I have a lifelong love of poetry. My kids…. not so much. Sure, we love to play with rhyme and alliteration, and Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutzsky have been staples in our home since they could hold themselves up in a high chair. But Poetry with a capital “P” is another story.
I had the privilege of examining for review a new text from Classical Academic Press – The Art of Poetry by Christine Perrin. This is a beautiful anthology of classic poems that are accompanied by discussion questions, activities, and even DVD lessons with “class” dialogue!
The curriculum is designed to cover an in-depth study of the form through The Elements of Poetry, then The History of Poetry. Each chapter opens with a brief lesson on the topic (metaphor, tone, etc.), then offers a sample close reading of a poem, followed by a number of selections with discussion questions to really open up the student’s mind. Readers will definitely start thinking about poetry as more than just a surface reading, learning to observe the author’s artistic use of words and spacing, and making connections to their own experiences.
Multiple activities invite the student to try their hand at writing their own poems, and making use of the vocabulary lists included within the units.
If you aren’t well-versed in poetry yourself, have no fear! The Art of Poetry Teacher’s Edition is here to help! Mirroring the student text, it supplies all the answers to the discussion questions, and even breaks down the poems visually so you can share it step-by-step with your class. If you have always secretly wanted to delve into the world of poems, the “Explications and Answers” at the end of each chapter will have you talking like a professor in no time!
A word of note, however. This is a CLASSICAL program, and as such, is heavily structured in the Classical Method (think Socrates). If you are already utilizing this teaching method, you will absolutely love this study. If you are not familiar with it, you may find it a bit deep and repetitive from other programs. Also, there are few contemporary authors included in the selections, so if you want to share modern poems with your kids, you’ll have to dig out your own copy of Billy Collins.
For the tech-savvy, Classical Academic Press offers some nifty online features to expand the curriculum. You can check out a sample chapter for free, or take a gander at the teacher’s edition sample. If you aren’t in love with the sound of your own voice, or have a self-directed student, the downloadable Audio Files are a real bonus! You can listen to these mp3 files on your computer, or put them on an iPod or other player to take with you in the car or for an outside lesson (what could be better than reading Walt Whitman by a peaceful pond?). Students will also love connecting with the author at her Art of Poetry blog.
The DVD lessons are very informative, and I love that actual students are contributing to the discussion. It is a great model for small group discussions. However, they do seem rather long, and the monotonous tone may be a deterrent to some. The relaxed voices and pace could easily become boring for those with a short attention span. My daughter, who is upper middle grade level, much preferred to have me lead the discussions from the book, than watch the video lessons.
I’m sure you’ll want to devote 2 to 3 days a week to each chapter, and possibly every day for younger learners. While the program is ideal for high school levels (and some of this I didn’t even see until college), I believe it would be challenging for middle grades unless broken down into smaller segments.
Just a few of the highlights in The Art of Poetry:
- Teach the reading of poetry carefully and slowly
- Introduce students to the elements of poetry
- Offers multiple opportunities to demonstrate knowledge
- Includes biographies of the poets
- Guidance by a gifted poet and teacher
- Student Text – $24.95 each
- Teacher’s Edition – $29.95 each
- DVD Set – $89.95 ($69.95 after April 1st)
- Art of Poetry Bundle (includes Student Text, Teacher’s Edition, and DVD Set) – $124.95 ($99.95 after April 1st)
The Art of Poetry is truly a quality program that offers in-depth study on a high educational level. As noted in the Introduction,
There has never been a civilization without poetry. From the beginning of time, people have sought to turn their thoughts, feelings, and stories into memo
rable speech to share with others. Using language, the poet preserves something precious in the world by allowing us to live next to her, to see what she sees, to enter the experience she has built for us with her words and attention to the moment. Poetry acknowledges something deep within our nature – an urge to name, say, sing, grieve, praise, out of our solitariness, to another person. It makes words into a material thing, hard and solid as a table, dense with significance.
Classical Academic Press provides a curriculum that lives up to this feeling, and opens a world of words for a new generation.
You can read more experiences right HERE, at SchoolhouseReviewCrew.com, and in the words of Reading Rainbow’s Levar Burton, “Don’t just take my word for it!” Read these other great reviews by parent educators like me!
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with
the FTC Regulations.