Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A TOS Review: Beyond the Book Report

Josiah is entering 7th grade this year. Boo! Hiss! What happened to my chubby-cheeked little boy who used to play for hours with his Action Figures?

Actually he still likes to play with Action Figures, but don’t tell him I told you so. 

Along with this grown-up sounding promotion (7th grade!) comes all kinds of new scholastic adventures. 

Primarily…the Book Report. (Da Da Dum)

A real honest to goodness Book Report. Now we have a few issues in our house. I will share more in a minute. Thankfully, I just had the opportunity to review a product from Analytical Grammar that will help navigate the Book Report waters. 

Beyond the Book Report is brand spankin’ new language arts curriculum.  It is intended for middle- schoolers as well as early-high schoolers. The recommendation is that the student starts Beyond the Book Report after he or she has completed Analytical Grammar. I am assuming that you can use Beyond the Book Report with any grammar program.  


What I Received

I received 3 seasons of Beyond the Book Report. I received a DVD for each season, which include printables and Video clips of the lectures. I also received a teaching guide, examples and a glossary of each terms which can be placed in a binder.


Season One teaches literary analysis, paraphrasing, summarizing, and journalism. The student will learn to write 3 different types of book reports: a basic book report, a pamphlet book report, and a journalism book report.

Season Two teaches poetry and drama. The student will write 4 different kinds of poems based on a book they read. There is also a drama book report that teaches with A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
Season Three expands on research and essay writing and includes public speaking. There is also a section on writing an SAT essay. This Season was sent to us just a blessing. This will certainly be a help on down the road! 

Beyond the Book Report is available for $24.95 per season or you can bundle all three seasons together for $69.95.  

How We Used It

Season One is all about the basic book report. It is divided into three parts: the basic book report, Pamphlet, and Journalism. 

The first assignment to watch a few of the lectures. We were encouraged to print off the lecture notes so that the student can practice those notetaking skills. Notetaking is a hard one for Josiah. He is dyslexic and dysgraphic and needs a little more time than a typical middle school lecture allows. It helped that we could stop and start the lecture. 

Josiah was given the assignment to choose a book. This was an easy task considering that I have a handy, dandy book list we are working through. Moby Dick was the choice and the next day we started to incorporate his reading log and went over his rubric. He also learned more about literary terms from the lecture video. 

The reading log is very helpful. It is not simply a way to record time read, but it helped us plan out his the reading schedule so that he would have an assignment completed on time.

All in all, the assignments for this portion of Season One were easy to understand. Josiah knew exactly what was expected of him thanks to the Rubric. I’m thinking I need a Rubric for life! That is another story!

Our unique challenge with this product was, of course, dyslexia. I had a young reader’s version of Moby Dick, but it still took longer than anticipated. Initially Josiah figured out he would need to read 18 pages a day to get through his book before assignment time. I eventually took over and made it our Read aloud book. This isn’t an issue with us. I still read aloud every day. And I certainly don’t want him to miss out on all the good stuff. He would have been able to do at a slower pace, but I needed to review the product! It did require more of my involvement than perhaps it would for a kiddo doesn’t have any reading issues. It just made the whole process a bit more complicated.

This is the finished product of Josiah's Pamphlet project. We utilized the computer. I also have to say a word about some advice the authors of Beyond the Book Report gave us. Sparknotes! Where have you been all my life (specifically when I was in college).

He was excited to find a whole page of sea life stickers in the sticker box. There weren't any white whales. He tried to tell me that perhaps we could change Moby Dick into a shark. I think someone already did that (Steven Spielberg!).

You will notice the spelling error. He didn't get very many points taken off for that one. Especially since he asked me to proof read it before he printed it off (she says as she shamefully moves to the next picture).

We had a hard time with this one. Captain Ahab is crazy (Josiah's words).

I love this. Exciting adventure! Everybody dies (except poor Ishmael)!

Season 2 is a whole different kettle of fish.  I love reading good (and pretty) poetry. I don’t especially care to know what most of it means…analyzing someone else’s morbid thoughts doesn’t sound like a good time. And I really can’t write poetry. I’m just too wordy! Imagine that. 

We obviously kept our Book Selection from Season 1 for Season 2.  It just made it easier for review purposes. 

Here is Josiah’s Haiku contribution.
Big whale in the sea
Crazy man without a leg
Just stay home in bed

Yep. He gets straight to the heart of the matter. 

We are still working towards his final Poetry Book Report. It involves poster board and I’m hoping sparkly pens and stickers. The other kinds of poetry for the project are a limerick, a sonnet and a narrative poem. It should be interesting. 

All three seasons feature a handy glossary.

What I enjoyed about Season 2 was that they supplied plenty of practice for Josiah to work through the sometimes confusing world of metaphors, similes, hyperboles and all the rest of it. I have had to help him with his time management and reading, but I think we’ll get through it. 

The Drama Book Report is yet to come. I have watched the videos and it looks like something that is going to be a lot of fun. Josiah loves to go to the theatre with me. I think he will really enjoy it.  Stay tuned for a drama staring Josiah as Captain Ahab in our living room.

My Final Thoughts

Here is the nitty gritty. Literature reviews are just plain hard for me to do. Josiah needs so much more time than we are often given. I want to be able to give my full time and attention to the product, yet his needs are paramount. 

That being said this is one of those products than can be adapted for Josiah. We just had to adjust the pace. The expectations were the same…but perhaps I had to be more involved. If you are facing the same issues I will tell you that it is possible. Just be prepared to take it slower and adapt where you need to adapt. 

One of the big advantages of Beyond the Book Report is that it can be done with any book. The concepts and skills learned are those learned are really needed. I love that the student knows what is to be expected with every assignment. I tend to do that with Josiah anyway. I might him an example (even of our notebooking pages) so he can see what it “looks” like. 

The Beyond the Book Report page has all sorts of samples for your viewing pleasure. I really think it is a good, step by step literature program. I love the lectures. They are short and yet the authors, mother and daughter duo, Robin Finley and Erin Karl, do a fantastic job. The audio quality could be improved, but overall they kept Josiah’s attention. 

You can connect with Analytical Grammar or click on the Banner below to read more reviews. 



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1 comment:

  1. I love his Haiku! So funny! This sounds like a great writing program.


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