Monday, October 12, 2015

Introduction to Poetry: A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Review Crew
In September I learned that I would have the opportunity to review Introduction to Poetry: Forms and Elements, a product produced by Progeny Press. I was happy to have the opportunity to review this product. Poetry is one literature genre that my student regularly tells me he just doesn't "get". As a result, we often read our poetry without analysis, and I have neglected instruction on aspects of poetry that I consider it important to cover with my college-bound student.

I actually requested this review after having the opportunity to look at sample pages of Intro to Poetry. Looking at the Table of Contents and the sample pages, I was excited to see a concise tool for teaching (or sometimes reviewing) rhyme, meter, analogy, symbolism, tone, and types of poetry: sonnets, blank verse, haiku, ballads, limericks and more. I wanted my son to review alliteration, assonance, and onomatopoeia before he takes his PSAT this week. And I am not strong, myself, in teaching meter, which this Intro to Poetry also covers.

Early in September I received a digital download of both Intro to Poetry Study Guide and the accompanying Answer Key. The Study Guide itself is 75 pages long and is in interactive format (the student can type the answers right into the PDF and work right on the computer instead of printing out the PDF to work on hard copy). For our use I decided to print pages out for my son to fill in. This works better for us and gives us documentation to show our reviewer at the end of the year. I only print out a limited number of pages each week, spreading out the cost impact in terms of paper and ink. I don't print out pages my son doesn't need to write on -- these can be read directly off the computer. 
We dove right in at the beginning of the Study Guide. I had been under the impression that I did not need to purchase any books to go along with the guide, but on reading the Introduction I learned that all poems in the guide can be found in 100 Best-Loved Poems, edited by Philip Smith, 101 Great American Poems edited by The American Poetry and Literacy Project, and Great Short Poems edited by Paul Negri. The three books are not expensive, and are available from Progeny Press. Since I already had the Intro to Poetry and wanted to get started, I decided to jump in and use poetry books I already own, supplemented by Internet searches.

I wish I had just purchased the recommended books. It is not a good thing any time I add something to my life that will eat up my time, and while I have found all the poetry I have needed so far using my own books and Google searches, I have not been happy about the time these searches (Google and book searches) have taken out of my already stressed time in each day.

The pleasant aspect of our use of Intro to Poetry is that my son accepted the assignments I gave him and did them without difficulty, grumble or complaint. In this home, that is a huge complement to the product! My son tries to have a good attitude toward his schoolwork and the assignments I give him, but when a product is not a good fit for us he is not very tolerant!

We did not get as much done as I had hoped -- we did not manage to cover alliteration, assonance, and onomatopoeia yet -- but I have been totally pleased with the material we covered and how well my son did. Now that the review period is over I am planning to spread the rest of the material out so that we do a section each week throughout the year. This will make it manageable for us in combination with the other literature material I am trying to cover this year. I wasn't clear on whether Progeny Press considers Intro to Poetry to be sufficient to count as one credit for high school literature, but it is my opinion that it would count as a unit study or as one portion of your high school year. I like the way it includes literature and composition (student writing), which is an area I still usually feel deficient in in our home school. We're improving, but still need improvement.

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