Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A Schoolhouse Review: Roman Roads Media

Ashlyn is currently obsessed with learning about grammar and writing. So when Roman Roads Media gave us the opportunity to review The Grammar of Poetry, she was all over it! In fact, she happened to walk in as I was watching one of the video clips on the website, and before it was even over she was begging me to let her do this one.  When I told her we were getting it, she squealed loud enough to be heard around the world LOL. And proceeded to stalk the mailman until it got here.

The Grammar of Poetry is a 30 lesson video course that teaches the mechanics of poetry. It is intended for grades 6 and up. We received a student texbook (I would call it a workbook, there's very little "instruction" it's mostly the assignment worksheets), teacher's edition (answer key for the workbook, and contains the final exam), and DVDs. The teacher's edition recommends doing one lesson per day, 3 days a week, which would make this a 10 week course. When I suggested this to Ashlyn, she said, "But I want to do it every day!!! So I threw the "schedule" out the window and told her to go to it. She found that some lessons took her longer, so I think in the end she did average about 3 lessons per week, but she worked on it some each day.

Each lesson consists of a video to watch, of Matt Whitling teaching the course. As he teaches he goes over how to do the worksheets that go with that lesson. Sometimes she would pause the video and do the worksheet when it was explained, other times she'd wait and do all the worksheets after watching the whole video. Each video ends with a couple riddles, that she's been enjoying sharing with her sisters.

After she finishes the worksheets, she takes the answer key and checks her own work, and asks me if she has any questions.

Because she's self-motivated and wants to check her own work, this has been a completely independent course for her. She is LOVING it! Noticing the various aspects of poetry in other things around us, and yesterday I heard her trying to explain meter to her 5 yr old sister LOL. Surprisingly, Little Bit seemed to enjoy the "lesson".

The videos are very basic, Matt stands by a screen that has slides of what he's teaching about, and lectures about the topic. Honestly, it's extremely "school-at-home" like and not at all like our normal way of doing school. However, it's a perfect fit for Ashlyn. For one thing, it's a video, perfect for her, as an auditory learner. She can comprehend things more easily when someone explains it to her than if she read it herself. Also she really, really WANTS to learn about grammar AND poetry, so she's self-motivated to pay attention and do her best. The worksheets seem to comprehensively review the information presented in the video. The riddles often have to be explained . . . one was about sleeping under the bed and having a tongue . . .when she saw that the answer was a shoe, she was confused. Her crocs , flip-flops and slip-on flats don't have tongues LOL. Once I explained that the part on Daddy's sneakers was called a tongue, it made more sense to her. But she thinks they're fun, and they're a great way to build critical thinking skills.

One complaint I had, was that there was no list in the front of the teachers guide of needed supplies. As she was watching one of the videos, it expected her to have a rhyming dictionary. I really wish I'd known she would need that, it bothered her, a LOT, to not be able to go straight into her homework because she didn't have it. In the end I suggested that she use an online rhyming dictionary and that seemed to work, but she would have been happier to be able to "follow the rules".

Despite that minor frustration she is LOVING this course.  I think this would be a great fit for . . . Ashlyn LOL. If a child was resistant to learning, I don't think this would convince them to love grammar or poetry, there aren't lots of bells and whistles to make it "fun". And obviously, since it's a video course, it's best suited for auditory learners (it wouldn't be a good fit for me, because watching videos is my least favorite way to learn anything, I'd much rather just read a book about it). But since it's a subject that many of us moms aren't overly qualified to teach . . . I'm sure I learned about poetry in school but, ummm . . . yeah . . . no real recollection of it! For children who are interested in language arts, this is a great option! Ashyn is at the young end of the recommended age range. We don't really "do" grade-levels, but she's roughly at a 6th grade level, which is the youngest grade recommended for this curriculum. I wasn't sure how that would work since, prior to her current interest, bordering on obsession, with grammar, we haven't focused too much on it, so I would have guessed she was more of a 4th or early 5th grade level for grammar. However, while this may be part of why she's moved more slowly through the worksheets, she hasn't complained about it being too hard. Matt explains things completely in the videos and makes them easy to understand.

This seems to truly be a stand-alone course, there isn't any assumption of prior knowledge about the topics covered, so it appears that the grade-level recommendation probably refers more to the maturity of the student than their prior learning on the topic, which made it a good fit for Ashlyn.

The bundle that we received, text, teacher's edition and DVDs, is regularly $131, currently on sale for $100. If you will be using the course with more than one student, additional student texts are available for $22 each.

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In addition to The Grammar of Poetry, Roman Roads Media has a variety of other amazing looking products that crew members had the opportunity to review. I'm especially interested to learn more about the Old Western Culture courses (Greeks, and Romans), I have to admit I was pretty bummed to realize my kids were still too young for those courses, they look amazing!  To see what other crew members thought about Roman Roads Media, click the banner below:

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All prices and information are accurate at time of posting.

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