Lauren loved the high school writing program review period for Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis by Writing with Sharon Watson.

high school writing review

General Overview

This curriculum really dives into the characters of the books that are read, highlighting and explaining the types of characters, what makes them tick (so to speak), literary terms, and walks the student through not just the text itself, but the context (the author’s history, what’s going on in the world at the time, life experiences, etc.). Ms. Watson really helps a student understand so much more surrounding the book rather than just what is INSIDE covers of the book.

Once the student reads through the main points to be considered, the student then reads the book as outlined in the chapter, completes the Novel Notebook, reads through additional information in the student guide about key literary terms, dialog, viewpoints, etc. There are about 2 tests per book (“Yes, I Read it” quiz and a separate “Literary Terms” quiz). There are questions for discussion and a list of activities that the student can do. These activities include researching a specific topic mentioned in the book/story, creating an event from the story through drawing, painting, rewriting the story from a different perspective, or learn how to do something mentioned or important to the story.

There are three books in this program: the Textbook (for the student), the Teacher’s Guide, and the Quiz & Answer Manual. And, you can also download FOR FREE the Novel Notebook for students to complete as they go through each book or play. And, as an extra bonus any FREE online tests or quizzes will be automatically graded FOR FREE. That makes it easier for you, the teacher/parent. That’s a bonus in my book.

Let me explain a little bit about these components:

  • The textbook for the student contains lessons for the entire course. It starts off with an explanation of the course, why it’s important to study literature, and how it will be studied with this course. There
  • The FREE Novel Notebook is where the students can complete questions, worksheets, and really dive into the depths of a book through interpretation and review. I found it to be a great resource for my daughter to really find the marrow of the novels and short stories.
  • The Teacher’s Guide provides details on a suggested “book of the month” club suggestions for monthly reading timeline. In addition, it provides the answers for each of the questions in the student guide. It also breaks down what the stories are about and the key points that students should learn from each book or lesson.
  • The free online tests or quizzes are the same ones that are found in the Quiz and Answer Manual. The beauty of the online quizzes is that they are graded online and the test results are emailed to you. For those who don’t like to grade, this is perfect.

The books covered in this program include short stories, as well as Frankenstein, Silas MarnerThe Hobbit, and Sense and Sensibility, as well as a few others. This course takes approximately 2 semesters for a full English high school credit.

How We Used This Program

Lauren dove into this curriculum. We had time to work through A Jury of Her Peers (a short story) and she is about halfway through Frankenstein.

Lauren pretty much handled this one on her own. She completed the assignments on her own, took the tests, etc. I appreciate that this program is something that she can dive into on her own without a lot of hand holding from me. It’s continuing to teach her to learn and explore on her own and also gives her some structure as to what she needs to accomplish with each lesson.

Her thoughts, “It’s a good interactive book that makes you think deeper into the story. It’s fun and entertaining.”

She also enjoys the books themselves. She had never read Frankenstein and enjoyed learning as much about the author Mary Shelley as she did reading the book. She’s also a HUGE Jane Austen and J.R.R. Tolkien fan and is thrilled to be able read through a few of their novels.

There is a lot to go through in this program, but we have found it to be very enjoyable, teacher-friendly, and extremely thorough. Considering that this is Lauren’s final year of English, we are thrilled to be able to use this program to round out her high school English career.

Final Thoughts

One of the features of this program that I like (although it didn’t really apply to us), is that Ms. Watson has created the opportunity for teachers in a group setting to set up a secret Facebook page for parents and students. She provides post suggestions and questions to create interaction, discussion, and more. I think this is a great idea for those who teach in a group setting but may only meet once a week or once a month. It’s a great way to stay connected and focused on the material. What a creative way to integrate classic literature into the 21st century.

One final thought – if you’d like to review any samples of this program before purchasing, you may do so on the Writing with Sharon Watson website.

Connect with Writing with Sharon Watson on social media!

Illuminating Literature: Characters in Crisis {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

One thought on “High School Writing Program Review”

  1. Meredith and Lauren, thank you for your work on this review! If Lauren chose an optional activity at the end of “A Jury of Her Peers” or Frankenstein, I’d love to know how it worked out.

    Enjoy Jane Austen and Tolkien!

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