Monday, July 25, 2011

Building Spelling Skills, Book 8 Review

 Building Spelling Skills Book 8 - Workbook
Publisher: Christian Liberty PressISBN-13: 9781930367173

I received the 8th grade level of Building Spelling Skills from Christian Liberty Press last week. At times, I am allowed access to review curricula sets or other book deals. This was a great opportunity to review this level of this overall set of books made for grades first through eighth. The review of this spelling set was done for the review on this blog for possible presentation use in speaking engagements and conferences regarding language arts curriculum recommendations.
This is a comprehensive spelling program corresponding to all lower grade level. The series does not continue in the secondary grade levels. The book is a consumable workbook and is set up to follow a standard secular school year calendar in that it is based on 36 units and the student would technically complete one unit per week. Each unit has 4 lessons, one for each of the first 4 days of the week, followed by a spelling test to be given on the fifth day of each week. These units could very readily and simply be used in the homeschool setting, as each unit could conform to a homeschool language arts instructional schedule.
Each unit is both phonics and thematic based. The lessons for each unit consists of language based activities that teach through active practice and application and expose the student to word etymology. Building Spelling Skills, Book 8 is more than a consumable spelling workbook. It is a vocabulary and spelling study guide rolled into one. Each unit comes complete with a brief explanation of the spelling roots origins. I found the explanations provided to be grounded in historical fact and written in such a manner that the student is not overwhelmed with the brief history lesson on word origins.

The Building Spelling Skills, Level 8 does seem to be written slightly above grade level. In comparison to some other spelling curricula I have had exposure to, BSS is fairly more difficult in structure and language activities than others of comparable grade level or age range for use. It is my believe as a long time educator that students that have used this series for many years or grade levels might do quite well with this level or flourish with it. Students of an advanced language ability might find the text and instructional level of the series on target as well.
Students who are a bit delayed in language acquisition skills or who are diagnosed with some form of learning disabilities might find some of the words presented to be too advanced or challenging. With that being stated, it also seems to be apparent from a thorough review that use of the BSS, 8 series workbook might be challenging, but useful and engaging to the student who is slightly behind. I say this, because a review of the lessons of each of the 36 units demonstrates that with minimal guidance a student could learn to independently work through each lesson activity and become more self-sufficient and confidant in his or her phonetical skills.
This series, for all grade levels, is very reasonably priced. It is inexpensive and uses a phonics based approach. The increased exposure to word etymology and language principles makes it comprehensive. The emphasis on Christianity and like content is found throughout the series. There is a ‘Language Tree’ provided at the end of the book, which is interesting to decipher, but might be quite confusing to some students. The tree resembles a family tree and gives a visual representation of how all language cultures have come together to present us with the rich language and words we use to speak and communicate with one another each day.
Suggestions for future publications and final comments:
There is really no teacher manual. Rather than is an answer key copied and stapled together for the parent to use to check lesson responses recorded in the workbook by the student. An additional recommendation would be the inclusion of an abbreviated glossary to be contained with the book at the back or at the end of each lesson. Students could refer to this when reading and studying wordlists for each unit. Pronunciation guides for each word would also be a helpful addition. A wonderful ending note to this curriculum review is that two things were above all else notable to me throughout my review of this series piece: 1. there is an introductory prayer suggestion for the student before the unit studies begins; 2. each unit technically has 5 lessons, rather than 4, with the 5th lesson being a prayer reminder for the student to praise the Lord and ask for assistance with lessons and studies. The instruction started in prayer, with each unit ending in prayer, making the curriculum set grounded in prayer.

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