Free PDF Download). For review purposes I was also send the first two novels that are covered in the curriculum, Pudd'nhead Wilson, by Mark Twain and The War of the Worlds, by H.G. Wells. This course is expressly written for grades 9-12. There are a total of 70 lessons in the curriculum. Upon completion, of this year long course, your high school student will have earned a credit in English. 

As a mother and educator I am a strong advocate of students being exposed to and reading great literature. In Illuminating Literature your student will read:
  • Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
  • The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
  • The Friendly Persuasion by Jessamyn West
  • Peter Pan by Sir James Barrie
  • Warriors Don't Cry by Melba Pattillo Beals
  • A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis 

Student Workbook
The student workbook, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Student Workbook, is consumable so most of the work is completed in the workbook which is great for those students that have a hard time with organization. Any other work is put into the student's novel notebook which I will talk about later. 

What is Literature? This is the first discussion you student will have when beginning their journey through, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide. In literature worlds colliding is a common theme. What does Sharon Watson means by "worlds colliding"? All of the above books were chosen because of character collisions - physical, political, extraterrestrial, racial, spiritual, and philosophical. Beyond just reading the book your student will learn to dissect the characters conflicts, observe how the author resolves conflicts in his/her writing, identify the different ways to look at conflict within literature, and see how the characters own personal struggles affect a books outcomes. 

I used this curriculum with my middle school daughter. My daughter is an avid reader and is reading many of the more advanced literature books. I thought this curriculum would be a great fit for her. I was excited to have my daughter move beyond just reading good literature to dissecting it for the deeper meaning. Your student will gain a better understanding of: 
  • literary terms
  • themes
  • how an authors own life affects their writings
The student book is easy to understand and follow. My daughter was able to work through the workbook without feeling bogged down and frustrated. She really enjoying reading Pudd'nhead Wilson. The one complaint that she had about the novel was that the version used has very tiny print. Specific book versions are suggested since they follow the curriculum page number system. 

Up until this year my daughter and I simply discussed the novels she read along with having her answer comprehension questions. 

Before diving into the book my daughter worked through lesson 3, Meet Mr. Twain - or Is it Mr. Clemens?. This lesson gave a great overview of Twain/Clemens. Lesson 4 continued to build upon important aspects of literature such as conflict, pseudonym, fun facts, foreshadowing, irony, setting/publication, along with a short dialect dictionary of slang terms that will be read in the novel. This pre work was helpful. 

After reading Pudd'nhead Wilson my daughter said, "I feel like I know Mark Twain. The story came alive, in a new and exciting way, as I explored aspects of the novel in ways that I have never done before. It was more work than what I normally do for literature but definitely worth what I got out of it. I feel like I know the characters, and felt like I entered into their world."  

Teachers Guide
I loved the teachers guide, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Teachers Guide,  and how it comes alongside the parent. The set-up makes teaching and grading so much easier. A grading grid is provided so that grading work is straightforward and painless. There is minimal teacher preparation or planning involved with this curriculum. Score for mom!!!  

Novel Notebook
The PDF novel notebook, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Novel Notebook,  is a fun and easy way to record key information as you read. There are questions for the student to answer, suggestions for note taking, instructions for marking passages that are significant, along with fun prompt pages. The last two pages of the Pudd'nhead novel notebook the student is asked to write about what they really loved about the book and what could've been better. 

My daughter's favorite page was writing down witty sayings that she liked from the novel. One of my daughter's favorite Pudd'nhead sayings was:

"One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie
 is that a cat has nine lives." 
~ Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar ~ 

Instead of just reading the novel and regurgitating the material via comprehension questions and essays the novel notebook gets the student to interact with the book. 

Quiz and Answer Manual 
As a teacher I LOVE when I do not have to come up with quizzes and tests on my own. The manual, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide Quiz and Answer Manual, has it all covered!!! For the novel, Pudd'nhead Wilson, there are two quizzes and one   opinion survey. The first quiz is called a, "Yes, I Read It Quiz" which is pretty much a comprehension quiz to make sure that the student understood what they read. The second quiz was a, "Literary Terms Quiz" in which the student identifies their understanding of literary terms within the context of the novel. The final activity entitled, "Opinion Survey" gives the student a chance to interact with the novel and give their thoughts and opinions. 

My daughter thought that the quizzes were somewhat challenging but I anticipated this since she is only in middle school. I had her work through the quizzes and then we talked through the questions that she was struggling to answer. Like most teenagers she loves giving her opinion. The set-up of the opinion quiz was creative in that it asks a question and then gives a variety of options that your student can choose to best fit their opinion. 

The quizzes are available online and are automatically graded, or you can choose to utilize the paper version in the quiz and answer manual. If you choose to do your quizzes online, you will receive a copy of the score via e-mail along with the score being displayed on the screen after the test.

Final Thoughts 
I only have positive things to say about Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide. My daughter really enjoyed working through Pudd'nhead Wilson and is looking forward to moving onto the next novel. I would highly recommend this curriculum to fellow homeschoolers and educators. 

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1 comment:

  1. Jennifer, I love it that your daughter felt as though she had entered the characters' world! Thank you for explaining the quizzes so well. I appreciate your helpful review of our newest course! Enjoy this last year of junior high!