Jun 6, 2018

Homeschool Review Crew: Memoria Press Fables and Narrative

We were asked to review Classical Composition from Memoria Press. Teaching my non-writers to write has actually been a lot easier than finding a writing program for my prolific writer. Mostly, I just leave her alone but I like to try out various programs from time to time just to see if I can find one that ups her game. 

We were given two levels: Classical Composition I: Fable Set and Classical Composition II: Narrative Set.

Classical Composition uses, as the name would suggest, a method of teaching writing that classical teachers used. The same method that Cicero, Shakespeare and Milton learned from. Called the Progymnasmata (before exercises), this method teaches with imitation, discipline and a lot of scaffolding. 

Both sets consist of a Teacher Guide, a consumable Student Book and a set of Instructional DVDs. Since we were reviewing both sets, we were also sent a set of lesson plans to help us accelerate through the lessons and complete both books in 34 weeks. Now, we did not have a 34 week review period, but since we did want to complete as much material as possible for this review, we used this schedule. For my rising Sophomore, this did not feel too fast a pace (she actually did more than one day's worth at a time), however, for a younger or less prolific child, it might be best to just focus on one book a year. 

The DVD is just what it says it is: Instructional. Brett Vaden teaches the lessons for you. He goes over all the parts and pieces of the lesson and tells your child what to do. However, you are not limited to the DVD because your Teacher's Guide has all the same information in it. 
I watched the DVDs but my daughter did not. It was simpler for both of us if I just sat down with her with our books and went over the lesson together. So we spent most of our time with the Teacher's Guide and the Student Book.

Classical Composition I: Fable Set

It was actually super simple for us to use. Like most Memoria Press products, the Teacher's Guide contains a smaller version of the Student Book with the lesson in the margins. So I could simply open my book as she opened hers and know exactly what to teach.


Each lesson follows roughly the same pattern. There are twenty lessons in total. Each lesson is based around one of Aesop's fables. You start the lesson by reading the fable aloud. Mostly, I had her read this to me. Then we went over vocabulary words. She has an enormous vocabulary, so we did this portion by having her define each word in her own words because she already knows what "cease" and "expire" and "bough" mean, although, to be fair, there were some words that were new to her. Then we discussed what the words added to the story. Again, quick and easy for her. 

Then we got into the meat of the lesson. She learned about the Three Plot Components and over the course of the program she practiced finding them. She learned about Variations of sentences and practiced thinking of synonyms. She worked on making an outline for each fable, then narrated and rewrote each one in a couple of different variations, such as writing the story in reverse. She learned terms such as hydrographia, astrothesia, and dialogismus, (and many more!) how to find them and how to use them. And even though I had never heard of these things before in my life, between the Teacher's Guide and the DVD I was able to understand them well enough to teach them to her. So we both learned a lot!

As I said before, she is a natural writer, so these exercises were not difficult for her. There was a lot of reviewing of concepts with some new information sprinkled in. For example, she had outlined her own work before, but she had not outlined someone else's writing, nor had she used the standard format for outlining. Both of these things gave her a little extra knowledge and experience that she will use in college and beyond. 

Rewriting the story in a couple different variations was an amazing thing for her as well. She learned a lot about choosing the best way to express her thoughts and how to use the different figures of description to enhance her writing. 

Classical Composition II: Narrative Set

We did not get to the Narrative Stage book in the review period, but I did look it over so I could give you some idea about it. It follows the same basic pattern used in Fable, using short stories from ancient myths, classic literature and the Bible instead of Aesop. This book starts where Fable leaves off and teaches the remaining six of the Nine Plot Components. Once again, the student is using quality literature to learn what makes good writing and how to write it themselves. 

Narrative also has twenty lessons, but the writing selections are longer and the books are therefor thicker. It is a definite progression in skill level. I'm glad we were able to start with Fable and move on to Narrative.

Narrative has Teacher Tips in the lessons and give you advice on how to adapt to a classroom setting if needed. 

I found this program to be beneficial. Kaytie does not need a writing curriculum that teaches her how to write because she is a natural, but Classical Composition offers her a tool box from which to draw as well as plenty of exercises in playing with stories to see how something maybe "so-so" can be redone into something "amazing". I will definitely be pulling ideas out of these books for several years to come. 

New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}
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