Monday, June 11, 2012

TOS Review: Pearson Homeschooling~ Scott Foresman Reading Street Grade 5

Pin It Now!  Welcome to the 2012 Crew year! The first vendor on deck is Pearson Education, Inc. Crew members had the opportunity to review several curricula from this company: Scott Foresman Reading Street, Scott Foresman Social Studies, enVisionMATH,  MyMathLab for Homeschool Algebra I, and  MyMathLab for Homeschool Algebra 2. My family received Reading Street for 5th grade.  Photobucket

It was exciting to receive the Scott Foresman Reading Street Grade 5 homeschool bundle in the mail. I couldn't resist thumbing through these attractive, hardback textbooks right away. Colorful, interesting pictures definitely caught my attention and made me want to start reviewing pronto!

Here's what is included in the homeschool bundle:

*Student Edition Package (2 hardback textbooks)
*Guide on the Side (Teacher handbook)
*Teachers Resource DVD
*ExamView Assessment Suite CD
*Parent Guide

Reading Street Homeschool Package Grade 5 - $124.99

I think this is a great price for a curriculum that can cover up to four subjects - Reading, Grammar, Writing, and Spelling. Keep reading for more details!

Student Edition Package

This 2-volume package is divided into 6 units, each with its own theme and "Big Question" which connects all reading, vocabulary, and writing for an entire six weeks of study. A list of spelling words for each week is included as well. There are a total of 36 weekly lessons.

  • Unit 1 - Meeting Challenges: What kinds of challenges do people face and how do they meet them?
  • Unit 2 - Doing the Right Thing: What makes people want to do the right thing?
  • Unit 3 - Inventors and Artists: What do people gain from the work of inventors and artists?
  • Unit 4 - Adapting: How do people and animals adapt to different situations?
  • Unit 5 - Adventures: Who goes seeking adventures and why?
  • Unit 6 - The Unexpected: What can we learn from encounters with the unexpected?

Each unit/theme is broken down into 6 weeks of study, each lesson featuring a different topic that relates back to the overall theme. For example:

Unit 1 - Meeting Challenges
  • Week 1 - Courage
  • Week 2 - Challenges in Nature
  • Week 3 - Survival
  • Week 4 - Personal Challenges
  • Week 5 - Life in a New Country
  • Week 6 - Interactive Review: Reader's and Writer's Notebook (This can be found on the Teachers Resource DVD-ROM.)

All units follow this format. I really like the way everything for an entire unit relates back to one theme!

Each lesson features a main reading selection and a paired reading selection from different genres. For example, reading genres covered just in unit 1 are novel, tall tale, biography, expository text, how-to text, and e-mail. Poetry is included as well at the end of the unit.

Students will also learn about different writing skills in each lesson. In unit 1 students will write directions, a tall tale, an invitation, a newsletter, and an expository composition. I really like the fact that writing is included as a weekly assignment.

Stories, excerpts from stories, and other texts your child can look forward to reading throughout the year are Island of the Blue Dolphins, Thunder Rose, Ten Mile Day, The Ch'i-lin Purse, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins, Weslandia, Exploding Ants, Ghost Towns of the American West, and many more! (Keep in mind your child will mostly be reading excerpts.)

Any additional reading outside of the textbooks can be recorded on the Reading Log, which can be printed from the Teachers Resource DVD-ROM. I like for my children to read entire works of literature throughout the year, so this is where we will keep up with that. My fifth grader feels some relief, though, that he won't have to complete comprehension guides for each novel he reads this year since we will continue using Reading Street.

Guide on the Side

Guide on the Side is a handbook (over 360 pages) not a teacher's manual. It's really meant more for a teacher in a classroom setting, but homeschool parents can certainly refer to it for suggestions, extra information, and additional support.

This guide is categorized by 10 different tabs: Oral Language, Fluency, Vocabulary/Word Analysis, Comprehension, Writing, Genre/Text Structure, Concept Development, Media Literacy, ELL (English Language Learners), and Teacher Resources. Page 6 of Guide on the Side says, "From the Oral Language tab to the Concept Development tab, you find three types of support." They are: instructional strategies and example activities, weekly routines, and instructional routines.

The rest of the guide supplies resources such as concept development charts, vocabulary and spelling lists, and social studies and science correlations to help you implement instruction.

This curriculum is meant to be flexible and tailored to each child, so you will not find detailed lesson plans in this guide. Lesson plans will be completed by you as the parent. Blank, 5-Day Planner sheets are provided on the Teachers Resource DVD-ROM.

