Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Art of Poetry by Classical Academic Press Review

Let's talk about poetry--or again maybe not. You see poetry has been one of those things that just never has made any sense to me, especially when you have to start talking about what it means. For several years I have read different poetry out loud to my kids, but I have always felt that we are still missing something when it comes to poetry. Enter in The Art of Poetry by Classic Academic Press.
We were given an opportunity to review The Art of Poetry, which is a curriculum for middle and high-school students, teaches the practice of how to read a poem and introduces the elements of poetry.
The student book starts with teaching the elements of poetry which includes images, metaphor, symbols, words, sounds, rhythm, shape, and tone. It then next introduces the formal history of poetry covering the history of form, movements, genres, verse forms, shaping forms, open verse, and narrative forms. It also includes a special study on Emily Dickenson in form and Walt Whitman in open verse.
It then has a section called application which talks about growing your interest in poetry. This includes such suggestions as starting a poetry group, a writer's journal, favorite poem notebook, and many more ideas. The book concludes with a section of short biographies of poets, how to have poetry in your home (or classroom), and a glossary of terms.
Each chapter includes a poetry anthology with questions, a list of activities to enhance what is being taught, and vocabulary words.
The teacher's book is exactly like the student book, but includes and introduction to the teacher, explications and answers, plus quizzes for each chapter.
I used this with Caleb (17) and Destini (13) and after perusing the suggested schedule I decided to go with the one year suggested schedule and we worked at completing one chapter every two weeks. I started off with their suggestions, but we just happened to hit our own way of working through each chapter which I think worked well for us.
At the beginning of the chapter we spent 1-3 days reading through the chapter and then we spent the rest of the time reading through the poems and then I would read through the explications included in teacher's manual, answer the question, and then we had a lot of discussion. We did do a few of the activities and referred to the vocabulary words when necessary, but for the most part we mainly discussed the poems.

Our material included a sample DVD from The Art of Poetry DVD set. The kids watched part of one of the lessons, but it didn't really engage them so we just continued on with reading aloud to ourselves. I went back through a watched pieces and parts myself I thing the biggest drawback with the DVDs is the length of the lessons.
Destini reading a poem.

There were times while doing this I just had to laugh, because Destini is truly her mother's child. Every time the book came out her moaning and groaning would start. I think everything she stated about poetry I have said at one time or other in my lifetime, but even in the midst of her sarcasm I could tell she was picking up on the things being taught. Caleb did enjoyed doing this, especially reading the poems aloud and he was quick to apply the chapter's lesson to the poems we read.
The Art of Poetry will be staying around for quite a while in our house. After working through the lessons I've decided we are going to use it more as an poetry appreciation course. (I think that is the Charlotte Mason method coming out in me.) One reason why I really liked about this curriculum is that it made you look at poetry differently. There is so much in this curriculum that your student could go through it several times and learn something new every time.

Will my kids or I every love poetry? Honestly, I don't know, but I do think with this curriculum we can learn to have a better understanding and appreciation of poetry. If poetry is eluding you I want to encourage you to look at The Art of Poetry.
The Art of Poetry is available as a set or in individual books and DVDs.
The Art of Poetry Set - $99.95 (as of April 1)
The Art of Poetry DVD Set - $69.95 (as of April 1)
There is also MP3 files (scroll down to free resources) of the poems being read available for free. There is also a free sample of the DVD lesson available.
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