I have a child in middle school and one in high school, and the reading at our house is getting more and more analytical. Instead of asking, “Did you like the book?,” I find myself asking questions like, “What does this phrase mean? What is the overall theme? What is the historical context?” etc. So, here we are, doing an Owl Eyes review, because I was really happy when I stumbled upon it. We’ve been using it for the last month and I’d like to tell you about our experience, so you can see if you’d like to use it too.
But first, you might be wondering, what is Owl Eyes?
Owl Eyes is a website that offers full texts of classic literature (authors include William Blake, Edgar Allan Poe, Geoffrey Chaucer, Voltaire, Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens, Thomas Paine, William Shakespeare and others), PLUS expert analysis of the literature (so it’s better than having just the book!). And wait for it….its a FREE resource! Gotta love FREE!
Owl Eyes is great for reading and teaching. Why? Because:
- It’s great for reading because kids (and parents) can read on any device. Since everyone is mobile (especially my kids!), this really makes sense. In addition to reading, students can view annotations or add their own, so reading on Owl Eyes is an interactive experience. Interactive is always a plus!
- Homeschoolers can teach using the website’s free classroom assignment tools. It’s easy to create a virtual classroom, add students, and assign work.
You can see a video about Owl Eyes here –
And Owl Eyes offers lesson plans, teaching guides and other worksheets. Currently, you can find them on the Owl Eyes’ Teachers Pay Teachers store. Sometimes they have promotions, where all their lesson plans are free, and when I signed up, they e-mailed me free access to 10 of their best-selling lesson plans (a $50 value) covering popular titles like Romeo and Juliet and The Canterbury Tales. Each lesson plan includes a brief synopsis of the text, a step-by-step guide to lesson procedure, a previous and following lesson synopsis for preparation and extension ideas (I really like this), and a collection of handouts. The lesson plans are really valuable/a great resource. (FYI – each lesson takes about 60 minutes.)
So, how can one use the Owl Eyes website?
It’s really a breeze! Sign up, browse the Owl Eyes library, click on any poem or book that piques your interest, and click Start Reading. That’s it. You don’t have to give your credit card info – you don’t have to do anything other than sign up.
FYI – this was our lesson today – a poem by Thomas Hardy.
My son clicked on View More to get the longer description shown below.
Then he clicked Read.
Ooohhh, I like this! We were able to choose how the text showed up on the page.
Somehow, difficult subjects/readings just seem a little easier if you read them in larger type, and with more spacing between the lines.
This is nice – you can search for a word or phrase – really important if you’re reading for academic purposes.
We like that we can specifically look for the following. Again, good for academic purposes.
- Historical Context
It turns out Winter’s dregs is a metaphor.
There’s a lot to like about Owl Eyes! Specifically:
- The clever name! (Owl Eyes is a character in The Great Gatsby.) I’m so proud that my older son knew this!
- It’s certainly educational – classic literature PLUS helpful analysis! A winning combination!
- The website is easy to navigate, plus the site offers a Guided Walkthrough and FAQ pages to get the most out of your experience. And the site has how-to videos on YouTube. These include – how to create a classroom on Owl Eyes, how to create an annotation on Owl Eyes, how to create a quiz, etc. So – LOTS of helpful info.
- It’s convenient. Forgot your book? No problem. I’m sure you have your phone on you (so no more teen excuses)!
- It’s flexible. Students can share – make their annotations visible to others; filter between highlights, annotations, and quiz questions and choose whether they want to see everyone’s annotations, just their own, or hide annotations all together. Flexibility and options are always a plus.
- You can search keywords or phrases.
- Students can also sort by tags such as Imagery, Metaphor, or Facts about the Text, etc.
- Can skip easily from chapter to chapter.
- Can save books for later. We definitely did this the first day on the site. We found so much that piqued our interest, but of course, we just couldn’t read everything at once!
- This is really super for homeschool planning – it lets you know what your teen is interested in, so you can incorporate the readings whenever possible.
- It’s easy for the homeschool parents to use – parents can see at a glance how their kids are coming along on assignments.
- The website has great blog articles such as 5 Things to Avoid While Teaching Shakespeare and 6 Books to Read After You’ve Aced Your AP (I can almost hear my son now – What? I have to continue reading?)
In this couplet heralding the arrival of the thrush, Hardy alters the meter to send a jolt into the familiar rhythmic scheme. Rather than conforming to the expected iambic trimeter, “The bleak twigs overhead” centers around a pair of consecutive stressed syllables in “bleak twigs.” This metrical jolt represents the startling arrival of the thrush.
— Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
In the Anglican church, evensong is an evening service centered around choral hymns. This metaphor gives the bird’s singing a heavenly, exultant tone. Whether Hardy intended to imbue the thrush with a literal sense of the divine is unclear.
— Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
The consonance in this line is beautiful. The alliterative repetition of b and its consonant pair p (a b is simply a voiced p) is striking, as is the repetition of liquid consonants: l andr. The source of the “blast” is unclear—perhaps wind—but the image is that of a frail, weathered bird who offers hope despite the harsh, wintry conditions.
— Zachary, Owl Eyes Staff
It’s FREE! Gotta love FREE! And because it’s free, there’s no reason not to try it.
Besides, we really like Owl Eyes. We – as in kids and parents.
We like the analysis – sometimes we discuss how helpful it is – sometimes we disagree and even debate an analysis point – as in “You think the author really meant that?”
Appreciating and learning from a point and disagreeing and debating a point – both are educational activities!
Did you like this Owl Eyes review? You can see more of our reviews here: https://howtohomeschool.com/curriculum-reviews
- Owl Eyes Review
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