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    Literature in Cottage School

    Hi,
    How do you typically set up literature class in your cottage school or co-op?
    I'd like for our students to do some read aloud during class, maybe have vocab words completed before class.
    Do you have students complete comprehension questions and then go over them in class?

    We will be doing two days a week in our school.

    Thanks for any recommendations!

    #2
    Hey Amanda, great questions. The set-up of our literature classes at the Louisville Cottage school will vary depending on the grade level. Regardless of the grade level, however, it's important that students are spending time reading the novel, poem, or plays aloud to the teacher and their peers. As the students get older, less time will need to be dedicated to reading together and more time for socratic discussion and conversation about the themes of the play is preferable. I teach high school literature one day a week, and I prefer that the students have read the vocabulary before they come to class, and we only do a few of the comprehension questions together so that there is plenty of time for discussion. I hope that helps!

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      #3
      Amanda U
      Shane has already given you a great answer, and I'm going to echo much of what he said. Take from our model whatever, if anything, is helpful to your particular situation and brush off the rest!

      For us, the teacher looks at the 5-day MP lesson plans for the week and judges what is best done in class with a teacher and peers, and then assigns for home what is easily done independently or with a parent (and TM, if necessary). Whether or not your parents have access to the Teacher's Manual will inform what you can ask families to do at home. In the lower grades, for example, the class may get through two "Lessons" of work in one long literature class on Monday. That would include a preview of the reading notes and vocabulary, then reading the chapter aloud, working through the key vocab and comprehension questions, and a few discussion items. Depending on the length of the chapter, they may be able to cover two of those lessons and assign one to be done at home. It is helpful to have the students highlight during class what items are to be completed at home, if any work is to be completed at home. If parents will not have Teacher Manuals at home, then teachers should not assign anything those would be needed for. In that case, pre-reading and memory work (poetry) would be a good at-home assignments. (If you are doing Literature 2x week, you may not need to assign much at all to be completed at home!) For example in Third Grade (I have a third grader), I may need to do one chapter of Mr. Popper at home because the teacher has done 2 in class that week. As a parent I would review the highlighted material from class, then read the chapter together, complete the highlighted vocab/comp questions/quotations/discussion questions and he's ready for the next week at school. When the chapters are shorter, there may be rereading at home in free time. I have the TM and use it for this work at home.

      In older classes, there is more emphasis on Socratic questioning and discussion because that's a great use of class time. Students will likely do more of the Student Guide (Grammar/Logic/Rhetoric/COIdea exercises) at home as preparation for the class time together. When appropriate to the discussion, the teacher may call on students to read from their prepared work in class. In this way, it feels a little more like what we adults think of as college than high school. If you are meeting four or five days a week, you can spread all these types of things out day by day. However, when the student has a reduced amount of access to teachers and peers, a premium has to be put on what activities are best done with this outside help. Reading aloud is even more important if the work is poetry, a play, or is un-familiar (e.g. Gawain). What we do closely mirrors what Shane described. 1 day = max value on time with teacher.

      Do you know how much time will be spent each day in literature? That will greatly influence what you can accomplish. We spent a nearly 2 hour block 1x/week in literature. In that block we include a 15 minute afternoon play break that ends up taking about 20 minutes. That leaves about 1 hr 35 minutes of actual instruction time.

      Will your teachers be working from the 5 day/week MP lesson plans for each literature/poetry class? That's my top recommendation because it keeps everyone on pace and keeps the workload evenly distributed week to week. This makes for teachers who know what pace and quantity of work is expected, and happier partners at home who are doing the weekly work on the three home days. (I can't emphasize this enough--what is sent home in all subjects must be able to be completed with whatever home time students actually have. For your cottage school, that sounds like 3 days only. All teachers should know this and only assign work for 3 days.)

      A final consideration is to look at what else the students are doing on those school days with you. All our literature students are also taking Classical Composition, so we don't overly emphasize the composition exercises in literature. Middle school and high school write essays (grade-appropriate length) in literature and classics on top of composition work. This frees up the literature time to focus on the books and poems themselves, and it doesn't have to do double duty as a writing class. I really love this!

