Tuesday, September 15, 2009

write with the best (and more from EDUDPS)

EDUDPS, Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services, sounds a little intimidating, right? No worries. Hiding behind that moniker are some wonderful homeschool programs. We were fortunate to be able to use and assess several of them as part of the TOS Crew.

  • Root and Fruits: This is a very comprehensive “stems” program that includes instructions for use with all ages. My daughter began learning Greek and Latin stems (or roots, as they were called when I was a kid) in sixth grade in public school. My son started in fourth grade, our first year of homeschooling. I truly believe that the introduction of Greek and Latin early and often is a key component of vocabulary building and I really think you can start at any age. Roots and Fruits includes games and activities for a variety of grade levels. The program also includes 205 of the most commonly tested words on the SAT and more than 1700 vocabulary words in all. I am convinced that learning stems is making my son a much better reader and a better thinker because he is able to discern so much more of what he reads. I think that is critical, especially for kids who do not have a natural tendency toward written language. (As of this writing, the program is $11.25 for the e-book, $17.48 for pages only, and $19.98 for comb binding.)
  • The Complete Career, College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers: This was fun! Sometimes I think my son misses out on little things in the public school experience (you know – bullying, drugs, peer pressure… just kidding, mostly). Anywho… My daughter completed career assessments beginning in sixth grade and continuing each year through tenth grade, I believe. My son finally had the chance with this program. I will say that this kid is an open book and the assessments in this program confirmed what I already knew about his learning styles, strengths, weaknesses and interests, but it was nice to get objective corroboration. This program can be a big help in middle and high school planning. If your child is excelling and has clear ideas about interests, possible college majors, etc., I don’t think this is critical by any means. If you aren’t sure of his or her learning styles and strengths, this might be a good place to start. (As of this writing, the program is $26.20 for the e-book and $30.95 for the soft cover edition.)
  • And now, my favorites: Write with the Best, Volumes 1 and 2. Ack! I can’t tell you how many writing programs I have tried. I feel like I have tried them all, really. My son doesn’t enjoy writing (oh, the irony!) and sees it as needless torture that he must endure before getting to history, math and science. While he still has days of frustration with this, he is writing wonderfully descriptive paragraphs with minimal complaint – they are good, complete paragraphs with vivid imagery. I can’t tell you what a breakthrough this is. The formula for this program is deceptively simple. Each unit begins with a passage of great writing. (There are nine units per volume – ten days per unit.) Each ten-day unit is broken down into bite-sized objectives that lead students to thoroughly (and painlessly!) analyze a passage of classic literature and then use lessons learned from that analysis to create their own work. It is simple but remarkably effective for my son. There are suggestions for using the program with different learning styles, as well as “how to” references for many types of writing. Volume One (descriptive writing) is recommended for grades 3 – 12 and it could easily cover an entire year of language and composition. Volume Two (expository and informative writing) is for grades 6 – 12. For older students, each volume could cover a semester. The program seems to be widely adaptable for ages and strengths. It is dead-on perfect for my reluctant writer. (As of this writing, Volume One is $14.95 for the e-book, $22.45 for pages only, and $24.95 for the pages in a three-ring binder. Volume Two is priced slightly higher.)


While I am so very pleased with my son’s progress with Write with the Best, I found the e-book delivery method was a challenge. As a homeschooler, I have downloaded many e-books and almost all have been in pdf format, often watermarked to deter copying/selling. Easy, peasy. EDUDPS uses pdfs that must be downloaded through a secure file viewer. Their customer service was wonderful, but I did find the download process difficult. Though we were emailed these products for review, if I had purchased them on my own, I definitely would have bought a printed copy and I would recommend that to others as well. WWTB, in particular, has been a tremendous asset in our homeschool, but the e-book restrictions almost kept me away. (And with the considerable length of WWTB, it is probably cheaper to buy the printed copy anyway.) YMMV.

Now, go write something wonderful.

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