One of my goals since I started homeschooling Buttercup was to expose her to many of the classical elements that she wouldn’t otherwise experience in a public school setting. Poetry is one of these elements. So when I received The Art of Poetry by Classical Academic Press, I was ready to dive right in.
I received The Art of Poetry Bundle. This includes a Teacher’s Edition and a Student Book, and a DVD Set (I only received disc 1 of the set). Generally I would give you the current list price, but since there will be a permanent price decrease April 1, I’ll give you those prices. The Bundle price will drop to $99.95, and the DVD Set will be priced at $69.95.
The book is divided into Three basic sections: elements, history, and application. Elements is the basic section. It teaches the different techniques used and needed in writing a proper poem. These include image, metaphor, symbols, words, sounds, rhythm, shape and tone. The history section is a more in depth study of poems and their meaning with a special look at Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. In the application section, the student is taught an appreciation of poetry, how to best write, enjoy and share poetry.
And I can’t say enough about the author, Christine Perrin. You can tell she’s genuinely excited about the subject of poetry, and wants to share her knowledge. She teaches the lessons on the DVD Set, which can be used as either a supplement, or as stand alone video lessons. Each lesson is a recording of Ms. Perrin teaching a group of middle school students, where she and then gives a list of activities at the end of each lesson/chapter. The same activities are found in the Teacher’s Edition and Student Book. She even has a blog where more information and tips can be located.
This course can be implemented in so many ways. In fact, customization is limitless. The book gives suggestions for a one-year program, a semester program, a four year poetry appreciation course, and how to incorporate into a co-op setting. Of course, I didn’t, and won’t, use any of these programs. Buttercup and I enjoy discussion. That way I can make sure she has a firm grasp on concepts. Even with her auditory processing problem, she does quite well taking in information with her ears. One of us read the poem, and then we discussed the questions in the Teacher’s Edition. I briefly went over the commentary given by the author on the current topic. With Buttercup, I have to move slowly so she won’t be overwhelmed. Getting into the deep meaning of symbolism is like talking to a fence post that only speaks Aramaic–you end up with a blank stare. She also can’t handle too much time on one topic because she becomes frustrated and burnt out. What’s really great with this program is I can hit the high points, read the poems, and move on. Poems she’s interested in, I can focus on a little longer. Otherwise, once the book is complete, we can start over and dig a bit deeper with each go around–skipping the topics she has a firm grasp on. Another thing we skipped was the DVD. The lesson had too much information for Buttercup. A normal or advanced middle schooler wouldn’t have a problem with these, but I don’t recommend them for remedial students unless done in small doses. I may it again with her in a smaller segment, just the introduction parts of each chapter for now and progress to the class portions later on.
Another way I’m using this book is with our history program. Currently we’re in the Reformation time period. As we come across particular individuals, such as Anne Askew and Sir Walter Raleigh, I’m pulling their works from this book. Also it’s given me more fodder to explain this time period.
This is one of the best poetry anthologies geared for middle/high school I’ve seen. Even if all you can afford to purchase is the Teacher’s Edition, you’ll be doing your students a great service. Discussing poetry can give even your most callous and pessimistic child a different view of the world and help them express themselves in new and positive ways.