Mar 30, 2016

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Memoria Press Literature

My current 7th grader is my daughter, Kaytie. She is a bookworm. She learned to read at an early age and fell in love with stories right away. She was excited to be offered a chance to review a real Literature program: the Seventh Grade Literature Guide Set from Memoria Press! This was her first attempt at literature and we had high hopes.

We have reviewed products from Memoria Press before, (see links at bottom of post) so we knew already that they are a company dedicated to quality and excellence. They offer a full range of curriculum from preK to 9th grade and some high school products as well. They have a wide assortment of subjects, everything from the basics like Math and Grammar to Latin, Art, and Christian Studies. They even have programs and supplements just for special needs students.

We were given the 7th grade level for the literature program. We received the Teacher Guide and Student Study Guide for four books: The Trojan War; The Bronze Bow; The Hobbit; and Anne of Green Gables. We were not given copies of the books, but we already owned them, so that was alright. I was pretty happy with the selection of books. I read three out of the four when I was young and knew they were good, quality books, just right to challenge my voracious reader.

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

The Teacher Guides are exact copies of the Student Study Guides except that they have the answers to all the questions. Both books are slim paperbacks that contain everything needed except for the actual book. You might also want a dictionary, but you don't technically need it. The Study Guide is consumable and copying is not allowed so you will need to purchase one for each student.

The books can be read and completed in any order. Due to the time constraints of the review, we knew we would only complete one guide/ book, so I allowed Kaytie to choose which one she wanted to do. I should have put a caveat on that permission because she "cheated" a little and chose the one book she had already read, Anne of Green Gables. She insisted that it had been a while since she had read it and after all, it was hard for me to deny her, though, because that has been my favorite book for years. (I'll tell you a secret: Anne might just be one of my daughter's middle names!)

The format for the guides is fairly simple. The work is divided up to correspond with the chapters of the book. Before reading the chapter, the student goes over a few Reading Notes that explains key characters and/or terms that the reader needs to take note of.  Then they look over the Vocabulary section so the student is aware of possible "trouble" words or just to know what words they need to be aware of. And finally, they are supposed to look over the Comprehension Questions for the chapter in order to give their reading purpose.

The student reads the chapter, taking notes of Vocabulary words and the answers to the Comprehension Questions. Finally, the student answers the questions in the Study Guide. They define the Vocabulary words (there could be anywhere from two to seven words, but in Anne of Green Gables there were almost always six) These words are given with the context from the book, so the student isn't just memorizing "random" words. A few of the words (not necessarily one in each week) are marked as Mastery Words which the child knows means it will be on the test.

Next there are the Comprehension Questions which the student is expected to answer in complete questions. It is made clear in the brief instructions at the beginning of the book that you can handle this as best fits your student. Oral answers, scribing, independent work, or forming the answers orally first and then writing them are all acceptable ways of handling these questions.

For more in-depth oral work, there are Discussion Questions and Quotations. These are quotes directly from the book and the point is just to jump-start a conversation with your child about the concepts and ideas in the chapter that can take you farther and deeper than the Comprehension Questions can. There are suggested answers in the backs of the Teacher Guides.

Finally, for each chapter, there is an Enrichment activity or two. This could be any of a dozen different things; for example, a mapping exercise, a short essay question, a story prompt, a research question, to a character synopsis.

Halfway through the book is a Midterm Test ( The Bronze Bow had frequent chapter tests.The Trojan War had a quiz after each chapter and The Hobbit  had short quizzes every few chapters) that consists of 70+ questions requiring fill-in-the-blank, short-answer, a paragraph to answer. The questions covered the previously studied material of Vocabulary, characters, expressions that you discussed and comprehension. The Final Test is similar.

In the back of the books is an Appendix that contains enrichment material like all the vocabulary words listed alphabetically, maps, the Runic Alphabet (in the Hobbit) poems (that Anne liked, read, or referred to in the book) and more.

For Kaytie, this work was all incredibly easy. She flew through her chapter each day. The Vocabulary words were easy for her to define from the context, so we did that orally. I would read the phrase and the word and she would tell me what it meant. We chatted our way through the Discussion Questions and she wrote the answers to the Comprehension Questions. I let her pick and choose from the Enrichment activities and these were probably her favorite. She aced the tests and her overall attitude was that this was just not enough challenge.

I think this is a good program for kids who need to be stretched in their reading. I know my younger kids have a harder time picking up vocabulary from context and they would benefit from a curriculum like this. It would also be helpful for kids who struggle with comprehension. Kaytie got the most benefit out of the writing exercises and that was mostly because of the discipline involved. I know I was most impressed by the Enrichment sections. A lot of creativity went into those!

Kaytie's opinion: I don't think it really taught me very much. It wasn't a challenge for me at all. I think I am slightly more advanced than this program. The questions and vocabulary were too easy. It would be good for kids younger than me or are just beginning literature and have more trouble comprehending and/or don't have as big of a vocabulary. I think part of the reason it was so easy for me was because I am a writer. But I think it is a good program for learning Lit. I think a higher grade would have challenged me more and I would have learned more. 

All in all, I think we should have chosen above her grade level, but that doesn't mean this one wasn't fun! She certainly enjoyed reading the books. That was definitely her favorite part!

Check out our other Memoria Press reviews:


Latina Christiana I

And see what other Crew members had to say about all the other Literature levels:

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review

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