Drawn Into The Heart of Reading
Author: Carrie Austin
Publisher: Priority Publications
For more information or to order: www.prioritypublications.com
Imagine a reading program that allows you to use any book you choose, can be used alongside any curriculum you are already working with OR can stand alone. Add to these qualities the ability to use it with multiple grade levels at the same time! Sound too good to be true? Presenting…Drawn into the Heart of Reading -- a complete reading program for grades 2 - 8.
This unique program has 9 units each covering a different genre of literature. There are student workbooks for levels 2/3, 4/5 and 6/7/8. Each workbook has everything the student needs for each of the 9 units. There is a thick Teacher Guide that contains everything you need to teach all of the levels. The Teacher Guide explains how to implement the program, then provides daily lesson plans for each unit and student level. I found the Teacher Guide very easy to navigate and appreciate that it lies flat for easy reference as I work with my children.
The units can be done in any order and, since they can be used with any book, you can easily incorporate the units into other areas of your curriculum. The 9 genres of literature that are covered in Drawn Into The Heart of Reading are: Nonfiction, Biography, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure, Fantasy, Adventure, Humor and Folk Tales. Each unit has 15 days of instruction with an additional 5 days allotted for an end-of-unit project. The program assumes the student is reading, but allows for additional phonics work that may need to be done with younger students. Mom, this is a program that requires you to work with your child(ren). Younger students read aloud to mom daily, while students in level 4/5 read a portion of their assigned pages independently, then come to mom to read aloud. Older students do all of their reading independently, but come to mom to discuss lessons and be taught new concepts. Since this is a teacher or mom-directed program, the author provides detailed lesson plans, discussion questions, and ideas for helping you convey concepts to your students. Written from a Christian perspective, each unit focuses on a "major" Godly character trait with three related subqualities. For instance, as you study the Biography unit students will be looking for ways that characters display the character quality of Responsibility along with the subqualities of cautiousness, diligence and initiative. As the student evaluates the book's characters based on these qualities, they are also challenged to evaluate and apply this knowledge to their own life. In addition to focusing on a character trait, each unit also emphasizes a different story element. For the Biography unit the story element emphasis is "Character: The people or individuals portrayed in a story." Other story elements featured in this curriculum are: Setting, Problem or Conflict, Mood, Prediction and Inference, Compare and Contrast, Cause and Effect, Main Idea and Theme, and Perspective and Point of View.
Workbook pages are used on a daily basis as the students are guided through the unit. Students learn to find the meaning of words by studying contextual clues, as well as, using dictionary skills. They also complete various story-mapping exercises and use lists to compare/contrast. Some forms have quite a bit of writing, but those are usually the days when (in levels 2 - 5) the student does part of the lesson on their own then meets with mom to discuss and complete the rest of the lesson. When discussing assignments, she encourages mom to write the answers her student is giving onto a whiteboard for the student to copy. This way the child can focus more on the discussion at hand and less on having to figure out how to spell things correctly. Mom can fill in the remaining part of the page as they discuss the lesson together and the child dictates his answers. Students in Level 6/7/8 complete their workbook assignments independently and are then instructed to show the teacher when each assignment is completed. The program seems easier to implement if all of your students are reading the same book; this way you can have your discussion/teaching time together instead of having to have individual discussions with each student.
In addition to completing 1 - 3 books (depending on the length of the book and the student's reading level), the last week of each unit is devoted to a student project. Of the three project options, one is a project that revolves around the Godly Character Trait that has been the focus of the unit. Project option two requires the use of the "optional" resource, Book Projects to Send Home
, that you can purchase along with Drawn into the Heart of Reading. It is an inexpensive resource, but important if you want to be able to use this project option. The final option is a group project requiring two or more students (unless mom is willing to do part of the project with a single student) that is based on one common book that the students have read or had read aloud to them. As I've outlined above, a hallmark of this program is the ability to use the units with any book you choose and the freedom to choose books appropriate for the student's reading/grade level; so if you have a 2nd and a 6th grader they will most likely be reading different books. This will mean that in order to do the group project, it will have to be chosen ahead of time and mom will need to add a book from the genre being studied and read it aloud throughout the unit. Of course, you can always design your own project for the final week of the unit, or simply skip the project week altogether. Although the project week does reinforce the genre study, the teaching and learning that takes place during the first 3 weeks of the unit is more than adequate and totally stands on its own.
We enjoy reading and discussing books in our home, preferring to use literature as the foundation of most of our studies. One problem I have with so many reading programs is students spend so much time having to complete worksheets and analyzing books that it ruins the enjoyment of reading. Drawn into the Heart of Reading seems to have struck a good balance. The lessons are interesting and the program is extremely flexible! For instance, we actually preferred to use the Biography unit with a book that I was reading aloud during our study of history. We used fewer worksheets and had lots of discussion using the Teacher's Guide. The concepts presented in Drawn into the Heart of Reading provide a firm foundation in reading and will be of benefit to your students throughout their high school and college careers. By understanding key story elements, not only will they have more appreciation for the literature they read, they will also be able to apply this knowledge to their own writing!
Making the Grade: A
Cost: $65 - Teacher's Guide, $18 - $28 Student Workbook (depending on level purchased)
Value for Your Homeschool Dollar: 9
Review provided by Cindy Prechtel, Editor