Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grammar of Poetry Review

"Poetry is important because words are important."

Roman Roads Media just might be my favorite new curriculum supplier. I have several reasons, but one of the main ones is that they took one of my favorite curriculum's, re-packaged it, included DVD's and put it back on the market, all bright and shiny:

by Matt Whitling

Why bother with poetry? Poetry is about the art of creative writing. There is no more effective way of teaching beautiful writing than to teach poetry, memorize poetry and perform poetry. I have a profound love and appreciate of poetry because I have a profound love and appreciation for the power and beauty of words. The Grammar of Poetry teaches students of all ages (5th grade through adult) how listen to, write and read poetry.

The Grammar of Poetry is one of the first curriculum reviews I did- way back in 2009- and it continues to be one of my most read blog posts. I've taught this program to groups twice- first, as a semester long-course to a group of 5th-9th graders and then as part of a High School Creative Writing Course for 9th to 12th graders. It is a brilliant introduction to the foundations (grammar) of Poetry; thoroughly covering the two parts of poetry; pictures (tropes) and music (rhyme) and including imitation (the students write poetry throughout the course). It is simple but not simplistic. It guides your students through the seemingly complex maze of iambic, trochaic, anapestic and  dactylic forms with ease.

The Program consists of 9 modules, Each module includes a lesson on trope (pictures) and meter (music) - which are the key ingredients of poetry- as well as imitation. The DVD's include Matt Whitling (the author) teaching the course module by module. There is a terrific chalk-talk introduction to the program, an apologetic for the importance of teaching poetry as well as a  Matt Whitling speaking about attitude in classes and why poetry is important for both boys and girls to learn.

I would love to teach this program again. Unfortunately, time is at a premium. Guess what? My younger kids will still be learning this great information, because they will be watching the DVD's and learning from one of the best, Matt Whitiling. I was asked by a GG reader if I thought that the DVD's were a "nice to have" or  a "must have." I'm of the belief that the younger the kid, the better served they are by real, live, teachers. I also think that when you can get a hold of a master teacher in an areas that isn't one of your best areas, CD's and DVD's bring world class leaders home. So, really, weigh your confidence and skill level, the age of your students and decide. The book includes all that you need to teach this course masterfully. If you want the support of Mr. Whitling by your side, or can't eek out any more time, let him teach for you.

You can teach this course a number of different ways: as a "bootcamp" -over the course of a month, teaching a module/3 lessons a day. As a semester long course- doing approximately 3 modules or 10 lessons a month or as a year long class doing 1 module or 3 lessons a month. I always incorporate poetry memorization into this class (there are poems throughout, as well as a terrific poetry anthology in Appendix A) because I want the kids to really own the beautiful words of some master poets. For that reason, I think a semester is ideal for teaching the Grammar of Poetry. I always had one hour to teach this class in and that was enough time for recitation, the prior weeks riddles (included in every lesson, the lesson, practice and any questions.

 My 11 and 14 year old will continue this class over the spring and into summer. They are both proficient writers, love all things Roman Roads Media and enjoy the presentation style of Mr. Whitiling. Additionally, I know that my kids are in capable hands, leaving me free to do the plethora of tasks demanding my attention. While not a flamboyant teacher, Mr. Whitiling is neither dry nor boring. He is engaging, sure of himself and clearly loves the material and teaching. You really can't go wrong with the DVD set. It is professional quality with excellent graphics, a world class teacher and course material that every well-education student should have.

This is the perfect class for 6th graders through high school, an excellent addition to any high school literature program or as an elective credit. In 23 years of homeschooling, I count the The Grammar of Poetry as a Home school Must Have, regardless of your pedagogy, kids abilities or appreciation of poetry.

You can purchase the program directly from Roman Roads Media, as individual components of a curriculum (Student manual, Teacher Manual, DVD's) or as a bundle for $100. Be sure to check out the web-page for lots of great info and freebies. You can also "Like" their FB page here.  This is a company to keep your eye on if you appreciate quality, classical materials.
Stay tuned for my up-coming review of The Greeks by Roman Roads Media.

I was given a complimentary copy of the new The Grammar of Poetry, complete with DVD's in exchange for my honest review. Honestly, I loved the program before and I love it even more now.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Could you tell me what changes were made to this new edition? Thank you!