High School Literature With Sharon Watson! #Review
We’ve used curricula from Writing with Sharon Watson in the past, so we were very excited to have the opportunity to check our her new high school literature program, Illuminating Literature: When Worlds Collide. Illuminating Literature is a year-long course written especially for Christian high schools, homeschools, and co-ops.
Designed to be student-led, all materials are presented in the same accessible style as her middle and high school writing texts. A sample schedule is provided that fits best with a co-op happening during a typical school year, but the 70 lessons and reading assignments can easily be adapted to fit whatever schedule works best for your family.
There are four components; three will need to be purchased, while the fourth is a free pdf download.
Approximately 280 pages in length, you’ll need one of these for each student. The lessons include reading assignments, discussion questions, and even some worksheet-style pages to complete. Students will be able to use a check-off list at the beginning of each unit to guide them through the program.
The teacher’s guide primarily offers answers to discussion questions and worksheet pages, in addition to highlighting information that the facilitator will want to ensure that the student is aware of, such as upcoming unit projects.
There are two options for giving quizzes with Illuminating Literature; they can be done traditionally, with pencil and paper, or they may be done online, with students using their email address for access. One benefit to using the online quizzes is that they’re quick and easy to correct, saving on work for the teacher and allowing students to have more immediate feedback on their understanding of the material.
The Novel Notebook is a tool for students to use as they read through the novels. It provides them with one location to make notes, and makes suggestions about things that they should be on the lookout for in particular titles. Students aren’t required to use this pdf download – they could use a spiral notebook instead – but these pages make it very easy for students to keep track of what notes belong to which unit they study.
How Did We Use Illuminating Literature?
Both my 10th and 8th graders are using Illuminating Literature as their primary language arts curriculum this year. (The 8th grader is taking all high school courses this year, and that’s the quality of work that will be expected of her.) We were provided one copy of each of the first two novels used, Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain and War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, so my daughter is using that version, while my son prefers to read on his Kindle.
It’s very strongly recommended that the suggested versions of the novels be used, or searchable ebook alteratives, for ease of use. I suspect that this is far more important when using this in group setting, and won’t really matter much to those in a homeschool atmosphere.
What Do We Think Of Illuminating Literature?
The kids appreciate the more “casual” language that Ms. Watson uses in the instruction. It seems to just plain make it more fun and less work, and when it comes to something that they believe ought to be all fun (reading), the less “work” that we add to it, the happier they are. The friendly tone doesn’t take away from the fact that Illuminating Literature is quality instruction – it just tucks it away into a nice little package that isn’t quite so in-your-face lecturing as other literature programs we’ve encountered. This is a good thing. :)
For the most part, I’m finding it easy to use. The biggest challenge, in truth, was getting everything put into the schedule and their planners for the year. The only schedule provided is one that’s explicitly written for a co-op style schedule, even with a light period over the holidays, and it was a bit of a challenge transferring that into a workable 4-5 day a week plan, with a somewhat even daily workload. Granted, my kids may still decide to binge and do all the work for this class on one day – but for planning purposes, I need to see it written out, because it’s far easier for me to reschedule when I need to.
We’ll be continuing to use Illuminating Literature this year, though we’re still in discussion over which way we prefer to do the quizzes. (I have one child that likes each way, of course – they can’t just keep it simple!)