Apr 122012

Have you heard of WORLD magazine? It’s a Christian news magazine, published every other week. I’m not a subscriber, but I have read a few articles, and it is a high quality magazine.

WORLD magazine is entering the curriculum business, and what could be more fitting than with a writing curriculum? This paragraph from the introduction is a great summary of why. Read the complete introduction here.

Write with WORLD aims to produce young writers who love writing, can write effectively, and intelligently share ideas, beliefs, and their worldview. We hope to support a generation of young believers who aspire to use their writing skills in the service of God’s Kingdom and explain effectively the reasons for their beliefs.

Write with WORLDWrite with WORLD is written for middle school students. It comes with both a Parent/Teacher manual and a Student text. The entire student text is included in the Parent/Teacher manual along with introductions and teaching tips throughout. The curriculum is divided into 4 units. Each of these units is divided into 4 lessons, which are further divided into 5 capsules. If one capsule were completed every week day, the entire curriculum could be completed in 16 weeks, though this is recommended as a full-year curriculum. There is a wide variety of writing assignments used in the text with journaling playing a major role. Many lessons require the use of either WORLD magazine or God’s World News, though you could probably substitute if necessary. Basic grammar lessons on common writing errors (like its and it’s) are also included in the program.

Our thoughts:

The organized structure and layout of this program is fantastic. It is easy to plan (i.e. takes next to no planning time) for a busy homeschool mom. I love the broad scope. I also like that it could be completed in 1 semester if you wanted to a focus on writing, or used for an entire school year. I agree with the overall vision of the program, and what the authors hope to accomplish.

But it is not a very good fit for my 8th grade son. He is a very literal thinker. He needs very concrete instruction. The journaling is something that he is completely uncomfortable with. I knew we were in trouble when the very first lesson has the student write what questions a picture (in the text) brings to your mind. He does not do well with those types of assignments. He simply cannot come up with legitimate questions. I personally find the process of guiding him through the questions exasperating. He also has a very strong grasp of English grammar and found the grammar assignments too easy.

These issues may be ones that we should just push through. Obviously, I can’t let the fact that I am frustrated trying to teach my son be the deciding factor on whether or not I use a curriculum, because it’s not really an issue with the curriculum. It’s an issue with me and my son. I have been thinking about how I should make curriculum choices. I am not of the mind to let my children be completely self-directed. And sometimes (often) we don’t like things because they are hard. (I have found this to be especially true for bright, perfectionist students like my son, and myself.)

The basic point I’m trying to make is that even though we may not continue to use this curriculum, I would still recommend it to others. It is definitely one to be considered when choosing a middle school writing curriculum, especially if you have a student who is not a reluctant writer and is eager to write about his thoughts. And this may be just the thing to teach a student who is not comfortable writing about his thoughts to become comfortable. I just can’t say that at this point, because we haven’t made it far enough into the program to make that determination. I think that when the time comes, this might be perfect for my 5 year old daughter. She is very eager to express herself and doesn’t let a thought go by without sharing it. (Literally, the child talks to herself all the time!)

The curriculum will begin shipping this summer. The course includes the student text, the teacher guide, plus on-line access for $95. You can place your order on the website.

To read more reviews of Write with WORLD, please visit HomeschoolCrew.com.

Disclosure: I received a copy of the student text and teacher guide in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.


Mar 182012

I’ve always loved to read, but the study of literature has never been easy for me. I think a lot of that is because I was never really taught how to analyze literature in school. I remember studying the basics like characters and plot, but finding the theme is still a difficult task for me.

That puts me in a somewhat unusual position as a homeschool mom. I do not fear teaching advanced math and science to my children, but literature and other liberal arts studies frighten me! Thankfully, I do not have to design a literature program myself. Nor do I have to determine what questions to ask my students. There are people who do understand literature and how to teach it who have written curricula for parents just like me. Two of those people are Michael and Rebecca Gilleland, the founders of Progeny Press. The Gillelands began homeschooling in the early 1990’s and immediately discovered the lack of quality literature studies available to homeschoolers. So they decided to write them. The rest, as they say, is history, or in this case literature.

