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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Product Review: The Art of Poetry

It is no secret to my readers that I adore products from Classical Academic Press. Not only have I already reviewed some of their amazing language products, but I have also made several non-review related purchases for our homeschool curriculum. This company has proven to me time and time again that their products offer a solid foundation for a classical education.
I was so excited to get to review The Art of Poetry. Funny story: when I was at the Great Homeschool Convention last April, I coveted The Art of Poetry program. It was the first booth I visited and I really wanted this program for James, my poetry enthusiast. I didn't end up purchasing it because I purchased The Art of Argument instead. I figured I would get the poetry program for this coming year. We happened to join a recitation group this year and James' interest in poems completely took off! Oh how I regretted my decision not to purchase the poetry program! But alas, the stars aligned and I received the program for review purposes.

One of the reasons I was so attached to this program is that it states clearly and right from the beginning that there is no "one" or "best" way to teach poetry using this curriculum. That appealed to me because I know very little about the mechanics of poetry and a program in which I have to teach things I am not comfortable teaching makes me paranoid that I am going to teach it incorrectly. This was a program that I could see myself teaching successfully. The lessons are clearly outlined in the Teacher's Edition, and the emphasis is on exposure and not on mastery. The Student Book follows the lessons perfectly and focuses the student's attention on the aspect or characteristic of poetry being taught. The DVD lessons bring the teaching to a whole other level, keep reading to find out how they changed our poetry lessons.
Designed for middle or high school students, this course will teach elements of poems, encourage slow and thoughtful reading of poems, and introduce students to a wide variety of poems from all the ages. The website contains samples of the product for you to explore as well as suggested lesson plans that you can download. The books are both softcover, which is a good thing because they are HUGE.
James already completed poetry work each day, however, his regular poetry curriculum was a memorization-based program, and doesn't offer any insight into the components of poetry. For the review period James and I worked together to study the first few poems in the text. First I would have him study the poem alone, and take a day or so to memorize the poem. I quickly found that this wasn't really necessary, and so we read the poem together each day and discussed different aspects of it.
I found the Teacher's Manual to be absolutely vital for this program. The Teacher's Manual contains everything the student book has, but it also includes explanations and answers to the questions about the poem. I would have seriously been lost without it. Metaphor and rhythm in a poem is as foreign to me as the Chinese language. The Teacher's Manual helped me to understand these aspects of the program in order to better explain it to James.
I am not going to lie to you. I struggled to teach this program. In many cases James understand the material better than I did and would explain it to me. We worked slowly through the book, often reviewing material more for my sake than for his.
That being said, I think this is one of the strongest poetry programs out there. I recently shared it with some local homeschool moms and one of the moms was so impressed that she is going to purchase the program to use with her 7th and 10th grade children. She has been researching programs and after seeing this program she knew she had found the best one.
Something that is a huge help to teaching the program are the DVD lessons. I received Disc 1 of the 15 hour series to review. After reviewing the disc I knew this DVD was the answer to my struggle and I ordered the set to use with James. I found the DVD taught in a depth and level that I was not able to achieve due to my lack of knowledge of poetry. Although teaching advanced concepts, they are taught in a student-friendly format that will appeal to you and your middle or high school student.
Yeah, this program was great! Unlike the one where I just memorize the poems, this gave me a more meaningful understanding of what I was learning.
There are four different ways to purchase the Art of Poetry. You can purchase the bundle package that includes both the Student and Teacher Manual and the DVD lessons for $99.95. Or the Student Book and the Teacher book and the DVD's can be purchased separately for $24.95, $29.95 and $69.95 respectively. The bundle and the DVD prices listed here will be valid beginning April 1, 2013.
Many other folks over at The Schoolhouse Review Crew used products from Classical Academic Press. Click here to read their reviews, or click the banner below:
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1 comment:

Susan said...

Great review! I love how the stars aligned for you---it's funny how that happens, isn't it? :)