Thursday, August 27, 2015

Writing With Sharon Watson - Illuminating Literature When Worlds Collide {TOS Review}

Preparing for High School was a little intimidating at first. One of the subjects I was looking for was a good literature program. When I was offered a review from Writing with Sharon Watson I was really excited. I haven't used any of her programs before but I have heard a lot of good things, so was really excited to try her brand new program Illuminating Literature - When Worlds Collide.

I received;

Pudd'nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

Jam was really excited to start this program. He loves to read but was pleased to find that he had only read Peter Pan before. This is great because sometimes it's really hard to find books he hasn't read that I actually want him to read.
  • Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
  • The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
  • 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
Since high school is new to me I and have credits flying around in my brain. I will let you know straight away that this is a two-semester course and it earns one credit for language arts or English.

This course is written for high school and can be used for 9th through 12th grade. It's a student directed program, and Jam and I both loved how easy the program has been to follow so far. There is a clear reading schedule and the lessons are well put together and easy to follow.

There are a total of 70 lessons broken down into separate chapters for each book. Jam likes to work on his own and only comes to me if he has a problem or it's time to discuss what he's read. So the set up of this program was perfect for him. 

We haven't had to purchase any extra books yet as we are still reading War of the Worlds, but it is  recommend to use the copies that are suggested. It will make your students life easier to find the relevant chapters etc because the page numbers etc will correspond. At the beginning of the beginning of the teachers manual it gives the Publisher and ISBN numbers. You can also buy them as a bundle on the website. 

The Teacher's manual contains a lot of important information. First of all there is a grading grid which is a great jumping off point for me, as I have never had a high schooler before. A list of objectives for the course. It talks about skills, attitude, and the course in general. There are also discussion starters and answers, scheduling helps and ideas to form a book club. This can be done in person or even online. Jam is a member of a Facebook group and the students are discussing this course together. Of course another very important part of the teacher guide is the answers to the student workbook.

The student workbook and novel notebook are different, however both of them are extremely useful. The student workbook is broken into nine chapters. The first chapter is 0 and the last is 8. Each chapter is then broken down into lessons. Some of the lessons are done before the student reads the book and some after. Chapter 0 introduces the student into the concept of the course. It asks the student questions and makes them think about the content of the books they are reading. Chapter 1 is all about Pudd'nhead Wilson and Chapter 2 is about War of the Worlds etc...

Both Jam and I like they way that this course is written. It is as if Sharon Watson is talking directly to you the reader. Jam also liked that at the beginning of each chapter there is a breakdown and schedule for that chapter. At first we were looking for a complete schedule listing all the books and what needs to be done when. However Jam prefers that he can work through a month at a time he says that's less daunting than a schedule that's planned out for six or seven months. It's very rewarding to 'finish' a schedule and go on to the next.

The student workbook is consumable and so if you want to do this course with more than one student you would need to buy two. The Novel notebook is a optional extra and comes via PDF so that could be printed more than once. In the teachers manual it suggests that you could use a regular spiral notebook instead if you prefer. I printed it off for Jam with the nice cover pager and put it in a ring binder. He really liked how it matched the others and thought it made it look more official. We use cheap ring binders so often for narrations and math work etc that it makes a nice change. I like the casual nature of this notebook. It's a great place to make notes that help you think while you read. It has the the feel of a scrapbook that Jam can look back through after the course is completed

I asked Jam to write me a little paragraph on his view of the program;

Illuminating Literature is an interesting course. I really liked the books that I am going to study during the next two semesters. I really enjoyed learning about Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain and reading his book Pudd'nhead Wilson. I enjoyed discussing it with Mom, and now Boo and Dad want to read it! I am enjoying the War of the Worlds and am looking forward to reading the other books.

The theme 'Colliding Worlds' really explains the different types of literature that is included in this program. As the author mentions each piece of literature has a different collisions - physical, political, extraterrestrial, racial, spiritual, and philosophical. We learn how people succeed or fail. We learn about strengths and weaknesses. As we read these books we can apply them to our life and circumstances. 

I nearly forgot to mention there are also tests and quizzes that your student can take online. Jam hasn't done that yet but I think it's an excellent idea. These quizzes are the same ones found in the Quiz and Answer manual so it's completely up to you and your student which you use. We didn't use the online version last time because we were having Internet issues but I am sure we will use them next time.

Jam has always loved to read and we have had a lot of great discussions. However, it's really nice to use a course that gives us a framework. I love having the ideas and discussion questions  so that I can help Jam get the most out of what he's reading. My goal obviously is not to encourage Jam to read - he already does that and willingly. My goal is for him to get more out of what he reads to analyze it and discuss it. This program will definitely help us do just that. This homeschool literature program is awesome! Jam loves it and I love it. 

Don't forget to connect with Sharon Watson via social media-


Although others from the crew have all been using the same course and reading the same books I encourage you to check them out by clicking on the link below.

Writing with Sharon Watson Review
Crew Disclaimer

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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1 comment:

  1. Hi, Lisa! Welcome to the world of high school! I hope you find it less intimidating than it seems at the beginning!

    Thank you for your review of Illuminating Literature, and thanks for including so many examples of how you used it with your son (and for his review as well!). I never thought about how printing off the Novel Notebook would make it feel more official, but I think you're right.

    Have a great year in high school! Let the adventure begin!


I love to hear what you think!

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