TOS Review: Fitting Words (Roman Roads Media)

Roman Roads MediaSo we are in my son’s senior year of high school and he has already begun some of his online classes to pursue his children’s ministry degree. As he begins his college education I realize the need for him to really be able to speak, debate, and write thoughtfully to present his thoughts and beliefs. This is one of the reasons I think it is very important to include Rhetoric as one of his subjects this year. I was so so excited to find out I was going to get to review Fitting Words Classical Rhetoric (Complete Program) from Roman Roads Media. When I first started checking this out I thought “wow, this looks really good” and when I got into it, I can tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.

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For starters, when they say this is a “complete program”, they aren’t kidding. It really comes with every single thing you need in one package. From the textbook, to the student workbook, to the exams, complete answer key and even (yes!) video lessons, it’s all here. Of course, you can pick and choose how much you want to use because as the parent, you are always in charge, but everything is right here, and it’s all put together so well that it is really easy to use.

Parents should begin by reading the introduction which explains each component and gives a very convenient schedule for either a one year or two year course. I am one of those moms who always appreciates a schedule. Yes, I will probably tweak this to suit our particular needs, but for me a schedule is a great starting point because it gives me some idea of how to break down the material. Since we are in my son’s senior year we decided to follow the one-year schedule, but if we had gotten this earlier I probably would have done this course over two years to give us more time to dive into some of the further suggested readings and other things.

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The video lessons that accompany the course are broken into two parts for each lesson, one that goes over the main lesson and one that takes students through the exercises for those lessons. Now, my son is not a great video learner. However, he did like watching the application videos a lot. Mainly because he liked how Mr. Nance (the author) explained the exercises and he said the videos helped him to better understand the figures of speech introduced in each lesson. He also watched the videos that reviewed the lessons before he took his exams. So, I allowed him to choose which videos to watch and he utilized them in the way that suited him best. I liked the way they were set up, because they were not incredibly long and the menu made it easy for him to find the videos that matched the lessons he was on.

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Okay, so getting into the program, can I just say that I really kind of got into this myself and did a lot of pre-reading ahead of my son? The lessons in this book are meaty, and actually really interesting. If you think rhetoric is a dry topic, it’s not. At least not the way it’s presented in Fitting Words. The textbook consists of 30 lessons divided into seven units that cover topics ranging from types of arguments, to emotions, to delivery and so much more. Along the way your children will read Bible passages, excerpts from Phaedrus, and all kinds of speeches and other examples that will help them bring to life the things they are learning.

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In the workbook, they will learn to apply what they are learning through activities that ask them to read Bible passages and identify the emotions of the speakers in those passages, look at historical documents and explain the methods the authors used in writing those documents, identify figures of speech in well-known writings, and have opportunities to give speeches of their own for specific purposes such as soliciting specific emotions from their audience, give a speech appropriate for a ceremony, and more.

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Each chapter approaches it’s topic directly and explains it in detail with plenty of examples. The chapters themselves are pretty short (a big plus for my son!) with sidebars that highlight key concepts and ideas. At the end of the chapter there are questions you can use for discussion that encourage students to think more deeply about what they just read, suggestions for further reading, and a short memorization exercise. In addition, students will complete the related assignments in the workbook for their lessons. The thing is, even though the information itself is meaty, my son did NOT feel like he was overloaded with work to the point that he dreaded this subject and that is really the key to success for me at this point. Because if I have to fight with him to get him to do it, chances are, it probably isn’t going to get done. That is another reason I really like this course. He’s learning a lot, but he doesn’t feel like he’s being slammed with work! You can always dig further with the additional suggested readings, and if we were using this as a two-year program I probably would, but since we only have a year, we are going easy on that, only reading those particular ones my son is really interested in.

In the appendix you will find a full glossary, the full text of historical speeches featured in the text and a listing of Biblical speeches featured as well. This was very handy for my son to use as a reference for assignments.

The amount of depth in Fitting Words was just really impressive to me. I feel like my son is going to grow as a thinker, a writer, and a speaker through using this program, and the skills he learns are going to benefit him in his college courses. I definitely think this is a great program for any high school student. To learn more, connect with Roman Roads Media here:

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Classical Rhetoric and Picta Dicta {Roman Roads Media Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

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TOS Review: GrammarPlanet

GrammarPlannetGrammar is one of those subjects that is often difficult to teach just because most students find it dry and boring. Let’s be honest, it’s hard to make identifying nouns and pronouns and diagramming sentences fun! However, I believe that a solid understanding of grammar is very important in teaching students how to write. Those who have a thorough understanding of how grammar works will have a better understand of how to put sentences together when they are writing. So, I was excited to check out a new online program from GrammarPlanet to see if it might make grammar instruction a little bit easier.

