Today, we’re talking about how we teach with the Memoria Press literature guides. I’m laying it out step by step for the elementary levels, grades 3-8.
When I was in high school, a million years ago, I read amazing books.
But here’s the problem.
Over the course of the year, I think we read about 10 books. I might remember the titles, but I certainly don’t remember any of the content. And I LOVED to read.
Years later, when I started teaching literature to my children, Memoria Press’s approach to literature was a breath of fresh air.
Once we begin literature in the third grade, we study three or four books a year. We dive deep, and the books become like old friends to our entire family. If you’ve got a voracious reader who wants more, don’t miss the read aloud selections and the American history novels.
The study guides aren’t meant to be independent work — as the teacher, you’re leading your children through these works. A Case for Memoria Press Study Guides is an article you’re going to want to bookmark for reference as you start to plan your school year.
I’ve gotten loads of questions about how we teach literature in a busy homeschool. Today, I’ll break it down for you, step by step.
Getting Ready to Teach Memoria Press Literature
Tackling literature with your children requires teacher prep. Winging it might work part of the time, but you’ll be far more successful with the right tools and attitude.
First, if you’re using the curriculum guides (lesson plans), pull them out and look through the literature teaching tips in the front. Read over the pacing plan for the week and see if it’s something that will work for your family.
MP usually covers two to three chapters a week. If this is overwhelming, feel free to dial it back a bit to fit your family.
Since we’re involved with a cottage school program, we have to stay on the scheduled pace. If you’re in that situation, it might be a good idea to map things out and consider reading a couple of chapters before the school year begins.
If you don’t use the curriculum guides, the teaching tips are also in the front of each literature teacher manual.
How I Teach Memoria Press Literature – Step by Step
Before we start a novel, I begin with my teacher prep. (usually during the summer)
First, I have a copy of the novel for myself. This way I can read aloud during class, make notes of where answers to comprehension questions are located, and under line vocabulary and reading notes. I try to read the first book of the school year during the summer, so I’m ready to dive back in again when school begins.
*Mom Tip* Audiobooks are an amazing way to make time for reading. Most of the MP literature selections are on Audible. Load up your book, pop your earbuds in, and listen while you fold laundry or take the baby for a walk.
I also start marking and tabbing my teacher’s manual. I place a tab at the current lesson. I also place a tab at the test and quizzes appendix in the back, along with tabs with other important information, such as discussion questions, maps, or anything else that’s pertinent.
I take a look at the test and quizzes, then highlight the information in the individual lessons, so that we are sure to cover it. I also print all the tests and quizzes, hole punch them, and put them in a binder for use during the year.
*Mom Tip * If you purchase a literature teacher manual directly from MP, you’ll receive a download of the tests and quizzes in your account. It’s an added bonus, and far easier than trying to copy tests out of the book.
If I’m really on top of my teacher game, I might make review sets in Quizlet, or add questions into Pink Cat Games or Jeopardy Labs. I even recently discovered that I could add in review questions to our Amazon Echo. Hello, game changer for daily reviews!
My boys are used to oral review, but from time to time it’s fun for them to try something different than just listening to me.
Once I’ve read through the teaching tips, I’m ready to get my week lined out.
I look at the lesson plans to see what chapters we’re covering, then I’ll look over the reading notes, vocabulary, and comprehension and discussion questions.
More Tips for teaching a Memoria Press homeschool literature lesson
We start with a quick review of the previous chapter, just to get our head in the game. This also helps me to check how well they comprehended what we’ve read already. This is super simple — “So, tell me what’s been happening.”
Then, I have them open their student guides. I read the reading notes aloud, while they follow along. If something catches my attention, we may discuss it further, but this is mostly just a quick overview.
Next, we dive into vocabulary. Again, this goes pretty quickly. I write the definitions on the board, then the boys pick out the correct term and fill it in. If you’re wanting to assign some independent work, you could allow them to look up the definitions on their own prior to class, using the parent created dictionaries here.
After we’re done with the vocabulary, we move on to reading the chapter together.
We read the chapter together, round robin style, for a variety of reasons.
– By leading the read aloud, I’m modeling good reading with inflection, pace, etc.
– Reading aloud well is a skill that needs to be cultivated. By breaking out the chapter into smaller chunks, this helps my boys to practice in a non-threatening manner.
– By listening to them read aloud, I’m checking their skill. Are they tripping over words? Leaving words out? We may need to build in some extra practice if this is happening.
– Last, I enjoy it. It keeps me connected with them, enjoying stories that I love, as a family.
Once we’re finished with reading the chapter, we go through the comprehension questions together. At this point, their study guides are open, but their pencils are down. (I’ll explain why in just a second.)
I’ll ask one of the boys the question, and they dictate their answer to me. I scribe it on the board, then move on to the next question. If we run into a question that stumps them, we stop and look through the chapter together to find the answer.
**Mom tip: I have my boys wait until I’m done writing down ALL of the answers to the entire chapter, then they’re allowed to copy down their answers from the board. This allows me to move on to another subject with their younger siblings while they are finishing up, and it’s a more effective use of my time.
In the literature guides, you’ll also see discussion questions and enrichment. I’ll be completely honest and admit that while I think these are worthwhile, we often don’t get to these.Occasionally, I will touch on some things mentioned (like the Divine Office in Adam of the Road), but we don’t spend a lot of time with these sections in particular, unless they are covered on tests and quizzes.
Help with Teaching Memoria Press Literature
That’s completely OK. Homeschooling means you have choices and options — not that you have to teach every single subject on your own.
First, seek out folks in your area. You could get together with another family, informally. Many hands make light work and offers accountability. Take a look at the Memoria Press communities map and see if there’s anyone in your vicinity.
You can also consider the Vita Beata discussion groups.
If you’re looking for more help, take a look at the HLS Cottage Schools. There may be a campus close to you.
And, if you have an internet connection, the MPOA (Memoria Press Online Academy) is available all over the world.
What about you? Do you have literature teaching tips to add to my list? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.