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Workbook is twaddle-ish; go with textbook only.
on August 9, 2010
I like Susan Wise Bauer's curricula in general, and I want to like this workbook. I love the copywork and narration, and it is helpful to have the scope and sequence laid out. BUT... it frustrates me.
1. The literature selections are from wonderful works, but lose 99% of their value when taken OUT OF CONTEXT. For example, Little House in the Big Woods is a great book. But when you read one random paragraph, and copy the sentence "There were no roads." from it....it loses the effect. It might as well be any random sentence made up by a workbook author. If you are using Little House as a read-aloud, it works well to do copywork from it. But my child isn't familiar with the book, so the literary benefit is lost when he reads and copies a miniscule excerpt. I would rather do this same concept but USE THE BOOKS THAT I READ ALOUD for source material.
2. The samples to copy are printed in the midst of white space. For first grade level, it would be helpful to have it written as a HANDWRITING SAMPLE, ON LINES. I am using Handwriting Without Tears, which uses a different type of lined paper, so I am having him write on that instead of in the workbook anyway. But most people use three-lined paper, and that's what is provided for the student to write on. It would make more sense to have the example written on lines as well, so it works better as handwriting practice. It's confusing to be told "copy this" when it actually looks different from what he is expected to produce; there is an unnecessary mental step of translation that he must do to translate "book font" to "handwriting on lines." Eliminating that step would allow him to focus on the content of what he's writing, which is the goal.
If you want to have someone else choose your copywork and narration passages for you, this is done well. The source material is first rate. But I didn't realize how much I would dislike that since the passages have so much less merit out of their original context. The textbook could be useful to guide your scope and sequence; I think I'll keep it to give me an idea of how to increase the complexity of passages and keep me on track. But I'll pull my own source material from books we are reading.
In case you're wondering, as I was, about the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TEXTBOOK AND WORKBOOK, here you go:
The TEXTBOOK gives broad scope and sequence for four years, generally grades 1-4. I'm on year one, so this is what it looks like. It basically spells out exactly what to do for one week (including passages), with copywork on days 1&3, narration on 2&4. It provides passages for week one, then for the next 3 weeks it says "follow the same weekly pattern as above", using books of your own choosing. Then it spells out week 5 for you (slight increase in complexity), and you figure out weeks 6-8 for yourself. Follow that pattern for each 4-week cycle. You would use your own handwriting paper or notebook paper. In comparison, the WORKBOOK has passages selected for everyday. They are printed right there in the workbook. Then there is a perforated pull-out page with the copywork sample printed and blank lines for the student to write on. So basically the workbook allows you to follow the textbook, but not have to A) use your own paper, or B) choose your own passages, ever. And those are pretty much the two things I don't like about it.