Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Guest Review: Two for One

I have 2 reviews from Tess to share with you today. In the first one, Tess  shares the dark side of her home schooling with us, sort of.  In the second, she offers readers a free 1-month trial to a new math training program.

In more personal news, Tess's cat died yesterday and there is a general sadness over her house now. Leave her a quick note to cheer her up (or to let her know if you are going to try out the math program.

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image Okay,  I have been letting you glimpse into my world of home schooling.  I have presented a pretty rosy picture so far.  Now I am going to let you in on my not so rosy side.  I am horribly deficient in the fine arts department.  I would rather go outside with the kids and play.  I would rather go to Disney, which living in Central Florida and being pass holders is an easy thing to do.  I would rather watch a movie or bake cookies.  I don’t want to gather art supplies and get all goopy and gloppy. 
When I was sent this art curriculum on cd I thought that it better be something really special.  One of the first things I read was the mission statement.
I thought blah, blah, blah…..Then there was a research paper entitled  “Art is Good for My Brain?”  Well, now I know that my kids are destined for failure if I don’t do something now.  Better organization, higher standards, better SAT scores, and lots more is to be gained through learning art.
This program does it all for you.  You really don’t have to do anything but have tons of fun.  The curriculum is broken down monthly and then weekly with 35 weekly themes.  There are 269 art activities to choose from.  You don’t have to follow it the way it is set up.  Once you purchase it, it is yours to do with as you see fit.  There are 137 patterns and display posters.  There are art history connections and scriptural connections.  I couldn’t even use the excuse of not finding the art supplies.  Spears Art Studio, Inc. is affiliated with Dick Blick Art Materials.  You just place an order…
Stop by Spears Art Studio and view sample projects and lesson plans.  The curriculum is $39.95 and shipping is included.


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Through these reviews I have been giving you bits and pieces of who I am and how I home school my children.  You know that I am not real keen on curriculum that is online.  This is another one of “those.”  I do like this one better than Time4Learning.  The reason is that it is very specialized.  Have you ever gone to a Chinese buffet and seen everything from Chinese food to American food to Italian food.  How can a restaurant be so good at so many different foods at once?  Chances are they aren’t.  If you can find a Chinese food that serves only Chinese food then chances are it will be awesome.  This company offers just that.  It is primarily a math curriculum with  some upper level science in there too.

ALEKS stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces.  It is a math curriculum that you can subscribe to monthly.  When I signed up at the site for my youngest daughter who is 8, the first thing she did was take a quick assessment of about 30 questions to design the curriculum around her.  There is a pie diagram in the corner that shows her the progress she is making to master a particular topic.  I liked that a lot.  Another aspect I really liked is that there was basically no multiple choice questions.  Each problem needs to be worked out on paper first.

The company gave me a few people that I could contact, families that are all currently using ALEKS.  I did contact one to find out how they use ALEKS, what they liked about it and what they didn’t like about it.  Nancy from FL said that they use ALEKS mostly in the summer.  It isn’t any problem to keep up with what their children are doing because as a parent she can look at that pie in the corner and get the actual amount of time she spends on the site.  An evaluation can also be requested at any time.  She thought that the program was more advanced than a lot of programs and that it is integrated with all 50 states’ standards, which is great for submitting to public school people.  She also felt it was great practice for standardized testing.

Some of the cons Nancy also mentioned was the cost.  I don’t know about that one.  The cost is $19.95 per month and they do offer a family discount.  Also, there is normally a 48-hour free trial but Aleks has extended it to a month for readers of my reviews. Visit the special website to take advantage of the Aleks one-month free trial. Nancy also mentioned that this can be a little intimidating for beginning users but I am sure that intimidation is quickly replaced when they see their pies fill up.  Of course, if you have an auditory learner this program would not work.  There is no sound.  On the flip side, if you have a visual learner this would be a great program.

I might consider using this curriculum in the summer just to keep the gears greased up and moving.   Check it out for yourself.  Follow that link above and give it a try for a month.  You really can’t go wrong there.  If you still are not sure and want to read what others had to say go to www.Homeschoolblogger.com/homeschoolcrew .

Take Care
Tess

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