Aimed at students 10 and up, the program includes video instruction, practice lessons and quizzes. Each unit offers a set of printable notes your student can use to guide them in the lessons and refer back to if they get confused. I thought this was a nice feature and good reference point. We kept the notes in a folder for my son to refer back to throughout the units. There are 12 units total that start off with simple topics like nouns and move on to more complicated topics like everyone’s favorite thing, diagramming sentences!

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Videos are typically short, lasting around 5 minutes or so, and the speaker in the videos is clear and pleasant (this is important, the person delivering the instruction is a huge part of any course). After watching the videos, students complete practice sets on each topic. One of the things I really like about this program is the immediate feedback students get when they do the practice. Each sentence is scored right away and they can quickly see if they made a mistake. This helps them make corrections as they go, which I think helps them learn much better than if they find out about their mistakes at the end or something like that.

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After they complete each unit students take a quiz before moving onto the next unit. The tests consist of a number of questions that mix multiple choice questions with questions that ask students to identify the different parts of speech within a sentence. Quizzes are slightly different in that students do not receive feedback until the very end, where they can see their score and then see what they got wrong on each question. Again, I like the fact that students don’t just see that they got a question wrong, they get to see why they got it wrong and what the correct answer is.

For parents, GrammarPlanet offers you excellent reports about your child’s progress. You can login and click on unit report to see all the questions your child completed for that unit and exactly which ones they got right or wrong. In fact, if you click on a specific question, it will show you HOW they answered that question so you can see EXACTLY what they missed! I think that’s pretty awesome because it allows you to identify if there is a specific thing your child is struggling with or needs help with! You can also review all of your child’s test questions as well and reset a unit if you think your child needs to redo it.

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All of this is available for less than $40 for ad-free access to the site. I really think that if you want a simple way to teach grammar, GrammarPlanet is a good way to go! To learn more, connect with them on social media here:

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To see what other members of the crew thought of this program, click here:

*Grammar Program Online {GrammarPlannet Reviews}

 

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TOS Review: A Timeline of WWII

Home School in the Woods

At my house, we love to study history, but, we really love to study it when we can do some hands-on projects too! From lapbooks, to posters, to mini-books, you name it, sign us up. So, since my high schooler is studying US History currently, I was happy to get to check out a timeline of World War II as part of the  À La Carte Timelines from Home School in the Woods. We have used a TON of their stuff in over the years. They specialize in hands-on history products that cover pretty much all time periods, giving you lots of options to add interest to your history studies.

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This timeline itself could easily fit alongside any history study of this particular time period and comes with everything you need to track important people and events related to the subject. The instructions are included, although we deviated a little bit. We have done quite a few timelines over the years and have round we prefer to do ours using file folders rather than the binder method given. But that’s the cool thing about all of these products, you can adapt them to fit your particular style. You do need access to a printer though, and  paper and card stock (I usually purchase this stuff whenever it goes on sale and then just keep it in the cabinet for use with multiple projects throughout the year). Also, a set of colored pencils if you wish to color in the timeline figures.

We generally like to print out our timeline pages first, and get them set up, then we keep the figures in a folder and color and cut them out as we go (here’s a tip for your: keep a small plastic bag handy to store the one or two extra figures you haven’t gotten to yet from a page so they don’t get lost before you can use them, trust me, this happens). The pages are very well done, with a continuous “barbed wire fence” line similar to the ones soldiers would have seen on the front lines during the war used to originate the dates. It’s this kind of attention to detail that always makes Home School in the Woods stand out to me.

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The top and bottom of each page is accented with a chain link detail and the spaces for each timeline figure are clearly marked. Figures themselves are very well illustrated, with plenty of room to color them in. Both important people and events are chosen to be included in the timeline, so you can easily add them when they come up during your WWII study. This timeline went very naturally with our regular history study, so it was no problem at all to get my son to do this small extra bit of work, and having all the pieces laid out so succinctly really made the order of events so easy to understand!

I was very impressed with this project. I loved how easy it was to use and how well done it was. It reminded me that even though my son is a senior in high school, he still likes doing hands on learning. It really made me want to get into some of the other WWII projects Home School in the Woods offers. If you would like to learn more out the WWII timeline and the other things they have available, connect on social media here:

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Hands-on-History, Project Passport, À La Carte Timelines and Time Travelers {Home School in the Woods Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

TOS Review: Great Waters Press

Raising Real MenListen, raising teenagers is hard. My pastor likens it to raising aliens, and he is not wrong. For a time there, it is pretty much like communicating with an alien race, because a lot of the time it feels like everything you do or say is either awkward or just plain wrong, especially when it comes to the “big” topics. I have two boys, and raising them to have right attitudes towards women, dating, sex, and marriage is a high priority for myself and my husband and, honestly, one I leave mostly to him. However, as the one who spends the most time with our boys, I realize that I have a lot of influence over them too. So, I was very interested to read, Love, Honor, and Virtue:Gaining or Regaining a Biblical Attitude Toward Sexuality from Great Waters Press to see what kinds of conversations I could have with my boys, especially since they are older now.

