Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Readers in Residence (A Homeschool Crew Review)

When it comes to trusting homeschool curriculum to be aligned with Biblical truths, there's one company that instantly comes to mind- Apologia Educational Ministries.  Most homeschool families who wish to teach a spiritual based science curriculum are familiar with the line of Apologia Science offerings, but what many may not be aware of is that Apologia also offers curriculum in the line of Language Arts.  For the past few weeks, Ashleigh has been working through Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth), a reading comprehension curriculum for grades 4 and up.

For the purpose of this review, we were given the two book full set which includes:

Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) Student Text and Workbook 
This 562 page, full color, spiral bound text includes both student lessons as well as all activities and work required. Targeted Grade Level: 4-6 (but could used with struggling readers at higher grades)

Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) Answer Key Book 
This softbound answer key book contains all the answers for the activities and questions found in the Student Text and Workbook.

This two book set can be purchased together from the Apologia website for $89 .

About Readers in Residence 

Written by Debra Bell, Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) is a one year Language Arts curriculum that focuses on helping students develop the tools necessary to read "beyond the lines" in order to comprehend the story they are reading beyond just face value.  Sleuth is the first offering in the Readers In Residence series: other books in the series will be released in the future.

Readers in Residence guides students as they read through various genres of fictional books. Genres include Historical Fiction, Animal Fantasy, and Contemporary Realistic Fiction as students read through novels such as Sarah, Plain and Tall, Charlotte's Web and Because of Winn Dixie.  (Books must be acquired separately and are not included with the set).  While reading each book selection, students also read lessons in the text about things such as plot, setting, context, personification, metaphors and similes and hyperbole.

Activities in the workbook focus on skills like recognizing the characters and recognizing "clues" that the author uses to help you understand each character better, learning to make inferences based on what the author has written, discovering the meaning of unknown words based on the context in which they are written, and understanding the accepted conventions authors use when writing. Students also learn the skills necessary to recognize literary elements that authors use and understand their intent in writing a particular story.

Vocabulary Building and Learning How To Use a Dictionary

Also included are lessons entitled "Sowing Seeds" which focus on important lessons that can be learned from the text that can be used in the student's everyday life and pairing them with scripture from the Bible to reiterate how these are behaviors that God wants from us.

How We Used It

While Readers in Residence  is aimed at Grades 4 and up,  I decided to use this program with Ashleigh to help push her beyond her comfort zone when it comes to reading.  While we consider Ashleigh a 3rd grader on paper, she does excel beyond her grade level in Language Arts and Reading and I felt this might be a great option to help accelerate her beyond where we currently are with her.   After researching the Readers in Residence program, including downloading the sample pages available on the Apologia website,  I felt that the workload and reading level would be perfect for her.

Deep Concentration 
This is a program that older students could easily do independently as it's easy to follow and stay on track as students work through the text. There is a schedule provided in the beginning of the workbook which gives suggestions to how much work should be completed daily and students are able to check off each assignment as it is completed.  Since Ashleigh is a bit younger than the intended targeted age group, we did lessons together rather than have her complete them independently.  Typically, I would read the lessons aloud to her, she would read the required chapter of the novel to me and together we would read and discuss the questions and work through the daily activities.  This worked well for the both of us, allowing Ashleigh to work on her reading but also avoiding being overwhelmed.

Currently, we are working through the book Sarah, Plain and Tall which is a book we have not read
before. After Ashleigh reads through each chapter of the book, she returns to the workbook to complete the activities that coincide with the chapter.  We found that the suggested schedule seems to fit well with what she can handle each day and the activities, while challenging for her, are not too complicated for her. The text does a great job at breaking down each concept into terms she can understand easily and require very little extra explanation from me as the teacher.

One of my biggest gripes about workbooks for the kids is that there never seems to be enough writing space for them, as they tend to write letters bigger that the lines typically accommodate. Because of this, Ashleigh (and Garrett as well) tend to get extremely frustrated when doing work out of a preprinted workbook.   I do not have this gripe with this workbook.  Each question provides enough lines and plenty of space between each line  for Ashleigh to write her answers, which really cuts down on her frustration.

Loads of Writing Space Means Less Frustration for Younger Writers

Overall, I'm really impressed with Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) and it has been a perfect fit for Ashleigh.  First, I am grateful that the books included are popular books currently in print and are not more obscure texts that are harder to find.  Paperback copies are easily acquired online or at a brick and mortar book store. They can also easily be found at any public library.  Second, the workbook text and questions are at the perfect level for my advanced 3rd grader.  I also like that the answer key is separate from the student text/workbook, meaning that I don't have to worry about Ashleigh simply copying the answers from the back of the book.  I like that the material breaks down the concepts into understandable text that young students can understand.  I like that this material is challenging enough for Ashleigh without being over her head.  It pushes her just enough without overwhelming her.  We've had no tears in the four weeks we have been using this curriculum, which is always a plus, and she's actually enjoyed the reading as well as the book work.

#hsreviews #readersinresidence #homeschoolreading

To learn more about Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) and Apologia Educational Ministries, be sure to visit their website or one of their social media sites:

Instagram:  www.instagram.com/apologiaworld   @apologiaworld

Twitter: www.twitter.com/apologiaworld   @apologiaworld

Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}

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