Even though I won't be using Guide on the Side on a regular basis, it will be a great resource to have on hand when problems arise or I just need some helpful hints. I can already tell that I will be referring to the Writing tab since it seems my children can always use extra help in this area.

Teachers Resource DVD-ROM

Here is where you will find all of your instructional materials for this course in digital format. The home screen provides easy access to:
  •  All of the activities and worksheets by unit and subject
  • Digital whiteboard transparencies
  • Practice books with daily activities such as games and quizzes
  • Teaching guides (blank lesson planners and scoring rubrics for writing)
  • Vocabulary resources
I can't think of any homeschoolers I know who have projectors for digital transparencies, however these worksheets can be viewed on the computer with your child or printed off onto regular paper. They can be done with your child and used as introductory work to make sure your child understands concepts in the lesson before tackling them on his own.

Remember there are no lesson plans, so you can pick and choose what and how much work will suit your particular child. I do wish lesson planning with this program was initially a little easier. It was frustrating at first trying to figure out how to put it all together.

Exam View Assessment Suite CD

This is a CD which allows you to create, customize, and print your own tests. Pretty nifty, huh?
Although I think this is a nice option for homeschoolers, I am glad that this CD includes existing tests, too. So far this option has been the best for me because of time, but I hope to utilize other options later on as needed.

Parent Guide

This is a 5-page guide which introduces you to Reading Street. It's an overview that will help you prepare and learn how to use all of the materials that are included in the homeschool bundle. It also gives advice on planning lessons and adapting the curriculum to meet your child's specific needs.

Using Reading Street

My son, who is now a 5th grader, showed quite a bit of resistance to this curriculum at first. (It was his 8th grade brother and 2nd grade sister who were looking through the books wishing it was for them instead.) As I was introducing the course, I think he was overwhelmed by all of the worksheets I'd printed out just for lesson 1.

This might seem like a lot of work for one subject (there are more than 8 worksheets - more like 30), but I kept trying to tell him it covered four. His wall was already up, and he just couldn't get past all those worksheets. He is used to having all of his subjects basically separate from one another. To him, combining subjects seemed like more work.

I, on the other hand, really thought he would like the curriculum if he'd just give it a chance. This is the child I have mentioned in other reviews who likes and needs variety when it comes to the subject of reading - which this curriculum offers. So, I had to come up with a way to make Reading Street more appealing to him. Here's what I did:

I know it's hard to tell from the picture, but all I did was get three of his 3-ring binders and separate all of the worksheets by subject/category, six in all. I put spelling and vocabulary together, reading and writing together, and grammar and tests together. It was a little bit of work on my part because they are not grouped together this way on the Teachers Resource DVD, but it did the trick. The amount of work for each subject seemed much more manageable when he saw it presented this way, and his wall came tumbling down. Hurray! Honestly, I like grouping it this way, too - much more orderly.

Also, once he began reading the stories in the student books, he became more interested. So far his favorites are The Hindenburg and King Midas and the Golden Touch. I really like all of the illustrations!

While this is a complete curriculum in and of itself, I wish we'd had access to all of the online activities that are suggested throughout the book. Not having that option makes you feel like you are missing out on something. Plus, I think it would be helpful for homeschoolers to have the option in order to maybe cut back on printing so many worksheets. The online part isn't necessary, though, to teach Reading Street.

One more thing before I close - this curriculum is not written from a Christian perspective, however, I personally haven't found anything yet that contradicts our beliefs. There is a section on dinosaurs, but it's more about constructing models of them - I didn't see anything about evolution and the earth being billions and billions of years old. Please note that I haven't read both books cover to cover, so if I do come across something questionable, I will just use the opportunity as a teachable moment. :)

I recommend Reading Street Grade 5 to parents who like the idea of several subjects relating back to one overall theme and don't mind doing a little extra behind-the-scenes preparation to tailor this program to your child. I probably wouldn't have sought this curriculum out on my own, but now that I have had a chance to review it, I really do like it. It's modern, colorful, and full of variety. Check it out!

*See what other Crew Members are saying about Pearson Education, Inc.


Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.


danielle @ RLR said...

Clearly I need to be your neighbor so you can organize my worksheets too! :P

Following you back...


Pearson Homeschool said...

Thanks for reviewing our product and posting such great things. Feel free to follow us on our new Facebook account.

Anonymous said...

HI Brandi,

I love this program also, but have been unsuccessful in getting tests to print from the Examview assesment suite. I've used the other teacher resource disc with no problems. I can't even find the tests to print out on the examview disc. Any suggestions?

Brandi said...

It’s been 6 years since I used this program, so I honestly don’t know. Is there someone from the program you could email?


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