Monday, March 25, 2013

The Art of Poetry - A Poetic Review


Well, okay, it's not a poetic review, but I did think about it. It was a fleeting thought, but still a thought. At any rate, I was glad when we got to do this review of the Classical Academic Press course The Art of Poetry.

I have mentioned over and over again that we love to read in our home. At lest three of us also love to write (the two youngest have wild imaginations that they haven't quite learned to put into writing yet).We have reviewed many items that include reading and writing. Unfortunately in all of the items that we have been given to review, there has never been a curriculum that includes poetry...something that we also love to read but don't have a lot of experience with writing.

Although The Art of Poetry doesn't focus a lot on writing poetry, it is, kind of, a poetry appreciation course. I say "kind of" because really it is much more.


We have reviewed many things from Classical Academic Press in the past and one of the things that I really appreciate about them is the Freebies. They always include so many supplemental items that are always. The one that I found extremely helpful was perhaps the smallest one. It was the download on suggested ways you could use this curriculum. The Art of Poetry was written for older students in middle school or high school, but could also be adapted for younger students. The download had suggested lesson plans for the course to be used over a half year period, a full year period, as a four year Poetry Appreciation course that could be added in to an already existing course. I like the way that they only gave a few weeks of plans but during those weeks a pattern of how much to do each day and how much time to spend on this course each day. Of course, the time spent each day would depend on how you are using this course.

Another really neat Freebie was the download of someone reading all of the poems included. It was a fairly large download but can be extremely helpful. It is always nice to hear a different person read poetry. It's a nice break from the usual student or teacher. If a high school homeschool student is doing a lot of independent work it is also very nice to have a recording of the poems.

We did not delve too much into this Freebie, but there is also a Art of Poetry blog that the students and teachers can explore.

Classical Academic Press always produces excellent Teacher's Manuals and Student Books and the ones for The Art of Poetry are no exception. Both are very easy to use. The Teacher's Manual is very much like the Student Book, but contains much more explanation along with suggested answers to the questions and activities.

As I mentioned before, this course is very much like a poetry appreciation course. It teaches you how to read, feel, analyze, enjoy, and even write good poetry. The book is divided in to three sections: The Elements of Poetry section talks about how poets use Images, Metaphors, Symbols, Sound, Rhythm and much more in their poems. In fact, the reason I capitalized the previous words was that those were some of the chapter names. Each chapter really makes a student think about a certain aspect of poetry as they read it. The chapter begins with an short explanation of the element that is being emphasized along with a main poem that uses that particular aspect.The author does a good job of focusing the students attention on that element. There are then several poems in each chapter that use the detail that the chapter is focusing on. After each poem their are several questions that, again, focus the students attention on how the author uses that particular element in that poem. Finally, at the end of the chapter their are what I call "hands on" activities where the student gets to use his different senses to discover even more about a particular element. You might be asked to listen to someone and note the metaphors they use, cut out pictures that represent different symbols, or rewrite a poem using a different animal other than the one that was originally used.

The section section talks about The Formal History of Poetry. Although, John Allen and I haven't delved too much into this section, I am looking forward to it. It obviously talks about the history of poetry but talks about different types of poetry such as Verse Forms and Open Verse. I am particularly excited to get to this section because two of the chapters talk about two of my favorite poets, Emily Dickinson (A Case Study in Forms) and Walt Whitman (A Case Study in Open Verse). The chapters are a bit different but contain most of the same things as what was in the first section. There are poems that emphasize the different styles with questions after each, and there are activities at the end of each chapter.

Finally, the last section, is short and talks about the Application of what was learned. It talks about how to start a poetry group, hosting a reading series or even hosting a poetry summer camp. It also gives suggestions on starting a writer's journal or having a favorite poem notebook. There is even a section talking about Finding Dead or Live Mentors!

Classical Academic Press also offers a DVD that goes along with the course. Although it is optional, John Allen and I really enjoyed it. It is much like the DVD's that they include in some of their other courses. There is a very friendly teacher sitting at a table with four students. I love the dialogue and the teaching that goes on. It is wonderful and very much like sitting in on a class but, I think, much more intimate. The DVD's would be great for those parents who don't feel that poetry is their strong point or to just have as a supplement.

I think I should add that the manuals that are used in this course were written to be used in a classroom setting. Many of the activities suggested are activities that would be used with many students. That being said, I have never found it difficult to adapt the activities to be used in a homeschool setting.

Many folks like cookie cutter curriculum that only covers the things that are required for their high school student to take. I think that it is unfortunate that many schools, including homeschools, don't take time to concentrate  on learning how to really read, analyze, and just enjoy poetry. I'm glad that we were sent The Art of Poetry. John Allen and I have really enjoyed it.

The price makes it reasonable for anyone to have a concentrated poetry course. The student edition is just $24.95 and the teacher edition is only $29.95. As mentioned before, the DVD is optional and can be purchased for $69.95. If you would like to bundle all three together - the student, teacher and DVD - the price is just $99.95. Just click here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above for more information.

There were actually a couple things from Classical Academic Press that were being reviewed by the TOS Review Crew and you can find out what the other reviewers had to say about The Art of Poetry and the other review items by clicking on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!


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