Showing posts with label Classical Education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Classical Education. Show all posts

Monday, January 10, 2011

TOS Crew Review: Easy Classical-Early Modern History Schedule Guide

If you enjoy the Classical method for teaching your own, and you desire a program that has the work of scheduling, listings of resources and activities already done for you-then the Easy Classical Schedule could be the perfect fit for you.  Easy Classical actually has many schedules available to suit a wide variety of needs. From the whole "kitten-kaboodle" for K-6th grade, to science and of course-history.

Because I received the history schedule, I will focus this review on that. In case you are considering additional purchases, usually the other subjects will be cohesive with the history era being studied, so look for those time frames that match the history you want to cover. Basing the pattern of history around the 4 year cycle idea, the guides walk the student(s) through the various eras in a logical (starting with the Old Testament/Ancient Egypt times to Modern Day) pattern (for 36 weeks) which is "revisited" at least 2x by the time your student graduates. 

 I had the pleasure of looking through the Early Modern History (Explorers to 1820) and found it quite well laid out, and easy to follow. One of the first things that grabbed my attention is the ease of use.  Clearly noted sources and their assigned pages/chapters, are listed under the appropriate day of the week.  Icons also hint at additional tasks to complete, when necessary, as well.  I also appreciated the fact that the schedule is designed to assist you (meaning skipping or not doing some things is OK), not bind you in some unattainable fashion of assignments that can overwhelm the student/teacher which can spiral into some sort of yoke that smothers out the flame of interest and delight in learning.  In other words, there is plenty enough material assigned for reading , mapping, and crafting to allow for some discretion on your part.  I have found some other curricula to be less than gracious in that department-so this was refreshing to see. A little "Post-It" note image lists the necessary supplies for that week, making planning and gathering much more easy for you too. The schedule also includes some comprehensive questions/answers to ask of your student(s), so that you are sure they have grasped the main concepts for the week.  For those of you who choose to quiz their students (or are required to by state law), one is provided for each unit.  Also included in the guide are some drawing "step-by-step" activities (or one can just have a student color a completed picture) for additional hands-on projects.  

One will have to acquire the sources necessary to teach this, so some planning ahead is an absolute must.  Thankfully, the site lists those and where you can purchase them-so it shouldn't be too difficult to manage.  Many book hounds (such as myself), probably have many already on our shelves (which I did) so cruising the home "book store" is a good way to see exactly what you do or do not need.  This guide follows, as the main backbone texts, The Story of the World (Vol. 2 and 3) by Susan Wise Bauer and 4 of the A History of Us by Joy Hakim, along with a couple other ones.  But again-being that you are in charge, not the schedule, you can certainly substitute a few if need be.  Geography and writing assignments are also included, which is a must-because if you student covers the material, but has no clue as to where in the world it took place, it simply won't be "cemented" in their head like it should. And being able to communicate with writing is another much needed skill all students should have.  So the Easy Classical (Early Modern) schedule is a pretty complete history guide.

Digging a bit deeper:

Now personally, I am not a big fan of the Classical method.  I have tried it in the past, and found it messed with our system. That of course, is not good, especially if I or the kids dislike it. Generally, when I come across some materials, such as this guide, I will use suggestions for materials/books, that I feel will add to our eclectic CM style-and forgo the rest.  I have been able to add a couple of the noted books [in this guide], to add to our current studies, and it was nice to have some additional ideas.  Frankly, I don't particularly care for the books by S.W. Bauer.  I find we enjoy full stories (living literature) over snippet history, so it is not really for us, per say. So outside of a few issues I have with the backbone texts for history, I am pretty much in the same boat in regard to their choices for many of the resources listed under their Main Curriculum and Science materials (which has peaked my interest a lot).  As for the discussion/quiz questions-well, we follow the narration idea of Charlotte Mason, and I expect my students to be able to recall the main points of the readings-so those would only serve to help me "think" of some additional promptings to get my student to recall more.  But for those who need those, it can be a great help for them.  

