Friday, April 1, 2016

Review of Memoria Press's 7th Grade Literature

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

One of the things I love most about certain curriculum companies is their continued commitment to diversifying their offerings. You find them because they do something really well (i.e., Latin), but then they keep expanding and expanding until you really can make a whole year's curriculum just with them. Now, I don't do that for a variety of reasons (curriculum ADD is the main one), but if I were going to commit to a company, I would feel very comfortable committing to Memoria Press. I have used all of their Latin over the last eight years, and I was thrilled to discover that they have literature programs! For review, we received the Seventh Grade Literature Guide Set, which I used with three of my children, Nicholas (12), Mary-Catherine (11), and Michael (11). 

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

Because Michael and Nicky would both be reading The Hobbit, I purchased an extra student book for Michael from Memoria Press before we got started. Further, because I knew Nicholas (who, at 7th grade, is the target level for this package) would not ever be enthusiastic about reading Anne of Green Gables, I gave that student book to Mary-Catherine to work on while the boys did The Hobbit. Before we get into that, though, let's look at what you get in the Seventh Grade Literature Guide Set. For each of the books pictured above, you receive a Student Guide and a Teacher Guide. If you would like to see a sample of the Teacher Guide for The Hobbit, click here

The basic format for each chapter/section of The Hobbit Student Study Guide is the same:

  • Reading notes - definitions or identifications that are provided for the student
  • Vocabulary - 6-8 words to define by looking up in the dictionary
  • Comprehension Questions - 5-7 short answer/recall questions 
  • Quotations - 4-5 quotations to identify the speaker of
  • Discussion Questions - a widely varying number (2-6 or so) of longer answer questions that can be either written or discussed orally. Unlike the other things in the book, there is no place to write these answers, but you can have your student do them on a separate piece of paper if you choose to have them write out the answers. 
  • Enrichment - an extended activity related to the chapter/section. It can be a drawing activity, a compare/contrast, writing a song, or something else. It really varies dramatically!

At the end of the Study Guide, there is a section for notes, broken up into different topics so that notes will be organized. There are other extras like the Runic Alphabet as well.

The Anne of Green Gables Study Guide is laid out in almost the exact same way. Instead of quotations to identify, there are Expressions for Discussion, though. Each Study Guide is adapted specifically to the book it represents, so while they follow a formula, they also work really well with the individual book. The Bronze Bow, likely our next choice (again, I'll buy the Student Books for my other two children who need them) follows the Anne of Green Gables model, employing the Expressions for Discussion section. The predictability of the guides is one of their best features, as far as my 7th grader goes. Once accustomed to a program, he doesn't really like to change it. Thus, he'll be reading different books, but the way in which he analyzes the literature will remain the same. I love that about this program.

My Kids and Their Study Guides

One reason I was so excited to see this program is because it teaches literature exactly the same way I learned it when I was the same age as my kids. Not only did I learn a lot by looking up vocabulary words in the dictionary and answering comprehension questions, but I had an absolute blast doing it. If nothing else, I knew that Mary-Catherine would love this program (and she does!). Michael, too, has really enjoyed learning literature this way (although he has to use an online dictionary to look words up because all of our dictionaries' print is too small for his poor eyes - he wears progressive lenses at the tender age of 11!). He has read The Hobbit before, so in a way, doing the study guide has been a fun kind of review for him and a great way to refresh his memory and make him think more deeply about some of the key points.

Getting Nicky to work on The Hobbit has been a bit more of a challenge, but it has been worth it. He didn't want to read the book at first, but has enjoyed it as he's gotten into it. Having the assignments broken up by chapter (and even section) has helped to keep him from becoming overwhelmed. What I have really appreciated about the study guide is that it has forced him to really focus, read, and follow directions. A couple of times he hasn't read directions carefully and has had to redo something (which he *hates*, but which I like because it teaches him something very necessary - if you're not careful, you'll have to do it again. It's worth the struggle with him if I can make that lesson stick, and the program is not so onerous that it's terribly painful to redo something.). I wouldn't say he's sold on this program, but I am, and that's what counts.

Will we use these study guides in the future? Absolutely yes. I think the Teacher Guides are valuable, especially if you haven't read the books and don't plan to, but as I read everything my kids read for school (praise God for fast reading skills), I won't buy them in the future. The Student Guides are terrific, though, and are great time savers. They are top-notch quality, and I definitely appreciate that about all of Memoria Press's products. I won't be buying the full literature packages because we have read so many books in each one, but I already know several a-la-carte guides that I am interested in, and I love having that option.

Memoria Press sent Literature Guide Sets to many Crew families, so be sure to click the banner below to read about their experiences!

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
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