I mentioned a while back that I was looking for something new for English, since Hannah had finished hers for the year, and Jack's wasn't really working for him. We were blessed with the opportunity to review Essentials 2nd Edition from Logic of English, which is an entire language arts program.
Now, I consider myself a seasoned homeschool teacher. I've been doing this for 18 years. But I was pretty overwhelmed when the large package showed up. The teacher's book is a hardcover book the size of a telephone directory for the whole county I grew up in. We received one Essentials Student Workbook and one Spelling Journal, and I ordered an additional copy of each of those so that I could use the program with Jack and Hannah together.
We also received lots of packs of flash cards and game cards. I wasn't quite sure how I wanted to store them at first; they didn't all fit in this little tote that I tried. And there was a digital download of the Essentials Readers. So I was pretty nervous going into it, thinking this was going to be a really large, labor intensive program.
But we bravely got started. Here, my students are all playing one of the games together, which is great. Jack is 11, and he's a struggling reader. Hannah is 8, and Katie is 5, and it in the emerging reader stage. Jack and Hannah have the Essentials workbooks and the Spelling Journals. Katie merely observes most of the time, or is busy doing her own thing.
Getting into the morphemes unearthed the memory of Mrs. Richter having our whole class chant, "Ah, ay, aw, eh, eee, ih, eye, ah, owe, oo, uh, you, ooh," every morning in second grade. So I recreated the vowel chart I remembered and we started saying it together, too. Having a visual aid has helped Jack with long and short vowel sounds, and I see him glancing at it when we're discussing how to spell a word.
As we waded in, I realized that the teacher's book is actually Volume 1, and is broken down into 15 weekly lessons, and 5 days per lesson. You can, of course, go slower if you need to, or use it in a 4 day school week, if that's the style that suits your family best, but this structure works for us. Volume 2, lessons 16-30, is set to release in January of 2017. These brand new books are 2nd Edition, an update of the older version of Essentials.
In the photo above, we modified one of the games to use our letter tiles in the squares in the workbook. Jack and Hannah are playing the game, and Katie is working on her math.
In this photo, we used buttons to play bingo. The kids like the games, and often want to play them longer than I do.
The Essentials Reader that I mentioned earlier is a digital download. Honestly, I'd forgotten all about it until the handy dandy teacher's guide included it as part of our 4th day of using the program. I called the kids over to my computer, pulled it up, and we went over the vocabulary words together, then I had Jack and Hannah alternate reading aloud the one page passage. Easy! The passages range from tongue twisters, to fiction, to non-fiction, and my kids thought the bed racing one was really interesting! I think if this was a printed book, my kids would wander off with it and read the whole thing in one sitting. The PDF is actually two files: the screen version, which is what we're using; and a printable version, which can be printed off and made into a booklet.
We all like that we're doing different things, like using highlighters, flash cards, or white boards.
The further into the program we got, the more I found my "sea legs" and started feeling comfortable and confident in teaching it. For me, it took about 2 weeks of M-F use. It's a meaty program, but it's not difficult to teach, and the kids are enjoying it.
I like that the teacher's manual is scripted, so I can read parts of it aloud to the kids while teaching. But I also go beyond the script. We come up with our own examples of words with the morphemes we're discussing, or we'll count syllables in a few extra words, etc. I find myself very grateful for the white board Paul hung in our school room when I teach Essentials. It gets a good workout.
One interesting thing about this program is that it's multi-level. I think this was part of what was hard for me to wrap my head around in the beginning. Once I gave Jack and Hannah each the Placement Test included in the teacher's guide, I decided the best place for them to work together would be level B. The nice thing is, I could re-use this book next year to teach them level C, and the year after, I'm betting Katie would be ready for level A. One family could use the same teacher's guide over and over for all 3 levels for several students, bringing the price per year down considerably.
Being that it is a multi-level program, I can sometimes cover some of the Level A materials with my Level B students if it's a concept they're really unfamiliar with, or we need more practice. The student workbooks are set up so that page such and such is a spelling test for all levels, it just depends on what list the teacher reads. The teacher guide will tell you if something is ALL, A, B, or C, and has little symbols to indicate when the students use their Spelling Journal, or their Essentials workbook, which is almost an inch thick.
This curriculum has affected the way I teach. One morning I was giving Katie her spelling words, not from this program, but from the book she's been using, and I said, "Kim." Then I paused and said, "Tall /k/." She said, "Yeah. Not a C." I was blown away. She's hearing me teach the older kids, and some of it is sinking in for her, too.
You can connect with Logic of English on Facebook, YouTube, or Pinterest. They even have a pin board for ideas for organizing all the flash cards and game cards that come with Essentials! I ended up buying a lidded plastic card box and some colored plastic envelopes to organize mine. You can read what other Crew families have to say about Essentials or Foundations by clicking the box below.
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