Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Part 4A - A Reason For published by The Concerned Group

I cannot remember if I found A Reason For curriculum while searching for new spelling or new writing material for my second grader Alex, but we now use both, as well as their writing curriculum for Will. Here is some information about their company from their website. ARF site

The Concerned Group Mission
Our Mission is to Equip Teachers and Inspire Students.

Our Primary Focus is to Publish and Distribute Educational Resources that meaningfully incorporate Scripture Values and provide options for Differentiated Instruction.

Our Ultimate Goal is to point to God as the source of all wisdom,
and to make learning fun for life.
In addition to the spelling & writing materials we use, A Reason For also includes science (Alex will use next year.) and guided readers (I am actually not familiar with that term.). 

First I will discuss the writing program. One plus is that there is just one Teacher's Edition for grades K-6, although I am not sure how much use you would get from it past the early grades. It does however, contain very helpful early writing information and helps. 

Will has been using the level K book this year, which is manuscript. (My son Alex learned cursive first and has beautiful cursive writing, but cannot form all manuscript letters correctly, so I wanted Will to learn manuscript first.) Each lesson consists of a 2 sided-paper with letter practice on the front and a coloring page on the back. For example the letter E may have an eagle to color. What's neat is that the Teacher's edition contains information about each animal/thing (All are pictures of things God created.) as well as optional additions to the picture (such as: glue on a feather). Lower case letters are introduced and periodically reviewed first, then uppercase. There are fewer lessons that a whole school year, allowing teachers/parents to choose when a child is "ready" to write. The book begins with pre-writing skills. I found the size of the writing to be about 1.5 times larger than the first Manuscript writing program I had tried, which was a good size for the developmental level of Will's fine motor control at the beginning of the year. (Research shows that boys develop fine motor control later than girls.) See curriculum samples here. Handwriting curriculum samples

The program starts with Level K, then moves to A which is approximately first grade. Levels K, A-B are manuscript with a T (transitional) Level to transition from manuscript to cursive. If you click on the samples link above, you can select Level T sample lesson to get more information on making the transition. Levels C-F are entirely in cursive & correspond to grades 3-6. I use Level C for my second grader because he already knows how to write in cursive. However, the line spacing is smaller than what he was doing at the beginning of the year in ABeka, so that took some adjustment period, as well as learning some new strokes on some of the letters. (ABeka cursive is very "loopy.") 

As the name implies, students are giving "A Reason for Writing," which I really liked, rather than just pages upon pages of random text. Each week's lesson Days 1-4 in on a 2-sided sheet. Students practice letters and words from the Scripture thought of the week on Days 1-3. On Day 4, students trace the entire thought On Day 5, students choose a border sheet from the back of the book and write the thought in their best writing. Then they color the border. Students are encouraged to share the completed sheet as a way of ministering to others. Wow! I love that what is usually a boring, tedious subject has been changed into a way our kids can minister to others! The Scripture thought is a paraphrase from The Living Bible, chosen for its simple vocabulary. Parents/teachers are encouraged to look up the verse in the version of the Bible they use at home.

As  KJV only user, I struggled with how to explain this to my son, but ended up simply telling him this was a paraphrase, and since it was not a direct quote from the Bible we use, we would not include the reference. I think that works. It also gave me a chance to discuss the need for care to not change the meaning of the Bible and stuff like that. Overall I have been really happy with this program and plan to use it again next year. 

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