Friday, August 1, 2014

Shakespeare: Comedies and Sonnets (11th-12th) (Hewitt Homeschool TOS Review Crew)

A couple of years ago I had my first taste of Hewitt Homeschooling's Lightning Literature and Composition, when I reviewed their Early 19th Century Literature guide with my daughter, who was then a rising 10th grader. This summer I was pleased to receive a new Literature Guide for review that tackles one of the trickier topics~ Shakespeare. We received the Shakespeare Comedies and Sonnets Student's Guide and Teacher's Guide.

Note: My fellow TOS Review Crew members received a wide variety of curriculum, covering grades 1-12, so please click on the link at the end of my review to access their reviews if you have younger children. I know that I am intrigued by the early elementary options, and plan to check out some of those reviews myself.

Hewitt Homeschooling Resources Lightning Lit and Comp: 
Shakespeare Comedies and Sonnets by Elizabeth Kamath

The Student Guide is a 174 page paperback book intended to help the student "acquire college-level composition skills by responding to great literature."

The first twenty pages are an introduction to the Lightning Lit way, answering questions like "Why Read Literature?" and "Why Learn How to Write?" along with helps on HOW to read Literature and Poetry, Paper Writing 101, and instructions on using the student guide.

The next 18 pages familiarize the student with William Shakespeare by addressing the following topics:

  • Why Read Shakespeare? 
  • Shakespeare's Life
  • Schools of Shakespearean Criticism
  • Introductions to the Plays, Comedy and Sonnets
  • Shakespeare's Language
  • HOW to Read Shakespeare (emphasis mine)
  • How to Approach the Lessons

Because it had been some time since my daughter had used Hewitt, and my Middlest hadn't used Hewitt at all, I used a week for each of these introductory portions, so that they would have a better handle on their study of Shakespeare. This was particularly important for my Middlest, as he is a young rising ninth grader, so this a definitely a stretch for him.

The Study Guide is split into 4 Units with 2 Lessons in each~ the first lesson being a comedy and the second covers 2 sonnets.

  • Unit 1 
    • Twelfth Night
    • Sonnet 27 and Sonnet 28
  • Unit 2 
    • As You Like It
    • Sonnet 130 and Sonnet 136
  • Unit 3 
    • A Midsummer Night's Dream
    • Sonnet 93 and Sonnet 138
  • Unit 4 
    • The Merchant of Venice
    • Sonnet 116 and Sonnet 129
The Comedies include Literary Lessons on Themes, Characters and Language, and occasionally Symbolism. 
The Sonnets include Literary Lessons on Content, Language and Contrast, as well as some Perspectives. NOTE: the Sonnets are included directly in the guide, the plays must be picked up separately.

The Lessons encompass introductions to the specific material, questions to consider while reading, plot summaries, comprehension questions, the afore-mentioned literary lessons, writing exercises, and perspectives.

There are also Appendices with Discussion Questions and Project Suggestions, Additional Reading, Movie and Video Recommendations, and Schedules for either 1 semester or 1 year. 

The Teacher's Guide is a 52 page 3 hole punched set of pages that can be placed in a binder or folder. It includes answers to the Comprehension Questions, a Teaching Schedule, Teaching and Grading Aids, and a copy of the Writing Exercises and Discussion Questions. You can download the Table of Contents, Intro and Grading Tips, and Schedule from the Teacher's Guide purchase page

Because Shakespeare (AKA Elizabethan English) can be more difficult for today's students to follow (particularly with the decline of the use of the KJV Bible, which certainly gave *me* a foundation in understanding the syntax), I went a bit outside of the box, and chose to have my kids watch their first play (Twelfth Night) while following along with their copies of the play, rather than simply reading it first. We attempted a couple of different versions (found on YouTube), before settling on Kenneth Branagh's production (which was not included in the recommendations in the guide). We discovered that there were far too many liberties taken in most of the other versions (swapping scenes, and leaving out dialogue!!! The Horror!!), and Kenneth Branagh's was most true to the script. Here is a sample:

Speaking of Scripts~ we used a regular script, an "authorized graphic novel" and the full script via the computer, available from MIT edu. I used the MIT script, Eldest used the regular paperback script, and Middlest started with the graphic novel, but decided that graphic novels just aren't for him... (hurrah! ;) ).
Scripts used and a page in the Study Guide

After watching/reading, Eldest dug right in and read through the script, following the guide, and answering the comprehension questions. Due to summer-time activities and a Missions Trip, we followed the Full Year Schedule for this unit, and she has not completed her Writing Exercise as of yet, as the rough draft was scheduled to begin this week.

She was the most horrified when we tried watching a couple of other versions and one of her very favorite sections of dialogue was cut! EEK!
It is in this snippet that I took as a screenshot from the MIT page... can you guess the line? This section also contains one of my least favorite lines, but there you have it~ a study in Antithesis...

Middlest is approaching this more as an introduction to Shakespeare, and as such, I am not requiring as much written work from him.

Youngest (7 years old) is receiving an earlier introduction to full Shakespeare plays than either of my two eldest, as he tagged along on the viewing end of things. Although much went over his head, he enjoyed watching, and listening to Twelfth Night, and I expect that this may create a thirst for good literature and stage presentation in him later on (I recall going to "Shakespeare in the Park" when I was close to his age, and have fond memories of such).

I am still very impressed with Hewitt Homeschooling's Lightning Literature Guides, and hope that you will give them a peek. You can download the 1st Lesson (That we used) on Twelfth Night directly from the Student Guide page linked below, so that you can get a good feel for how it is set up.

You can visit Hewitt Homeschooling on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, and at the Hewitt Blog.

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Please click the banner below to visit the TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say about this and other Hewitt Homeschooling resources. As always, I hope that this review was useful to you as you choose where best to spend your homeschool budget.

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