Student Of the Word (SOW)

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Fenna

  • Reviewed on Wednesday, July 20, 2011
  • Grades Used: -
  • Dates used: -
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erinturner

  • Reviewed on Thursday, April 30, 2009
  • Grades Used: 4th, 5th
  • Dates used: Just received April 2009
I just received our new curriculum Student of the Word. I am very excited to begin this program with my children! There aren't many reviews on this curriculum so I thought I would just give my feedback at different phases. This covers all subjects except Math. It seems to integrate Science, History, and Geography nicely with the Bible topics covered each week. We are using Rod & Staff Math and also supplementing with Rod & Staff English. There are 3 binders: Student Edition, Teacher Edition, and Resource Edition. These binders hold all the plans and lessons necessary to teach this curriculum. You will also find a list of all the recommended resources for each subject. It only took me about 3 days to completely look over the contents of the binders and begin planning our first week of lessons. It is not an open and go program. It will require organization and dedication from the teacher. There is no answer key which will require the teacher to do the lessons or at least skim through them. My thought is that this is a great way for our whole family to grow spiritually, which is the intention of this program as stated by the Reece family. The teacher will need to look ahead to have the needed resources on hand for each lesson. The most used resources are the Bible, Bible Concordance, Bible Atlas, Bible Dictionary, and Webster Dictionary. If you are looking for a program totally centered on God's Word - this is for you! If you want to learn to disciple your children and yourself - this is for you! We have used Alpha Omega Life Pac (it just wasn't a good fit for our family), and recently Rod & Staff (I enjoyed this very much, but felt that we needed to study God's word more in depth). So we are coming from a more traditional style, but are excited for the new adventure. I'm not sure which style to classify SOW under - some approaches of Charolette Mason, some classical, and even a little traditional. There are several suggestions with the lessons on field trips or special activities to reinforce the lesson hands on. I will write again after using the program a few months. I hope this helps someone. God Bless!

cbastarache

  • Reviewed on Monday, January 1, 2007
  • Grades Used: K-2
  • Dates used: 2005-2007
The Student of the Word (SOW) curriculum is a non-graded curriculum (i.e. volume level does not correspond to grade level) that can be used from K-12 to teach all basic subjects expect for math. It comes in 6 levels that are meant to be used in order, with the Bible as the focus of each subject and discipleship as its ultimate goal. It is designed for multi-level instruction, with students grouped into non-readers/instructional readers (K-5th) and independent students (6-12th).

SOW I comes in three 5” x8” ring binders—the resource edition (RE), the teacher’s edition (TE), and the student edition (SE) —along with a resource CD that includes a 5.5 hour seminar, K-5 worksheet masters, and charts. The SE is needed only for 6th-12th or independent students and permission is given to copy this for additional students. Volumes II-VI are purchased together as a package with a teacher’s edition set in one binder and a student edition set (if needed) in another. You must have purchased new or registered a used copy of Volume I SE and RE to use the subsequent volumes, as the volume (II-VI) you are working on is added to the TE or SE from SOW I. All recommended resources must be purchased separately.

SOW I (RE) is 150 pages, tabbed, and is a general overview of the author’s philosophy and methods. It contains the general scope and sequence for the 6 year program, FAQ’s, student samples and charts, and many helpful ideas on organization and time management. The characteristics of the program and its approach to each subject are also laid out very thoroughly.

SOW I (TE) is 300 pages, tabbed, and is the “backbone” of the program. It includes the scope and sequence, resource list, master charts and worksheets, daily lessons and instructions. It is available only in conjunction with the RE.

SOW I (SE) is 150 pages, tabbed, and contains daily lesson plans for each subject for independent students.

The great strength of the program is its inductive Bible study method. After reading the assigned Bible passages for the week, students do: prayer letters, character studies, topical studies, chapter outlines, word studies including Greek and Hebrew phonetic spellings, hand drawn maps, memory verses, family devotions, and life application. They quickly learn how to use a concordance, Bible dictionary, Bible atlas, and commentaries. Lessons are adjusted based on the ages and capabilities of your children. The accompanying worksheets give just enough guidance while still allowing the student to think on their own. The entire Bible is covered over the 6 year sequence, and will be covered twice by those who start the program in the younger grades and follow the authors’ suggestion to repeat the sequence again in the upper grades. The curriculum is non-doctrinal, so you can use your preferred Bible translation and select resources that will not conflict with your religious views. The authors recommend certain resources, but as they are used mostly to gather information, you are free to substitute with those based on your own ideology. I have not found a Bible study program that so impressed me. These are the study methods taught in the first year of Bible college. I consider this alone worth the price of the first volume.

