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There’s so much more to reading then just simply reading. That’s why I love using Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis from Writing with Sharon Watson for high school literature. Since Jayme was just finishing up another volume of this product, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide, this review came at the perfect time for us!
I received a physical copy of the student text, teacher’s guide, and quiz and answer manual. Also included was a link to download a Novel Notebook, and directions for accessing the quizzes online.
Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis is a complete, year long literature study. It covers the following novels, stories, and plays:
- “A Jury of Her Peers”
- Silas Marner
- Much Ado About Nothing
- Several short stories including The Lady, or the TigerA Child’s Christmas in Wales and Haircut
- Sense and Sensibility
- A biography or autobiography of the student’s choice
- The Hobbit
Since these were all new titles for Jayme, I was excited to get started! The novels are not included, and need to be purchased separately. However, “A Jury of Her Peers”, the first short story, is included in the text., as are some of the other short stories.
Here’s a look at each of the components, and how we used them:
The Student Text
The student text is the heart of the program. It’s written in a fun, student-friendly tone. It’s meant to guide the student through each text and asks thought provoking questions throughout.
The text is broken into several chapters, one for each book. Each chapter has several smaller lessons. Each chapter starts with a “Before You Read the Story” lesson. It provides some important background information about the book, the setting, and the author. This sets the student up for success for reading. Included in this lesson is a suggested reading and homework plan explaining how to pace the chapter.
This pacing guide is repeated throughout the chapter, making it easy for students to keep track of what they’ve completed.
As students work through the lessons, they’re also reading certain chapters in the work they’re studying. Each chapter includes a study on literary terms, further reading recommendations, vocabulary quizzes, and directions to take online quizzes. There’s also a list of activities for students to choose from upon completion of the reading.
These activities are Jayme’s favorite part! She said, “I like the variety available. There’s always something that seems really fun to me.” Here’s a peek at some of the choices for Frankenstein:
We haven’t finished reading the book yet, so I’m not sure which one she’ll pick.
The Teacher’s Guide
I used this component to ensure Jayme was staying on track. It includes answers to the questions and quizzes from the student text, grading tips, and different suggestions for teaching the course successfully.
Each week, I pulled out the guide and reviewed expectations with Jayme.
The Quiz and Answer Manual
We learned from our previous experience with Illuminating Literature, that the online quizzes work better for our family. So, we didn’t use this component.
However, if your family prefers pen and paper exams, all the quizzes are included in here with answers.
The Online Quizzes
There are directions in the student guide for accessing the online quizzes. Each requires a password, which is included in the text. Students log in, and take the quiz.
I love that it automatically grades the quiz for me! But, the results went to her email because that’s what she registered with. I had to remind her to send it to me.
The Novel Notebook
Available online as a free download, the Novel Notebook plays an important role in this course. We downloaded it and printed it out. Then we three hole punched it and stuck it in a binder. That way it was always available and I wasn’t trying to print out new material each week.
There’s a variety of questions to spark critical thinking throughout this component. Here’s a screenshot as an example:
I didn’t have Jayme answer every single question, because there was a lot. So, I worked with her to reduce the number to complete.
What We Thought
I really enjoy using Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis for high school literature. It encourages students to dive into the books they’re reading and really glean some nuggets out of them. They aren’t simply reading to check something off a to-do list.
I definitely recommend this product from Writing with Sharon Watson. I love how each novel read in this study reinforce the overall theme of characters in crisis, and identifies different types of crises characters can wind up in.
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