Prior to teaching as Beth of Classes by Beth Plus, I wrote literature curriculum as one of the authors of Epi Kardia Home Education, now Train Up a Child Publishing (TUACP). We currently use those same texts for our literature classes at CBB+. As with most new developments, I gave serious consideration to the order of the classes and the broad goals of each. I never took into consideration the literature courses offered in public high schools. Rather, I thought of what I wanted for my own children and what made sense to me as a professional writer, lover of literature and home school mom. We’ve had clients, many of whom have pulled their children from public school, ask about our order of study for literature. Dana Wilson, owner of TUACP, mentioned that she also has clients who’d like to understand the process development more. Additionally, we are offering a new Middle School Literature course this year, as well as, working with Dana Wilson to publish General Literature curriculum before the coming school year. So, I’ve included those in the mix to give you an overall vision of our Literature philosophy. Note that all of our literature courses emphasize writing skills, as well as reading, as we believe in the direct tie between well written books and strong student writing. For high school students, we require that they take our Essay Styles writing class prior to or concurrently with literature so that they have the necessary skills to respond effectively in writing. With our literature courses, we only use whole books rather than anthologies or excerpts because we want to create generations who love to read, not just students who study authors.
Broadly, our philosophy revolves around students:
- learning to read effectively.
- comprehending what they read.
- understanding the value of the literature.
- connecting writing and reading skills.
- recognizing and writing about literary elements such as characters, plot, setting, conflict, etc.
- grasping the use of rhetorical devices, as well as figurative language, and how they relate to both literature and writing.
- appreciating the variances in authors’ writing styles.
- analyzing literature from American, British and World authors.
- realizing the complications related to the translation of literature from other languages and cultures.
The literature courses offered by CBB+ along with the focus of each are as follows. The printable book lists are available (except for those still being finalized) on the class overview page for each course.
While we may offer more than one version of this course in the coming years, for 2016-17, we’re opening up the class for 6th – 8th graders. The book list for this course is currently being finalized, but the class focuses on historically based fiction. The literary goals for this class revolve around strong comprehension of the material, understanding historical settings, characterization, vocabulary and introducing the structure of plot in a novel. This course ultimately transitions students from chapter books on the elementary level to novels.
This freshman English class provides the first high school credited literature study at CBB+. With this class, students are introduced to a variety of literary genres including period writing, fantasy, science fiction, mystery writing and adventure. Comprehension and discussion of the reading material are central to this course. Students study the literary elements with more depth than in middle school, increase their vocabulary exposure and examine some basic figurative language. The writing in this course includes research based and thematic essays.
Typically taken as a sophomore English classes, this course introduces the students to the idea of reading for specific purposes and with intention. Students study the book, How to Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler and apply what they learn to reading fiction novels, a play and poetry. The course emphasizes the analysis of different author styles and involves more independent work with literary elements. Classroom discussion moves beyond comprehension of the materials, involving examination of rhetorical devices and more sophisticated figurative language. Writing assignments focus on descriptive devices and comparing/contrasting a book and a movie.
Our junior English course reflects the highly esteemed and historically significant writing of the Brits from the Middle Ages through modern times. An emphasis is placed on understanding the significant impact this particular people group has made, and continues to make, on the literary world. Introduced to the idea of translating literature with early writings, students learn to evaluate the depth and meaning of the English language. From Shakespeare to Lewis, from Austen to Dickens, and beyond, students learn to recognize and evaluate rhetorical devices in a variety of styles of British writing. Building on the literary elements and figurative language mastered in the earlier literature classes, students explore symbolism, allegorical writing and more thorough in-depth class discussion, research and writing assignments.
A senior level English class, this course includes poetry and literature from a variety of cultures and time periods. As all of the reading materials in this course have been translated from other languages, the college level reading challenges students to expand and grow as literary analysts. Exploration of the various cultures, as related to literature, along with examining writing techniques and styles combine as the primary focus of the discussion and writing assignments. Students are expected to more deeply explore and express what they discover in the literature rather than just regurgitating what they can find online about the themes, symbolism, etc.
This college level course provides the greatest literary challenge for our high school students. Similar to a college freshman English class, students move beyond high school level examination of the literature. Featuring deeper analysis, more challenging themes and exploration of many different writers/styles, this course is designed to prepare students for the AP Literature and Composition exam given each May. As students are required to write three essays during the exam, the integration of reading and writing contribute greatly to the time spent in this course. Students who score appropriately may receive up to six hours of college English credit. At this point, almost every CBB+ student who has take taken AP English tests, including the literature exam, has received at least three hours of college credit. Note that our AP Courses are certified by Collegeboard.com, who also approved me to teach them. Be aware that not all AP courses are approved, and it’s illegal for a school or company to use the AP designation without such certification.
We also have semester length Author Study classes, featuring Hemingway and Shakespeare this year, that tend to be less rigorous, with thematic discussions and student designed projects, rather than academic writing assignments. Students may adapt our Author Study classes for English credit by adding writing assignments, but the academic literary elements, rhetorical devices, vocabulary, etc are not emphasized nor thoroughly covered in Author Study courses. Most students take Author Studies as academic electives.
Keep in mind that all of our courses are taught by believers, from a Biblical worldview, examining how God’s truths may be reflected even in secular literature. We encourage students to reflect on what God might have us learn from literature and the authors who created great literary works. As well, all of our high school literature courses, except for AP Literature, may be taken for honors credit, requiring additional reading and writing each semester. Parents must note honors on the course titles during online registration.
Hopefully, this has clarified our philosophy and academic goals for CBB+ literature courses. Please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions about our courses. Book lists still being finalized should be available by mid-April.
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