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.
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 guide (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.
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.
Get the (almost) weekly digest!
Weekly encouragement, direct to your inbox, (almost) every Saturday.