We just love Memoria Press products and this one is no different. Having never used a literature guide, we thought this would be a fun experiment. My kids love reading and my daughter, who used the Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set, is an avid reader. So I was wondering how enriching this literature set would be. It has been a GREAT experience!
For this review we began with our study of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table, because that is what my daughter chose to do to start. We purchased the Kindle e-book of King Arthur and she got started reading on her tablet. (You could certainly get a copy from your library as well if you didn’t own the book or wish to purchase it.) We determined that we would move on to The Door in the Wall second, as it was a book we did not know and are looking forward to reading something new.
Literature in Classical Education
As a classical educator in our home, we like to stick with primarily the classical model and that includes literature. Literature, in classical education, is very important. It is important to challenge the child to read slightly above their comfort zone when reading on their one as well as reading to them well above their reading level. This allow for the development and growth of comprehension, vocabulary, and critical thinking skills. Reading is not a passive action when reading literature in a classical school. Reading develops vocabulary and spelling skills, as well as composition skills as the student sees quality writing and then digest, thinks about, and asks questions about the literature. Reading and comprehension is critical to developing a good, strong student and a quality, adult thinker. Good literature is important and poor-quality books are not challenging nor helpful in the classical school.
So what are the Memoria Press Literature Guides
The Memoria Press Literature Guides are quality guides that can help lead the student and teacher in a quest for digestion and comprehension of quality literature. Memoria Press has chosen some quality literature for each of their literature packs to allow the literature to fulfill it’s function in the classical school. The literature guides train the student to be an active reader, noting the new vocabularly words without skipping over them and thinking about the situations and questions posed in the chapters. The guides help the student identify important events and contemplate what they mean to the character. Like all important skills, active reading is a skill that must be learned and perfected and the Memoria Press literature guides help the student develop this skill.
The Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set includes 4 quality literature Student Study Guides and Teacher Guides. The Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set includes Robin Hood, Adam of the Road, The Door in the Wall, and King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table. Each literature set includes a Student Guide and a Teacher’s Guide. These study guides are included in the Memoria Press 6th grade curriculum pack or available separately, with or without the books, in their Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set .
The Teacher Guide
The Teacher Guide explains how the lessons are set up and how to move through them. Each teacher’s guide has a Literature Guidelines explaining how to prepare for the lesson, how to instruct the student to read the lessons and hints on how to work with younger or reluctant readers, and how to instruct the student to complete each section in the Student Study Guide.
The Table of Contents is very thorough and there are also additional character information in some of the Teacher Guides. For instance, in the King Arthur Teacher Guide (and Student Guide), there is a family tree of King Arthur that is pretty cool, as well as a page talking about the author, the illustrator, and the origin of the legend of King Arthur. This was very interesting.
The Teacher Guide has all the same lessons as the Student Study Guide in the same format; however, the answers are provided to all the sections, which is very helpful. However, the Discussion Question section does now have all the answers on the page, these answers are at the back of the Teachers Guide. The Enrichment questions and suggestions do not have answers.
In the back of the Teacher Guide is an Appendix with a glossary, which is helpful throughout the story. (This is also provided in the Student Study Guide.) Additionally, there are extras in the Study Guide to enrich the lessons such as poems to read and/or memorize, copywork and drawing.
There are Discussion Questions and Answer Key sections as well as a Quizzes and Final Exam section, which is reproducible for classroom use with answer keys for each. Some of the Teacher Guides are shorter, especially on shorter books for instance The Door in the Wall. This Teacher Guide still has each chapter lessons and the Literature Guidelines; however, there are no ancillary maps or background. The Appendix in The Door in the Wall provides 2 short poems and a Discussion Questions Answer Key as well as a Midterm and Final Exam.
Here is a sample of the Teacher Guide from Robin Hood.
The Student Study Guide
The Study Study Guide is the students main accompaniment with their reading. At the bottom of the page, the book and chapter that the lesson covers is marked. The beginning of each Student Study Guide includes the Literature Guidelines explaining how to use the book and then the introduction begins. Sometimes this is in the form of maps and history of the storyline. For instance, the in the King Arthur Student Study Guide, the student is provided with a short history of the author, illustrator and the history of the legend of King Arthur. There is also a map of the region discussed in the book and a King Arthur family tree. However, in the Robin Hood Student Study Guide there are no maps but an extensive introduction to the story including a historical context of Robin Hood and some information on the author of the book.
