Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Review of The Write Foundation

I was recently provided free, in exchange for my honest review, a copy the first 15 lessons of The Write Foundation's Essay level course.  The Write Foundation offers three levels of writing courses: sentence, paragraph, and essay.  Sentence is recommended for ages 11-13, paragraph for ages 12-15, and essay for ages 14-17. Obviously, there is some overlap in the recommended ages since children vary in their writing ability.  

My daughter is only nine, but after speaking extensively with the creator of The Write Foundation, she agreed with me that the essay level was right for her.  Therese has had a lengthy writing background, probably because I write for a living.  She is also a naturally gifted writer.  One thing that The Write Foundation offers that Therese's other writing programs have thus far eschewed is a creative writing component.  I appreciate the fact that, while they include this component, The Write Foundation still places its emphasis on formal writing.  To help you decide where to place your own child in its program The Write Foundation provides this very helpful metric

The Write Foundation's approach is not particularly intuitive.  Although the methodology becomes clear if you just put your head down and proceed through the program, teachers (homeschool moms!) who really like to understand the ins and outs of a program before they dive in might have a little trouble with this one.  Still, it is worth it to give yourself time on the learning curve to become adept with The Write Foundation.  It borrows a very little from the classical Progymnasmata, but really creates its own methodology.  If you are intrigued by Classical Writing, but don't want to invest the time in the program, The Write Foundation would be a very good alternative for you!

In order to determine if The Write Foundation Essay Level is a good fit for your family, take a look at the sample lesson provided on the website.  For my daughter, I must confess that I have fallen in love with our current writing/language arts/grammar program, and I don't think that I would switch to any other program for anything.  Having said that, though, if I ever considered a switch, The Write Foundation would be a serious contender.  It is heads and shoulders above many other programs I have seen, primarily because it recognizes the primacy of the formal essay.  Our children won't be using creative writing to get into college, to get out of college, or to find a great job: they'll be using their formal writing schools.  All too many kids lack the fundamentals, and I can say with confidence that The Write Foundation will provide those fundamentals.

To find out more about The Write Foundation, visit their website here, or email the author of the program at bcelsor (at) sbcglobal (dot) net. You can also call her at 281-356-3556.  She is extremely helpful at figuring out where to place your child! The Write Foundation has different pricing structures which can be seen on this page, but for the full Essay program, you can expect to pay $100, which, for what your receive, I think is very reasonable.

To see what other members of the Crew thought about The Write Foundation, visit the Crew blog here.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Review of Collectorz

Book Collector from satisfies a need that every homeschooler has in abundance: the need to know what books she has! We've all faced the problem of knowing that we once had that particular book, but not being sure if it is still in our possession.  Maybe we sold it? Loaned it out? Buried it in the back of the book closet? There are many programs available today which promise to help you track your books, but Book Collector is the first one I've seen which really lives up to its name: more than any other book collection and organizing software, Book Collector is for book collectors.  Unlike other sites, its primary purpose is to help you get a handle on your book collection, not to socially share your books with your friends.  That makes it a huge improvement over other programs, in my opinion!

Thanks to Book Collector and The Homeschool Crew, I was provided a free copy of this program to review...but I would have bought it in a heartbeat! This program is so easy to install and so easy to use that if you have books you want to organize virtually, you really can't say no to it.

After downloading the program from the site (options: a 100 book trial version, a $29.95 standard version, and $49.95 pro version), you are ready to go.  All you need to do enter your book into your database is to enter the ISBN number.  Doing so will automatically fill in all of the book's data for you. No more laboriously entering in the author, title, publisher, copyright, etc. like you have to do for other (albeit free) online cataloging sites.  The only thing that you enter manually is your star rating of the book.  Book Collector actually even allows complete automation of the process by selling scanners on its site which will grab the ISBN number of the book for you, thereby freeing you even from that entry process.  While the scanner is nice to have, though, it is not necessary for the operation of the program.  I have thus far not used one in the entering of my book collection into Book Collector, but I do intend to purchase one in the near future.

Book Collector is a straightforward program, and is a great asset to any homeschool.  The standard version is probably sufficient for most users, and is very reasonably priced at $29.95.

Of course, if you do lots of things with your book lists, the pro version is set up to handle those extra tasks!

To find out more about Book Collector, visit their website.  To find out what other Crew members thought about Book Collector, look here!