Moving Beyond The Page . . . A T. O. S. Review

My kids and I have been given the opportunity again to review curricula from Moving Beyond The Page.

We were asked to choose a language arts package and either a science or social studies package. These are available as stand alone units, but have also been developed so that you may choose a language arts package, and easily find a coordinating science or social studies unit. I chose to go with a coordinating set. Our language arts was an online package with the curriculum online and the story books shipped to us, while our science package was a physical set, with everything shipped to us.

This year, we chose the Language Arts Package – Tornado, and received the online package.

This package costs $20.91, and includes the online curriculum, along with two books which were shipped to us in the package containing our science set. The two books for the Tornado unit are:
How The Turtle Got His Shell (a Little Golden Book)
Tornado by Betsy Byars.

We also received the Science Package – Amazing Weather, available for $36.97.

This set was shipped to us, and included the spiral bound curriculum (with the workbook pages bound into it), and the following books:
“On the Same Day In March” by Marilyn Singer and Frane Lessac
“Weather” by Lorri Mack.
“Weather” is a DK book, which is a wonderful series of books. I scoop them up whenever I can, because my boys LOVE them!

We also received an individual boiling point thermometer.

I did receive a note in my package that the Weather” book was on back order with the book publisher, but that they had a used copy they were sending me so as not to delay my shipment. I must tell you though, if they had not told me this, I would not have known, it looked like a brand new book.

Our two units are designed for students in the 7 – 9-year-old range, but I would say that would be gifted children in that range, myself.

The Language Arts Unit-Tornado Unit covers a story about a friendship between a boy and his dog, and the student will also learn about the effects of weather on farm life.

When you first activate your online unit, you will see links to the following:

list of reading and materials
student activity pages available as a pdf download
Reading and questions pages
Summary of skills
How to use Moving Beyond The Page
Review Sheet

You will also see links to each of the lessons. In the case of our unit, “Tornado”, there are 9 lessons, along with a final project:

Lesson 1: Weather on the Farm (2 Days)

Lesson 2: The Storm (2 Days)

Lesson 3: The Tornado

Lesson 4: A Card Trick

Lesson 5: Turtles (2 Days)

Lesson 6: The Best Pet Award

Lesson 7: Conflict

Lesson 8: The End of the Storm (2 Days)

Lesson 9: Plot

Final Project: Think-Tac-Toe

Finally, at the bottom of the page, you will see links for spelling and vocabulary.

When you go into the unit, for example our “Tornado” unit, and click on a lesson (I will use lesson one as an example), you will see the intro page. Here it told me about the questions we were going to explore, what facts and definitions we would be looking at, the cross-curricula skills we would be covering, the materials we would be using, and an introductory activity to use with the student. This was pretty much the norm for each lesson. The table of contents also told me whether a given lesson would cover more than one day.

As most of you know, I am a huge fan of doing educational material as a group whenever possible, and as we did last year, this is what I chose to do again. It is easier to do this with the online curriculum, because you are permitted to print out copies for each child. However, one thing that I really, really wish (and had hoped!) that had been changed since last year is the 90 day limit to finish your unit once you activate it. The whole reason I have come around to purchasing online/downloadable curricula is for the opportunity to use it in the future.

Because of the special needs issues in our family, we chose to do this primarily as an oral unit. We read and discussed the reading materials, and did the drawing, coloring and mapping, but whenever there was much writing to do, we did it orally so that everyone was equally involved. They are still not at the point of thoroughly understanding the structure of a story (although “The Artist” is getting there”, but still, they did seem to enjoy this unit. They liked the stories, and they always enjoy the discussions that come up as a result of reading and doing things as a group.

Now, on to our Science Unit – Amazing Weather. As I said above, we were shipped the spiral bound teacher’s guide/student workbook. I personally would prefer that the student pages come in a separate book.

When I first opened the curriculum, I saw the table of contents, and then a section on how to use Moving Beyond The Page. An integrated approach is used, so that even if you are using this as a stand alone unit, it is still going to hit things like art, drama, or music. The student will also be reading quality literature, which means that even though it is a science unit, it is including language arts. This unit also includes vocabulary, and it is important to use it while going through this study. The student doesn’t have to memorize it all, but should be able to understand and use the words correctly.

Again using lesson one as an example, I found a “Getting Started” section. This section summarizes what we did with the following headings:

Big Ideas (how does the environment affect living things?, and Why does the weather change?)

Facts and Definitions (for example, what a meteorologist is)

Skills (describing weather in various ways, identifying and using common tools to measure weather, and gathering information using simple equipment)

A materials list, which included what student pages to use

An introduction suggestion to use with the student

A list of the activities for this lesson

Required reading for this lesson, along with the comprehension questions for that reading

A wrapping it up section and a life application assignment.

Of course, my kids (as usual!) enjoyed the reading. The writing? Not so much, lol! So again, we did a lot of the unit orally, with group discussion.

We live in New Mexico, where there has been a severe drought for several years, so our weather during this study had VERY little variation, but it was still interesting nonetheless.

To sum all of this up, I want you to know that I really do like Moving Beyond The Page. I probably would not purchase it though, because of the “cons”.

With the online version, I can read the teacher material right from my tablet or laptop, and print out as many copies of the student pages as I need. However, I have access for only 90 days, which as I stated in my previous review, feels a lot more like a rental than a purchase, given that as far as I can see, there is no way to print out the teacher materials. With the physical unit, I have everything in hand, but am not allowed to make extra copies of the student pages. I would very much like to see one of these cons change.

The pros, for me, are that we CAN do these units as a group! With the varying levels of ability that my kids have, we are still able to spark very good discussions with these units, and it often surprises me just how much some of them have really learned!:-)

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