Sunday, October 20, 2013

Weekly Resource - Progymnasmata Programs

Recently I was reminded to be careful if I recommend resources I have not used.  If I haven't tried it - what can I really say about it.  This was wise advice.  My interest in pulling these resources together is to put my natural hunter/gatherer nature to good use.  I hope that what I do naturally can help assist mom's and others who don't have time or desire to search for different options. A listing here doesn't mean I've used it - it basically means that it fits in line with the direction of our homsechool.  Many of them are resources I will consider using in the future. It is meant to be a place for resources not necessarily recommendations.  Once you find a resource here it might be wise to check elsewhere to see what others say about it in use.

Now on to this week's resources - items that teach the progymnasmata or at least imitation in writing.   The progymnasmata is a series of exercises that use imitation to teach different genres of writing.  It is an ancient approach to teaching and there are a few modern day programs that follow this approach.  Here are a few of them:

Writing Tales - This program is an easy introduction to writing for late elementary students and just covers the Fable and Narrative stage (the first two of a 13 stage process).   It is intended to be a full program that incorporates vocabulary, composition, grammar and spelling.   Each lesson takes about two weeks (scope and sequence).  She includes notes on how to use this program in a coop setting as well. On her website she has full lessons for you to review.  This is a stand alone program.

Memoria Press's program Classical Composition -  This program,when it is complete, will carry students through all of the stages.  Currently the first three are completed and intended to be used starting in fourth grade.  There is a teacher's manual, a student's workbook and the first stage also has a DVD companion. This program uses MANY technical terms in teaching students writing and focuses on these terms more than grammar.   Just looking at the samples I learned new words!   They also have online classes supporting the first two stages - Fable and Narrative.  I expect this will expand as well.  This is part of their larger curriculum.

Classical Writing -  This is a full language arts program that provides a Primer before your student is ready for the progym in late elementary.  They also begin with Aesop (fables) and include some lessons in phonics in addition to composition and grammar instruction.  There are teacher and instructor's guides which cover 36 weeks.  Unlike other models they have completed work texts into the high school years.   The older levels do provide a full literature program as well as a composition program.  To help in implementing the program they have webinars and support groups.

Classical Academic Press -  Earlier this year they released the first stages of their Writing and Rhetoric program.  The first two levels cover the late elementary grades.  They intend to have 12 levels that will be completed by 9th grade (some of the areas are semester long courses).  They provide a student work text, teacher manual and MP3s that have the work read aloud for the student.   Their sample gives a great overview of the progym and how it compares to most modern approaches to writing.   They have three lessons for you to preview and there is more of a focus on understanding the moral of the fable and word choice with less of a focus on teaching grammar in their approach.

Imitation in Writing - This is a series of books that uses imitation to teach composition but does not engage the full progymnasmata.  It covers fables, fairy tales, Greek myths, Greek Heroes and Medieval Legends.  So, in terms of the progym it covers fable and narrative but doesn't go beyond those two introductory levels. From the samples it seems very formulaic in its approach and similar to IEW in using the same structure to really engrain outlining, story arc, etc. for children.  Although not a full progym program it does use imitation and literature as its basis.

In the early stages of the Progym I don't believe it is necessary to have a curriculum.  A few of my favorite bloggers have discussed how they have approached this in their own home.

Afterthoughts has a series of posts that discuss how she incorporates some of the ideas with a Charlotte Mason approach to writing.   She has used Jim Selby's curriculum which has now been adapted by Memoria Press to get her familiar with the ideas.

Simply Convivial has actually put together a small coop class for her late elementary school children and blogs about their schedule and approach.

Of course, there are google books out there that have this type of approach to them.  Here are two that I have found:

Elementary English Composition (1905)- A great example of an older book that uses a similar model.  Each section has something to memorize for the lesson, a selection to read, exercises in grammar, vocabulary and composition (including teaching outlining).   The updates in the 1905 version are worth reading and considering.  He explains how imitation served writers of the past well - with quotes from those writers about how they imitated others or engaged in thinking that lead to composition.  It also more clearly follows the progym model (although not completely faithfully).  The earlier version does use different memory and examples and includes things like letter writing.  So, it might be worth reviewing both.

Composition from Models - Intended for high school use.  This book provides models in a variety of writing genres (not necessarily in keeping with the progym order).  The models are excerpts from authors you would recognize.  The assignments are general because there is an expectation that the teacher knows what he means by expansion, paraphrase etc.  However, if you want to look at different examples of writing this would be a great place to start and work on models.

If you are interested in learning more about the progym these are the resources I recommend looking into.

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