Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Memoria Press Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set *REVIEW*

Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
I have such a hard time when it comes to teaching Mr. B literature. I LOVE to read, and I'll read nearly anything I can. He's not that into reading, and can be very picky. He loves information books, as he calls them, but fictional selections aren't his thing. I find it very important to read a wide variety of topics and styles, but teaching it has always been difficult. Memoria Press greatly eased that difficulty with their Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set
The Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set features four books set in the middle ages. Each literature guide comes with the guide as well as a teacher's manual with answers. The guides are broken into chapters or every 2 chapters, and the questions are very thought provoking. They are not simple read and regurgitate style questions. The student guides include reading notes, vocabulary, reading comprehension questions, and extended learning questions and enrichment that promote critical thinking and discussion, as well as additional learning. 


In this set you will find Student Guides and Teacher Manuals for:

1.) Adam of the Road
2.) Robin Hood
3.) A Door in the Wall
4.) King Arthur

Memoria Press has even made it easy to obtain the novels by offering you the option to order the sets complete with the novels needed. 
For this review we received All 4 student guides with their corresponding teacher manuals. 


How we used this:

We chose to read A Door in the Wall, by Marguerite De Angeli, for this review. This is a Newbery Medal winning novel that is geared for children who are roughly 12 years old, making it very suitable for the 6th grade age level. This is a rather short novel at only 128 pages, but the writing style and vocabulary used make it a more difficult read than one would imagine. I would say this is very much on par with a middle 6th grade student, or even a slightly later 6th grade student. Mr. B is considered 5th grade, but his reading level is very high.
This book is about a 10 year old boy, Robin,  during the medieval times who has been hit with an illness that has rendered his legs useless. To escape the plague that is wiping out his village, a monk (Brother Luke) takes in Robin and helps him gain strength of both body and mind, while also learning important new skills. Robin wonders how his parents will feel about him when they realize he will never be the knight he was supposed to become. Robin's skills and strength are put to the test when he is forced to take action to save the castle. 
The student guide begins with chapter one, with 2 pages dedicated to each section.  The majority of the rest of the student book is divided into two-chapter sections. As a result, your student must read carefully or else he or she will need to refer back to the book to find the correct answers. The questions are not simple questions with an obvious answer, but rather they are questions that will require your student to actually read and understand what they are reading.

At first I had Mr. B read a chapter at one time, then do the student pages right after, but this was too much for him to do with 2 chapters per student pages set. So I broke it up a bit more. I would have him read one chapter, and answer the questions he could from that chapter one day, then the next day he could read the next chapter, and so on. A couple of times we did the vocabulary portion on one day, read a chapter and a did a page the next, and then finished on the 3rd. Some chapters took him a couple of days to finish because fiction just isn't his cup of tea. His age and maturity level played a large part in his ability to read several pages at one time. Overall, he has really enjoyed
A Door in the Wall, and brings it up often. 
My Thoughts:

This literature set is well planned, well written, and well executed. The book choices are very interesting and fit will with medieval studies. The reading level is challenging, but not so much that a child in the intended age range would find great difficulty. I would say it is on par age wise, both subject matter and challenge level. Mr. B did very well with it, but his reading level is very advanced. He did stumble over a couple of words, but nothing too drastic. I will say, from a special needs/Autism point of view, some of the open ended and more abstract inference based questions were hard for him. I had to gently lead him to discover the answer through prompting questions. One question, from chapters 4 & 5, asked what Robin did that made the other boys accept him. Because the book did not explicitly say the boys had grown to accept Robin because of X, Y or Z, Mr B had a hard time answering. So I had to find the section in the book, read it to him a few times, and ask questions about it that gently lead to him understanding they were accepting him now. One change I'd like to see in future prints would be the addition of page numbers in the teacher's manual. I often found myself needing to refer to the book and spend a great deal of time reading and searching to find the passage that contained the answer to the question so I could properly explain it to him. Adding page numbers would make that much more efficient. Other than that, I love everything about the program. I love the presentation of the questions, the abstract nature that promotes critical thinking, and the overall subject matter. We can't wait to start the next book! We've not decided yet which one to do, but I know it will be great. I love how all of these guides work together to cover a wide range of literature concepts. 
 
Here is a link to the Robin Hood Sample from their site. This is by far the largest of both the student guides and teacher's manuals. It includes an appendix with maps, and a glossary of vocabulary terms and characters, as well as poetry. This will give you an excellent idea of the structure and style of the guides. The guides for all of the books are similar in style and structure, they just vary in size and concepts that they focus on. They each vary just enough to keep things interesting and to cover a wide range.  For example, King Arthur has more poetry in the appendix, while Adam of the Road doesn't have a separated Appendix (though it is distinguished at the bottom of the page) but it does teach meter and rhyming in poetry, and the glossary is sectioned into chapters which I really like. There are quizzes, midterm exams, and final exams included in each teacher's manual, though some have more quizzes than others. Like the student guides, each includes supplemental text in the appendix, as well as a vocabulary guide. The teacher's manuals are a wonderful resource to have on hand! 

Does Memoria Press Sixth Grade Literature Guide Set Pass My 4 Ingredient Test?

1.) Customization: Is it easily adaptable? Can we customize it to fit “us?” Can we modify or set our own schedule? Can we take breaks, jump ahead, or flat out skip?

YES! Because the guides are independent of one another you can choose which book to read and in what order. You can work at your child's pace with reading, but understand that they will need to remember what they have read to accurately answer the questions. 

2.) Value: Is it long lasting? Will it cover multiple grade ranges? Are you locked in to one specific grade level? Are there hidden fees?

This is long lasting in that it covers 4 books that will take some time to read. If you do a book each 6-8 weeks, then you will cover 1 year. There are no hidden fees, other than the cost of the books. This particular set is for 6th grade, but I could see 7th grade or an advanced 5th grader enjoying this as well. It is challenging enough for an older student I think. If your child is interested in the Middle Ages, this is a great fit. 
 
3.) Attention span: Is it boring? Is it engaging? Is it varied enough for ADHD? Does it last too long?

This is a matter of personal preference. Mr. B likes the book we chose to read for the review. Others may not. In that sense, it may be boring if you don't like the book. The questions are thought provoking. Duration is child dependent. Mr. B usually spent 30-45 minutes reading, and about 15-20 in answering the questions.  

4.) Does it tie into other things we already have.

If you are doing a Medieval Times study, this is PERFECT!

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Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
The Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed a number of products in addition to the Sixth Grade Literature Set. Literature guides for Kindergarten level through 9th grade are all covered in this review. Please click the banner below for more!
Memoria Press Literature Guides Review
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3 comments:

  1. My 7th grade daughter read The Door in The Wall and loved it, while my 5th grader is still reading Robin Hood. I agree that these guides are very customizable.

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  2. Those books look very interesting, especially since we haven't read them yet. I am definitely considering this package for us in the future. Great review!

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  3. Great review! My 6th grader did Door in the Wall for the review period too. She really enjoyed it! I really appreciated the critical thinking aspect of the guides too.

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