I did note too [and not that I couldn't rearrange a bit] that larger reading assignments were clumped/noted on one day (Monday), and not much else was given for the rest of the week (although not every time). It appeared to be a pattern, which simply may be the way the author likes to do "business", or it was done to allow for adequate time of the reading assignments from the other subject schedules they offer. It simply doesn't mesh with my preferences, because I feel it can cause overload to the student and teacher.  Leaning those out would be a bit better (in my humble opinion), because with that much reading to listen to-minds invariably start to shut off, and eyes become glazed.  If you have students who cannot tolerate long reading periods (which I do),  I highly recommend shifting a bit of it, to even that out.  Or breaking the reading assignments into manageable amounts, which are spread widely throughout the day. Again-simply our family's preference, but certainly something to consider.

IF I did  follow the Classical way, and I needed something that is easy (as the name suggests) to use, which follows the 4 year cycle idea, then I would definitely seriously consider purchasing this series.  The only work would be finding the sources, and carrying out the lessons-which is a God send for many folks and a true blessing.  The time consuming work is done, which allows for more learning opportunities with your kids.  Actually after exploring the site further, I am seeing that I am really liking the science schedules (which can be blended into our style quite nicely), especially since the lessons are listed for Tues. and Thurs. which just so happens to be my days for science too.  So even though their history plan may not be our way of exploring the world as it was, the science is definitely something I will investigate further.  [Just goes to show that a company may ask me to review something for them that doesn't necessarily meet our family needs, all the while they have something else there that certainly does-so keep that in mind as you go through the site! :0) ]

I put this for icon because even though there are plenty of sources used in the study, that are Christian based-it doesn't drip it on the schedule itself-I almost put the balance, but since this has no Bible schedule in it-it gets this icon instead. Just so you know....

There is some Read-Aloud books, and little ones will need more help than the older ones

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Modern History Schedule Info (download samples of the material to glean a better idea of the layout)

Modern History Curriculum List (denotes the required and additional resources necessary to properly teach the material)

Easy Classical Homepage
Digital Version:  $29.95 or Notebook Version: $35.95
For kids in approximately K-6 grade (use your best judgement-some K-2 graders are not ready for in depth coverage of material yet) This particular unit is noted as a part of their 5th grade complete set.

You can read about how my TOS mates felt about this product and many others, over on our TOS Review Homepage.

**Easy Classical supplied me with a free download of the Early Modern History Schedule to look over, and use with my children, in order to write this review.  I did not receive any financial compensation for my honest opinion of this product.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

TOS Crew Review: Classical Legacy Press: Great Latin Adventure

Well folks, it's a wrap.  This is my final review for my 2009-10 cruise and it is one that leaves me to say-I wish I had this in the beginning of the year, because I honestly do not have the where with all to absorb this monster program.  Granted, I have had a couple months to review this, but alas-these past several weeks have disappeared faster than a toddler with a handful of their sibling's candy.  For us, as anyone with a child who has taken Driver's Ed can attest-that month long course sucked our days into some weird spiral of decline, booting most of our schooling time to the curb.  So this review is one of those that I can only offer you a small ditty on what it provides the student, and a general take on what I think of it. Granted, I have taught some Latin to my two oldest children, but it was another program with a different way of this was coming across as all "Greek" to me [now don't be confused by that term-it is a Latin program I received to review, I am simply borrowing that familiar saying to describe my experience here]. I am still a bit dazed and confused.  So to be fair to the generous folks at Classical Legacy Press-I will come back [before the fall hits], to give you an update on our progress. We will be using this during our summer schooling, and since I will be taking our load down to 2 or 3 subjects-I can better focus my attention on it. By doing so, I should be able to decide if the Great Latin Adventure really is "great" or "not so great" for us.    

Before I launch into the general goal for the program is, and what the levels address-I wanted to note a few important thoughts I believe will help you better understand this material.  It is vital that you realize that the Great Latin Adventure Series does not come with fancy DVDs [as some offer] to teach the material, although it does come with a nice pronunciation CD to assist you. Meaning that this is all you baby!  You need to be right in the trenches along side the children.  So if that doesn't suit your needs, then well-this isn't for you.  Furthermore, if you are like me, and have used another program that teaches the material using the ecclesiastical pronunciation of the words, then you may feel a bit like a fish out of water.  But do not let that stop you from contemplating the G.L.A. Series, because you can "get" the material, usually without much difficulty.  I am thinking it would best suit you [the instructor] to purchase this a few months out,  to pour over the teacher notes, and to listen to the CD a few times, prior to expounding the material upon your precious students.  And that is what I need to do as well.  I need to be able to feel confident that I am teaching this material properly [meaning I need to do as I suggested above] because right now, I do not.  But first,  I need a few weeks of non-schooly brain recovery before I dive back in-hence the delay of an official opinion. 

