Monday, March 18, 2013

Classical Academic Press - The Art of Poetry - Review


Jam and I have been working with an excellent product offered by Classical Academic Press. The Art of Poetry can be used as an introduction to poetry or an in-depth study it really depends how old your child is or how much time you spend in the book. The suggested age range for this text is 6th grade - 12th grade. Since Jam is 6th grade we decided that we would go pretty slowly. Our goal was to cover the first two chapters during the review period.


We received the The Art of Poetry Student Edition, the The Art of Poetry Teacher's Edition, and a DVD disk 1 containing the first two lessons that are available which covered chapter one 'Images' and chapter two 'Metaphor'.


When I received the books in the mail my first reaction was "Oh my goodness what have I got myself into". I was very overwhelmed. I opened the The Art of Poetry Teacher's Edition and read the 'How to use this book' section. I then paused and laughed to myself because this was the very first sentence 'Do not let this book overwhelm you.' I don't know whether I felt better or worse but I guess I am not alone and a lot of people feel overwhelmed studying poetry. In this section it talks about the three suggested timetables for using this series and how it is meant to fit our curriculum-scheduling needs. There were there timetables suggested.
1. Month-long unit, in which case you would work on one lesson per day and limit the number of activities you do at the end of each section.
2. Two sections per month (or two weeks for each section) and spread it out over the school year.
3. Several chapters a year over the course of several years.
These options made me feel a lot more relaxed. I knew that if I worked through it at a comfortable pace we would do OK.
Quoting the book 'This could be more poetic education than many receive in their high school years'.
After reading through the first chapter we decided to watch the first lesson on DVD.

 The DVD contains filmed lessons and discussions of Christine Perrin and four students. Jam and I watched it together and discussed it pausing the DVD when necessary. I found the DVDs quite interesting however Jam did mention that he preferred it when we we worked through the Teacher's Manual and Student Manual and discussed the poetry ourselves. He said that he found it difficult to come up with his own ideas and ended up basing his interpretation of the poems on what others thought. For lesson 2 we waited until after we had discussed the chapter and read the poems before watching the DVD.


Jam's favorite poem so far is...

Mother to Son
 by Langston Hughes

Well son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And Splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor-
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn back
Don't you sit down on the steps
'Cause you finds it kinder hard.
Don't you fall now-
For I'se still goin', honey,
I'se still climbin',
And life for life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

At the end of each chapter there is a list of activities to choose from. (Or you could do them all if you wanted too).
For our assignment at the end of chapter 2 Jam chose to draw a bird to represent the Emily Dickinson poem 'Hope is the thing with feathers'.

He chose a Phoenix - I know it is a mythical bird but he felt that it represents hope more than any other. He explained to me that a Phoenix never dies it is always reborn out of the ashes. Just like our hope, no matter how bad our life gets we can always begin again.

We loved this curriculum and will continue to use it. However I don't think the DVDs were a good fit for us, but I am sure that other people would love them. They are very well made and give excellent insight into the poems.

I would not be able to work through this without the 'Teacher's Edition' it is amazing. It is much more than an 'answer booklet'. It is filled with advice, Short Biographies of the Poets mentioned in the book, an amazing timeline covering 1200 BC - 1950 covering; Classical, Medieval, Renaissance, Neoclassical, Romantic, Victorian, Modern, and Postmodern periods.

The Art of Poetry Bundle is $124.95 (best value)

Or you can buy them separately The Art of Poetry is $24.95, The Art of Poetry Teacher's Edition, is $29.95 and the The Art of Poetry DVD set is $89.95.

I have been informed by Classical Academic Press that the prices for The Art of Poetry will be reduced as of April 1st 2013. The complete bundle will be $99.95 a huge saving of $25.00. The DVDs are being reduced to $69.95 a saving of $20.00.

Jam really liked this curriculum - He gave it 9/10 which is a pretty good score from a 12 year old boy.


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