Thursday, 15 September 2011

A review of Rod and Staff English 2 and 4.

As promised I am going to review the books I am using and the books that I have used so far.

I am going to start with Rod and Staff English because it is one book that I have not been able to decide if I love it or hate it!!! Well hate is a strong word, dislike it!!

For the first couple of terms I was fighting the traineed teacher in me and the nurturing mother :) So I both loved and disliked Rod and Staff all at once.

The teacher in me loved the thorough content. I knew that the kids were learning english without any gaps and in a mastery approach that required them to practice their skills over and over. Not touch on a subject get a taste and move on. Also it is Christian. They are learning about the truths of God and the Bible as they learn english. I loved this.

The mum in me felt it was full on!! Wordy!! Very schooly!!! Very structured!! I want them to enjoy learning english. I want it to be interesting, relaxed and fun!

Now the reason I have returned to Rod and Staff English, because I did leave it for a term. The reason was the Heart of Dakota curriculum. Well, this curriculum returned my mind to this english program but it was reading their forums that convinced me to give it a go again.

It is a solid english program. It is christian based. It is mastery learning. These are all important to me. One thing the HOD message board suggested was that if your kids disliked the program then do 2/3 orally with them, then let them do 1/3 alone. Some of the exercises don't need to be written, you can check their understanding through conversation. But some exercises are necessary and need to be written to check and practice their skills.

At first I hated the idea of doing 2/3 orally because I wanted the kids to develop independent skills in learning english. But I gave it a try and after a term of doing it this way, my son has expressed that he likes Rod and Staff now!! I never thought I would hear those words!

I purchased the teachers manual, the student workbooks and the tests. Below is what the teachers manuals look like and a sneek peek inside :)The lesson is all laid out for you around a sample of the days lesson. I don't seem to need to refer to english 2 teachers book as much as for english 4. I think as they get higher in grades it is a must have as it is good to be able to read ahead to understand what they will be doing. I have needed to refer to english 4 teachers manual when Damon was diagramming sentences as I have never been required to do this, even in teacher training!!!

I have also given a sneek peel below of a lesson in the workbooks. In workbook 2 they are simple lessons, laid out very easily for the kids. We read a few paragraphs, then we do some oral exercises and then Adele works independently practises her new skills.

In workbook 4 I noticed the instructions had become more wordy!! Sometimes a bit confusing because there are so many instructions given to one task. It is hard to remeber everything you are being required to do! But nonetheless we have persercered and it doesn't seem to be as much a problem as it was when we first started, maybe we just needed to settle into the program :)

I have a sneek peek of the test books below. I find that I not fantastic at keeping up with these. But at the beginning or the end of terms I will give them a quick test to see where they are at.

Overall I think you will either love them or you'll hate them. They do contain some very good detailed lessons. They are definately thorough, but they will not suit everyones approach to homeschool or learning style. But as my son has adapted, I think sometimes it takes time to settle into something new.

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