The student reads the required chapter or chapters and then begins working through the study guide. You may also proceed as a read aloud if you doing together as a family. The study guide lesson include a quotation at the beginning of the lesson from the chapters to read. Then Reading Notes, which may include an explanation of a new character or a place introduced in the story, are listed.
Next the Vocabulary section includes a sentence using the vocabulary requiring the student to extrapolate the meaning of the word. The student is asked to write a synomyn for the word to display their understanding of the meaning of the word.
Comprehension Questions are next. This section has lines for a longer answer. If you have a reluctant writer you could have them orally answer these questions to demonstrate understanding of the chapter’s content. Discussion Questions follow this section. Students are encouraged to develop their thinking skills with this section and they should be oral and a discussion with the teacher. This is a good place to really see what the student is thinking and how everything is being put together in the students mind. The Discussion Question answers are located in the Appendix of the Teachers Guide.
The Enrichment section wraps up each lesson. The enrichment can differ from lesson to lesson and guide to guide. For instance, in King Arthur, some of the Enrichment sections included a reading on The Roman Legacy in Britain, features of a Medieval Castle, drawing a picture related to the storyline, copywork and dictation exercises, reading and discussing a poem provided in the Appendix, and games like telling 3 true statements from the chapter and one false statement about the chapter and having someone identify the false statement without looking at the book.
Examples of the Enrichment and Appendix
Some of the Enrichment activities in Adam of the Road included memorizing the House of Lancaster kings from England’s Sovereign in Verse and reciting, summarizing the chapter in the form or a lay or a poem, drawing a picture of something that happened in the chapter, and writing a short story and then relaying it through several people to see how a story can be distorted over time (think the telephone game) as displayed in the book when someone spread the word that Mark Twain had died.
Here is a sample of the Student Study Guide from King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table.
How We Used the Literature Guides
As I mentioned, we started with King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table. We did one lesson 3 days a week. My daughter read the book on her Kindle out loud to her brother. He enjoyed the story of King Arthur but wasn’t ready for such a guide as he is in 1st grade. After reading the required chapter or chapters, as assigned for the lesson, my daughter would go through the Literature Guide and answer the questions for vocabulary and comprehension questions. Then should would look over the Discussion questions and see if she wanted to re-read any part of the story before coming to discuss the chapter with me.
Then she and I would sit down and go through the discussion questions and talk about the topics. I would then look at the Enrichment section and determine what enrichment activity we would do. Sometimes there is only one enrichment activity and sometimes there are several or it is in several parts. We would determine if we were going to do it and then I would assign it for another day if applicable or we would just read it together if that was appropriate.
What We Thought of The Literature Guides
Overall, we really liked the Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set . They are quality books, well thought out, and make reading and comprehending the literature very doable. The books were challenging for my daughter but interesting and not too challenging to be something she didn’t enjoy. The questions helped keep her engaged in the story and she realized that, at times, she needed to re-read parts of a chapter or the whole chapter to really understand what she read. I think this is an important lesson to learn. As a student, it is imperative to learn that it isn’t always in our longer term best interest to rush through an assignment but to really understand it. These literature guides were helpful in teaching this to my daughter.
As usual, Memoria Press impressed us. (You can read my review of Memoria Press‘s fabulous First Start Reading Program here or their Famous Men of Rome here.) We use several of their products and, as we continue to be blessed with the opportunity to review individual products, we realize that their products are top quality and I become more and more certain that I would love to just use their complete curriculum packages. Maybe someday we will be able to do that!
The Memoria Press Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set was outstanding and definitely lived up to the high standards that I have come to expect from Memoria Press. We were able to complete the King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table literature guide and The Door in the Wall literature guide is only one lesson from complete. I’m looking forward to out continued use of these guides as we move through Adam of the Road next. We will complete our literature study this year with Robin Hood, which we also use as a read aloud for my son but a literature study for daughter.
I think the Memoria Press Literature guides are excellent way to dig deeper into the understanding and comprehension of great literature and we have loved using it, and finding some great literature that we hadn’t originally included in our school year.
Memoria Press has literature pack available for every grade level, 1st through High School. You can even Mix and Match a literature program to meet your individual needs. Be sure to check out all their Literature packs or their complete curriculum for preschool through high school.