I only need to look at them for one minute before realizing that I can't use anything like them with him. For one thing, the use of exclamation points (Must include the ending!) just seems so...extreme. I think rubrics like this are great for parents who don't have much experience teaching writing and who have kids who don't tend to have any special needs when it comes to schooling. If you are comfortable with teaching writing and/or have a high-strung, obdurate, or otherwise difficult child, rubrics like this one are recipes for dead-end learning days.
Hence, I took a bit of a looser approach with Nicky, and he still learned a ton with BBR and, more importantly, he enjoyed the process enough to want to continue after the review period! He followed the schedule and watched the videos and completed the activities (which we printed off of the DVDs). The main difference between the program as written and the program as we used it is that I did not use the scoring rubric at all. I made him correct his spelling and grammar errors, of course, but I did not deduct points. I didn't "grade" his Literary Terms worksheet at all. I just went over it with him to make sure he understood what he had learned and could correctly identify all of the "players" in Tom Sawyer. Granted, Nicky is on the younger end of the recommended age for this product, having just turned 11 a couple of weeks ago and just heading into 6th grade, so I don't know how I might approach things if he were older. I guess much would still depend on his personality.
I thought that we would have finished more than one book report during the review period, but one is all we have done. Still, I am happy to say that Nicky is gearing up for his second and is excited to continue (he has quite an affection for the video lectures!). Having looked ahead to the next two seasons, I am glad he is happy with the program. Season Two covers poetry and drama, teaching things like haiku, limerick, and sonnet. Students learn poetry terms and poetic devices, along with drama, melodrama, comedy, and farce. They write four different types of poems and study A Midsummer Night's Dream. Season Three covers the Essay and the Research Paper, with an emphasis on writing essays on short stories and, finally, a step-by-step process on how to write a research paper. This season includes all new video lectures.
All in all, Beyond the Book Report is a very thorough writing program that covers a wide variety of writing topics all under the rubric of the book report. It is a neat way of teaching writing in a way that makes it less "boring" for kids who might be inclined to view it that way. The best thing of all about it is that it meshes well with any other program you might be using. Yes, it integrates seamlessly with Analytical Grammar, and it probably makes the most sense to use it with that program. If you already have a grammar program that works for you, though, as we do, it is not hard at all to fit it in. My best advice would be not to get too caught up in the apparent rigidity of the program. Just because there are scoring rubrics aplenty with strict rules (1 point off for this, 1 point off for that) doesn't mean that you have to use them. They are a resource that will be great for some parents, but they are, in my mind, optional. They shouldn't put you off the whole program if you don't tend to like such things.
Beyond the Book Report was surprisingly successful here. To see lots of other Analytical Grammar programs in action, click the banner below.