Help! How can I help my rhetoric level student (girl 9th grade) get the most out of lit disc? It seems like she doesn't make the connections between the reading assign. and the lit assign and then the lit disc. I ask the questions and she says, "I don't know." Frankly, I don't either. I don't have a lot of time to put into preparation for the disc nor to read the suggested material. I teach four kids as an overseas missionary with the additional purpose of learning language and culture. I really like TOG and its working in all the other areas except literature discussions. I feel like I'm missing something and I don't know how to help my child make the connections necesssary for a good lit. disc. Please help me. (I went to the virtual conference booth, but it costs additional funds to purchase a video to demonstrate this. I don't think I should have to spend additional money to learn how to use this curriculum. Since we are overseas, it is troublesome to order a DVD and have it mailed as well.) I would love some practical suggestions as to how to run a successful lit disc and help my child make the connections she needs to be able to answer the lit disc questions. Thanks so much!:-)
First, let me ask some questions: since you are in year three is this a child who went up to Rhetoric after doing Dialectic in the previous years or is she a young student (say ninth grade) or has she had little experience with big works of literature?
I ask because the Year 3 lit works are pretty big and I can see how a student who is young or inexperienced at this level might be struggling.
The other thing to consider is what kinds of works are causing the struggle. Is it all the works? Just poetry? Novels? I've always found poetry in this time period extraordinarily difficult to extract meaning from. Another person might have difficulty with big ensemble novels which also are very present in this year's readings.
Finally, how is she doing with the history portions? If she is doing better there, do you consider her a child more oriented at fact than fiction?
You'll need to plan to spend extra time in the discussions to guide her. Especially if she is new to this level of literature analysis. You should plan that she'll need to go with you and reread passages during the discussion and then you two can discuss with at first at least you giving her the answers and then having her process it and repeat it to you to make sure she is taking it in.
It was difficult for me with my oldest to accept that when we first began to use Tapestry he wasn't always getting everything out of whatever we were discussing. But I tried to keep in mind that he had never done this level of thinking and analysis before so he really didn't know what to look for as he read.
Depending on her age, you might want to blend in so D level literature from this year and you may wish to not substitute directly, but shift things around to include some easier and yet more mature works while cutting whatever it is that is causing her problems.
It may also be helpful to go back now and reread the introductory materials on teaching literature to the Rhetoric level student now that you are immersed in it. I'm betting that some of the material and things that were said went by you if you read it before you started. New things will jump out at you as you read it again.
Thank you for your response Pat! I really appreciate your practical and straight forward info.
My daughter is 14 and we just started TOG in this, her 9th grade year. She jumped in at the Rhetoric level so we are brand new to all of it. And I agree it is a tough level to start at!
I really identified with you when you said it was hard to accept that your oldest wasn't always getting it. I feel the same way.
I'll have to think and also watch my daughter to see if it is just the poetry or just the different way to think about things that is causing the struggle. I think she does better in the history part-that seems more concrete like you said. Come to think of it, we had a better time with the bigger novels, but the weeks when we just studied shorter works/poetry was when it seemed like pulling teeth. I'll keep an eye out for this.
I had already started rereading the intro materials figuring that could help. Like you said, the first time there was so much info and it was all so new, now that we've done TOG a while, the intro info makes a lot more sense.
I am excited to spend more time in the next Lit discussion in order to go through the material together and with a fresh perspective on how it all works together. I see that I can just open up the books and look together for the answers with her and guide her more.
Thanks so much for your response. I was so frustrated before, but your forum post was so encouraging! I really appreciate your help.
Blessings back to you!
Dawn (Thai O's)
Your daughter is also young for this material so be patient. My oldest is also 14 but because he has a late September birthday he is labeled as eight grade and is still doing D level work.
We started D level with year one and the discussions were sometimes puzzling because they didn't match up neatly with the prep questions. It took time for both of us to let go and see the prep questions as prep.
Anyway, I can't imagine him reading Crime and Punishment! (He's a strong reader and read several large Dumas novels BUT the themes in them were much less mature and dark). So if your daughter has tackled that and survived, be impressed with her.
For what it is worth all the novels next year are much shorter. A couple early on are odd (think Metamorphosis) and dark is a theme as well (think All Quiet). So be prepared. And as I recall early 20th century poetry can be impenetrable (I don't think anyone really knows what The Wasteland is about). But later in the year when the Science Fiction novels start to appear you'll find it easier going. I really like The Chosen as well.
I couldn't agree more with Pat, but I also want to give a quick reassurance about the teacher training seminars and DVD's that are sold separately from TOG. We have recently begun to invest in making these because we find that they are one way to continue with our goal of providing training for, and refreshing the vision of, TOG teaching. I'm glad we have them! But the seminars and DVD's are truly extra, as many ladies who have been doing TOG for years without them can testify. :-)
For everybody, but especially for those like yourself who might find it difficult to get the seminars and DVD's, written explanations are in the curriculum (see for instance the "Teaching Rhetoric Literature" document on your Loom). Thus, you should never feel constrained to get the extras in order to make connections for your daughter. I hope this is reassuring! :-)
Honestly, I think that this forum and tips like Pat's are exactly the kind of help you need, which you wouldn't necessarily get from the seminars and DVD's because they are more general. Thanks for sharing from your experience, Pat! And Dawn, please also feel free to call TOG headquarters if you have more questions about how to teach the materials---we'd love to try to answer them!
Director of Rhetoric Literature