      More than you wanted to know, I'm sure. But that's basically what we do. Like I said--take what helps and leave the rest that doesn't apply.

      Shane S I didn't realize you taught a lit class at Spring Meadows! Which class do you have this year?
      Festina lentē,
      Jessica P

      2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
      12th • AP Latin online, DE Calculus & Physics, HLN
      10th • HLN, Latin online, MPOA
      7th • HLN & Home
      4th • HLN & Home
      Me • Third Form for Adults, MPOA; teaching TFL and co-directing @

      Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

      Comment


        #4
        pickandgrin Super helpful reply!

        I'm teaching ninth grade literature this year, but we're covering the books in the tenth grade MP curriculum. It's been a really great year!

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          #5

          We are planning about 50 min twice a week. I'll be able to increase the time if needed. I'm uncertain since I've not taught a class, although we've used MP Lit guides the last two years at home. I like the routine of the workbooks we've built at home. Although because I've built a routine at home with one student, I feel there is plenty I'm not prepared for with a class.

          We intend to have parents purchase all teaching manuals for ease of instruction for the instructors and parents. I guess I hadn't thought of them not having the teacher manuals at home.
          I like the idea of completing two "days" of instruction in class.

          Do you suggest the students read prior to class even with reading aloud planned for some class time?

          Are there issues with students reading ahead? Do you encourage that? (My son was supposed to read chapter two of Popper and apparently finished the book instead. ha)

          Do you request parents read the books? Maybe over the summer -

          Do you assign enrichment activities for home?

          The students will also have a writing course so I originally planned to have them focus on the literature aspect - maybe more focus on completing good, solid answers in the books as opposed to a full essay as I've seen in some of the enrichment options.

          We plan to have reading aloud and discussing the important points of the chapter. My group will be approximately 5th-ish (some accelerated 4th level; not sure of the appropriate label since the literature selections span a few grades). There will be a higher level class that I believe will be focusing more on discussion.

          This is helpful to our planning. Thank you!

          Comment


            #6
            Amanda U I always require that my students read the chapters before they come to class. I think that's the best practice at any age level. I frequently remind my students that one of the marks of great literature is that the more you read it, the more you can glean from it.

            I wouldn't encourage my students to read ahead because I want them maximally engaged during our class time. If they can't remember the details of how the scenes progressed, then they will struggle to contribute to classroom discussion. I can't say I would necessarily prohibit it either, but if I could tell a student wasn't tracking with our class discussions, then I would be more insistent.

            One of the primary struggles in any educational endeavor is parents who disengage from the process. That's why the mission statement at HLS starts with "In partnership with parents ..." Any way that you can help to make sure parents remain involved and supportive is a good idea. I've never heard of anyone requiring parents to read the literature books over the summer, but it's not a bad idea.

            We have tried to pack our literature guides with as much information as possible so that they are worth the cost. In reality, most of our guides have more than can be done in a year. I recommend that the teacher look over the guide during their Summer class prep and choose some of the enrichment activities that they would like to assign during the year.

            Finally, there is some flexibility in the age appropriateness of our literature selections. A good rule of thumb from 3rd to 8th grade is that if we have assigned a book to a particular grade level, then it can usually also be appropriate one grade below or one grade above the assigned level. So, for example, you could pretty safely use our MP 5th grade literature books with 4th or 6th graders.

            I hope that helps! Also, my primary responsibility here at Memoria Press is to help individuals and communities to start HLS cottage schools. I don't recall connecting with you before, but if it would ever be helpful to talk about these issues you can certainly call me at (502) 855-4824 or shoot me an email at [email protected].

            Comment


              #7
              Yes to all these answers. ☝️
              I think my daughter is doing most, if not all, of the books you are teaching this year. It is such a great set!
              Festina lentē,
              Jessica P

              2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
              12th • AP Latin online, DE Calculus & Physics, HLN
              10th • HLN, Latin online, MPOA
              7th • HLN & Home
              4th • HLN & Home
              Me • Third Form for Adults, MPOA; teaching TFL and co-directing @

              Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

              Comment

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