As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
A few months ago, I was contacted by the author of a new reading curriculum called The Voyager Series. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of reading materials in our homeschool classroom. What might set this one apart? The claim was that this was something new that would not only help children learn to read better, but would also help them to retain more and become better communicators. Interesting concept! I’ve had the program for awhile and have been using it with Ian. I’d like to tell you about it.
About The Voyagers
The Voyagers Series is a new multi-media, multi-disciplinary approach to reading that provides students with a stimulating, interactive experience that will enhance their reading enjoyment while promoting better retention of subject matter.
The Voyagers Series currently consists of two books,Europe and Africa, with several additional books in the works. The Series features two protagonists, Erin and Drew, who discover the record of many fast-paced adventures that took place in various eras and in distant locations around the world. While the story lines are fictional, the background information is entirely factual.
To supplement the reading of the adventures, the Series uses four tools to help teach students to read more carefully and to retain what they have read. The first tool consists of TEN CHAPTER QUESTIONS that appear at the end of each chapter in the book or e-book. The chapter questions may cover any of the major areas of study – mathematics, science, history, social studies, foreign languages, etc. The second tool is the online CROSSWORD PUZZLE that the student completes, using the underlined words from the corresponding chapter. The third tool is the designation of one of the puzzle answers as the LIFE LESSON of the chapter. It is a character-building trait that will be revealed to the student after correctly completing the puzzle. The Life Lesson is the CODE that is required to play the online GAME, the fourth tool in The Voyagers Series.
The Voyagers Series is designed to be used as a team-building exercise in the early years of a student’s reading development. For elementary school students, the teacher or parent may read to the students, then work together with them to solve the crossword puzzles and games. Middle school students may be asked to work in small groups, with students taking turns reading the adventure. Students in the upper grades may read the Series on their own and later be asked to write a paper on one or more of the Life Lessons or chapter questions.
Sadly, comparative statistics have proven that American students are falling behind students in other countries in many areas of study. There are probably many reasons for this, but it is clear that students today have more distractions than ever before – handheld games, television, computers, email, instant messaging, etc. The list goes on, and it is getting longer every year. The Voyagers Series, believes that the solution is not to eliminate the new devices but to find positive ways to incorporate them into the educational system. They are convinced that reading skills are a critical factor in future success – in school, in business, and in life. A student who reads poorly, or not at all, has virtually no chance of getting into college or finding an adequately-paying job in the future. Their goal is to provide teachers with a unique platform to make it easier to help students on two fronts – to read more proficiently by making the reading experience fun and to retain more by using entertaining games and puzzles to test for retention.
Heidi Says . . .
I need to start by saying that I have an 8-year-old 3rd grade son who is very reluctant when it comes to schoolwork. That’s not to say that he doesn’t do well with school – on the contrary, he’s quite smart and picks up concepts quickly. He just doesn’t like sitting down with workbooks and doing “busy work”. Whenever he hears the word “school” he cringes and rebels. However, this is the same child who taught himself to read with no help from the rest of us. He brought us a book one day – and it wasn’t a simple “See Jane run” book – and read it to us. And he read it well. (To this day, I’m still shaking my head in wonder over that one!)
Anyway, because of this, The Voyagers didn’t appeal to me for the actual reading aspect of it. I know that Ian can read. But the promise of a different approach – something that hasn’t been done in reading curriculum up ’til this point – is what appealed to me.
And guess what? It appeals to Ian too. We worked on the first two chapters in the Europe book before taking a few weeks off over Christmas. There were many days when he would come to me and say, “Can we do The Voyagers today?” When we finally pulled the book out to work on chapter 3, I couldn’t remember what had happened. I asked him, and he repeated back to me what had happened in the first 2 chapters! I was shocked! Their claim that the approach helps with retention . . . well, that rings true!
Here is how we’ve been using The Voyagers in our homeschool:
-> Ian and I cuddle up together on the couch and I read the chapter to him. The stories are written at a bit more advanced level than what is the norm for a 3rd grader. While I feel confident that he could read them on his own, part of the plan for this program is for the teacher and student to work together.
-> After reading the chapter, we go over the discussion questions that are listed at the end. (The answers to these questions are found in the Teacher’s Guide.) Some of these questions require research beyond the book itself (such as checking out a map, globe, or dictionary).
-> Next is the part that Ian loves best – the computer part! On The Voyagers website, we click on the Puzzles tab and choose the chapter that we’ve just read. Then he works on the crossword puzzle. The answers to the puzzle can be found within the chapter (and, nicely, all the words are underlined in the text.)
-> After he has completed the crossword, we discuss the Life Lesson. Here is a bit about these life lessons from the author of the series, Will Rhane:
Each answer to the crossword puzzle is a word, a Life-Lesson, of that chapter that is described in detail in the Parent’s Guide. This allows for a spirited discussion of the meaning and how it affected the protagonists. The administrator/parent can begin a dialog about the Life-Lesson and either explain the meaning or ask the student to describe the Life-Lesson based on their personal experiences which may include a written description.
The more we can discuss the various Life-Lessons in each chapter the better the student will begin to understand effective communications. The students will learn empathy, how to listen, not to judge, faith, respect, tolerance and so much more. This is one of the major factors that makes these books the first of their kind.
-> The topic of the Life Lesson is then used to access the game on the website. These are different for each chapter, and Ian has really enjoyed the ones he’s gotten to play so far.
After doing a few lessons, we have gotten onto the concept quite easily. If Ian were a little older, I can imagine that I would add extra learning activities along with The Voyagers – we could tie in more geography and creative writing, for sure!
I really do like the concept, though, and would definitely recommend this curriculum to those with older children who need help reading and retaining. Of course, those with resistant students like mine may find it beneficial as well!