6/30/13

{Crew Review} Moving Beyond the Page

One of the best things about being a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew is discovering new vendors and new curriculum. I prefer to educate using a literature based approach to learning so I was delighted to get to try two units from Moving Beyond the Page.

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Each crew member selected for this review got to choose a Language Arts Unit and could then choose either a social studies unit or a science unit. Tailorbear loves studying Greek Mythology so her first choice for a language arts unit was Greek Myths which uses D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. She also loves all things ancient, especially ancient Egypt! Her face lit up at the thought of choosing Egypt and Mesopotamia, a semester 1 unit for social studies. This unit uses the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of the Ancient World.

Moving Beyond the Page (MBTP) is a literature based curriculum that integrates language arts, social studies and science.  Yes, each unit is labeled Language Arts or Social Studies or Science but even while studying social studies, the student would be developing language arts skills and while focusing on language skills the student might also learn social studies or science concepts. MBTP offers full curriculum programs or you can purchase individual units to supplement your current program. You can purchase packages with or without the books and manipulatives.  We were sent all the literature and some of the manipulatives that we needed for our two units. Look what physical products I received in addition to my Language Arts unit (online format)!

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With MBTP, students interact with the material they’ve read by completing a variety of activities.  For example in lesson 1 of the Egypt and Mesopotamia Unit, Tailorbear participated in a virtual online archeological dig after reading about archeology in the Usborne Encyclopedia. In another lesson, this time from Greek Myths, she created a comic book cover for one of the gods. Some children need to experience the material in non-traditional ways in order to fully process and retain the information.  Tailorbear is one such student. She learns by doing.

Moving Beyond the Page offers two different formats: Physical and Online.  We received the online format for our Language Arts unit and the physical format for our social studies unit. I found advantages and disadvantages to both styles:

Physical Format

Advantages

Disadvantages
  • Spiral Bound; Pages ready to use
  • Includes all the pages for all the options so contains items you won’t use (See advantage for Online version)
  • Check off boxes for each activity
  • Pages for activities are at the end of the lesson. (See advantage for Online version)
  • I can read the parent/instructor sections easier in physical format
  • Must type in the included links (See advantage for Online Version)
   

Online Format

  • links are clickable
  • no check off box for each activity for each day’s work
  • Only need to print out the pages we are going to use and can do that as we go
  • Harder for me to grasp the teacher instructions.  I think I need to hold them, touch them, and read them in physical format. (This could be an advantage for someone else)
   
I still can’t make up my mind which I prefer. I think what I would really like is a combo. I’d love for a physical parent guide with online student access.  Tailorbear, however, has a clear preference for the online version. For her “skipping” optional things on computer was easier because she wasn’t having to rip them out of the book.  She just didn’t have to print the optional items. (A note about optional: some activities were optional.  Some activities had more than one option for completing.)

Using and Adapting MBTP in my home:

At the Age 11-13 level which is typically used by students in 6th through 8th grade students would complete one lesson (or one day of a multiple day lesson) in each of Language Arts, Science, or Social Studies.  You would need to add in your own math curriculum. The section “How to Use Moving Beyond the Page” suggests that a typical day of using the program as a comprehensive curriculum would include 4 hours on science, social studies, and language arts lessons. They also recommend 1 hour on a math curriculum of your choice. There are some other recommendations as well for vocabulary or spelling or physical activity, etc. 

We decided to start by following the recommendation of one lesson (or one day of a multiple day lesson) of both Language Arts and Social Studies. I could not imagine trying to add in a day’s worth of science as well. This curriculum is packed to overloading with activities that require thought and effort in addition to time. This is not a bad thing. But the structure of the daily lessons were too much for my daughter as written. For example in Lesson 5 (a 2 day lesson) of the social studies unit, the student is assigned to read 24 pages of text.  That’s 12 two-page spreads. From an Encyclopedia that crams lots of information in small text on each page.  This is a large amount of information to process in one sitting.  I do appreciate though that they implement methods to help process that information.  One skill taught in this particular unit is “pre-reading”.  She has questions to answer after pre-reading that need to be answered before doing a careful reading. In addition she is encouraged, but not required at this time, to write a short summary of each two-page section as she reads. This is only the first part of the day’s work. For my daughter and our home school, this is too much for one day. A later lesson assigns 33 pages!

What worked better for us was to slow down the pace of the reading. I required her to do the summaries. This allowed her the opportunity to savor and digest the content of the pages. The reading was no longer a chore to be endured. Once she finished the last of the reading she would answer the questions. So for the 12 two-page spreads she did 6 on day one, 6 on day two, answered the question.  Then the next day she did activities. In essence she took 3 days to complete 1 day as scheduled.

Thoughts from Tailorbear (finishing up 8th grade):

“I really enjoyed doing this. Some of the questions made me think. I especially loved the activities. I’m an activities person. As long as there’s something crafty to do, I don’t really mind questions. I think the reading was a bit much. I really loved reading about the Greek Myths, and Egyptian history! I really think this furthered my studies.”

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My Bottom Line:

I first have to confess that I was little bit worried that this would be below Tailorbear’s level. It said ages 11-13 and she turned 14 this past March.  The website also said that it was typically used by students in 6-8th grade.  But I was still skeptical. I was wrong. This very full curriculum had plenty of meat for my nearly-finished-with-8th-grade daughter.

I’m not so much a hands on crafty type of person, but Tailorbear is. Though I didn’t like the way the lessons were scheduled, I love the concept and I think this program is a wonderful choice for Tailorbear. She needs to be stretched and challenged but she also requires it to be fun. Once we adjusted the schedule to better suit us, it became the educational, but fun, challenge that she needs. This has been a good way to wrap up and finish 8th grade in preparation for the amount of time she will spend doing high school level work.

I like the inclusion of timeline work (which we adapted because we did not have their timeline materials) and geography/map work.  I also like the inclusion of art, drama, and poetry in both the social studies and language arts units. Tailorbear enjoyed writing an acrostic poem, writing a play, planning a menu, and designing a comic book cover.

I found that this curriculum could be easily adapted for our needs. We could slow it down and add more activities such as playing Go Fish for Ancient Egypt. Tailorbear decided to create a whole comic book rather than stopping at just the cover. We liked this program and I wish I had known about this curriculum several years ago.

Nitty Gritty Details:

  • Vendor: Moving Beyond the Page
  • Recommended Age: 11-13 (6th-8th grade)
  • Format: Physical or Online (access is for 90 days but MBTP will extend that access if needed)
  • Language Arts: Greek Myths $68.78

The Schoolhouse Review Crew reviewed units from all levels so be sure to visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about Moving Beyond the Page.

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

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