Tuesday, September 11, 2018

{Review} Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric

Words. My eleventh grade daughter is fascinated with words: written, spoken, English, Greek, German, or Latin. She spends the majority of her school lessons focusing on words in some form, yet she had not formally studied rhetoric until this year. The opportunity to use Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric (complete program) from Roman Roads Media was well-timed and very much appreciated!


Unexpected Homeschool: Review of Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Program

Though we may all use the word, do we really know what the study of rhetoric is? Quite simply, it is the art of persuasive speaking and writing. Fitting Words, most elegantly, teaches rhetoric through the well defined concepts of rhetoric along with practical lessons which use ancient examples, historical speeches, and literary sources all viewed through a Christian lens.

The Program:

Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric is designed specifically for Christian high school students, and our experience with the program leads me to recommend it be older high school students or those well prepared by the study of formal logic.

The complete program of Fitting Words includes the following items:
  • Fitting Words textbook (hardback)
  • Student workbook (spiral softback)
  • DVD of video lessons
  • Answer key (softback)
  • Exam packet (loose pages)

Unexpected Homeschool: Review of Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Program
We also received a bonus Roman Roads Media bag!
Components:

The textbook contains 30 lessons that follow the outlined Key Concepts of Rhetoric. Some lessons further the study of a previous concept, while others begin by presenting the next key concept with clear definitions. Lessons additionally provide optional Thinking Deeper Questions, Further Reading options, and a Developing Memory section. Each of these are exactly as they sound and promote a better understanding of rhetoric. The students are encouraged to practice their lessons through five speeches throughout the course.

Not only does the curriculum present the key concepts of rhetoric, but demonstrates the usage of these ideas and other figures of speech through excerpts from great orators. The appendix and lessons include the words of Socrates, Plato, Pericles, Cicero, Shakespeare, Jonathon Edwards, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ellie Wiesel. It also provides a complete list of all biblical speeches with the speaker, audience, title, and a reference to location. It is a most useful reference!

The workbook is divided into exercises that correlate to the lessons in the textbook. Each exercise has multiple questions that asks the student to demonstrate understanding of the lesson content and also find examples of select figures of speech. Lines are provided in the book where the student may answer. Judging sheets for each of the five speeches are included in the workbook so the student may comprehend the expectations for these speeches. This is a consumable workbook and is intended for a single student use.

Unexpected Homeschool: Review of Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Program

The DVD has two valuable videos for each lesson in the textbook. The first video covers basically all the information in the text and is presented by the writer of the curriculum. The second video is considered application and works with the exercises in the workbook. As a bonus, the DVD contains nine exam prep videos as well. 

If you are looking for a teacher's guide to this set, then the answer key is your best option. It begins by explaining the components of the course similarly as provided in the textbook. The answer key additionally has a detailed schedule for either a one-year or two-year progression. The one-year schedule breaks down the assigned readings and questions by week and day. The two-year schedule is obviously a slower pace and simply indicates which lessons should be covered per week. 

I truly appreciated how the answer key is a full copy of the student workbook with the answer on the included lines. It is rather more convenient when the questions asked are shown with the answers, especially if you are working in a discussion format instead of correcting the questions at a later time. The exam answers are at the end of the answer key and similarly include the exam questions with their answers.

Unexpected Homeschool: Review of Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Program

Finally, the exam packet provides nine exams, each of which may cover anywhere from two to four lessons in the textbook. The packet has review sheets for each exam, copies of the exams, and the same speech judging sheets that are included with the workbook. The packet pages are loose, but three-hole punched for easy storage. Roman Roads Media has a fantastic user license for the exam packet, allowing copies to be made for a homeschool family or entire class.  

Usage:

In order to give you an accurate representation of this program, time dictated that we follow the one-year schedule and even then, at best, we were going to complete four and a half lessons. Amber, my sixteen-year old daughter, found the one-year schedule to be a bit hurried, and as a result we have now slowed to the two-year schedule.

Amber began the scheduled lesson progression by reading the preface and all the speeches in the appendix. It took her quite a while to thoughtfully read through all of these sources, but right away she understood their value. Personally, I expected this initial assignment to negatively affect her attitude toward the curriculum, but I was gratefully incorrect.

Even though the course instructions indicate that watching the video lessons prior to reading the text is the recommended strategy, Amber chose to read through the text of the first lesson prior to watching the DVD. She wanted to know a little more about what would be presented. Amber felt the DVD main lesson and application video, while really providing no additional information, made understanding easier. For the remaining lessons she has watched the DVD prior to reading the lesson in the text, and has found the recommended order to be her preferred method of study too.

Unexpected Homeschool: Review of Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Program

One comment Amber did make about the videos, which I can verify, is that the presenter frequently looks down at his notes and spends more time reading than making eye contact with the camera. It's a bit distracting at times and a little ironic in a rhetoric curriculum. Still, we have found value in the videos and once you become accustomed to the speaker's manner it is not quite as noticeable. 

For the first lesson, Amber dutifully went off to answer the questions in the workbook on the assigned day. As soon as she finished, Amber requested I go over the answers with her, which is a little out of the ordinary for my mostly independent learner to be honest. When we came to the questions for the second lesson, Amber asked up front that I sit with her to conduct a discussion on the lesson as she has been trained to do through other classical curricula. After our discussion, Amber thoughtfully and independently answered the questions. We have continued this method in the subsequent lessons even though Amber still isn't sure why she feels the need for the discussion first.

Unexpected Homeschool: Review of Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric Program

Sometimes it is hard to gauge Amber's interest level in a program or curriculum. While not being disrespectful, she will tell me when a curriculum is definitely not working well for her. Other times, she simply goes along with what I have selected as long as it is a decent fit, even if she isn't terribly fond of it. For this reason, it was difficult for me to discern Amber's interest level of Fitting Words after the first few lessons. I finally took my own advice from other situations and directly asked her what she thought. It turns out she has been enjoying the study of rhetoric with Fitting Words, but was feeling rather overwhelmed with the one-year pace and dreading the speeches. We agreed to slow to the two-year pace even though our review period was not complete and she has been much happier with the program.

Our slowed pace means we have only completed three and a half lessons instead of four to five lessons. We also have not yet come to an exam, which will be needed after the fourth lesson. However, Amber is much more relaxed with the study and wants to finish the program to its completion. I'm fairly certain if I had kept to the one-year pace that Amber would have been ready to put away this program when the review ended. 

Our Thoughts:

Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric has become a valuable addition to my high school daughter's language lessons. The program has been a near perfect match for Amber who values the use of words and plans to pursue a degree or two in English and other languages. It will also be a fantastic study for anyone who wants to communicate effectively and confidently. I definitely would encourage anyone using it to consider a slower pace than the one-year schedule, and ensure your student is prepared for a true study of rhetoric.

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Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew also reviewed products from Roman Roads Media. Please follow the link in the graphic below to read their thoughts.


Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}




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