I have used several Progeny Press study guides for literature through the years, and we have always enjoyed using them. The comprehension questions and story analysis are good either for individual work or discussion, and the vocabulary exercises, literary analysis, and essay and research ideas are ideal for rounding book studies into complete language arts units. This semester, Emily is using a guide with a somewhat different format: Introduction to Poetry. Progeny Press
Introduction to Poetry: Forms and Elements Study Guide, by Judy Cook, uses three inexpensive poetry books: 100 Best-Loved Poems, 101 Great American Poems, and Great Short Poems, (Dover Publishing), as the texts for a fairly comprehensive course of poetry study. Because this guide is divided into several units, with individual lessons covering one or several poems, the course does not need to be done all at once, but may be completed as individual parts.
Introduction to Poetry begins with a timeline depicting the types of poetry through the years, from the Greek and Roman epics through modern poetry. Then the three main types of poetry are introduced: epic, lyric, and dramatic. Each lesson teaches a feature of poetry and has the student read and analyze one or more poems and answer questions about that feature as it relates to a particular poem.
The first part of the guide covers the elements of poetry (word choice, rhyme, meter, sounds, imagery, etc.) Part two covers the form of poetry, teaching about the sonnet, haiku, the villanelle, blank verse, ballad, free verse, etc.
Some lessons were very analytical, requiring the students to count meter or identify the rhyme scheme; other lessons required more thought about the meaning or intent of the poems. I thought that there was a nice variety of topics. Each lesson was a bit different from the last.
For example, the lesson on “words” gives the student a list of words and asks him to name a synonym with a positive connotation and one with a negative connotation for each. Then the student reads the poems, “Richard Cory” and “Still Here,” defines terms as they are used in the context of the poems and discusses her perceptions about the characters from the word choices made by the poet. Finally, the student reads a Bible passage and compares the message with that in the two poems.
The lesson on meaning asks the student to read five different poems, mark the stressed and unstressed syllables in each, count the feet, and identify the meter (iambic, trochaic, dactylic, and anapestic) for each. Then she reads “The Destruction of Sennacharib,” by Lord Byron, finds the meter, and compares the poem to the Biblical account of the same story.
Emily would have preferred completing all the lessons independently, and the format of the study makes it easy to do that. We did some lessons orally together, though. That required us to read the poems out loud (as they are intended) and to discuss the poems. I find that Emily learns more from discussion than from just writing down a quick answer on her own.
The original Progeny Press guides we used were printed. The more recent guides have been interactive PDF’s that allow Emily to type her answers directly into the guide. She then saves it into Dropbox on her computer, which allows me to view her lessons on my own computer. So easy! We really love these interactive PDF’s!
We have almost completed the first unit of the book, Elements of Poetry. We will then take a break to do a book study and return to Introduction to Poetry next month to complete the final unit. We found Introduction to Poetry to be a worthwhile study, one that will enrich Emily’s reading and studying of poetry in the future.