Implications of Literature is a series of four comprehensive language arts courses for high school level. While the series is secular, it features many literary works that have stood the test of time and it promotes traditional values. The four courses─Explorer Level, Navigator Level, Pioneer Level, and Trailblazer Level─are intended for use in grades nine through twelve respectively. However, the textbooks are not identified by grade level, and each can be used in a different year of high school.
For each course, you will need a student edition and a teacher’s edition. A test bank CD is also available; it shouldn't be necessary for those teaching only one student but it might be helpful for those teaching a group class.
The publisher describes these courses as integrated literature and language arts. While on the surface they look like literature courses, they also teach vocabulary, composition skills, grammar, usage, and mechanics.
Each level includes literary works drawn from short stories, poetry, biography, autobiography, speeches, drama, and novels. All literature is included within the student textbook, even the novels Around the World in Eighty Days in Explorer Level and A Tale of Two Cities in Navigator Level, which are only slightly abridged and edited. The other language arts skills are taught in relation to the literary works most of the time.
This is how it works. Each literary work is prefaced by “Before You Read” information about the author and the literary selection. Occasionally, there will be instructional information before students begin to study a section of readings, such as the “Introduction to the Short Story” pages at the beginning of the first unit in Explorer Level; the “Focus on Reading” sections in the Navigator Level that teach about understanding cause and effect, distinguishing fact from opinion, the elements of a novel, and other such topics; and the “Historical Focus” sections in Trailblazer Level that address the historical context of different literary movements.
Throughout most of the literary works, there are discussion questions in the margins of the student textbook. If students read independently, then the teacher will probably want to go over these questions with the student before continuing on to the activities at the end of the literary work. (While students could write out answers to these questions as they read, there are so many questions for some stories that it might bog them down.) Suggested responses are in the margins of the teacher’s editions.
Definitions of unusual vocabulary words are at the bottom of the page where the word first appears. Other vocabulary words, italicized within the text, are included in a glossary, in vocabulary banks, and in exercises.
At the end of each literary work, there are a number of activities to be completed, and this is where lessons expand further into composition and other language arts skills. These activities include sections titled Check Quiz (comprehension questions), Literary Critique (literary analysis questions), Writing Workshop (many different writing assignments), Journal Workshop (personal reflections students write in their journal), and Vocabulary Bank (a list of all vocabulary word from the story). Other activities that appear only sporadically in this section are Language Arts Workshop (unique activities for an area of language arts), Vocabulary Workshop (exercises for vocabulary words), Oral Interpretation (opportunities for public speaking, dramatic reading, or recitation) and Additional Enrichment (usually research and reports). Lengthy literary works used in these courses have one or more of these activities at a number of points rather than only at the end.
A number of handbooks that are included in the final unit of each book have a significant amount of lesson material. These sections are to be used as needed, sometimes for reference and often for instruction on a particular skill.
These sections vary some from course to course, but all of them include a Handbook of Literary Terms; instructional lessons on composition skills; and lessons on grammar, usage, and mechanics that have their own exercises for students to complete. In the teacher’s editions, the lessons on composition skills include sidebar notes highlighting key points for a teacher to use. Teachers can present those lessons before students tackle pertinent writing assignments, or students can read through the lessons on their own. The grammar, usage, and mechanics skill lessons can be assigned as needed for independent work. Students will need to complete exercises outside the textbook. Answers are in the side margins in the teacher’s edition. Other handbook sections are described under each course below.
Following the handbooks, all of the textbooks have a lengthy section that helps students prepare for a previous version of the New York State Regents English Examination. (A new version of that exam was introduced after these books were published.) This material should be helpful to students preparing for most other exams.
All of these additional resources contribute substantially to the size of the textbooks. They range from almost 900 pages to over 1100 pages each.
Students are expected to maintain a reader-response journal, and this is described thoroughly at the front of each teacher’s edition. Students are to write their thoughts, feelings, reactions, and questions to the assigned reading material. Journal notes might provide ideas for future writing assignments.
