Thursday, September 24, 2009

Product Review: Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services


Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS) was a company with which I was unfamiliar before I received four of their products for review. I am glad we have been introduced. If you have not heard of them either, please, allow me to introduce you to them.

Roots and Fruits
($11.25 for e-book version, currently on sale from $14.98)

Roots and Fruits is a comprehensive vocabulary curriculum for grades K through 12. The author, Jill J. Dixon, holds a B.S. in English Education and a masters degree in Special Education. In her eighteen years of teaching experience, in public, private, and home education settings, she noticed that the majority of students do not possess good vocabulary skills. Even among the home-educated, who tend to be avid readers, she found a notable weakness in their understanding of vocabulary.

She devised this program to help "increase the vocabulary, reading, and spelling skills of our students in just 15 minutes per day." (Roots and Fruits, p. 5) When I read this, I had my doubts… not about increasing my children's vocabulary skills. I questioned the 15 minute part. My children never want to do vocabulary exercises or write sentences, and it always takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to complete them.

The program teaches 673 Greek or Latin roots and 1716 vocabulary words (derivatives containing these roots). Each week the teacher may choose one or two roots to introduce. Each root is accompanied by a set of related vocabulary words to master. Ms. Dixon offers a five-day schedule for teaching each set which includes dictionary use, sentence writing, and a variety of games.

My boys loved it all! On Sunday nights, after the boys were in bed, I created a chart for two roots and their matching vocabulary words. I taped them to our supply cabinet in the classroom. Every Monday morning, they went directly to the classroom to see the new chart. I'm not exaggerating when I say it was like the Christmas morning dash to the tree.

We loved, loved, loved the games, too. Fourteen different game ideas are included, and we played 10 of them. They were simple to implement (not a lot of prep time needed), effective, and fun. Oh, and it really did take about 15 minutes per day to complete each assignment. The lessons are chunked into short tasks. A little each day is all it takes to accomplish a lot in the course of a week.

I give this curriculum two thumbs up and will continue to teach from it, probably for years to come.

Write with the Best Vol. 1 for Grades 3-12
($14.95 for the e-book, currently on sale from $19.95)
and
Vol. 2 for Grades 6-12
($18.65 for the e-book, currently on sale from $24.95)

When we want our children to recognize and create masterful art, what do we do? We show them the work of accomplished artists, right?

When we want to them learn to play a musical instrument, we pay for lessons from someone who has mastered the instrument. Likewise, we provide the experiences of listening to orchestrated works.

Whether these experiences are found online, in books, or at museums and concert halls, we know that our children will benefit from the opportunity of seeing, hearing, and experiencing the work of someone accomplished.

When we want our children to write masterfully, shouldn't we do likewise?

That is the starting point of Jill J. Dixon's Write with the Best program. Each lesson within the two volumes begins by having the student analyze an excerpt from a classic work of literature during pre-writing. Through this process, she teaches how a masterful writer uses words to create a written work-of-art. She then leads the student through the writing process in small, daily steps until they have completed a home-published piece of their own.

I have mentioned before on my blog that we dedicate about an hour to a "writer's workshop" each day. This curriculum fit perfectly into the 35 minute block for the writing process. I taught Wilbur from Vol. 1 and Orville from Vol. 2. It just-so-happened that unit one in each taught to each boy's particular weakness as a writer.


Wilbur wrote a descriptive paragraph
. He is imaginative and does not enjoy what he considers to be "bland" writing. He learned through this process that expository writing does not have to be bland or boring.


Orville wrote a free verse poem
. He is the opposite of his brother and enjoys straight-forward, factual, logical writing. The less rule-oriented writing of free verse threw him for a loop. He was upset by the lack of punctuation!


You can click the links I just provided to hop over to their blog, The Write Brothers, and read their published works.

I hope you were impressed with the results. I was and I give Write with the Best two BIG thumbs up and plan to continue to teach from both volumes.

The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers
($26.20 for the e-book, currently on sale from $34.95)

The Career Guide includes four assessments and tons of information to help you serve as your child's guidance counselor.

I used this to assess Orville. Since I received the e-book, I had him read the tests from the computer screen and tell me his answers. I made notes on a sheet of notebook paper to save myself the expense of printing.

The assessments gave us a clear understanding of his learning styles, work preferences, and other aspects of his personality that could effect his choice of vocation. Though Orville is young and has many years before he must determine his calling, he enjoyed the assessments, and the other contents in the guide made him think more deeply about certain fields he is already considering.

In addition to the tests, there are a number of suggested college majors, careers, and vocations with recommendations on which could be the best match for your student based on his profile.

There are also recommendations on exploring career choices before graduating high school and on how to prepare for particular areas of study/vocations. I appreciated that the guide promotes the idea of one's career being his calling and speaks distinctly to future men and future women. Young men are prompted to consider how their career choice will effect their homelife, and fruitfulness from home is not ruled out for young women.

Even though Orville is young, taking these assessments was profitable. Knowing his learning style and work preferences helps me as his teacher, and there are immediate applications that I can make. In thinking about a career, he is too young to make definite plans. However, I will use many of the suggestions for exploring options with him during his middle school and high school years.

EDUDPS offers more products than the four I reviewed, including The Concise Learning Styles Assessment, The Homeschooler's Guide to Learning Problems, and The Homeschooler's Guide to Attention Difficulties. All of their products are very reasonably priced, in my opinion, and I plan to buy a few of their other offerings. Their products are also available in printed form, bound or unbound. Prices vary. Click the links to the individual products for details.

Overall, I give EDUDPS two BIG thumbs up. I am glad we were introduced. I think you will be too.

4 comments:

Angie said...

great review, nice read! i am just surfing the other crew members' blogs to see how everyone else wrote this up... thanks!
Angie

Anonymous said...

Dawn,

Thank you for introducing me to this publisher. Their products look great! Do you think Roots and Fruits would work well for older children? I have 6th, 7th, 9th, and 11th graders. I am not sure they would appreciate the games, and they are used to studying their vocabulary words independently.

Thanks,
Susan in La

Homeschool Dawn said...

Susan,

Thank you for the nice comment.

Roots and Fruits contains plenty of material for older students. In fact, it contains 205 of the most commonly tested words on the SAT.

The games could be left out. In the suggested schedule, they are used on Tues-Thurs as extention work. It is recommended that a game be used on Friday to assess. You could just use the sent writing for that. You would not have as full of a program, though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Dawn. I think I'll give Roots and Fruits a try. I like the sentence writing activities and a game for review on Friday. I think the children will enjoy it, too.

Susan in La