Sunday, June 01, 2014

Progeny Press Comprehension Guide {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

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Progeny Press gave Schoolhouse Review Crew Members the opportunity to choose up to two literature digital download interactive PDF study guides for children in lower and upper elementary grades, middle school, or high school. I chose The Last of the Mohicans study guide for my ninth grade son to use. It is recommended for students in grades 8-12.


What is Progeny Press?

In 1992 Michael and Rebecca Gilleland founded Progeny Press and began creating in-depth study guides to help children better understand ideas and themes of literature with an emphasis on literary analysis and terminology. Most importantly, they use a Christian approach to teaching the ideas and philosophies contained in the stories. Their goal is to teach well-written literature and to equip children with the ability to think critically and process man's philosophies in light of Scripture.

You can see the Progeny Press mission statement, their statement of faith, and a wonderful 7-minute video explaining how it all began on the "About Us" page on their website.

The Last of the Mohicans Study Guide (E-Guide)

We received the guide in a digital download interactive PDF format which is convenient because you have the option of printing the guide and writing your answers on paper or typing in answers directly on the computer and saving your work as you go. I chose the latter for my son so we could save ink! The Interactive Study Guide will open with Adobe Acrobat Reader 9.0+.

Pre-reading

Before jumping right into the study guide, there are a few things of importance to note:
  • Background information of the study guide author, Lisa Tiffin
  • Table of Contents
  • Note to Instructor explaining how to use the study guide which even includes high school credit information
  • Synopsis of the novel
  • Information about the author, James Fenimore Cooper
  • Background information about the book, setting, and what was going on in the world at the time
  • Pre-reading activity ideas such as map work, reports, timelines, etc.
In order to finish by our scheduled summer break and before I took a pre-planned vacation at the end of May, my son skipped the suggested pre-reading activities and dove right into the book answering the study guide questions as he went along. Now, it is suggested that the child read the book prior to starting the study guide, however, I knew my son would not have time to finish it if we went that route. Usually, it takes anywhere from 8-10 weeks for a student in high school to complete a study guide, but my son only had about half the time to finish.

Vocabulary

The study guide covers three chapters at a time and there are a total of thirty-three chapters in the book. Each section in the guide starts off with vocabulary and covers concepts such as synonyms, definitions, context clues, prefixes and root words, sentence writing, and antonyms. As you can see in the screen shot below, my son typed his answers on the computer. Love this feature!


Questions

Next up are the comprehension questions for the designated chapters. There are usually about six questions in this section, and basically, it's just answering the whos, whats, and hows in the story.


Thinking About the Story

After answering basic comprehension questions, your child will answer more questions that target application. Topics covered in this section might be things like discussing literary terms, comparing and contrasting, analyzing characters, and relating aspects of the story to his own life.


Dig Deeper

Finally, your child will be asked to dig deeper by reading Scripture references and answering questions that apply to the book and/or his own life.


Optional Activities

Sometimes after the "Dig Deeper" section, there are optional activities such as class discussion topics, writing assignments, online research, etc..

Overview

The overview comes after the heart of the study guide which I covered above. This section discusses the dramatic structure (the dividing of the plot), theme, point of view, conflict, tone, etc..  There are questions to be answered here, too.

Essays

This is the final section of the study guide. There are 12 essay ideas from which your child can choose to write a 2-3 page paper.

Answer Key

The answer key comes as a separate file which needs to be downloaded separately from the study guide. Answer key contains 12 pages and follows the exact order of the study guide, so it is easy to use.



Cost

You can purchase the Interactive Study Guide for $21.99 on the website and get immediate access to your downloads. You can also view a sample of the guide before purchasing.

Opinion

Unfortunately because my son didn't like The Last of the Mohicans novel, he wasn't all that enthused about completing the study guide. He said the book was extremely difficult to read, and this is coming from a guy who loves to read and has been reading novels since he was in first grade! When I told my son the other guide I could have picked was The Hunger Games, he looked at me like, why didn't you pick that one instead?! He'd already read that book, though. I figured since he'd never read The Last of the Mohicans and the fact that it is considered a classic was reason enough to pick it. Oh well.

The fact that he disliked the novel doesn't affect the quality of the study guide, though. In fact, a couple of years ago, we reviewed a different Progeny Press study guide, and I wouldn't have chosen to review another one if I hadn't thought it was a quality product! The study guide is thorough, clearly laid out, and easy to follow. I really appreciate the interactive feature, and my favorite section of the guide is the "Dig Deeper" section. Since literature as always been a favorite subject, I think I would have been thrilled to have these around when I was in school.

I asked my son to write what he thought about the study guide, and here is what he had to say:

"The Last of the Mohicans comprehension guide is just ok. There isn't much that makes it special compared to other reading companions. There is the option to fill it out on the computer, but glitches such as not being able to see what you type would make printing it out more convenient. I do like the "Dig Deeper" section which incorporates the Bible into your reading. Most other comprehension guides don't have that.

I have noticed several typos, inconsistencies, and strangley worded questions in the guide that can sometimes make things difficult.

Overall, I would say it is just an average comprehension guide."

There were a couple of times, too, when my son said he remembers saving his work only to find that the next day the work, for some reason, hadn't been saved. While that could definitely be more of a computer issue, it was still frustrating, so I can see why he'd rather have the guide printed off instead.

Before I close, I would like to say that even though this study guide wasn't a favorite with my son, I do like the company and think their products are of high quality. Hopefully, we will use them again in the future. (I only wish they were a little less expensive.) Please read the rest of the Crew reviews as members reviewed several different titles. Click the banner below!

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