That said, this is what you can expect from the Great Latin Adventure Series:

*easy to teach program-grades 4th and up
*no Latin background required [but it definitely helps] 
*clear, friendly and thorough-conversational in nature
*plenty of derivative worksheets
*Christian content [IE: family friendly]
*classical pronunciation [this is different than the ecclesiastic version]
*comes ready to put into a binder
*excellent teacher support

Two levels are available for you:


The Great Latin Adventure 1: starting grades 4-6 
(but you can start earlier/later if need be)
Student Workbook and Teacher's Guide with Pronunciation CD 
(you will need both)

Scope: Grammar focused-[not just a host of Latin phrases to learn]
**students will conjugate first conjugation verbs in present tense
**decline first declension nouns
**translate sentences with subjects/predicate nominatives, prepositional phrases, 
adjectives and adverbs
**translate from English to Latin and vise versa
**additional activities to further their knowledge of introductory Latin

Great Latin Adventure II: continue after completing level I
Student Workbook and Teacher's Guide with Pronunciation CD
(you will need both)

Scope:  builds on prior knowledge plus:
**student will translate complementary infinitives
**direct and indirect objects
**imperfect/future tense verbs
**prepositions that take the accusative case
**the ablative of means-advanced construction
**plus additional activities to further their knowledge of Latin

My general thoughts so far:

I liked that the teacher's notes do a good job of explaining the material and how to cover it, which is a valuable addition to the program. Once I let my brain digest it [took a while though], I was able to move on to the lessons.  I was also quite encouraged to find that the author offers up several ways to plant this material into their heads: by listening to the CD/you, doing the fill-in-the blank worksheets, studying vocab cards (you make those), etc.-instead of just focusing on one style of learning.  Keeping their interest and desire to continue with the program is vital, considering that many other languages are derived from Latin-so if your child moves on to another foreign language they will see the similarities, and hopefully-learn it more efficiently.

I found that I had to spend a lot of time pouring through the introductory unit, which explained what the program was all about in detail-but it was time consuming.  And I soon found, that my brain and the author's are not cut from the same cloth.  I don't think like she does, and so I found that I had to go back and re-read what she wrote to figure out what she was saying. That is not her problem, it is mine. I chalk it up to a difference of how I "get stuff" VS how she does.  

We worked thru this a bit and found it just wasn't meshing with the way we learn this type of material. It is a very, very good program though and should fit many folks' needs-mostly those who are more math oriented, as I believe the material is written in a logical, math-minded way. Be sure to read what my mates had to say regarding this material. Don't let our experience cloud your judgement. I know this would have been perfect for my two older kids, as they tend to be more logical and methodical in their learning processes. My artsy girl just wasn't getting it. So I guess you truly need to know your student.

I noted that this is from a Christian perspective-and have the cross up-because at this point, I am not sure if "screams" Christianity or not [the material not the author], so it may need to be changed [see the icon info for more details regarding this matter]

students should be able to work through the activities without your assistance

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Classical Legacy Press Homepage

Student worktext: $15.00 w/o binder, $22 w/binder (while supplies last-due to new laws, they can only sell their current binder inventory)
Teacher Guide:    $30.00 w/o binder, $40 w/binder (while supplies last)

Don't forget to read what my TOS mates had to say about this, and many other fine homeschool products, on our TOS Review Crew Homepage

***Classical Legacy Press provided me with a free copy each of Great Latin Adventure Student Book and the Teacher's Guide-level one and two, so that I could use, expressly test our newly learned Latin skills, and speak some good old fashioned Latin with my family. I have provided my opinion on the product, and did not receive financial compensation for this review.