My middle daughter really enjoys poetry. Finding her often reading or writing poetry, this review seemed a natural extension of her interest. Memoria Press has sent us the study set for Poetry Book Three: The Romantic to the Victorian Age Set.
Miss L has been working with this set, which included the poetry anthology, the Student Book, and the Teacher’s Guide. In addition, we have needed a notebook for which we are using a simple composition notebook. Each of these pieces are indeed necessary for the study as designed by David M. Wright.
The poetry anthology is The British Tradition: Book Three – The Romantic to the Victorian Age (1785-1901 A.D.). It is a comfortable softback book that is about 9×7 inches. It is broken up into two sections – the Romantic Era and the Victorian Era. Each section begins with an introduction to the era and its poets. The Romantic Era covers eight poets, including Robert Burns, John Keats, Thomas Grey, William Wordsworth to name a few. Many of the poems are well recognized, such as Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Ode on a Grecian Urn. The Victorian Era includes poets such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, and Emily Bronte. The poetry includes well known selections such The Charge of the Light Brigade, Sonnet 43 (by Elizabeth Barrett Browning), and The Land of Counterpane. The anthology is solely a book of poetry, plus the introductions. It is beautiful with black and white illustrations on almost every page. This book alone would be a lovely poetry book to add to any collection.
The anthology works in conjunction with the student book Poetry Book Three: The Romantic to the Victorian Age Student Guide, Second Edition. This book is not consumable and guides the student through each poem with questions, discussions, vocabulary, and background information. The poems mostly follow the same pattern of four stages – Pre-Grammar/Preparation, Grammar/Presentation, Logic/Dialectic, and Rhetoric/Expression.
- In the Pre-Grammar/Preparation stage, one or two questions are given draw out prior knowledge and help them understand the poem.
- The Grammar/Presentation stage presents Reading Notes and Words to be Defined. The Reading Notes generally has words that are a bit different that our common usage or facts and background that will help the student understand the poem. The Words to be Defined section is just that – words and their definitions. There are also Comprehension Questions in this section that include things like rhyme scheme, meter, the use of imagery, and other ideas.
- The Logic/Dialectic stage Socratic Discussion Questions to force the student to dig deep into their abilities to think and reason, struggling with abstract thoughts.
- The Rhetoric/Expression stage has the student summarizing the poem and focusing on the Central One Idea.
Not every stage was included in every poem. Especially with some of the shorter poems, the Logic and Rhetoric stages were not included.
Lastly in the Student Book, at the back, you will find a master list of the Words to be Defined, information on how to memorize a poem, and a rhetoric essay template.
The Student Book works hand in hand with the Teacher’s Guide. The Teacher’s Guide has the same questions and information as the Student Book. Each page has an exact copy of the Student Book with a border of the answers to each of the questions or discussion points. The back of the book also includes reproducible tests for each poet along with an answer key. The Teacher’s Guide is very handy and I would not recommend trying this program without it.
How We Used This
We have been using the program every day. Each day, Miss L works on one or two parts of the Student Book with the current poem.
On the first day of a poem, Miss L would work through the Pre-Grammar stage, writing the answers to the guiding questions in her notebook. She would then read through the Reading Notes. Next, she wrote the Words to be Defined in her notebook along with the definitions of each. She then read the poem.
On the second day, she would read the poem again and then write the answers to the Comprehension Questions in her notebook. She almost always needed some help here because there is no instruction in the book for meter or rhyme. We had to look up an online resource to help us figure out what the meters are or what the answers in the Teacher’s Guide meant for the meter.
The third day, Miss L and I would tackle the Socratic Discussion Questions. She had her Student Book and I had the Teacher’s Guide. We only had one copy of the poem, though, so it kept getting passed back and forth as we discussed ideas and words directly from the poem.
The fourth day, Miss L and I would sit together and work on the Rhetoric stage. She would write her summary in her notebook and I would give her the rest of the information. We found the Central One Idea very difficult and unclear. So, I generally just fed her the information and she would copy it down into her notebook.
As I stated, not every poem has all of the stages so sometimes, she would only spend two days on a poem.
Thoughts On The Program
The program is labeled as grade 8+. I have an advanced 7th grader working through the program and she has needed a good bit of help. She loves poetry but this program has challenged her. A lot. I definitely consider this a high school level program.
I would like to see more instructional information included. As I stated earlier, we needed to find some additional resources to help us do the basics with the program. I had no idea what “trochaic tetrameter with catalexis, with a few lines in iambic tetrameter” meant. The word scancion was unfamiliar to me but was used in almost every lesson. (It means the rhythm of a line of verse, in case you don’t know either.) The description for the program did not indicate that the poetry series needs to be completed in order; in fact, the descriptions for all of the books in the series are extremely similar. However, these things have me questioning whether that is indeed true, as this is called Book Three.
Overall, I think this is a fabulous program when adapted for your student and her needs. We did adapt some of this, not requiring some of the writing and eliminating the Central One Idea by the time the review period had come to a conclusion. I believe we have both learned a lot about formal poetry.
We are going to further adapt this as we continue on with it. Miss L has chosen to continue with this program but our modifications will fit her a bit more personally. She will now focus on each poem for two days. The first two days of what I described above will be the study for each poem. We are dropping the Logic and Rhetoric stages for now. Perhaps we will revisit those when she is in 10th or 11th grade. For now, we are going to focus on the poems, their language, and their imagery. Miss L will really enjoy that.
We are also looking forward to studying Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning, as we will take a trip to the Browning Library here in town during those poet studies.
Want even more Memoria Press? You could also read our previous review of First Form Latin from Memoria Press or one on their Traditional Logic program. We have also used their 6th grade Literature Set and their Greek Myths program.
Lori, At Home.
Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about other families using products from Memoria Press. In addition to different poetry sets, families have been reviewing phonics and Latin program. Click the banner below to head over to the Crew blog.