The teacher’s editions are essential both as answer keys and for instructional information. Students can read the literary works on their own, but discussion of the questions in the margins is a valuable part of the lessons. As for the handbook material, capable students should be able to read through both these sections without direct instruction. Sometimes, a literature lesson in the student’s book directs them to the handbook section for information or an activity. But, most of the time, the teacher needs to let students know when they should use resources and exercises in those sections. Recommendations are sometimes given in the teacher’s editions, but this is generally in the handbooks section rather than within an appropriate literature lesson. For example, in the Pioneer Level on the first page of the Handbook of Comprehension and Writing Skills, the teacher’s edition provides this suggestion in the margin: “You may want to assign each selection for Close Reading independently, perhaps even weeks apart, to allow students to apply what they learn about reading one form before they approach another.” It continues, “[Y]ou may wish to assign Close Reading of a Short Story at the beginning of Unit 1, present Close Reading of a Poem before beginning the poetry selections in Unit 2, and wait to assign Close Reading of a Play until beginning Unit 6” (p. 703). Consequently, teachers need to preview the handbook material to spot these suggestions and schedule accordingly.
Details regarding each course follow.
The Explorer Level draws from both British and American literature, and most of the literary works are from the last few centuries. Students will read the entire novel Around the World in Eighty Days which is included within the textbook. Examples of some of the other literary works are “The Adventure of the Speckled Band” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Stub Book” by Pedro Antonio de Alarcón, “The Fifty-First Dragon” by Heywood Broun, “O Captain! My Captain!” by Walt Whitman, excerpts from The Story of My Life by Hellen Keller, John F. Kennedy’s “Inaugural Address,” a study of excerpts from Shakespeare’s works, and The Patchwork Quilt by Rachel Lyman Field.
The handbooks section for this level adds a 15-page Handbook of Dictionary Use that includes exercises to be completed outside the textbook.
Students read international literature in the Navigator Level. The textbook includes the entire novel A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Examples of other literary works in this course are “”The Lie” by Kurt Vonnegut Jr., “Dusk” by Saki, “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket” by John Keats, Auschwitz Trials: Letters from an Eyewitness by Emmi Bonhoeffer, “How to Eat an Ice-Cream Cone” by L. Rust Hills, and “Nine Needles” by James Thurber.
The handbooks section adds lessons on close reading of a short story, a poem, and an essay. It also covers how to answer examination questions on exams other than the Regents Exam.
Pioneer Level narrows the focus to American literature. Examples of literary works to be read are “The Pit and the Pendulum” by Edgar Allan Poe, “Franchise” by Isaac Asimov, “Birches” by Robert Frost, an excerpt from My Life by Frederick Douglass, Patrick Henry’s “Speech in the Virginia Convention,” and “Legends of the Sioux” by Marie McLaughlin. Rather than including one novel within the course, the Pioneer Level uses four mid-length works: the play “The Andersonville Trial” by Saul Levitt, an abridged version of Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville, an excerpt from Giants in the Earth by Ole Rölvaag, and abridged excerpts from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain.
The handbooks section adds lessons on the close reading of a short story, a poem, and a play; a 26-page Handbook of Vocabulary Enrichment with exercises; and a Basic Manual of Style that serves as a reference for style conventions and also has brief instructions for writing a term paper.
The Trailblazer Level covers English literature with selections such as Beowulf, an excerpt from The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, the entire play of Macbeth by Shakespeare, an excerpt from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift, “Work Without Hope” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, excerpts from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, the three-act play Strife by John Galsworthy, Winston Churchill’s speech “The War on Russia,” and “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas. Rather than an entire novel, this course includes a number of novellas and excerpts from novels.
Extra handbook resources are a Handbook of Vocabulary Enrichment with exercises and a Basic Manual of Style.
These courses are outstanding for a number of reasons. The excellent literary selections in the Implications of Literature series include many truly great authors and significant literary works. While many literary works are from past centuries, others are much more current. The numerous writing activities and vocabulary work flesh out the courses so that they provide complete language arts courses for each year of high school. The inclusion of grammar exercises in a handbook at the back of the book allows the flexibility to use only as much of those as is useful. Thought-provoking questions and assignments help students grasp the influence that literature can have upon culture. While the courses are secular, teachers can expand the discussion into moral and religious realms if they wish.