Love Honor and Virtue by Hal and Melanie YoungFirst, let me say that this book is a great read for either parents of older children or older teens/adult children themselves. While the book itself is actually written to the guys themselves, it still offers excellent talking points for parents, especially if your teens are younger, but still “maturing” at a faster rate then you would like. Be aware that it covers multiple aspects of sexual maturity, even the ones that might make you uncomfortable to think about as a parent (but face it, just because you are uncomfortable thinking about it doesn’t mean your child isn’t dealing with it, right?) so be prepared for that. While the book is aimed at ages 12 through 20, I probably would not have addressed it with my kids at 12, but they were slow to mature, so as the parent, I would probably read it first and then decide if it suits your particular child.

I will say that as a mom, some of the topics definitely made me blush, and there are certainly some things that dads would probably naturally be more comfortable talking to their sons about. That said, this is a book I would definitely give to my husband with the intention of perhaps having him and my boys talking about it together. For an older teen who has been struggling, it might be enough to read it on their own, but for a younger teen, I think they would definitely need to talk some of the stuff over with an adult after reading some of the chapters and I don’t think my boys would feel comfortable talking to my mom about some of these topics. (but again, just because the topics may be uncomfortable does not mean they should not be discussed. In fact, in the time we live in, I believe it is very important that these uncomfortable topics ARE discussed very thoroughly with our children in order to prepare and protect them).

I believe the best way to protect our kids is to prepare them for the challenges they will face in the world and as they get older sexual temptation is one of the biggest temptations there is. As the parent it is your job to talk about the hard stuff with your kids, and honestly, I don’t think anybody really likes those conversations. Love, Honor, and Virtue might make those talks a bit easier because it gives you a common starting point to begin those conversations that can make them a bit less awkward. I would recommend you check it out. To learn more, connect with Great Waters Press here:

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Love, Honor, and Virtue  AND No Longer Little {Great Waters Press Reviews}Crew Disclaimer 

TOS Review: Code For Teens

Code for TeensTechnology is increasingly becoming a more and more integral part of our world and it is very important for our kids to learn how to use it. Fortunately, many kids today seem more adept at handling modern technology than their parents. However, there are many technical aspects to computers that elude even them, such as programming. I took my first programming class when I was in college and it was very basic, I wouldn’t even know how to begin to explain the concept to my high schooler. So, I was excited to take a look at Code for Teens: The Awesome Beginner’s Guide to Programming from Code for Teens for this review.

Code for Teens 

This full-color book focuses on JavaScript and covers topics like coding with numbers, functions, arrays, loops, and even making a game. It is written entirely to the student and is very easy to follow without being juvenile or kiddish (my son’s words, he’s a senior this year so this is very important to him). There are some basic requirements for the program: you must have a laptop or computer and you must download Google Chrome. That’s about it. One very cool thing about this book is that kids start coding right from the beginning. Really, they start performing very simple stuff from the very start, which I think takes away a lot of the intimidation associated with the whole process.

As your child moves through each chapter they will complete chapter quizzes, reviews and projects that they will save on the computer in their “workbook”. Answers to these quizzes and reviews are in the back of the book (which is awesome if you are not tech-literate like me). This workbook also gives them a sense of accomplishment as they see all that they have done as they work through the program. The projects are actually fun, and not boring, which my son kind of thought they would be (because, as he told me, most end of chapter projects are). Some of them are similar to logic puzzles, or may involve writing a bio of themselves or some other sort of activity, but he enjoyed them all and there are helpful hints in the back of the book if your child gets stuck (again, thank you Jeremy Moritz for that because I would not have been able to help on my own for sure!).

