Thursday, October 8, 2009

TOS Crew Review: EDUDPS

Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services (EDUDPS) generously sent us four products to review and keep:
In Write with the Best Volumes 1 and 2, the idea is to model your student's writing after the great authors of literature. While I have not finished using these programs with my two older children, we are off to a good start and so far the discussions have been very good and I've seen good work from them.

Many of you know I am not a formal grammar/writing program user, so I was skeptical about how this would fit into our school. I was pleasantly surprised with the Write with the Best Volumes. The program uses excerpts from literature to illustrate and teach about various aspects of writing.

Volume 1
  • Writing a descriptive paragraph about an object (20,000 Leagues under the Sea)
  • Writing a descriptive paragraph about a place (A Christmas Carol)
  • Writing a descriptive paragraph about a character (Robinson Crusoe)
  • Write a Dialogue (The Wind in the Willows)
  • Writing a Short Story ("The Gift of the Magi")
  • Writing a Fable (The and the Grasshopper and the Shepherd Boy and the Wolf)
  • Writing a Friendly Letter (Treasure Island)
  • Writing Poetry Rhyming Verse (The Daffodils)
  • Writing Poetry A Ballad or Narrative Poem (Paul Revere's Ride)
Volume 2
  • Poetry Free Verse
  • Business Letters
  • Persuasive Essays
  • Expository Essays
  • Literary Critiques
  • Newspaper Articles
  • Speeches
  • Dramatic Dialogues
It is designed so that you move progressively through the concepts not moving to the next until the previous one has been mastered.

Roots and Fruits- a vocabulary program which uses Greek and Latin based english forms of words. It uses a hands on method rather than workbook based activities. She provides a weekly schedule and it is usable for grades K-12.

The Complete Career, College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers- take a comprehensive look at careers, college majors and aligns them with interest and learning styles. This is a great program for anyone who is thinking about what direction to head. For middle school through adult ages.

Cost: The books are generally sold in three different formats.

Write with the Best Volume 1
  • $19.95 for ebook ($14.95 on sale now!)
  • $22.95 for a printed copy with no binder
  • $24.95 for a printed copy in a 3 ring binder
Write with the Best Volume 2
  • $24.95 for ebook ($18.65 on sale now!)
  • $27.45 for a printed copy no binder
  • $29.95 for a printed copy in a 3 ring binder
Roots and Fruits
  • $14.98 for ebook($11.25 on sale now!)
  • $17.48 for a printed copy no binder
  • $19.98 for a printed copy in a 3 ring binder
The Complete Career, College, and High School Guide for Homeschoolers
  • $34.95 for ebook ($26.20 on sale now!)
  • $39.95 for a softcover bound book
The main thing I did not like was the ebook format which is an extremely restrictive format in this case. On the website they instruct all customers to read their page on the ebook restrictions. They use a digital rights management (DRM) tool that is highly restrictive and not worth the bother in my opinion. The stringent restrictions remove any convenience an ebook would provide. You will have the documents on your computer, but the publisher retains control of the product. You are limited to two printings and although you can contact them for more, you can never have enough control over the document to print a little at a time for instance a unit at a time. There are also lessons which require you to mark part of the text they provide. Wouldn't it be wonderful to just reprint those pages? Can't do it with this program. The publisher is more than willing to work with you if you have problems (and I've called upon his service numerous times), but I prefer not to be treated like a common thief when I purchase a product in an electronic format and try to use it fairly. Interestingly, the music industry has figured this out when it comes to mp3 files for players. It's unfortunate that this small publisher has not. It's a lesson to us all to respect copyright restrictions so that publishers do not feel the need to go to such great lengths to protect a product. I highly recommend just purchasing the print copies thus skipping the hassle of the ebook. The comparative cost is nominal and you will own the material outright.

The second thing I have reservations about is that although it uses literature, I prefer to use the literature we are using in our unit studies. This is rather a minor point for most people. It is only a product of my personal homeschooling philosophy in this area and since I have been very vocal about my strategies with grammar and writing instruction, I feel I need to address this out of respect for my readers. I still think this is a well written and easily usable product with students. I really like the concept and will make use of this program. For others who like this approach of modeling, you cannot go wrong with this content!

In short, if you are looking for a program that will improve your student's writing, then this is a great choice. The cost is very nominal for the content you receive which is excellent. Overall a great product as long as you buy the print copy!

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