About the Course
One of the benefits of taking on a wide variety of part-time teaching and tutoring positions over the years is that it has allowed me to get a panoramic view of literature students across the educational spectrum. As a result, I have gained many insights about secondary language arts students. Possibly the most important one is that most middle school and high school students do not get sufficient instruction in the basic skills necessary to study a literary work. For example, many students are required to answer discussion question after discussion question, but there is little time in the average curriculum to teach them how to answer them well.
Before Great Books Comes Ground Work is not a typical literature course. It is specifically "preparatory". This means that instead of guiding students through the study of various literary works, it focuses on the essential skills and principles necessary for successful progression through literature high school and college literature courses.
* spiral or sewn-binding notebook
* writing utensils (black or blue; additional fun colors optional)
* The Little Prince, by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Before Austen Comes Aesop: The Children's Great Books and How to Experience Them, by Cheri Blomquist
Note: This is the book on which this course is based. Parents may find it useful both during the course and beyond. Older students may also find it useful for future independent study.
Classes cannot be recorded. Students who miss a class will need to catch up through independent study.
Technical requirements: webcam, microphone, and the following Google apps: Gmail, Chat, Meet, Drive, and Classroom; scanner or digital camera for handwritten assignments. Please note that each student must have a personal Google account with a Gmail email address. Siblings may not share accounts.
Technical difficulties: If a student cannot participate in a class due to technical difficulties, I will provide a written version of that lesson. If technical difficulties continue to be a problem, families will have the option of receiving a pro-rated refund and withdrawing from the course.
This 16-week course will contain both literature and reading skills components. The literature component will include a “children’s great books” project in which students will read and write about a variety of literature from a list of approved selections. The reading skills component is the heart of the semester, however. Through a study of active reading skills, students will learn how to read, study, discuss, and write about literature independently. These skills include the following:
*keeping a reading notebook
*completing an inspectional reading
*answering discussion questions
*outlining a story
*mastering the elements of literature
*using the Freytag Pyramid to understand a story
*writing a personal response essay
*writing a literary analysis essay
*summarizing a story
*narrating a story
*examining a story through close reading
*cementing new skills with a book study
Disclaimer: Although The Denim Beret seeks to meet the needs of all students and therefore does not integrate theological ideas, I do approach literature from a Christian perspective. Christian/religious themes may be discussed in class when they naturally arise either in a novel or in a class discussion. Any such discussion will be kept both positive and ecumenical.