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    Why I Love Grammar of Poetry A Curriculum Review

    June 8, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    It’s that time of the school year when we start to reflect on what we’ve done (or not done) and decide whether we think it was all worth it and whether we’ll ever do it again with future children and so on and so forth. One thing that really worked for us this year was Grammar of Poetry. I seriously love this curriculum, and in this post, I’ll tell you why.

    Grammar of Poetry vertical

    I can’t take any credit for choosing this curriculum. It’s assigned in AmblesideOnline for Year Seven. Like so many of AO’s selections, I’m really glad I listened.

    What I Used

    I went around in circles about what to buy. Did I need only the student book? Student book and teacher’s guide? Student book, teacher’s guide, as well as the DVD instruction videos? Buying all three was expensive in light of the fact that I have four students to consider when shaping my homeschool budget. Did I really need all of that? Some people said that AO had been assigning it since before the DVDs existed, but then again I knew that I knew nothing about poetry mechanics.

    In the end, being a blogger really came in handy. I contacted Romans Road Media (they make this product) directly and asked them if they wanted to send me the DVDs so that I could test them out and review them. They said yes, and the rest is history.

    I ended up using all three: the teacher’s guideΒ (where I got the answers in order to correct my student’s work), the student workbook (this is a consumable, so I will have to purchase it again for future students), and the DVDs. (All of these are available in the Compass Classroom store.)

    My Thoughts on the Grammar of Poetry DVDs

    I sat in with my student on every lesson. Technically, the DVDs could be very freeing if you are an overscheduled homeschool mother of many. They can literally teach for you, and all you would have to do is correct your student’s work. I’m a geek, though, and so I wanted to understand this subject just as much as my student, so I watched all of the videos with him.

    I’m very glad we had the videos. Tropes? Iambs? Synecdoches? I seriously would have mispronounced all of these words. Not that that is the end of the world, but it’s nice to have a poetry teacher in the house who isn’t me — who actually knows what he’s talking about.

    The one thing that concerned me with using videos was whether they would be styled in such a way as to erode the habit of attention. You all know what I mean — flashing from scene to scene and not having internal coherence. Thankfully, this felt a lot like being in a classroom, and I mean that in a good way. They were simple and while they were well-done, they didn’t have any of the qualities I was concerned about.

    Additionally, it ended up being wonderful that the teacher is a man. My son turned 13 this year, as you know, and one thing I really don’t want him thinking is that poetry is for emotional girls, which is a common misconception in our culture. It was a powerful thing for him to have the teacher be a man — and to have much of the poetry that is read aloud in the DVDs read by a man as well.

    How to Use This Curriculum

    We scheduled one lesson per week. Because we started it a few weeks into the year, didn’t use it over our DecemberTerm, and also dropped it a couple times when there was sickness in the house, we still have a couple lessons left that we plan to finish in the summer. But there are only 30 lessons, so really it should be easy to complete at the pace of one lesson per week. The DVD lessons vary in length, but none of them are longer than 20 minutes, and a few of them are quite a bit shorter than that. We schedule 30-40 minutes for this. This includes getting our stuff together, watching the video, and then my student doing the assignment that goes with the lesson.

    Grammar of Poetry Free Lessons

    The assignments that required him to write his own poetry sometimes took him quite a while. Iambic poetry was easy for him, but he really had to work at trochaic. We did these lessons on Thursday afternoons, and so sometimes he worked off and on throughout the weekend on writing a poem as something struck him that would work for it. This was very casual, didn’t take a lot of time, and good for him in terms of understanding that sometimes writing something takes a number of days.

    The writing assignments are based on imitation, which, as you know, is a key requirement of the Charlotte Mason philosophy of teaching writing, and so this worked perfectly for us.

    In all, we loved Grammar of Poetry, and I’ll definitely be using it with my younger students when they reach their junior high years.

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    […] Grammar of Poetry (see my review) […]

  • Reply Sweettoothduo August 19, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Did you use this alone or in conjunction with other writing during the year? We do grammar, spelling, vocabulary separately, but would you consider this hearty enough to do no other writing throughout the year?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 19, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      I require one written narration per day, so the writing here was on top of that. In itself, no, I don’t think it is quite enough writing for junior high. We tried to incorporate what we were learning into our written narrations — so maybe one week he did really hyperbolic narrations, another week he used a lot of metaphor, and then another he did a lot of alliteration — that sort of thing. It was a way of using the poetic devices within prose, because I really felt like he could only write so much poetry, you know?

