Monday, April 22, 2013

Progeny Press Study Guide - Treasure Island (TOS Review)

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In the last few weeks Destini has been working on the Progeny Press Treasure Island study guide for review. Progeny Press is a company dedicated to teaching good cultural literature from a Christian perspective. They offer products from kindergarten to high school and their study guides focus on comprehension, critical thinking, literary analysis, and a Christian application.

I received an interactive PDF Treasure Island Study Guide which is recommended for grades 5-8. The download contained the interactive study guide, an answer key, and a 'Read Me' file which explained how the interactive guide worked. With this guide you can print out the study guide or the student can directly enter their answers into the guide along with the teacher's responses and suggestions. After answers are entered the guide can be saved specifically for that individual student, which means you can use the guide again for another student.

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The guide is broken down into several sections. The first was the 'Note to Instructor' which tells how to use the study guide. It also gives a list of items you will need beside the book you are reading such as a good dictionary, a thesaurus, a Bible, and a topical Bible or concordance as needed.
It explains how the guides work. In our guide, Treasure Island, the recommendations were for middle and high schoolers. It suggested that the guide could take from eight to ten weeks to complete. In the first week the student should read through the story and work on several prereading activities that were chosen by the parent or student. Then in the second week the student should start working on the study guide doing one page of the guide a day.
The Overview section which follows the story sections can be used as a final test or just completed in the same way as the chapter sections were completed. In the final section, Essays, there are written assignments included along with postreading activities which the parent and child can pick and choose which ones they would like to do. These are recommended to complement and strengthen their writing skills. Also included in the guide is a synopsis of the story and a short blurb about the book's author.
Researching the kind of money referenced in Treasure Island
Due to a set time frame I allowed Destini to listen to an audio of Treasure Island and we did a few of the prereading activities,one which had her look up about the various types of  coins and their value mentioned in Treasure Island. At first she started using the interactive feature, but it didn't appeal to her and I ended up just printing off the pages for her.
Next she started working through the chapters section. This section had six parts which divided the chapters up. In each part she answered questions on vocabulary, about the story, questions that encouraged thinking about the story, and then the 'Dig Deeper' section where she would answer the questions by looking up scriptures in the Bible. Even though she listened to the book she did need to reference a hard copy of the book for many of the questions.
One thing we found out is that doing literature this way wasn't really our cup of tea. Honestly, it really sucked the life right out of the story and Destini dreaded having to work on the study guide. Since we apply a Charlotte Mason approach in our schooling it felt that by using the study guide as recommended took away from Miss Mason's ideas of reading slowly and letting the child take their own ideas away from the reading rather than the teacher pointing out what she feels the child should be getting from a book.

That being said, now that I have used this guide I can see ways to use it with a Charlotte Mason twist. First off, I would use the guide for myself and then use it a jumping off point for discussion. Secondly, I would not have my child read through the story so quickly, but rather read slowly and use the guide at the appropriate chapters. This would be very doable since the chapter sections are broken down into smaller parts. Thirdly, I would focus more on the essay portion rather than the answering questions about the story sections.

If you have a desire to have someone hold your hand through literature than these study guides would be a great help to you. If you don't need a lot of hand holding with literature, don't rule out these guides, but rather look at using them differently than suggested. There is a lot of great learning tools and guidance included in these guides that would benefit any child's education, yet not take the joy out of a great selection of literature.

Progeny Press Treasure Island Study Guide is available in three formats:
Interactive Study Guide Instant Download - $16.99
CD - $16.99
Printed Booklet - $18.99


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