Code for Teens also includes a glossary and all the words in the glossary are in bold print in the text, which is nice for context. The color illustrations were a nice touch and added some humor to the book (which was also light and funny and not super serious which is what I remember about programming class, a fact I didn’t particularly enjoy). So, if you think computer programming has to be dry and boring and really difficult, I have to tell you, Code for Teens will prove you wrong. It’s fun, but still thorough, and a great introduction for a high school student looking to learn the basics of programming. I hope the author has plans to write similar books for other types of programming too. We really enjoyed this, and I would definitely recommend you check it out! To learn more, connect with Code for Teens on social media here:

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 Code For Teens: The Awesome Beginner's Guide to Programming {Code for Teens Reviews}

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TOS Review: Math Essentials

Math EssentialsLook, I didn’t enjoy math when I was in school, and I enjoy it even less now. As a homeschool mom, I managed to navigate elementary school math okay, but once we got to the upper level stuff, I knew I was in trouble. So I did what most of us do when we encounter a subject we don’t want to teach, I farmed it out through online and computer courses. However, there are still some times my son needs my help, and I need to be able to help him which means I need some help. So, for this review, I was happy to check out the Math Refresher for Adults book from Math Essentials. This simple workbook is chock full of information for adults (and older kids) like you and me, who maybe have some big gaps in their math instructions, or just don’t remember it and need a little help.

Math Refresher for AdultsSo, getting started, I should tell you this workbook is full of all kinds of problems on all kinds of topics from the very basic like addition and subtraction of whole numbers, fractions, and decimals, to much more complicated things like finding the slope of a line, graphing equations, probability and even (gasp!) word problems! But don’t worry, you aren’t left hanging trying to figure all of this out on your own. Math Essentials gives you access to video tutorials for the lessons led by Richard Fisher on their website and the No Nonsense Algebra website so you can watch the lesson before you try to do the problems.

Most of the tutorials are (thankfully) brief, at least from what I’ve seen so far, and that works since I do not have the patience to sit through a 45 minute math lesson. I like to watch the video, pause it, try a few problems, then watch it again, try a few more, and check my answers to see if I’m doing them right. There is an answer key in the back of the book for each lesson, which is convenient, I only wish they showed how they got the answers for some of the problems, but that might be asking a little too much.

You could certainly work through this whole workbook if you wanted to review higher math concepts on your own, or you could use it as a summer refresher for one of your students if you wanted. I also think it would be great for some extra test prep as well. If you have just a few topics you need to freshen up on you could easily just go through the table of contents and pick and choose which ones you want to practice (or have your child practice). There really are a lot of possibilities for this one, but I think it’s a great addition to your homeschool shelf, especially if you have one or more students who struggle with math. I definitely feel like I am in a better position to help my son with some of his algebra when he comes to me with questions now.

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TOS Review: The Master and His Apprentices

I enjoy a stroll through a museum as much as anybody else, and I appreciate a beautiful work of art, but I have to admit, I don’t really KNOW much about art. In high school, I chose drama to fulfill my arts requirement, so when my own child expressed his interest in art (and classical artists), I really wasn’t sure what to do. Fortunately, there are curriculums out there to help homeschool moms like me and for this review we got to check out The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective a homeschool art history curriculum from The Master and His Apprentices.

The Master and His Apprentices 

This curriculum covers art all the way from Mesopotamia to today and includes chapters on Egyptian art, Early Greek Art, the Etruscan Period, Gothic art, the Renaissance, the Baroque period and more. Full color pictures invite you and your children to examine beautiful images you would likely never see otherwise, all accompanied by a wealth of information, enough to give your child a full high school credit if you choose.

Each chapter begins with an introduction that gives important background information on each period, which is important because it helps students understand the context in which the art takes place. As they are introduced to the art and the artists timelines help them keep track of everything going on. Students will learn about a variety of mediums from paintings to sculptures, and for my son, learning about the different styles of art helped to keep him from getting bored.

The teachers guide includes a sample syllabus and recommendation for grading papers and tests. I found this helpful, if only as a starting point. It is very easy to adjust this to meet your own personal needs, but as this is a very meaty program, it is nice to have a guide to give you an idea of how to structure this as a one year program if you want to do that. Basically it is set up for the student to do most of the reading on their own and be prepared to discuss what they read with you, which is appropriate for an upper level high school student. You could certainly read the material with your child if you wish, but for my junior in high school, he mostly did this as written.

There are questions for each chapter and four written papers assigned throughout the year. We did most of the questions orally, and these would definitely lend themselves well to group discussions if you wanted to use this program in a co-op setting or something like that. You could also assign the questions as written work if that suits your child better. I liked how a lot of the questions brought in Biblical principals and challenged students to think about what they learned about the art from a Biblical perspective. A lot of the time I think people don’t feel they can apply the Bible to artistic works but this program shows how this is simply not the case.

Exams are also included in the teacher’s guide and it comes with an answer key and tips to help you through lessons which I found very helpful. Overall, I thought this was a great art history program that was definitely a good choice to fulfill an art credit for high school! To learn more, connect with The Master and His Apprentices on social media here:

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The Master and His Apprentices: Art History from a Christian Perspective {The Master and His Apprentices Reviews}

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