What is included in Excellence in Literature?

Excellence in Literature: Levels 1-5Each volume of Excellence in Literature is intended to be used for one school year. The first third of the book introduces the purpose and focus of the curriculum, then provide information that will be useful as students work through the modules. At the heart of each book you will find nine four-week modules that provide an introduction to the classic work being studied, a listing of context resources, and a week-by-week assignment. In the third major section of the book, the student will find reference and record-keeping resources.

Here is an annotated listing of each of the introductory and reference chapters found in each of the books, and a general listing of the information categories found in each module. Each chapter is short and readable—my goal is to provide enough information to set students on the right path, but not so much that they become overwhelmed and zone out.

Introductory Chapters

Introduction: Explains why you need to study literature and introduces the curriculum and my reason for creating it.

Overview and Objectives: Includes a look at what is in Excellence in Literature (in more depth than you will find in this post), suggestions for benefitting from the course, and the learning philosophy behind EIL.

Excellence in Literature Pacing Chart: A handy chart that offers a quick look at what is to be done each of the 36 weeks of the school year.

Getting Started: Advice on how to set up a study area and work with the computer, including formatting papers.

Frequently Asked Questions: Addresses common questions in a simple Q & A format, and includes permission to be flexible and adapt the curriculum to your family’s needs.

How to Read a Book: Instructions for reading analytically, approaching challenging literature, things to consider while reading fiction or poetry, literary definitions of comedy and tragedy, facing challenging ideas, annotating, and questions to consider as you read.

How to Write an Essay: A brief look at the writing process, including mind mapping, thesis statements, topic sentence outlines, and helpful resources.

Discerning Worldview through Literary Periods: An explanation of how literary periods can provide a key to discerning an author’s worldview, along with a brief look at six major literary periods.

Using EIL in a Classroom: Excellence in Literature is increasingly used in co-ops and classrooms, so here are some suggestions to help students learn actively, as well as my thoughts on comprehension questions.

Quick Guide to Excellence in Literature Learning Tools: A one page chart with brief overviews and page numbers for things you may want to refer to more than once.

Modules

Each four-week module contains a lesson plan that supports the study of the Focus Text. Here is a list of items that appear in the individual modules. Of course, these items appear only if they are appropriate to the module. For example, the author of Beowulf is unknown, so there will not be resources for learning about the author’s life. Each segment within the module is short, because my goal is not to spoon-feed information to the student, but to provide direction and a variety of resources so that he or she will begin to think and work like a college student or adult.

Focus and Honors Texts: Title and author of each book or other resource, plus recommended editions or links when available.

Literary Period or Type: Identification of the literary period or type of literature.

Module Focus: A sentence or two describing the focus of the month’s lesson.

Introduction: A paragraph or two introducing the Focus Text for the module.

Something to think about: Something I’d like the student to ponder, often accompanied by a question for further contemplation.

Something to notice: Interesting things that may increase your understanding of the Focus Text.

Context Resources, including:

  • The Author’s Life
  • Historic Context
  • Visual Arts, Music, and Poetry
  • Places to Go
  • Just for Fun

Assignment Schedule: A week-by-week guide with writing assignments. For most modules, you will follow a schedule somewhat like the one below, with appropriately specific directions and instructions for which models to use:

  • Week 1: Begin readings as directed, and write your first short paper, often an Author Profile.
  • Week 2: Continue readings and write the second short paper. In some modules, you have the choice between a creative or an analytical paper.
  • Week 3: Finish readings and draft the essay, using the provided prompt and instructions. Again, some modules will offer a choice between two analytical questions, or between a creative and an analytical paper. Turn in the draft at the end of the week.
  • Week 4: Revise the draft into a final essay based on the evaluation provided with the rubric, as well as comments within the paper.

Reference Material, Record-keeping, and Evaluations

Honors: Additional reading and writing assignments designed to allow the student to earn honors credit and weighted grades, and to possibly take standardized exams such as AP, SAT2,  or CLEP.

Excellence in Literature Assignment Checklist: A one-page checklist for all the assignments, both short and long, during the school year.

Student Evaluation Summary: A two–page summary that provides a year-end summary of the student’s rubric scores for the essay in each module of the year.

Formats and Models

  • Approach Paper
  • Historical Approach Paper
  • Author Profile
  • Literature Summary
  • Literary Analysis
  • Poetry Analysis
  • MLA Format Model

How to Evaluate Writing: A two-page overview for parents on how to use a writer’s handbook and rubric to provide constructive evaluations, and how to evaluate the rough draft and the final draft of the essay.

Evaluation Rubric: A detailed one-page checklist for evaluating the student’s essay on content, style, and mechanics.

Glossary: An extensive list of definitions of literary terms.

Selected Resources: Additional things I think you’ll find helpful.

Janice Campbell

Janice Campbell writes and speaks about homeschooling, using lifestyle of learning approach influenced by Charlotte Mason, classical learning, and the Thomas Jefferson method. Her books and resources, including Excellence in Literature, Transcripts Made Easy, and Get a Jump Start on College, reflect Janice’s focus on twaddle-free, active learning (she did have boys, after all!).

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