As much as it freaks me out (just a bit!), Bookworm is now in 6th grade. I know he still has 2.5 more years until he gets to high school, but I want to set a course of action for the rest of his education now. Part of that involves figuring out what classes he will pursue in high school. The TOS review crew recently had the opportunity to review Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide by Writing with Sharon Watson. Although Bookworm is too young to review this, as a hyper-planning mom and an English major, I asked to review this myself.
About Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide
This program contains 70 lessons and is to be used for two semesters. At the end of that time, your student will have earned one credit for language arts or English.
For review purposes, I received all parts of the program in addition to two of the eight novels required for the class. The materials included:
The student book, which is 284 pages long, is truly the heart of the course. It is written in a conversational tone that is easy to understand, and there is so much good information here! The first several lessons explain the goals for the course as well as common literary terms like protagonist, antagonist, foreshadowing, irony, conflict, etc. These are explained thoroughly and using examples students can likely relate to. For example, the many different types of conflict are explained using Bilbo Baggins from J. R. R. Tolkein’s The Hobbit.
Then Watson dives into Pudd’nhead Wilson and does an excellent job summarizing the highlights from Mark Twain’s life as well as setting the context for Pudd’nhead Wilson, which is so important since the story is set almost 200 years ago!
All of the lessons for each book follow this format. There are several lessons first explaining different literary terms, and then there is information about the novel and the author. After the student has read the book, there are discussion questions as well as other activities to do.
This book contains answers to the activities throughout the course. It also gives information for discussion with the students as well as a schedule the teacher can choose to use. Another great feature is extensive information about how to use this material in a group or co-op setting.
The quiz and answer manual is optional. All of the quizzes can be found online, submitted, and graded for you. The online quizzes are free. The student gets the results immediately, and the results are also e-mailed to the teacher (if you use the teacher’s e-mail address.) If you or your student prefer taking quizzes with paper and pencil, you’ll want to buy this book.
Students are instructed to keep a notebook to answer certain questions about each book. However, if they’d like something jazzier, Watson offers a free 101 page downloadable novel notebook complete with the questions for each novel as well as graphics.
In addition, I received the novels Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain and The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells.
The course covers eight novels (of which I had only read one!) including the two above and the following:
- 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
Sharon Watson offers all of the books for sale on her site, and they’re all very reasonably priced–from $1.00 to $14.27. Buying these editions is wise because Watson has used them to reference pages numbers, etc. throughout the course.
Students are expected to complete lessons and readings for one novel per month. Typically, the month looks like this:
Week One: Complete the preliminary lessons (in Pudd’nhead Wilson, this was lessons 1-4)
Week Two: Read chapters I – XII (half the book) of Pudd’nhead Wilson
Week Three: Read chapters XIII – XXI (the rest of the book) of Pudd’nhead Wilson
Week Four: Decide on an activity and begin working on it. Complete lessons 5-7. Hand in your activity.
In addition, the course is very easy to grade for the teacher. Grades are comprised of the following activities and points:
- “Yes I Read It” Quiz: 1-10 points
- Literary Terms Quiz: 1-10 points
- Participation in Opinion Quiz: 1-10 points
- Quality of Participation in Discussions: 1-20 points
- Successful Completion of Lessons and Assignments: 1-20 points
- Successful Completion of Activity: 1-10 points
- Finished Reading the Book: 1-20 points
How I Used Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide
I first approached this course as a student. I read the student lessons that preceded the first reading assignment, Pudd’nhead Wilson. Then I read Pudd’nhead Wilson and took the quizzes online. They were easy to take, and yet they did truly test the students’ knowledge and understanding of the story. Then, I completed some of the questions and activities that were assigned after reading the novel.
Next, I looked at the teacher’s manual and spent some time looking at how Watson approaches the class for those who are teaching in a co-op or similar setting.
My Thoughts on Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide
I really enjoyed this curriculum and think that most high school students will, too. Watson offers plenty of activities for students to complete that will appeal to a wide range of learning styles. For instance, at the end of the Pudd’nhead Wilson unit, students are to choose one activity to complete. Activities range from watching the movie version of the book and comparing the book to the movie; to researching your genealogy; to writing a short essay on fingerprints or twins, to making a painting or drawing a scene or character from the book, etc. There are so many varied activities that at least one will appeal to each student.
I’m tucking this curriculum away to use when Bookworm is ready, probably in 8th or 9th grade. I’m sure he’ll really enjoy it!
I was one of 40 people to review Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide. To read more reviews, click on the link below.