This will be the first of a few posts as I try to select new curriculum for Lightning. This weekend is the homeschooling conference in Florida where I will get a hands on look at each curriculum I am considering so I will either update each post or write a new post with my findings.
Language Arts. We have been using Learning Literature through Language Arts for the last few years and although I do like the curriculum, Lightning is ready for a switch. I do think this curriculum needs a supplement as it really does not cover how to write. It is more focused on learning grammar rules, yet does not really have sufficient repetition in my opinion to really ensure the student’s understanding of the lesson. We have used Writing Strands as a supplement, which I like, but Lightning is not a fan of it. I think it is just because we have not regularly followed it. I am planning on using it over the summer. So far we have not used this curriculum again. I have had Lightning working on another textbook that my sister-in-law picked up at a sale at her school where she teaches. I felt we needed to focus in on a little on some spelling and grammar rules as I still felt she did not really grasp all the rules in Learning Literature.
I have narrowed down my search to LifePac, Rod and Staff, WordSmith Apprentice and Intermediate Language Lessons by Emma Serl. They all seem fairly similar to me as far as their lesson plans. I have been looking at samples online of each program but I have not seen the courses in person to really get a feel for material. I don’t believe their is a major writing segment to any of the programs, however it does seem that Intermediate Lessons Plans may have a little more assignments involving writing. I am likely to also use Total Language Plus selecting two to three books from their reading list and using this as a writing supplement. I will be focusing getting a hold of these books at the conference to really look at them and see if they meet our needs for our grammar and writing lessons. I will post my findings.
My biggest challenge is what grade level to purchase. Lightning is an avid reader with a high Lexile number and has been about a grade ahead of her school age in her Literature/Language Arts curriculum, however all curricula are not created equally and you really need to look at the material to see what each covers to determine the appropriateness of that level for your child.
Update following the conference:
So now here is what really happened. If found more to look at when I was there. Yes, this can be overwhelming but it also does not have to be. I love, love, love, looking at curriculum. I am a curricula junkie. So many curricula are created the same but packaged differently and then some are just so different. They key for me is to find the material I want to cover packaged in a way that will interest my child.
I immediately went to Rainbow Resources at the conference. Their books are also available on-line and they bring tons of stuff to the conference from various resources so I typically go to their booth first to check out what they have brought and it helps me focus in a little. I wasn’t sure if I was going to find Wordsmith Apprentice there as it is not one of the common curricula you hear people discuss, but Rainbow Resources did not let me down and had one copy. As soon as I saw the book I knew this was going to be a fun book for writing lessons. The basic concept of the book is you are a reporter and you are given different reporting assignments. I knew Lighting would be all over this. An added bonus is one of her friends is also using this book so we might be able to do “assignments” together. Writing portion of English covered. Check. Now onto Grammar. Aaaah, but before I get to grammar I was turned onto another curriculum, Total Language Plus. I like the concept of this curriculum, but I don’t necessary feel, at least at this point, that it can be your only English/Grammar curriculum. The basic premise of this curriculum is you read various books throughout the year (I believe a total of 4) and complete assignments based on the book. You need to pick from the books they have completed curriculum on and then after you complete the designated chapters you then answer questions on the chapter and review vocabulary from the chapters. I did not feel grammar lessons were really covered, although it is covered somewhat. I did purchase the book 22 Balloons and the associated curriculum, but I purchased this as an enrichment to Lightning’s other studies. Lightning is an avid and sometimes really fast reader. I like the concept of her having to slow down and actually analyze the book. Some of her other homeschool friends also bought the book so we are hoping to also use this as something the kids can work on or review together.
As soon as I saw Rod and Staff and Intermediate Language Lessons I knew we were out. They are put together much like a school textbook; the books themselves have very little flair. Intermediate Language Lessons seemed to focus more on composition than grammar, which was what I was looking for considering I already had Wordsmith Apprentice for composition. Although Rod and Staff was a more comprehensive curriculum focusing on both grammar and composition I didn’t feel it was the right curriculum for Lighting. She prefers working in different books and switching formats otherwise she gets bored with the repetitive nature of some of the curriculum.
For grammar I focused in on Analytical Grammar and Easy Grammar. Analytical Grammar intrigued me; they encourage you to only spend about 15 minutes a day on grammar was there are just so many grammar rules and you don’t need to spend hours learning them. The curriculum is divided into grade levels and you use the curriculum throughout those years. Lighting would be on the tale end of the first set so I opted to wait until next year to consider starting with this curriculum. I definitely like the curriculum for high school based on what I saw. I did not look deeply into the curriculum considering we are years away but it is a curriculum I will be checking out again.
Happenstance would have it that I went to a local curriculum sale and picked up both Easy Grammar for $5.00 and Learning Literature Through Language Arts with the teacher guide for $8.00. I am going to start off with Easy Grammar and if we get through it I may have us move on to Learning Literature, but I will make that decision later based on how Lighting is progressing. I don’t want to overwhelm her with too much. The other book I am keeping in the back of my mind for a supplement if I think we need it is Wordly Wise. I am thinking Total Language Plus may cover the same material as Wordly Wise so we may not need both. I purchase supplemental curriculum that is less taxing so Lightning can work on it without me when I am at work. Easy Grammar is basically a grammar lesson then worksheets on the lesson. The lessons do not appear to be too difficult, but are a little repetitive which I like for Lightning.
I never really looked at LifePac as Lightning and I looked at it on-line and she said she did not like it. We had tried LifePac for Science and she was not a fan. The curriculum did not look bad to me, but as I said earlier, if she is not going to engage in the curriculum it’s not worth getting it.
Intermediate Lesson Plans – http://www.amazon.com/Intermediate-Language-Lessons-Emma-Serl/dp/0965273571. Amazon provides a pretty good look inside this book.
Wordsmith Apprentice – http://www.amazon.com/Wordsmith-Apprentice-Excellence-Skill-Buidling-Exercises/dp/B000FIZTM6
Analytical Grammar – http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=analytical+grammar&sprefix=analytical+gram%2Cstripbooks%2C183&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Aanalytical+grammar
Learning Literature Through Language Arts – http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_15?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Learning+Literature+Through+Language+Arts&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3ALearning+Literature+Through+Language+Arts