Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Excellence in Literature TOS Crew review

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   As a homeschool Mom I will admit there are subjects that I dread teaching or am not as confident in teaching as I should be. Even though I may have strengths in these subjects I find myself still struggling to teach my boys especially now that they are older. With Alyx starting High School next year I want to make sure we are doing things the right way. One of the topics I have been dreading is Literature. I also feel that if he picks up on my uneasiness he will then have a bad attitude about learning the topic. Alyx has struggled with writing and reading comprehension since he started school. This makes this a subject that needs to be studied and studied again.

  Being part of the TOS Crew has been such a blessing to my family this year as they have helped me find vendors that sell some of the curriculum I was lacking and they have done the leg work to seek out some of the best that are out there, it has helped us fill in the blanks so to speak. Excellence in Literature has been one of those helping hands in our curriculum this Fall.

   We were blessed with the opportunity to review Excellence in Literature: English I: Introduction to Literature from Everyday Education, this is an entire full year program. Compared to other curriculum of this nature it is a great buy at only $29 plus $4.95 Priority Mail S&H or if you would rather download and print it out it works wonderfully in a 3 ring binder format and then you can save on the shipping charges. The bonus to that is you get access to the program immediately and can get to work right away.

  We received the download program and it is wonderful to use in  a binder as the book lays open. The readings from the curriculum are carefully picked and the first lessons deal with short stories, which helped ease into the subject. It made for a an easy transition which is helpful with Alyx. Not only is he reading wonderful literature but he has context notes that really help him understand and grasp what he is reading. I loved the week by week lesson plans that help walk us through what needs to be learned. This is how our base curriculum works so it flowed for me naturally.I also thought that the evaluation rubric was an invaluable asset.

  I am really starting to like this level of Alyx's education as it seems that a good deal of his learning is teaching him to be an independent learner, something else he struggles with and leaves me more time to help Taylor one on one. Excellence in Literature is no exception as it is planned out to be used directly by the student, with little to no help from the parent/teacher. Each lesson is carefully planned out with complete instructions and samples there for the student to gain knowledge and confidence from. Alyx really took to this approach and I have seen his confidence in this program and other areas of his learning grow a little more with each day. This has helped him grow as a student in so many ways.

   There is an Honors track also that can be used for AP students, I feel this would be overwhelming for Alyx, but maybe your student could benefit from this aspect of the curriculum. The other important aspect of this program is not the reading but the essay writing, which is another area of struggle for Alyx. Excellence in Literature helps break it down and help discover the whole thought process to writing a thorough essay. Planning,drafting and revising are some of the key steps taught. With a short writing assignment to finish out each section of study.  The act of planning out what you are going to do comes naturally to my Asperger's son as he does not like surprises. I think this is another reason why this particular curriculum has been so helpful, he can look ahead in the lesson plans and always know what lies ahead in his studies. Teaching him to use this strategy of thinking ahead in this writing has merged well for him.

Here is what Everyday Education has to say about Excellence in Literature:

What does Introduction to Literature cover?

Introduction to Literature is a college-preparatory literature and composition course. Focus works, including novels, short stories, poems, and drama, have been selected for literary quality, and for their place in the historical development of literature. Context readings provide background information about the author, the historical period, and the literary and artistic context of the focus work.

Students will gain an understanding of the development of literature and will practice the skills of close literary analysis through essays, approach papers, and other evaluative writing. You may learn more about how I chose the literature for Excellence in Literature in this blog post.


By the end of the course, students will:

Understand the process of writing, including the use of tools such as a writer’s handbook, dictionary, and thesaurus.

Have specific understanding of selected representative texts by major authors of the periods studied.

Have a general understanding of the historical and cultural contexts of the works.

Be able to analyze literary texts and present thoughtfully developed ideas in writing.

Demonstrate competence in essay organization, style, and mechanics.

Unit 1: Short Stories by-

• Sarah Orne Jewett: A White Heron

• Edgar Allen Poe: The Purloined Letter (This one is not scary, if you're concerned about that.)

• Guy de Maupassant: The Diamond Necklace

• O. Henry: The Ransom of Red Chief

• Eudora Welty: A Worn Path

• James Thurber: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Unit 2: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Honors: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

Unit 3: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain

Honors: The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

Unit 4: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

Honors: Shirley or Villette by Charlotte Brontë

Unit 5: Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw

Honors: Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot

Unit 6: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Honors: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson


Unit 7: Animal Farm by George Orwell

Honors: 1984 by George Orwell

Unit 8: The Tempest by William Shakespeare

Honors: A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare

Unit 9: Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift

Honors: The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan

Note: Books listed in the table of contents above are focus texts only. Context readings are assigned within each unit.

  If you go on to use Excellence in Literature as a 5 yr program as intended your student has the ability to earn 24-30 hours of college credit through testing. The 5 yr program is targeted for an audience of 8th-12th grade. If you invest a small amount of money into this program for your child's high school years it will prove to reward your student's education ten-fold. While saving both your student's time and money in the college years. The 5 year program does not need to be done in order and can be mixed up within the course study itself.

I am so excited and feel much more relaxed about this timeline in the boys education as I am confident in knowing they are learning Literature in the correct format.  I am  also not dreading this subject for Taylor next year when he starts 8th grade. It makes for a much happier atmosphere when everyone is relaxed and confident in what they are trying to achieve. I will definitely be purchasing year 2 for Alyx come this Summer when we do our Curriculum shopping and I more than likely going to invest in the entire download set of all five years for only $135  that is a savings of  over $60 that is a great investment in my children's education and a small price to pay when you look at the outcome when you have completed the program.
You can also purchase the five year program hard copy format to be shipped to your door for $139 plus S&H and you are still saving a bundle by purchasing it all at once.  Knowing I can use this with both of my boys adds to the savings as well.

   If you have been struggle with this very subject then what are you waiting for? Check out Everyday Education's Excellence in Literature today. You will thank me for it. Your kids will thank you for it. See it is a win win situation. So don't delay do it today.While you are there be sure to check out all of the wonderful programs that Everyday Education has to offer like Spelling Made Easy.
 Don't just take my word for it see what my fellow TOS Crewmates are saying about Excellence in Literature in their homeschools.

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services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it

on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally

and believe will be good for 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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