Friday, April 27, 2012

Reviews Delayed Due to Family Illness

The reviews I had planned to post this week have been interrupted by an extended hospital stay with one of my children. We began our stay with the ER and ICU on Sunday afternoon, and my daughter is now stable enough for me to update here on my blog.

My family appreciates all the prayers, visits, calls and extensions of sympathy at this time. I also appreciate the patience of curriculum vendors who understand my own need to focus on getting my daughter well at this time. We hope to be released from the hospital next week, and reviews will be posted as usual when I am able to do so.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Joy and Sorrow, Praise and Pain

Although I have not written lately, many blog posts have been in my mind, awaiting an opportunity to share. Here are some highlights of the many I have wished to share lately:

My daughter, "Venturer" completed her NYLT training, had her braces removed, and just achieved very good to excellent scores on her ASVAB test. We will be going over her possible career options in upcoming months and discussing them and planning for them. She seems to have become more interested in math and science than in English since she took the ACT Explore test. She is huge blessing to me, and I thank God for her daily.

My son "Knothead" (so nicknamed due to his excellent knot-tying abilities) achieved his Star scout rank in December, and we awarded him his patch in January. He is already narrowing in on Life scout, looking forward to summer camp (especially earning the Robotics merit badge!), and contemplating working on his Eagle project this summer. He is now taller than his sister, and turning into a young man of character.

My two younger children continue to be as entertaining as always, always saying and doing funny things. They are such a joy to our family, always lighting up the room with their presence.

And my middle child, my daughter, "Princess Buttercup" has continued to be ill. She has seen many specialists and has finally been diagnosed with a very rare genetic disorder. Some similar cases exist, though hers is unique, and this week the Geneticist will tell us about other cases and what we can expect. To date, we really still don't know what to expect in terms of my daughter's health and treatment. Praise God, that she has turned to faith in Him and will soon be baptized. For now, we are all turning to Him who is faithful to walk with us down this dark road and strengthen us.

At a time like this, the book of Job has been my comfort. I do not understand why our family is undergoing this trial. I only know that He has some good purpose in it. The following verses sum up my experience of the past five months, seeking answers to help my daughter.

"But when I hoped for good, evil came,
And when I waited for light, darkness came.
My inward parts are in turmoil and never still;
days of affliction come to meet me."
Job 30:26-27 ESV

And yet,

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
Romans 8:28 ESV

I am deeply appreciative of the many friends who have been praying for our family during this time.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: Write With World

Teaching Writing. A struggle in your home or a joy? This often difficult and perplexing subject can be made at least a little easier with the folks at WORLD magazine and God's World's News. Write With WORLD is a new middle school curriculum designed to make writing enjoyable--an effort much appreciated in our household. Read Martin Olasky's recent article for WORLD magazine lamenting modern writing methods to see a little of the philosophy behind this new writing program.

My own seventh grade son was the test subject in our home for this pilot version of this program designed for 6th through 9th graders, which should be released in its final form for the 2012-13 school year. At that time the complimentary website for this curriculum will also go "live," and offer additional writing and online publishing opportunities for students using this curriculum.

So, back to my son. Writing lover he is not. Future engineer or computer scientist would be a more accurate description of him, actually. So, will this program work for a kid like him?

This program comes with a non-consumable teacher's manual and student book set. You provide your choice of notebook, binder, or journal to serve as the student's journal. We used a standard bound composition book--blue in color, to match the student book, naturally.

Although our version of Write With WORLD did not contain a table of contents or page numbers, the final version will. Suffice it to say for now, that the teacher and student books are about 3/4" thick and very substantive. It is illustrated with color photographs. This curriculum contains four units with four weekly lessons containing five daily lessons apiece. At times, you will be expected to locate magazine ads or articles, and God's World News could be used, but is not required. My son used Boy's Life magazine when necessary.

So, this curriculum could be used in a semester, with a separate semester devoted to literature. Or weeks could be alternated between writing or literature, or you could choose an alternate arrangement of the material.

What does each unit cover?

Unit One challenges the student writer to think about the writing process and pay attention to the arrangement of careful details and careful word choice. Students are challenged to ask questions and try options as they build skill in identifying strong and weak writing. This is the unit that we actually worked in for the review period, and I think it does a great job of starting at the most basic level at which students need to begin--the stage of critical thinking, observation and description.

Unit Two takes this knowledge a step further by helping students apply their knowledge to building sentences and paragraphs which logically demonstrate their ideas.

Unit Three focuses on autobiography, as well as research and organizational skills. This unit is designed to draw out reluctant writers by giving them a subject to research about which they are already familiar--themselves.

Unit Four teaches how to write narrative. Fiction is touched on toward the end, but the focus is on relaying a personal experience. Relevant, specific details are again emphasized, and the development of purpose is revisited.

Our family's verdict?

Mom likes this curriculum, but acknowledges that it will probably be most effective when the website to accompany it goes "live" in September. The first unit was not overly teacher-intensive, either, though I anticipate further units may be more intensive. It is possible that the teacher helps intended to be provided on the new website may prove an excellent help for parents.

My son really enjoyed reading the student book, but still struggled to get his thoughts onto paper. Is this unusual for him? No. He was still able to complete the assignments, with some prodding. Would the website with the opportunities to use technology and interaction have helped keep him motivated better? Probably. We are undecided as to whether to continue with this curriculum in August or not, but I tentatively recommend its use for this age student, anticipating the website to complete and complement the texts.

Write With WORLD costs:

$95 for Year One
$95 for Year Two
$165 for BOTH years

All packages include the student book, teacher's manual and an online subscription to the website for either one or two years. The publishers are considering publishing a high school curriculum for 2013-14, as well as the possibility of an electronic version of this curriculum. Interested in either? Feel free to leave a comment, as the publishers would love to know the interest level.

Disclaimer: As a member of the Homeschool Crew, I received the Write With WORLD student book and teacher's manual to review. Since the online subscription has not yet become available, I am unable to comment on it. To read other reviews of this product, please visit the Homeschool Crew blog page.