Today Progeny Press offers over 100 literature guides for students in elementary through high school. Each of these guides includes not only the basic nuts and bolts literature questions, but goes further, challenging the student to think deeply. They also emphasize Christian principles throughout the studies.

Their company mission statement provides an excellent description of how the tenets of the Christian faith are intertwined in these studies of great literature.

Our purpose is not to bring you only “safe” fiction, but to teach literature that is well-written and that will help students develop and refine how they deal with man’s philosophies in relation to God’s word. Progeny Press examines literary terminology and technique in good, cultural literature to equip students for understanding the craft of writing and to enhance their joy of reading. With these things in mind, we promise to bring you good literature, provide good literary analysis, and measure it by the light of scripture.

I recently received an interactive pdf copy of the study guide for Across Five Aprils to review. This guide is designed for students in 5th-9th grades. I have had my 6th grade daughter working through the guide. She absolutely loves historical fiction, and I felt that she would be a great tester for this product.

She has very much enjoyed this study guide. She has not completed all the writing assignments that are included in the guide because she had other writing that she was working on, but the questions have helped her to understand the book much better. They have made her read more carefully and critically. There have been very few that she was unable to answer, but thankfully the guide does come with a key. You can view sample pages here.

Ideally, I would read the book too and go through the guide with her. But I just don’t have time in this season of my life to do that. Flexibility is one of the benefits of homeschooling. I love that there are companies like Progeny Press that produce high quality curricula that students can use independently if necessary, or with as much parental involvement as desired. I will definitely consider purchasing more of the Progeny Press guides.

The study guides are available in several formats. I received the e-mail attachment pdf, but they can also be purchased as a booklet, a CD, or both. The e-mail attachment is the least expensive option at $16.99 for the study guide I received.

Visit their website to see their entire selection of literature guides.

Disclosure: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Mar 152012

Early in our homeschool days, we were introduced to the idea of classical education. My husband and I were immediately hooked on the concept. We started our oldest son learning Latin in the 2nd grade.

As time progressed, we continued on the classical education path, though in a more relaxed manner than we had originally envisioned. We’ve continued with Latin studies for our older 2 children, and in middle school, we introduced the topic of logic.

I received The Art of Argument from Classical Academic Press to review. This book is an introduction to the informal fallacies. My older daughter is in the 6th grade, which is an ideal age to begin this study, though it is suitable for older students as well.

Art of ArgumentThe Art of Argument divides the fallacies up into 3 Units: Presumption, Relevance, and Clarity. Within these units a total of 28 fallacies are discussed. Each fallacy is introduced with its definition. This is followed by examples and questions for the students to answer. Each chapter also includes a discussion between Socrates, Nate, and Tiffany. These discussions are great helps in understanding the concepts.

The soft covered text and teacher’s edition include many helpful illustrations. The teacher’s edition is the full student text with the answers filled in, rather than just an answer key. There are also DVD’s of the lessons available.

My daughter has been enjoying this course so far. She’s worked through the introduction and the first several fallacies. Like just about everything else, she’s working independently on this study. Because of this, I expected her to really appreciate the DVD’s. However, she didn’t find that they added much over the book and prefers just reading. I think the DVD’s are very well done with both lessons and discussions with students.

Actually, I think my daughter’s feeling that she doesn’t need the DVD’s is high praise for the text itself. It’s very clearly written and has made the subject both interesting and easy to understand. It is also humorous at times. This is a definitely an item she will continue using! I plan to have my older son read through the text as well. He completed a much shorter study of informal fallacies a couple of years ago, but I think that reading through this course will help refresh his memory on what he learned, as well as go into more depth on  some of the fallacies.

These materials can be purchased from Classical Academic Press for the following prices:

  • Text – $21.95
  • Teacher’s Edition – $24.95
  • DVD set – $54.95
  • Bundle including all of the above – $88.95


Disclosure: I received The Art of Argument text, teacher edition, and sample DVD to review as a member of the Homeschool Crew. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for this review.