Monday, July 7, 2014

Moving Beyond the Page (Schoolhouse Review)

Homeschool Curriculum for Creative, Hands-On, and Gifted Learners

Company: Moving Beyond the Page

Products Reviewed:

Industrialization, Urbanization, and Immigration

These units are designed for ages 12-14.

Moving Beyond the Page is a preschool through middle school curriculum geared for gifted learners. Each age level includes 10-12 individual units for the core subjects of language arts, science, and social studies. Each of these units is self-contained and can stand alone, although the program is designed so that the concepts the child will learn are sequential within an age level and are best studied in order. Additionally, many of the science, social studies, and language arts units coordinate with each other, reinforcing concepts across subject lines.

What makes Moving Beyond the Page different from other curricula?

Each unit includes a guide with reading assignments, web links, comprehension and application questions, hands-on activities, and research assignments.  Novels and fascinating science and history books form the meat of the program, rather than dry textbooks. Many units also include science kits or DVD’s that are beneficial for presenting information in different ways and appealing to children with different learning styles. Activities and questions that promote critical thinking and creativity are helpful for average children as well as those who are academically gifted.

Animal Farm Study

Each of the novels haves have different focuses. For Animal Farm, the emphasis was on grammar, particularly parts of speech and the proper use of pronouns and their antecedents. The concepts of writing friendly letters and business letters were taught and practiced. The literary elements of topic, plot, and theme were reviewed. Comprehension questions were included for each chapter, and the parallels between this plot and the Russian Revolution was discussed. The daily activities were always different, ranging from writing letters to grammar worksheets, to analysis of the various characters and their motivations. Most of this unit involved simple pencil and paper work, which is what Emily prefers. Emily enjoyed Animal Farm and loved doing this study. She completed it independently, with little oversight from me. All I had to do was check her work and engage her in some discussion about the book and concepts.

Industrialization, Urbanization, and Immigration Study

Emily loved the core texts for this course: America, The Story of US (DVD) and We Were There, Too: Young People in US History. These two resources are used throughout the 12-14 year old social studies curriculum and I recommend them to supplement any US history course. The DVD is a History Channel mini-series and is very interesting. We Were There, Too tells short stories about real boys and girls throughout history who were witnesses or participants in a large variety of historical events and walks of life—suffragists, mill workers, the Civil War burning of Atlanta, the Alamo, and so on. Emily didn’t just read the assigned chapters in this book-she disappeared for hours at a time reading the various stories!

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During this study, Emily analyzed the reasons that many immigrants left their homes. She practiced note-taking with the DVD while learning about railroads, western settlement, native Americans, and cowboys. She wrote her opinions about whether industrialists like Carnegie were innovators or robber barons. She wrote slogans encouraging citizens to do their parts to support World War I. As her final project, she completed a scrapbook for a fictional immigrant, with ticket stubs, photos, captions, etc. that chronicled his life.

Each of the units required about an hour of time each day for 3-4 weeks to complete. We reviewed other units from Moving Beyond the Page last year (at the 11-13 year old level) that took significantly more time to complete, so it appears that the units do vary somewhat in their intensity. We found this to be just right. Emily maintained her enthusiasm throughout the studies and would like to do more.

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Working on her Immigrant Scrapbook

Online Guides vs. Printed Guides

We used an online guide for Animal Farm and a physical guide for Industrialization, Urbanization, and Immigration, so I was able to compare the two. Each has its own unique advantages.

The online guide is a little cheaper to buy. Your purchase provides 3 months of access to the guide. There is a student view, which Emily used on her computer, and a parent/teacher view, which I displayed on my computer. (It’s easy to switch back and forth between the two.) The parent view gives answers, cues the parent into the concepts being taught, and suggests additional questions for discussion. There are many reading comprehension and activity pages that need to be printed, but the directions must be read online. I printed out all of the printable pages before Emily started and put them in a binder for her, but they could be printed as needed. Some lessons have several activity options for the student to choose between, so I did end up printing more pages than we actually used.  Both guides include a lot of online links to follow for additional information. In this area, the online guide had an advantage with its clickable links.

The physical guide is a spiral-bound book that includes teaching material, photographs and pictures, activity directions, workbook pages, and internet links. The parent material is all at the back of the book. Emily preferred this format even though she had to type in all the web links. I think it’s just easier to pick up a book rather than to log onto the computer. Because the activity pages are integrated into the book, and copying is not permissible, the book is consumable and cannot be used with a second child.

Conclusion:

I think that Moving Beyond the Page curriculum is wonderful. I love that one can purchase individual units, making it easy to use as a full program or as a supplement to another curriculum. Also the complete program would be a little expensive for us, personally, but we can easily afford to purchase several units to supplement other studies.

I love that it uses “real” books, hands-on activities, and encourages creativity. I love that the planning is all done for me and that the upper levels can be done without a lot of parent involvement. At 14, that’s the way Emily prefers to work. The book asks the “hard” questions, so I don’t necessarily have to, but she still has to think critically instead of “going through the motions.” These particular units provided just the right amount of hands-on activity for Emily. She gets burned out with too much cutting and pasting or lengthy projects, but small amounts are fun for her.

My only small concern about these units is that they are not reusable for multiple children in the family. The online units expire after 3 months (although I believe you can reuse them for a fee) and the printed books are workbooks. Some of the levels offer separate worksheets packet that can be purchased, but these don’t seem to be available for the older age groups. It would be really nice if permission were granted to copy some of the pages for use within a family as is the case with many homeschool products, especially since the book is part text, part workbook.. Since Emily is my youngest child, this isn’t an issue for me, but I think this would be a drawback if I had several children and knew that my investment in the curriculum would not extend to the whole family.

All in all, I think this is a fun, creative, and easy-to-use curriculum and I recommend it for any homeschool family looking for a creative, non-textbook curriculum.

 

Click to read Crew Reviews

I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.

 

1 comment:

  1. We used The House of Scorpion and Genetics and DNA as our two review products. They are also from 12-14 level. I've been contemplating Animal Farm and I think you've convinced me that I do need to pick that up for my daughter. Thank you for describing some of the topics covered for LA!

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