Progeny Press offers many different study guides at all grade levels; the one I chose to review was the study guide for The Last of the Mohicans.
What It Is:
The Last of the Mohicans, written by James Fenimore Cooper, takes place during the French and Indian War. The story follows two sisters as they journey to find their father using the help of an officer and an Indian runner. They are led into an ambush and are rescued a group of Mohicans, but are then captured by Hurons. The story is captivating and shows courage, treachery, and race relations in early American history.
The study guide, written by Lisa Tiffin, is meant for high school students. Each chapter covers three chapters of the book. Within each chapter are Vocabulary Questions, Comprehension Questions, Thought Questions, and "Dig Deeper" questions, which all encourage the student to examine some of the broader concepts covered in the book.
The Vocabulary Questions are varied in style. In one chapter it might be multiple choice, in another the student reads a sentence and chooses the correct synonym. Some of the words that your student will learn are undulating, malice, scrimmage, and impermeable. Through the vocabulary exercises literature concepts are taught; such as using prefixes and root words, words out of context, and synonyms and antonyms. In one exercise the student is asked to write both the antonym and synonym of a list of words that includes dilapidated and enmity.
The Comprehension Questions are basic questions that are simply asking about the book and the story line. Some of these are "what happened" questions, or asking how someone did something. These are excellent gauges for seeing how well your student read the material.
The Thought Questions are exactly how they sound. In these questions Lisa Tiffin uses literary concepts to both educate and bring out more of the story. For example she describes comic relief as a literary tool, and then asks the student why the actions of one of the characters could be seen as comic relief. Other concepts that are taught are similes, allusion, and figurative language. She also has character analysis questions and compares and contrasts situations and individuals.
The final part of the chapters are the Dig Deeper Questions. These questions are meant to look at the heart of the book and, using scripture, examine the characters and decisions they make. In one section of the book, one of the men chooses to make an impulsive shot and wastes his powder. The Dig Deeper questions have the student look up some Bible verses on patience, and then have them write how a couple of the characters would have been different if they had showed more patience.
What You Get:
For $21.99, this pdf download comes straight to your email inbox. The study guide is 66 pages long and includes background information on the author and notes for the teacher. At the end of the study guide is an Overview; this can either act as a test for your student or be one final review chapter to complete. There are essay ideas listed at the end; these are at the high school level and are excellent ways to include essay writing in literature study. You can see sample pages on their website and get more of an idea of how the guide is put together.
How We Used This and What We Thought:
I decided to use this with both Mr. Lego (11th grade) and Bookworm (9th grade). We did one chapter a week. On the first day they would read the three chapters in the assignment. Then each day they would do one page in the guide. The last day, Friday, they sometimes had two pages to do, since there are 4-5 pages of questions in each chapter.
I opened the pdf and saved one in each of their names on our computer. The guide is interactive, with places to fill in the blanks, letters to choose for multiple choice, and even larger blank spaces for deeper questions.
They spent between 20 minutes to an hour on literature; my daughter chose to read ahead of the assignment (Of course, since she is nicknamed Bookworm!) and would spend each Monday reviewing those chapters.
I really liked how this guide made them think. And I loved how scripture was the focus. In each chapter they had verses to look up, and life situations to examine. There are some hard lessons in The Last of the Mohicans, but they are necessary to consider and study. Through the guide there are deeper studies into race, symbolism, and the spiritual beliefs of the Indians. And what I really appreciated was the Biblical emphasis throughout the study.
If done at one chapter a week, this guide could be done in 10 or 11 weeks and would count towards high school literature and writing, if the essays are utilized. I like being able to spend a good chunk of our school year in one book, really studying it and understanding the story and concepts. After we are finished with The Last of The Mohicans I plan to take a look at Progeny Press's other High School titles.
People on The Crew reviewed other literature guides, including The Hunger Games, The Courage of Sarah Noble, The Door in the Wall, and others. Click below to see what they thought.