> Bless Their Hearts Mom: How to Put Classical BACK Into Education- Classical Composition from Memoria Press!
Tuesday, June 5, 2018

How to Put Classical BACK Into Education- Classical Composition from Memoria Press!

I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.  All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Memoria Press

As you know we have a very varied approach to Miss Grace's education, but the one thing that is consistent, is making sure that she is getting what is now thought of as a Classical Christian Education, where we can! A HUGE part of that has been content from Memoria Press so I was thrilled to be able to check out their Classical Composition I: Fable Set, and add it into Miss grace's writing class!

Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company, that produces simple and easy-to-use classical Christian education materials for home and private schools. It was founded by Cheryl Lowe in 1994, to help promote and transmit the classical heritage of the Christian West, through an emphasis on the liberal arts and the great works of the Western tradition.  You know, that stuff that tends to get left OUT of traditional schools nowadays, sigh! One of my favorite resources while growing up was Aesop's Fables, so when I saw that Memoria Press has expanded their composition writing program into using the fables, I knew that was a class I wanted for Miss Grace!
Classical Composition I: Fable Set

The Memoria Press Classical Composition I: Fable Set includes a Teacher's Guide Book, an instructional DVD, and the Student Workbook, as you can see above.

Jim Selby looked at the classical writing curriculum, that had been used by schools for over 1,500 years, and put it in an easy-to-teach format, that allows you to bring it to your homeschool, in a clear and easy to use structured curriculum, Classical Composition! This way of teaching writing allows the student to not only learn composition, but a better way to communicate their thoughts to their intended audience via different stylistic methods. And one of the simplistic means is as simple as a fable! 
In this first composition stage, students look at a single story (fables), or idea, and begin learning how to use words, to engage the imagination of their audience, by mastering the structures of ideas that go into a narrative. They also learn to create recognition in the reader, by using figures of description, aka words. Check out the sample video lesson over on Vimeo (not allowed to be played here), and then come back, for the rest of our review!
Classical Composition I: Fable student samples

In each video lesson (there are 14), students are told the fable by James, and then address the fable in their workbook. Each fable is included in writing at the beginning of each lesson, allowing kids to keep it in mind. As we are using the program as an introduction for Miss Grace (it is suitable for grades 4-12, but her writing is behind), I was thrilled that the first part of the lesson is to find words she may not recognize the spelling of, and to be able to look up the words. This allowed her to strengthen spelling AND resource skills at the same time.For the most part, she knew the vocabulary part of the word, but looking it up to see what other definitions and synonyms there might be was a huge plus for her.

The Three Plot Comparison of Recognition, Reversal and Suffering, were fun for Miss Grace. We worked a bit on similes and metaphors, so recognition was easy for her. Reversal was something she could also easily understand. The suffering, while not technically 'fun', was easy for her to determine. Once she had completed these three, it was actually quite easy for her to narrate the story back to me, making sure she hit all 3 points. 

She has been working on synonyms daily with her current English grammar program, so that is an area she is confident in, so I was not surprised that she felt the Variations Part I and Part 2 were more of a review, and still easy for her. What she didn't realize was happening, was that she was learning HOW and WHY the writer chose certain words over others, and how they made a better picture in the fable! Don't you love it when learning is sneaky? LOL

miss grace working on Classical Composition I: Fable

Miss Grace is very week on outlining, so I knew that this is where this curriculum would REALLY help strengthen her writing skills. Part of her issues from her ADHD/Dyslexia is keeping things in short term memory long enough to make a cohesive whole. We have tried mapping, but even though she is a visual learner at times, she hated that concept. We have tried traditional methods, and still nothing was clicking. But she just wasn't ready for them. But by seeing how each simple fable was broken down, via the video lesson, she had a better idea of the STRUCTURE of the fable, and outlining started to make more sense to her! YEAH! While she still doesn't like outline a story BEFORE she writes it, she now understands how it can HELP!

The next part of the lessons aim at teaching students to restructure facts to tell the same story or idea, via paraphrasing. For Miss Grace, adding more descriptives and using her words, to retell the fable was enjoyable. James' directions were very helpful, by giving her ideas of where to start, and what things could be added to, in the first couple of lessons. His use of Latin terms also made her stop the video a lot, as she wrote them down in her Latin book of words to look up! Spelling words properly was not so much involved, which was why she did not want me showing any of her re-tells. With her dyslexia, spelling is not so critical for me, as when she is typing, the computer program tells her which words need to be corrected, and she fixes them. But when writing by hand, she doesn't have that same ability and gets embarrassed by the errors. 

But I was rather impressed by how when we reached the 4th lesson, she was really branching her re-tells out, and finding new words and expressions to use! Telling the story backwards, Paraphrase Part II, was not as much fun for her, as she had to go back and look at her outline, and reverse the steps. I was actually quite pleased as to how she is tackling the lessons, and how her narrative stories are greatly improving, as she better understands having an outline idea of what she is going to tell, and then making it more interesting to the reader, versus interesting to herself!

Classical Composition I: Fable teacher guide sample

As a teacher, I love that the Teacher Guide has not only the answers for each section, or suggested ways to finish each section, but also a way to teach WITH the video, with suggestions on where to let video play, and when to stop and go over a concept. By the 3rd lesson, Miss Grace had the hang of the curriculum and her own rhythm of going with the video, then stopping to narrative or paraphrase to me, and then picking back up with the video until time to relay lesson to me again. As she prefers block scheduling, along the lines of college classes, she would work through an entire lesson at one sitting (FYI, the DVD set includes 4 discs, with 5 lessons on each disc), with needed breaks in between. 

You could easily break each lesson up into 2 or 3 days quite easily however. For a normal school year, that would probably be the norm. We did work through 2 or 3 lessons per week, and managed to get through 12 of the 20 lessons at the time of this review. The lessons are not very taxing and I'd say the set is properly best suited for grades 4-6, but also great for older students who need work on their writing skills, and writing structure lessons. James does a great job with the videos, though Miss Grace did say by the 3rd DVD she was tired of the same background, LOL. A minor quibble, from the gen Z generation! but no matter the backdrop, the set does what it says- it teaches students to rethink how a story is structured and the words being used, to lead their readers where they want to take them! 

This set is the first set of a 9 set edition for Classical Writing Composition. Each set goes up a grade level in theory, and involves more writing, but includes classical thoughts and passages, to keep the classical model going. As kids work through the series, their ability to debate or write about different topics and different angles improves, allowing for the true liberal arts education to shine through! I can't recommend this set enough as a SOLID writing curriculum, that kids will ENJOY!

Memoria Press offers other great curriculum as part of their Classical Education system, and my fellow Homeschool Reviewers checked out different ones this past month, like their New American Cursive program (Vol 1-3) and Traditional Logic I Complete Set (and Volume 2), as well as part 2 of this series, Classical Composition II: Narrative Set. Click the picture below and you can see what they thought about the different curriculum!

New American Cursive & Traditional Logic {Memoria Press Reviews}

Be sure to follow Memoria Press on their social media sites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ , for special sales, discounts (like this month's FREE shipping!), bonuses, and even info on their online classes! Their Pinterest page has great ideas for all homeschoolers, and if you want even more info on their different curriculum, be sure to check out all the Q&As on their YouTube page as well!

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