  • Reply KarenC July 11, 2015 at 10:42 am

    Thank you for keeping us posted! When you posted the code, I went ahead and purchased an extra student book, along with the dvd’s. I think I may have even bought another teacher’s manual…. But I never received it. I need to check my credit card statement to see what happened there. At this point, it would be great to get another code! πŸ˜‰

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 11, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      What?? Did they ever send you a shipping notice? I think last time I ordered, I received a shipping notice that had a tracking button where I could see where my stuff was. Maybe check that? I’m sorry. πŸ™

      • Reply KarenC July 12, 2015 at 4:49 am

        Yes. They sent me an email saying that it had shipped. My package was not assigned a tracking number so I have no idea where it is. That was almost a month ago. I emailed them about it. I received an email back that said someone would get back to me the next business day. So I guess I will have to wait until tomorrow. At least I hope they can get back to me tomorrow! πŸ˜‰ Thank you for checking in!

        • Reply Brandy Vencel July 12, 2015 at 8:18 pm

          Oh no! I hope they get back to you soon! πŸ™

          • KarenC July 13, 2015 at 10:29 am

            I haven’t received anything but an automatic reply to the email I sent them. I was just going through bills and noticed that I was definitely charged for the items on June 15. I’m hoping to hear back from them soon. I will keep you posted. Thank you.

  • Reply Seventh Grade Homeschool Plans » Simply Convivial June 26, 2015 at 8:58 am

    […] take Brandy’s word for it that this is a great curriculum. Watch the videos for it. If that doesn’t sell you, I […]

  • Reply Ashley June 20, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    I enjoyed your review. I am so sad I missed their discount. Do you if they will be having any other specials soon?


    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 20, 2015 at 6:04 pm

      I requested another discount for next month, so we’ll see what they say! Stay posted! πŸ™‚

      • Reply Ashley June 29, 2015 at 2:19 pm

        Thank you!! I will wait a few weeks to order. πŸ™‚

        • Reply Ashley Smith July 10, 2015 at 11:26 am

          I wanted to check with you again on possible discount on the poetry curriculum. Thank you πŸ™‚

          • Brandy Vencel July 10, 2015 at 1:40 pm

            Let me see…I am definitely lobbying for a code to share this month. πŸ™‚

  • Reply KarenC June 13, 2015 at 11:54 am

    Hi Brandy, I’m sorry for hijacking your post! But I wanted you to know that they DID get back to me about the DVD’s and said they are working on that option, but I would have to wait a few more days. So that is good news! I was doing the math though, and buying all three (teacher book and student book included) is only $10 more than the cost of 30% off the DVD’s alone…. So I am pondering whether or not I should just buy all of them and sell the books at that discount. I hate holding onto books though, and/or getting stuck with them!! Thank you again, and just wanted to update you on what they told me! This is an AWESOME discount!!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 13, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      No apologies necessary. πŸ™‚ I’m just glad this all might work out for you!

  • Reply KarenC June 12, 2015 at 3:45 pm

    You know what, with that 30% discount, buying the whole bundle is so cheap, and so close to the cost of 30% off what the DVD’s would cost, it’s almost worth buying the whole bundle and then reselling the books! Hmmmmm…. Anyway, thank you for trying!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 13, 2015 at 6:30 am

      Oh, that’s not a bad idea, Karen!

  • Reply KarenC June 12, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Oh man, that is a real bummer!! 30% is a BIG DEAL!! It seems that $85 is the going rate for the DVD’s…. IEW has the same price. I’m so disappointed!! If only I had waited and bought the package now!! πŸ˜‰ Thank you for following up! And thank you for the review on VL. I am going to check that out now. Have a blessed evening!

  • Reply KarenC June 12, 2015 at 11:10 am

    Oh, and also, have you heard back from Compass Classroom about being able to order just the DVD’s? Not trying to be pesky!!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Not pesky at all. And, no, I haven’t heard. Such a bummer! πŸ™ I did see that Romans Road Media {the maker} has it sold separately for $85, and then if you get the streaming version it is only $60. Not sure if streaming ever expires, though, or whether you could use it with future children. That is always my issue with streaming — I want to make sure that I’m not exchanging a short term discount for having to buy it again in the long term and ending up spending more over all…

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 12, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      I guess a link to Romans Road would have been helpful: They are often more expensive than Compass, but not bad today, at least…

  • Reply KarenC June 12, 2015 at 11:09 am

    Thank you, Cameron! Was looking for a good Latin program also for next year. Still undecided. Will look into Visual Latin! Do you have a review for that one, Brandi?? Wink, wink. πŸ˜‰

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 12, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      As a matter of fact…I do! πŸ™‚ Well, sort of. I wrote a preliminary review early on, when we first started it: And then I thought I had written something else, but I guess I’ve just mentioned it in passsing. The past year and a half, we’ve been using Henle in combination with VL {Compass Classroom has a free document on their site to explain where the videos line up with Henle}, and that has worked really well for my oldest child’s particular temperament. I really, really like VL. As in: really. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Cameron June 11, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Just thought I would mention you get 30% off of their other products as well. I ordered Visual Latin at the same time and received 30% off it as well as the Grammar of Poetry. Thought I’d mention it in case anyone else might benefit from that info!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 11, 2015 at 7:51 pm

      Ooh! I didn’t know that. That is GREAT!

