Friday, July 6, 2012

Review The Joy of Discovery - How To Teach With Unit Studies


I am in LOVE. 

This past year during our first year of homeschooling we had some frustrations and tears which lead to a couple of transitions with learning styles, methods and curriculum. About 4 months into our year, per my children's request we ended up transitioning into the world of unit studies and lapbooking. At even 4 and 5 years old the children knew they wanted to spread their wings and soar with their learning. And they began to truly enjoy learning. 

A moms review:
The Joy of Discovery is a FABULOUS resource for parents who utilize the unit study method in their homeschool. This manual is published by Hewitt Homeschooling and written by veteran homeschool mom Barbara Wagner. Barbara utilized this method with her own children for over 12 years from preschool through high school. 

I will be reviewing The Joy of Discovery Bundle which includes the Learning Objectives. The resource is a 170 page text which comes 3 hole punched in a binder. Also included is a Dial-A-Unit Wheel and reproducible forms for recording and evaluating your child's learning. 
The name comes from: Joy which means to experience great pleasure (internal); discovery which involves active search (external). 

This step by step manual is an easy read and will teach you about how to utilize the I
3 Unit Study approach. It's as easy as 1-2-3.  The I3 Unit Study approach can be used for all grades, genders and levels. And it can be used as a complete curriculum or a supplement. 

When we did our unit studies the kids picked a topic, selected their books at the library and then I found various resources like unit study packets, lapbooks, coloring pages, worksheets, videos, etc to use with the unit study. It worked for us for the last several months but I still felt like we were still missing something. And after reading The Joy of Discovery I figured it out! Our biggest goal for our children is to become independent learners, thinkers and problem solvers. I know my two are still young but I personally feel learning independent skills at an early age is critical. 

Well The Joy of Discovery does just that. The approach individualizes instruction for your children and draws lessons from the things they are interested in. It integrates academic skills from all subjects and utilizes thinking skills to produce projects.  The projects make the learning interesting and fun and help bring together your children's knowledge and the use of that knowledge. 

How it works:

There are three steps that's it!

1 - Decide on a topic
I- Define your question
I- Develop the study

The Joy of Discovery manual is broken down into several sections. 
After the introduction you will learn in more detail what the Isteps (see above) are and how these help develop your child's learning. On the sidebars of the pages there are detailed examples, frequently asked questions, pictures and quotes. It is recommended that you read through the entire manual one time then go back and study the individual parts in more detail. I second this recommendation. The longest section of the manual is the final  Istep which is the core of the unit study. You will learn about Benjamin Blooms' hierarchy of  thinking skills and how to use the Dial-a-Unit Wheel.

Ithere are five steps that make up this instructional part of the unit study. 

1. Pick a thinking skill.

2. Choose a project.
3. State the assignment.
4. Make a plan.
5. Determine learning objectives.

The Joy of Discovery will also provide you with information on how to evaluate your children and record keeping. There are several forms included in the manual to help you with these areas. 
Next you will learn how to establish guidelines, create a schedule and how to teach multiple ages and levels. And finally you will learn what your family can expect to gain from using this method, how to create a learning environment, ideas and inspiration and the rewards and results your family will experience. I particularly liked "Get to Know Your Child" in the Ideas and Inspiration section. This portion discusses learning your child's personality and learning style and how to encourage both their strengths and weaknesses. 

At the back of The Joy of Discovery 
 manual there are FAQ's a glossary and all the reproducible forms and charts. The reproducible forms are awesome, easy to use and will help keep your child's learning organized for personal and state records.

My favorite quote in the manual compared children to sponges, 
"Likewise, pour information into kids and they'll retain some; immerse them in discovery and experience and they'll absorb much."

In the bundle you also get the 
Learning Objectives for Grades K-8. Need to know what to teach? These pages are just what you NEED. They are designed to help you track introduction, understanding, and then mastery of each concept. There are three check boxes so you can track up to three children. Under each grade level there are lists broken down by subject on what your children should study and/or be expected to do by the end of that grade level. These are targets children can be above or below "grade level". These are meant to be used as guides, not dictators! And all lists have been compared to recognized standards. The new edition also includes art, music, and character development objectives for each grade level.

This is the cheapest curriculum you will ever purchase. All you need is The Joy of Discovery manual, a child ready to soar, library card, internet access and you're set. 

Links to follow:
-Hewitt Homeschooling Website
-Hewitt Homeschooling Facebook page 
-Hewitt Homeschooling Twitter page

Where to buy:
You can purchase the Joy of Discovery directly on the Hewitt Homeschooling website for $16.95 on sale currently for $8.48. If you wish to have the learning objectives included (which I highly recommend) the purchase the Joy of Discovery Bundle for $21.00 and on sale currently for $10.50

Click here for more Hewitt Learning Product reviews from the The Schoolhouse Review Crew.

*Disclaimer - As part of the TOS Review Crew I received a copy of The Joy of Discovery in return for my honest review. Please note that prices indicated in the post are subject to change. I was not compensated for my review and all opinions are our own! Many of the links found on my side bars and in my blog posts are affiliate links. As a result, I might get paid money and I will most likely spend the money on homeschool supplies.

1 comment:

nicole pope said...

We reviewed this as well and I found it very interesting.  I have a 5 year old and feel that units are great to ease into formal schooling.  Good stuff!

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