For the K-5th student, I find the overall program to be very good as well. The phonics instruction with its suggested resources is very thorough and easy to teach. Likewise, I find the English (grammar) lessons very easy to teach and equally as thorough. I especially like that they are tied into the Bible lesson. A set of grammar workbooks are suggested if the student needs more practice. These workbooks are excellent and highly recommended. The science lessons require a little more teacher preparation (especially if not using the recommended text), and cover a nice range over the 6 year sequence. I do find the program a little heavy on life science, but this should not be a problem for younger students. History is studied along with the relevant Biblical period and then as a general overview of North American history, with a little state history and church history thrown in. This is plenty for the younger crowd, unless your state requires additional hours in American history or you would like to introduce it sooner. The literature selections were varied and enjoyable, although I wished there were more of them and additional instruction on the elements of literature. Geography is studied first as an overview and then on a continent by continent basis along with a brief introduction to its history. A good map skills book may be necessary, depending upon the student. Suggestions for art, music, and physical education are included but are very broad. You will probably need to add some resources, depending upon the goals of the student.

The program is still strong for the 6-12th students, but definitely needs some supplementation for the college bound. The authors recommend supplementing with a physical science and chemistry text. I think that you will need a text that goes deeper in the other areas of science as well. You will need a more intense American history course, and possibly a more in-depth world history as well. I would add a good course on literature analysis and a structured writing program. You would also need to include instruction in a foreign language, and a structured art/music program.

Also, please keep in mind that:

1. It is somewhat expensive initially with the needed resources, but you will be able to use many of them with all 6 volumes and costs for additional resources in the subsequent years are quite low.
2. Many of the weekly lessons require large blocks of scripture reading that can be overwhelming for younger students. Many users remedy this by spreading lessons over 2 weeks instead of one or using audio tapes to listen to parts of the selection ahead of time.
3. There is quite a “learning curve” to understanding and implementing the SOW teaching style. The video seminar on the resource CD is very helpful in overcoming this, as well as the active yahoo group located at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/0-StudentsoftheWord. The authors are also available via their online forum or by phone consultation.
4. It contains only 24 weekly lessons per year. Many families do mini-units around the holidays to stretch this total to 32.
5. It is weighted towards the Old Testament, with the New Testament not being covered until the second half of Volume IV (just Matthew) through Volume VI. The authors’ worksheets do ask you to find New Testament verses that relate to the studied passage, and one user has created lapbooks that trace Christ in the Old Testament (available at www.4himkids.com.) You can also use the Knowing Jesus Study Bible with its notes on finding Christ in the Old Testament or any of the many books on the subject to bring more of the New Testament into the earlier volumes. Some families even skip to Volume IVB after completing Volume I.
6. The volumes contain some proofreading errors. Hopefully these will be eliminated in the forthcoming updated versions.

Overall, I think SOW is an excellent choice for a comprehensive Christian curriculum, and we will continue to use it with our sons.

Dollhoney

  • Reviewed on Saturday, May 20, 2006
  • Grades Used: K-12
  • Dates used: 2006
Here is my review of this curriculum after pouring over all the information, although I have not used it.

I am not going to use it.

1. The instruction books are poorly written, both grammatically and typographically. There are many typo mistakes, as well as many grammatical errors. I found the author using "your" anytime that she meant "you're". She also used commas inappropriately which caused unnatural pauses in the flow of her material. It was difficult to read sometimes. This makes me a bit nervous to be trusting this source for educational direction when these types of writing mistakes are apparent.
2. Student samples in the books were also not of good quality. I am not sure if they were uncorrected copies or final copies, but some had gross errors. One blatant example was a report written by a middle-schooler on the Greek people. Sometimes he capitalized "Greek" in his writing, but more than not, it was left in lower case. He often had conflicting verb tenses in his sentences. Other examples showed the same misuse of commas. I'd like to think that student samples included in a curriculum would be glowing.
3. The assignments for Scripture readings were unrealistic. For example, the entire story of Joseph in Genesis Ch. 37-50 was studied in one week. The reading for this was assigned to take place all on Monday of the week, with various written assignments following up during the week. I can't possibly imagine reading 13 chapters to my children at one time. I can't possibly imagine studying Joseph in 1 week. (we took 3 weeks and then another week to make a lapbook, using Bible Study Guide) This is a Read Thru The Bible type program, so all books are included....Leviticus, the prophets, Song of Solomon, Revelation. These just seem like really difficult & in-depth material for young children.
4. The program is billed as complete except for math. I'd say it is strong in Bible, adequate in its Language Arts instruction, but rather weak in science/history/geography. They do recommend supplimenting at the High School level with Biology & Chemistry if college is in the works.
5. The authors of the program are very slow to answer email.
6. The New Testament... thus the Gospel Message of Christ. ... is not even covered until the 4th year of this program. To me, I want my child reading and learning about Jesus right away....not 4 years later, after laboring through some of those difficult Old Testament books.

On the plus side, there was one aspect of the program which I really liked and I may implement something similar in our home. The program emphasizes teaching the child to pray using something similar to the ACTS formula (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) by requiring the child to write a prayer to God everyday in the form of a letter. I thought this was a beautiful way to instruct the child in prayer, and have a written record of the child's thoughts.

Additional note: I returned this curriculum to the vendors and they were very prompt in issuing a refund to me.


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