It is no secret. I have LOVED everything that has ever come my way from Apologia Educational Ministries. For the last little while, we have been reviewing the brand spankin’ new Readers in Residence Volume I (Sleuth) Full Set by Debra Bell.
You might recognize Debra Bell from the review I did a while back of her very excellent Writer’s in Residence.
Readers in Residence was created to teach students “how to read to learn.” It is intended for grades 4-and up. It can also be used for students who are a bit older, but need additional help with the skills covered in the program OR struggle with reading comprehension.
In this program students will:
Learn to recognize literary elements
Build a diverse vocabulary
Learn to decode unfamiliar vocabulary words
Work with punctuation, capitalization, grammar and usage all as it helps clarify a story
And much more!
You can use this program along with Writer’s in Residence or by itself. Both programs working together are intended to give you a full year of rich and rewarding language arts instruction.
One of the BIG draws for me with this program was the choice of literature. Debra uses Sarah, Plain and Tall, Charlotte’s Web and Because of Winn Dixie for this program. Students will get to choose 3 additional books to read, as well. What’s more (and this was a biggie for me) is that the student reads the ENTIRE book. I don’t really care for those literature courses that only feature bits and pieces of a work. I don’t think that is what the author intended and we lose so much enjoyment by reading bits of chapters here and there.
With the Readers in Residence full set you receive a student book….which is the “main show.” It is a large, spiral bound book that is sturdy enough to be drug around from couch to table. The Answer Key book is pretty much self-explanatory. I appreciate the Answer Key book because I didn’t have to search in the dark for what the curriculum might be expecting from a particular question or activity.
The Student Workbook contains a suggested daily schedule. It follows a 32-week school year. Along with the study there are suggestions for book clubs and parties. The curriculum also uses rubrics to help students learn to evaluate their work. Those rubrics were a great help to me, as well.
Readers in Residence is a Biblically based curriculum so I loved that Scripture was used to help us view the literature from that particular viewpoint.
How We Used It
I was one of those parents of a “struggling older student” who asked to review Readers in Residence. As you might know, Josiah is dyslexic and much of his formal training as been in the actually discipline of reading the words on the page, themselves. He has been able to do little actual reading on his own for pleasure.
Now we have used “read alouds” and “audio books” to fil in that gap, but I really feel like he is at that point in his education that he can handle easier (but equally enjoyable) books. I also wanted to see if this program would help him achieve success in Independent Study.
I first need to say that I am BLOWN away by the thoroughness of program. Each section is excellently crafted and fairly easy to follow.
Here is how we managed it. For the first few chapters, Josiah and I read Sarah, Plain and Tall round robin style. He would take a section then I would take a section. Then I began to assign bigger chunks of the book independently. For example, I set the timer for 10 minutes or assigned so many pages.
I was curious to see how much of the material he was comprehending.
Would you know that eventually Josiah decided he could read farther than I had assigned? He even read 2 chapters completely on his own one day. This was a huge step for him. It wasn’t required by the curriculum, but he wanted to know what was going to happen next!
The curriculum itself has a lot to it. For most students, I think that it would be perfectly acceptable to have them work through it independently…except for the discussion areas. Books need to be discussed with a party other than oneself!
For our part, I read much of the text out loud to Josiah, then we discovered the book together. Some sections I was able to assign for him to work on independently. I also reduced some of the activities to manageable sections for him. For example, he was required to list character qualities for each character. The list was a bit overwhelming for him, so I narrowed it down.
What I so appreciated about the program was that it explained literary elements in a way that was easily understood. It allowed Josiah to draw from his own life…which made the whole experience easier to grasp for him.
I did shorten lessons and didn’t use the suggested schedule. I was, however, a big fan of all the practical grammar usage and capitalization/punctuation activities included. I think it helped Josiah see it better in the context of the book he was reading.
I do need to mention one thing. My first copy of the student book (you read that correctly) doesn’t contain the last section. I received a defective book. I haven’t been able to look at all the goodies located in that last section. I am POSITIVE they are super. Apologia has been nothing but gracious and I should be getting my new copy (and complete) any day now. Yay for great customer service!
Another mention I need to make is that the curriculum DOES NOT come with the assigned books. We did have all 3 mentioned, but I wound up having to order Sarah, Plain and Tall. They use a particular printing of the book and I didn’t want Josiah to get confused with different page numbers.
In fact, I ordered 2 copies of the book (they were really cheap) so that we could read together. In my opinion, no one can have too many copies of Sarah, Plain and Tall.
This is an awesome curriculum. You won’t be disappointed. Just be prepared to be flexible if you have a struggling learner. It will work with you!
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