Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Memoria Press: Classical Composition I: Fable Set

We have used many Memoria Press products in the past, but I have yet to try their writing and grammar program, Classical Composition. So as you can imagine, I was interested in taking a look at it.

As I've mentioned before, Memoria Press is a family-run publishing company that produces simple and easy to use classical Christian education materials for home and private schools. Memoria Press’ educational philosophy can be best described as classical Christian education.

Something interesting about Classical Composition is that it is based on the original classical method of teaching writing called the “progymnasmata.” This is something completely new to me. Progymnasmata is Greek for "preliminary exercises." These exercises were taught in ancient Greece and Rome to boys so they could learn the art of speech writing. It involved learning fourteen skills, organized from very simple to more complex.

Classical Composition 1: Fable Stage, is the first of the fourteen skills. In the Fable Stage, students begin learning how to use and imitate words, using Aesop's Fables. I received the Classical Composition: Fable Stage Set. 

It's really an interesting process of learning. The Teacher's Guide is very helpful in planning each day. It takes the instructor step-by-step, so there is no questions as to what to do next. 

The process is outlined below - 

1. The Fable - First the fable, which is included, is read aloud to the student. It's helpful to read it a few times, letting the child read it aloud if they can. Then review and discuss new vocabulary, and discuss and write down three plot components, recognition, reversal, and suffering. Lastly the student can narrate back the fable if they are able to. 

2. Variations Part 1 - The Variations help students to paraphrase words and sentences. Two sentences are given and they have to come up with synonyms for different words and then come up with three new sentences. You can see some samples above.

3. Outline - Outlining the fable may seem a little daunting to a child, but the guide provides help and prompts. 

4. Narration - The student retells the story with the help of their outline. They should not be referring back to the original story. 

5. Paraphrase 1 - Here they will use their outline and sentences from Variations Part I to write the story in their own words. Prompts are included to come up with creative sentences. 

6. Paraphrase 2 - During this second paraphrase, the student rewrites the story but with inverting the sequence of events.

7. Variations Part 2 - Two more sentences are given and they must again change the selected words.

8. Final Draft - Using paraphrase 1 or 2, students correct and rewrite the story in their own words.

Did you get all that?  Seems like a lot, and at first was a little confusing, but after reading through it all, I now understand it's purpose. And the best part is that if you get the set, the DVD is included. I highly recommend getting the DVD because it leads the student through the entire process.

You can split this up however you would like. Each step can be done in a day, or two steps can be combined in one.

Levels cover each of the fourteen skills:

Fable (4th) 
Narrative (5th) 
Chreia & Maxim (6th) 
Refutation & Confirmation (7th) 
Common Topic (8th) 
Encomium, Invective & Comparison (9th) 
Characterization (10th) 
Description (11th) 
Thesis & Law (12th)

It's recommended students begin in 4th or 5th grade, but those who start at 6th grade or higher can catch up by completing two courses in one year. 

Find our More: You can find out more about Classical Composition online at Memoria Press. The Classical Composition: Fable Set is $85 and includes the Student Text, Teacher's Guide, and Instructional DVDs. 

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