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Implications of Literature, Pioneer Level: Readings in the American Experience Review by Donna Campos

TextWord Press, Inc.
222 44th Street
Brooklyn, NY 11232
718-765-8940
http://www.textword.com/

The Pioneer Level of the Implications of Literature series is ideal for use as an eleventh-grade literature and language arts curriculum. It is designed to help students read carefully for deeper meaning, answer literary critique questions, relate literary experiences to life through a reader-response journal, build vocabulary skills, prepare for national proficiency examinations, and understand the overall history of the United States. Available materials include a hardcover student textbook, a hardcover Teacher's Edition, and a Test Bank CD-rom.

The 888-page textbook contains 8 units and more than 65 literary pieces, including poetry, short stories, narratives, novel excerpts, and more. This anthology is exclusively American literature, and it addresses many historical and ethical issues through a careful selection of literary works. It includes works by Henry James, Mark Twain, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, Arthur Miller, Robert Frost, and more. Units 1 through 7 cover the literature aspect of the course, while Unit 8 focuses on language arts (Reading Comprehension and Writing Skills, Vocabulary Enrichment, Grammar Usage and Mechanics, etc.). Accompanying each literature piece is a "Before You Read" page that supplies information about the author and about that particular selection. Within the selection itself are historical definitions, comments on the timeframe of the work, and other bits of helpful information. At the end of each work are instructions for Literary Critique, Writing Workshop, Journal Workshop, and a Language Arts Workshop. The Teacher's Edition offers help and explanation for every exercise and a vocabulary bank of exercises at the back of the book. The end of each unit includes a larger writing assignment (including evaluation and revision) pertaining to that particular unit. A chart of "Symbols for Revising and Proofreading" can be found on page 742; it was extremely helpful for our homeschool.

The Teacher's Edition includes the entire Student Edition in a page-by-page, inset format. The page layout is easy to use, with notes, questions, and pertinent information conveniently located in the margins next to the reduced textbook pages. The CheckQuizzes with answers are listed in the margins. These can also be printed from the Test Bank, but we found it ideal to discuss the questions together as we worked through the selections. Notes are also included on the bottom of the pages, stressing points of interest and potential discussion topics. The "Helpful Definitions" are a tremendous blessing, as they are found at the bottom of the pages where the words are used. The Teacher's Edition also includes a thorough explanation of the Reader-Response Journals that will be kept by students as they read through the materials.

The Test Bank CD-rom includes an audio discussion of the purpose of the disc as well as quizzes, tests, and answers for the quizzes and tests. Testing is provided in four formats: CheckQuiz, Literary Critique, Reading Comprehension, and Vocabulary Review. There are additional comprehensive exams for novels and/or major dramatic works. We were thrilled to find that the answers for each quiz/test were reduced to fit on one printable page. This allowed us to print off the answers in fewer pages, saving paper and ink usage. The CD-ROM also includes extensive listings of the topics and literary terms covered in the other levels of the series. This will allow you to determine whether an additional anthology from this series would be well suited for your homeschool.

It is impossible for our family to discuss "The American Experience" without including the grand role of God Himself in the design and building of our nation. The textbook does not deny the influence of Christianity on our nation, but it doesn't overtly embrace it either. Though this is not surprising for a secular textbook, we still missed the straightforward presentation of Christian truth.

This is a thorough and remarkably well done literature/language arts course. Having the historical backgrounds intertwined with the literary works offers a more thorough understanding of America on the whole. We thoroughly enjoyed the family discussions shared throughout this study and found those to be especially key in exploring the social and moral issues that were referenced. We recommend this course for homeschoolers who appreciate a good textbook and desire an excellent anthology of works that represent the American experience.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April 2008

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