What It Is:
This is a full reading curriculum which includes topics such as reading comprehension, phonics, spelling, vocabulary, and writing. I received the 3rd grade homeschool bundle. The curriculum is divided into six units, with each unit divided into six weeks. The week begins with a "Let's Talk About" section that gives discussion ideas and oral objectives. There is a page spread on phonics with a short paragraph to practice with. The next section is about comprehension skills and give tips and exercises to aid in understanding. Vocabulary is covered, with photos to reinforce the definitions being studied. The largest portion of the text is a real literature book, complete with the illustrations and photos that you would see if you were holding the actual book in your hands. As I looked through the table of contents I recognized some of the books: Hottest, Coldest, Highest, and Deepest by Steve Jenkins, The Story of the Statue of Liberty by Betsy & Giulio Maestro, and Kumak's Fish by Michael Bania. After the story there is a page of critical thinking questions and another page about the author of the book. There is a writing page spread which has a writer's checklist, writing assignment, student model, and writing conventions, or rules. And finally a review page with further topics for discussion and research ideas.
Each week follows a theme. For example in the fifth week of unit 1 the theme is money and spending. You can see how each section follows this theme:
Let's Talk About - Saving and Spending
Comprehension - Author's Purpose
Vocabulary - Prefixes and Suffixes
Literature Book - My Rows and Piles of Coins by Tololwa M. Mollel
Let's Write It! - Writing a Realistic Story
Short Story: Learning about Money
Review - Tips to Save Money
Some of the other vocabulary topics in the text are homonyms, synonyms, and compound words. Writing assignments vary from writing thank you notes, to composing news articles, to creating fictitious stories.
What You Get:
For $124.99 you get...
Student Edition Textbook
Guide On The Side
Teacher Resource DVD
ExamView Assessment Suite CD
Go here to purchase. (The homeschooling bundle I reviewed is not yet up on the website; the old one from the 2011-2012 school year is listed there. The new one should be there soon at the above link.)
The Student Edition Textbook is actually two hardback books, 3.1 and 3.2, that are each over 500 pages. Since this is a 3rd grade textbook the font is larger than normal and easy to read. There are many colorful illustrations and photos throughout the book as well. At the beginning of each text is a section called Envision It!, which is a visual skills handbook. Some of the literary ideas shown in this part are cause and effect, fact and opinion, and drawing conclusions. Throughout the book in the margins are word definitions, chapter objectives, and further research ideas. Words that might be unfamiliar to the student are highlighted in yellow.
The Guide On The Side is not a teacher manual of the text, but rather a guide for teachers with instructional strategies. There are sections on fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, and writing. Each of these sections has a skill handbook which gives grade-appropriate goals. There are also generic-type question ideas to aide the teacher in gauging student mastery. Assessment ideas, strategies for implementation, and spelling and vocabulary lists are also provided. There are sections on genre/text structure, concept development (research), media literacy, and ELL (English Language Learner, or ESL).
The Teacher Resource DVD contains whiteboard transparencies and downloadable vocabulary resources (picture and word flashcards). It also provides the teacher with blank lesson planners, flip charts for group stations, and scoring rubrics. Another section on the DVD is the Practice Books; these include Let's Practice It! and the Reader and Writer's Notebook. In the Let's Practice It! section, there are at least 10 worksheets for every week. These include phonics practice, spelling words, story comprehension, and vocabulary definitions. In the Reader and Writer's Notebook there are more worksheets, slightly different from the ones in the other section but with the same format. The sixth week of every unit in the textbook is a Notebook week, where the student is required to fill out 10 pages of review from what they have learned in that unit. A Teacher Manual with answers is provided for both worksheet sources.
The ExamView Assessment Suite CD is an interactive tool for the teacher. It is used to create tests for students. You can choose the number of questions and whether they are multiple choice, true/false, matching, or essay. There are different types of tests as well; baseline group tests, weekly tests or benchmark tests. An answer key is also provided.
What I Thought:
My daughter and I spent about 3 weeks doing Reading Street together. The work you can do in a week is overwhelming so I went through ahead of time and picked out what we would do each day. I pretty much skipped the phonics part and focused on the literature, vocabulary, and reading comprehension. We both really liked the color photos, the stories, and thought-questions. I really appreciated that in every week of work, there was a real book to read. The text had lots of places for my daughter to read from; from the instructions to definitions to non-fiction descriptions. She really enjoyed the change of pace from our regular reading. The worksheets were thorough and comprehensive although I must say that it was a bit overwhelming to have at least twenty to choose from for only one week of work. We chose to do a few on reading comprehension and fill in the blank questions.There were also worksheets that gave some grammar practice; sentence/fragment, subject/predicate,and singular/plural. The DVD had many useful resources on it; if I was doing this with a more visual learner the vocabulary flashcards provided would have been helpful as well. At the end of the first week I made up a test on the ExamView CD; I was hoping that I could just have my daughter take the test on the computer, but instead I printed it and had her fill it out. The Guide On The Side was like reading a manual on classroom-school teaching; as a homeschooling mom I found it a bit overwhelming and too detailed for my liking. At the end of The Guide are spelling and vocabulary lists, which correlate with the text.
So the bottom line: this really is just a secular textbook that could be used in the public schools, but has been made available for homeschoolers. Every resource, text, and worksheet in it assumes you are in a classroom situation and have 28 students in your charge. Now this might not be a bad thing; if you are teaching this in a co-op setting it would be much more useful. Also, some of the worksheets reminded me of questions and topics found in state standardized tests. You know, some of those things that we might miss when we homeschool from a more non-textbook approach. Again this is not something negative; sometimes it is good to shake things up a bit. Yes we are homeschooling our kids the way we want, but the way the world tests is through using multiple choice questions and reading comprehension exercises and someday our children might need to take a test that would have typical test-type questions. So I appreciated the change, and will use parts of this reading program sparingly as we teach reading.
Other members of The Crew reviewed many other Pearson Homeschool resources: myWorld social studies, enVision Math, MyMathLab Algebra, and other grade levels of Reading Street. Check out it out here to see what they said.
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.