Story Middle School Writing Curriculum includes:
– DVD set
– Student Book
– Teacher’s Guide
– The Remarkable Journal of Professor Von Steuben
– Plus a separate (optional) Grammar Component
Price for the whole set: $149
Since my daughter Isabella began 6th grade, I have been eagerly waiting
for her to reach high school so we could use One Year Adventure Novel (and
that is the ONLY reason!) Imagine my excitement last year when I learned that
a middle school curriculum was going to be released called Cover Story
by the same company who makes One Year Adventure Novel! I admit to being
much more excited than my daughter, but, then again, I do have a thing about curriculum.
When Cover Story arrived in our mailbox, I couldn’t wait to put everyone to bed so I could dig into it. First I looked over the Teacher’s Guide, which initially overwhelmed me because it seemed too big for an independent curriculum. Then I realized that much of the bulk was assigned reading texts. Whew!
What I like best about the Teacher’s Guide is that it clearly explains how to teach the course and grade your student’s work. It eliminates those guessing games that often arise while you are still trying to figure out how to use a new curriculum. In fact, Isabella already finished lesson 11, and I haven’t had to return to the Teacher’s Guide even once. The author recommends that you review your student’s work after lesson 12 and encourages you to set aside 1-2 hours to go over everything after each unit (every 12 lessons.) The guide contains answers to the worksheet questions and the rubrics for each writing assignment, as well as a one-page overview of each lesson.
After I read through the Teacher’s Guide, I popped in the disc. I watched the “How to use Cover Story,” “For Parents and Teachers,” and then decided to watch the first lesson to see if I thought my daughter would like it (plus I needed to write a review!) After watching lesson one, I wanted to watch lesson two, three, and four – all in a row. I thought they were fun, engaging, and entertaining. Honestly, they made me want to do Cover Story myself! (I wish that I could have done something like this when I was in middle school.) The only thing that bugged me was when, during the occasional close-up camera shots, the teacher, Mr. Daniel Schwabauer, still looked toward the other camera, so he didn’t appear to be looking directly at “you.” However, it doesn’t seem to bother my daughter at all.
I thought it would be fun for her to write her own review of Cover Story. We have tried DVD curricula in the past, but she couldn’t get past the corny instructions and dry, boring teachers. Writing has always been her strongest subject, so I was desperately hoping that this would work well for her.
Review by Isabella, 12 years old, 8th grade:
I like this curriculum a lot because it lets me be completely creative in making my own magazine. It’s a DVD curriculum, which typically has never worked well for me and I love it now! My teacher, Mr. Daniel Schwabauer, is funny but also tries to be understanding in how most kids don’t typically like grammar. I really recommend that if you are planning on using this curriculum to have already done basic grammar before, but if you haven’t there is an extra DVD that teaches some basic grammar skills.
There’s also a student book, and just in case you didn’t fully comprehend the lesson all the way, there’s a tad bit of reading and explaining about the lesson (about a paragraphs size.) The student book has some questions that go along with each video lesson.
Last but not least, there’s also a journal called “The Remarkable Journal of Professor Gunther von Steuben.” After a little reading of his journal, you fill in the missing pieces (you will learn more about Mr. von Steuben in one of the DVD lessons.) You are assigned to write a few questions Monday-Friday and read when needed. Although you will be writing in the journal Monday-Friday, Cover Story is a three-day-a-week curriculum.
Here are some questions my daughter answered for you:
What does a typical lesson/day consist of for you? Usually, (Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday) I watch one video each day and do the work in my student book. Then I write down a few questions that I’m curious about in everyday life in the accompanying journal.
How long does writing take on average per day? On average, writing takes about 30 minutes a day so far, but I haven’t started longer writing assignments yet. Each video lesson is around 10-15 minutes long.
Explain why a DVD curriculum hasn’t worked well for you in the past and why this is different: I personally think that in the past the main reason I never liked DVD curriculum before is because most of the teachers were boring and cheesy, but I like this teacher a lot. He is funny, but not dorky and annoying. He doesn’t talk to “us” like we are little kids either.
Why you like Cover Story: I have always been really good when it comes to writing, but I particularly like this curriculum because I get to be creative, give multiple answers, and express myself. Most writing curriculum I have done has been very structured and directed me in what I had to write.
Is there anything you DONT like about it? Be honest. I do not like reading the existing entries in “The Remarkable Journal of Professor Gunther von Steuben,” but I like writing the few questions daily.
Do you look forward to doing the high school curriculum One Year Adventure Novel? Yes!
Final thoughts from Isabella, 12 years old, 8th grade: I enjoy Cover Story a lot and hope you will too!
My final thoughts:
I am very impressed with the quality of the video lessons. My husband is a techie and dabbles in video, so I tend to be critical of production quality. In my opinion, Cover Story appears to be produced by professionals—not in someone’s basement! The DVD lessons are very high quality, and I found them to be entertaining, as did my daughter. Mr. Schwaubauer has a gentle way of explaining the methods used and employs fun examples to reiterate his points. The lessons do not lose my daughter’s focused attention because they are too long, which seems to be a problem with other subjects. She looks forward to writing and usually chooses to work on this curriculum first.
I am so pleased with Cover Story. I cannot wait to see her finished product at the end of the year! I am even more thrilled about using One Year Adventure Novel now in high school (probably 10th grade) and feel like this was a great introduction to Mr. Schwaubauer’s teaching methods. I give Cover Story a 15 out of 10!! Way to go!