Top critical review
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Half Great; Other Half Veil of Tears
on February 27, 2014
This book has four lessons per week. Half of the lessons require the student to read a short passage and create a concise summary. There are questions to guide teacher and student to the most relevant points. This is a really useful and good exercise and very worthwhile. I highly recommend these lessons.
Other lessons involve dictation. The teacher reads the student one to two long sentences. With two repetitions, the student is supposed to repeat, then remember and write the dictation passage. The problems with these passages are:
1. The sentences are VERY long - I don't know if I could remember some of them.
2. The sentence structures are sometimes slightly unusual. They may be written in a more formal style than typical youth reading.
3. The vocabulary in the dictation passage often includes words which require highly developed spelling skills, so the student has to both remember a long passage and try to spell tough words at the same time.
4. The vocabulary is sometimes rather advanced. A good reader might get the general meaning of the passage, but not know exactly what some of the words are (e.g. "feat," the homophone of "feet" was in a recent lesson). It is hard to remember a long passage with vocabulary which is at the cusp of the student's understanding.
For our child (age 8), these problems result in a total breakdown of both memory and spelling and it results in nothing but tears. We are no longer going to use the dictation passages, though we might occasionally use them for copy work.
A good reader can use and enjoy the summary passage exercises and I'm glad to have the book for these lessons. To be successful with all portions of this book, your child needs an excellent attention span and sharp focus, good short-term memory, very good spelling skills (either that, or to be totally un-phased when he can't spell a word), and an advanced vocabulary. Our child is a little too young and flighty for the dictations. In my opinion, I'd recommend it for a gifted 9 year old or an average 10 year old.