Wednesday, July 14, 2010

curriculum review - Blackbird Poetry Unit

Recently I was asked to do some guest posting for an awesome website I've loved called Curriculum Choice (moms who are educating at home, check out this site - it is a FABULOUS resource!).  The following is an excerpt that will appear soon on their site.  Check it out! 

Blackbird Literature has a poetry unit study that I taught this semester to my 12 year old son, his friend of the same age, and my 10 year old daughter. I thoroughly enjoyed the unit, and at the end, the kids didn’t want to be done. It was perfectly age-appropriate for these kids (who, for what it’s worth, are all reading well above grade level).

From Blackbird’s site description of the unit:

“Reading and writing poetry expands the boundaries of the imagination and intellect. Students who engage in writing poetry will develop confidence in their voice, strengthen their ability to communicate new ideas, and convey observations of their world.”

I love:

The book selection. These selections are both eye-catching and enjoyable to read, both for students and for me as the teacher. In addition, they offer a wide variety of poetry examples combined with words of advice from the poets themselves, without morally objectionable material (important to me as a Christian parent).

I wish:

There were more “hands on” multi-sensory type activities. While the writing exercises are both valuable and applicable, I wish there were more “experiential” activities that incorporated more than “fill-in-the-blank” style response. That said, I did appreciate the opportunity and exhortation to write, write, write. That the advice came from the poets themselves was even better; this approach is not text-book-ish, but draws the student into the heart of the poet who’s just captured their interest through their writing.

Cost: $48 for the set includes the textbook, three poetry books, a set of art cards to use for stimulating creativity, and a student journal. While this is very reasonable for what you get, the curriculum is only written for seven weeks. This would be quite pricey to repeat several times during the school year. That said, the poetry books themselves are books we would keep on our library shelves for repeat pleasure reading. We did not get The Aspiring Poet’s Journal, and on reading the description online, I would purchase it for the next go-round. It is a guided journal designed to help students actively write and practice the ideas and principles addressed in this thorough and enjoyable curriculum.

You can find this and other solid literature studies at

For this full review and other useful reviews for home-educating families, visit