Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reading and Writing and College...Oh my!

When I was contacted by EduDPS (Educational Diagnostic Perscriptive Services) I had no idea what to expect.  I received four e-books to review:

  1. Roots and Fruits, an instructional book about Greek and Latin root words.

  2. Write with the Best Volume I, a writing program based on works of great authors.

  3. Write with the Best Volume II, the continuation of Volume I.

  4. The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers.  (Called The Career Guide for the rest of this article.)


 

After getting the download completed properly, I printed copies of Write With the Best, Vol. 1 & 2 and put them in a binder.  I just love printing e-books.  I know that TOTALLY defeats the purpose of an e-book, but it gives me great endorphins to see my ebook in a big white binder.  These are not small books, 109 pages and 141 pages respectively.  The products from EduDPS are not fancy.  It is black type on white paper.  No graphics outside of the border on the cover page .  From a visual perspective, it is not appealing.  But I do love a big thick book, so that was appealing.

We began at the beginning of Write with the Best Volume I and my boys loved it from the very first lesson.  To say that they loved a writing curriculum is amazing because these are not boys that love to write.  Write with the Best uses works of great literature as examples.  Our boys have proved Charlotte Mason's theories about living books over and over again in the 6+ years we've been homeschooling.  They come alive and are extremely attentive with a living book.  Write with the Best uses excerpts from living books to show examples of good writing.  As I read the examples, the boys were rivetted.  The other thing that really appealed to them was the short lessons.  In Write with the Best, each lesson takes only a few minutes a day to complete, usually not more than 15 minutes.  It was hard for me to stick to one lesson a day.  I wanted to move more quickly and pack multiple lessons in a day.  I mean, we were already started, why not turn a 10-day lesson into a 3-day?  But I resisted my temptation to get it finished and stuck to the plan, and the boys really enjoyed it.  At day 10 we had a great example of writing completed and placed in a new writing portfolio for each boy.  Although we have to take a break to review another writing curriculum, we will definitely return to Write with the Best and complete the lessons this year.   It's well laid-out, with great examples, brief lessons, and takes little to no preparation on my part.

Roots and Fruits is a book that teaches Greek and Latin root words.  Compared to other curriculum in this same area, Roots and Fruits boasts the use and learning of many more roots than similar books available to the homeschool community.  This book takes more preparation on the part of the mother/teacher.  You must read the book and plan for games and activities.  It is a very straightforward approach with clear instructions.  I can see how teaching the boys the Greek and Latin root words would be a great advantage to their vocabulary understanding and spelliing, but I just have not managed to fit it into a very full language arts schedule thus far.

Finally, I want to tell you about the last book I received, The Complete Career College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers.  This is a book that every homeschool parent planning to homeschool through high school graduation should own.  It is jam-packed with information.  In it you can find four assessments to help your child determine the future for which he is best suited.  These tell learning style, personality type, gifts, and many other things that will help you determine the best type of college-setting and career for the child.  There is a list of college majors and the middle school and high school subjects that should be covered in preparation for those majors.  This book contains alot of information about highschool transcripts and course selections.  As a matter of fact, I will not ony use the forms contained in this book for our boys as they begin to progress into Junior High, but I will also use it for my husband and myself.  Even at our age, I think we can learn a lot from knowing our learning styles, and our ideal careers.  I really do think that every family should have a copy of The Complete Career College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers.

Write with the Best Vol. 1 is $19.95 for the download, $22.45 for the printed book without a binder, $24.95 printed and in a binder.

Write with the Best Vol. 2 is $24.95 for the download. $27.45 for a printed version not in a binder, and $29.95 printed in the binder.

Roots and Fruits is $14,98 for the e-book download, $17.48 for a printed version not in a binder, and $19.98 printed and in a binder.

The Career Guide e-book is 34.95.  A softcover version is 39.95.  The Career Guide is a lengthy book.  With a hefty 225 pages, you may want to consider purchasing a printed copy of this book if you do not want your printer printing 225 pages at once.

Although their products are very well done, I did not enjoy the method of receiving these books.  EduDPS does not send e-books in the .PDF format that I've received most ebooks in the past.  They use a program called File Secure Pro to download the book.  You cannot access the book without first going through file secure pro.  Also you can print the book twice and no more.  The printing is restricted.  For larger books I sometimes print to another program that prints two pages per one 81/2x11 sheet.  File Server Pro does not allow me to print to anything except my main printer.  I have still not found a way to access my books without first going to the original email and clicking on the attachment which then  launches File Server Pro and then my ebook.  I cannot simply go to "My Documents" and pull up my book as I usually would do.  EduDPS has learned that there are potential problems with the regular way of downloading PDFs, so they use a different approach for protection.  You can read the background behind why they do this here:  http://www.edudps.com/our-story.html I did find this to be very restrictive and difficult to use.  I must tell you, however, that when I did have problems with my first download the company worked quickly to resolve the problem for me.  Just be sure when you download that you are at a PC connected to a printer.  I wasn't and I couldn't transfer the file to my desktop to print.  I had to be issued another download.  I also have not printed The Career Guide as of yet because you must print the entire book at one printing and this is a 200+ page book.  Special notes about their unique file download and printing system can be viewed on their website here.

If you would like to see other reviewer's opinions, check out the rest of the crew's reviews here: 

EduDPS is a no frills company that offers a quality product.  I will be using their writing curriculum for the balance of the year and, hopefully, beginning to learn Greek and Latin root words this year as well.  I will refer to The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers for the next several years and we prepare the boys for the future to which God has called them.  You can visit their website at www.edudps.com and see all that they have to offer.

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