  • Reply KarenC June 11, 2015 at 8:39 am

    Thank you so much!! And yes, I saw that already. Not your fault! I just appreciate the responses. You are FAST! πŸ˜‰

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 11, 2015 at 9:42 am

      Well, I happened to be around, and answering your question was more interesting than what I was *supposed* to be doing. Ahem. πŸ˜‰

  • Reply KarenC June 11, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Hi again, Brandy! I loved this review and am excited to start it next year with my 8th grader. I saw your comment about not starting earlier than 7th grade, so I’m glad we never got around to this with my current 5th grader!! Yikes! Anyway, I have a question unrelated to the content of your review. I went on the site to get the DVD’s and another student book, which I don’t need right now since I will not be doing it with my upcoming 6th grader…. I did not find an option for JUST the DVD’s and there is no phone number to call them. I emailed them about my issue, but haven’t heard back. Since there are only 2 days left to get the 30% off, I was hoping maybe you would know what I could do?? Thank you!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 11, 2015 at 8:06 am

      I will email my contact at Compass Classroom and see what she says. She usually gets back to me very quickly. πŸ™‚

      Oh! And I see that your daughter is in 8th…I wrote my other reply before I read this. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Karen @ The Simply Blog June 9, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Thanks for this review Brandy! Very helpful!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 9, 2015 at 7:44 am

      You’re welcome. πŸ™‚

  • Reply MamaGames June 9, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Does the actual material have any Christian slant or content? In the preview video, the author talks about a Christian education and Biblical world view.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 9, 2015 at 7:43 am

      That’s a good question! There is Christian content in the sense that there are many times when Biblical poetry — usually from Psalms or Genesis — is read aloud while shown with the breves and accents. It is used as an opening example most of the time (so actually before the lesson starts). Mostly, though, I would say that the Christian worldview is assumed rather than explicitly taught.

  • Reply JoyH June 8, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    WHY would I want to do this course? What is the benefit? From your review I understood you liked it, but I’m not sure I understand why this study is relevant.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 9, 2015 at 7:51 am

      Good question! Okay, so this course is teaching poetry mechanics (not interpretation, which I suppose is the other big option). It starts with basic things like learning about poetic devices — alliteration, simile, metaphor, etc. It moves through to bigger things, especially the music of poetry. The students are taught the basic types of poetic rhythm (iambs, trochees, synecdoches, etc.) and taught them to identify them in feet, count them, and therefore identify the governing rhythm of the poem (iambic pentameter — this means there are five iambic feet per line on average). They also learn to identify the rhyme scheme. The goal is then for the student to write his own poetry by imitation.

      My student used to really struggle to imitate poetry, and I realized recently that this is because only iambic poetry comes naturally to him. Whenever he tried to imitate a poem using some other type of music, he eventually slipped into iambs. Being able to identify the scheme helps him to see where he starts to stray and come back to a more direct imitation.

      • Reply JoyH June 10, 2015 at 7:44 am

        Thank you, Brandy!

        • Reply Brandy Vencel June 10, 2015 at 7:49 am

          You’re welcome. πŸ™‚

  • Reply Melissa June 8, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Great review Brandy! I’ve contemplated this program for some time. I always wondered about the DVD’s as well. Now I’m wondering how much overlap we’d have since our dd is using Michael Clay Thompson’s Language Arts, which includes a poetry component…using the same words you mentioned, that I’m sure I’m slaughtering every time I say them πŸ˜‰


    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 8, 2015 at 8:06 am

      Ha! Glad I’m not the only one. πŸ™‚

      On the Compass Classroom site, if you click through, there is a link to a list of all the lessons. You can check it out to see what you think. I’m not familiar with the MCT curriculum, so I can’t say what extent is the overlap! πŸ™

  • Reply Rebecca June 8, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Hi Brandy!
    I know that AO says to use this for year 7, but we don’t use AO, other than to supplement and for ideas. Can you recommend an age/grade for this? My oldest is an avid reader/writer, and we’re working through IEW fairly easily. I’m looking for something to challenge her, teach her different writing styles and from a CM philosophy. However, she’s only 11 and heading into 6th grade. Would this be better for older students?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 8, 2015 at 8:25 am

      Hmmm…that’s weird! I replied to this once, and my reply disappeared! Hmmm…

      Anyhow, what I said in my original comment was that I really think it’s ideal for junior high — so 7th and 8th grade. I think it could be *added* to a high school course, but it’s not big enough to be a full high school class credit on its own. I don’t think I’d do it any younger, so my advice is to wait at least a year. My oldest was a strong writer in 6th grade, too, but I think there was benefit of having waited another year before doing it. πŸ™‚

      • Reply Rebecca June 8, 2015 at 10:05 am

        Thank you, that helps!

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