Parent teachers looking for prepared curriculum in language arts
fundamentals may want to look into the Elements of Language series
from Holt, Rinehart and Winston (now Holt McDougal). The edition
reviewed here includes the student text in hardcover ($65.95) and
the Teacher One Stop on CD ROM ($135).
At first blush, it appears that everything one needs for a complete
and comprehensive introduction to grammar and the writing process
is at your fingertips in this pairing of student text and teacher
resources. Depending on your teaching style and approach to classroom
management, that may be the case. However, we found some possible
limitations to the usefulness of the Teacher One Stop when
used in the homeschool environment.
The Teacher One Stop is easy to install and can be set
up to be completely accessible on your computer. You also have
the option to save hard drive space by setting the system up to
run from the CD ROM. Resources such as lesson plans and printable
materials are easy to find by keyword searching. You can customize
the system with your own keywords and edit lesson plans to match
your unique needs. The Teacher One Stop also includes
a complete copy of the teacher's wrap-around edition of the textbook.
As with the other resources, the teacher's edition is fully searchable.
Unfortunately, it is not printable. That is not a problem in a
traditional classroom, where the teacher sits at a desk in front
of her students. If your classroom is not organized that way, a
netbook or an iPad and a subscription to LogMeIn.com can give you
access to the machine in your home where the Teacher One Stop is
installed. A more practical solution for most families is to purchase
the bound teacher's edition instead.
Among the printables in the Teacher One Stop are resources
for a spelling curriculum that is not included with the package.
There are other resources mentioned in the teacher's edition that
are not included in the Teacher One Stop. Depending on
your approach, you may want to purchase the cross-referenced resources
to use with this curriculum. It would be better as a prepared curriculum
for all of the resources to match up based on the edition you buy.
A teacher has no way of knowing what is included without purchasing
the Teacher One Stop and playing with it for a few weeks.
As we worked through the first few chapters, it became clear that
the separate resources would be valuable indeed, if their quality
is close to this curriculum.
Also included in the Teacher One Stop are an assessment
suite, a puzzle maker and a calendar planner. With a subscription
to companion services on Holt's website, the assessment suite and
calendar planner are useful tools for teachers in a traditional
setting to administer tests online and to communicate with parents
and students. PuzzlePro ® is a clever tool that does
just what the name implies.
The student textbook is organized into three parts. The first
section provides a brief preparatory course for students getting
ready to take standardized reading and writing tests. This tool
does a great job of linking the student from the "test world" to
the "real world," with cross-references to the places in the main
body of the text where the related topics are covered more in-depth.
The main body of the text is devoted to a thorough and systematic
review of basic English grammar. The course begins with subjects
and verbs and builds to complete sentences, paragraphs, and essays.
The second part emphasizes the writing process in a variety of
applications, with exercises and optional activities that get the
students involved in their writing. The activities and projects
in this section are well worth the price of the textbook because
they give students exposure to the writing process in such a wide
variety of ways.
The textbook has all the characteristics of modern public school
textbooks, with lots of interesting graphics, call-outs, and sidebar
articles. These are all great features but can sometimes be distracting
when overused. For our purposes, they tended to be distracting,
particularly with the frequent jumps to other sections of the book.
This probably is not a result of poor planning or organization
on the publisher's part. It reflects a philosophy among educators
that cross-referencing can expose a student to concepts related
to what they're learning.
While the Teacher One Stop and the student edition make
a great companion set, some parent teachers may find the teacher's
wrap-around and the student text to be more economical. However,
the printable and worksheets you lose with this combination can
be replaced by similar exercises that are available for free on
many websites. Our favorite of these remains the Online Writing
Lab at Purdue University ( www.owl.purdue.edu ).
The student edition and the Teacher One Stop are only
two items in an extensive line of products for this curriculum.
With the right combination of products, you can tailor the curriculum
to your needs.