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Moving Beyond the Page

Publisher: Moving Beyond the Page
Author: Kim A. Howe
Review last updated: March 2013
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Moving beyond the page

Moving Beyond the Page

Moving Beyond the Page fits into a special niche within the homeschool market. It's a secular, unit study approach based on constructivist theories of learning* that primarily targets gifted children. At present, the curriculum is available for teaching kindergarten through eighth grades** at a gifted level. The same curriculum might be used with average students in grades one through eight.

Each year's curriculum is designated with an age range rather than a particular grade level. The ranges are:

Ages 5-7 (kindergarten for gifted students, first grade for average students)
Ages 6-8 (first grade for gifted students, second grade for average students)
Ages 7-9 (second grade for gifted students, third grade for average students)
Ages 8-10 (third grade for gifted students, fourth grade for average students)
Ages 9-11 (fourth grade for gifted students, fifth grade for average students)
Ages 10-12 (fifth grade for gifted students, sixth grade for average students)
Ages 11-13 (sixth grade for gifted students, seventh grade for average students)
Ages 12-14 (seventh grade for gifted students, sixth grade for average students)

For the first four levels, each year's curriculum is presented in four spiral-bound books called "Concepts." Within each Concept book are three or four units, with eight to ten lessons per unit. Each Concept book focuses on a theme—one theme per Concept, primarily addressing Social Studies and Science. In the first two levels (5-7 and 6-8), math and language arts are integrated into the Concepts. Beginning with level 7-9, language arts is offered separately from science and social studies. The programs still tie together topically with children covering similar topics in language arts, science, and social studies. For example, when children learn about sound in science, they read a biography of Helen Keller in language arts. However, the connections are not as pervasive as they are in a true unit study approach. MBTP recommends the Right Start math program for use with levels 7-9 through 9-11 for math. Right Start is an especially good fit if you have used either or both of the first two levels and are moving into level 7-9 since MBTP has already discussed the abacus used in Right Start and laid the ground work in earlier levels so students should be very comfortable with that math program. As far as other subjects--art, music, drama, and critical thinking also receive plenty of attention within the Concepts at all levels.

Concept topics for each level are:

Ages 5-7: Environment, Similarities and Differences, Patterns, and Change
Ages 6-8: Community, Culture, Measurement, and Matter and Movement
Ages 7-9: Environment, Change, Cycles, and Relationships
Ages 8-10: Interdependence, Force and Power, Similarities and Differences, and Exploration and Survival
Ages 9-11: Relationships, Diversity and Interdependence, Systems, Discovery and Survival
Ages 10-12: Environment and Cycles, Force and Power, Change, Systems and Interaction
Ages 11-13: World history, Culture, Geography, Earth Science, and Physics
Ages 12-14: American History and Government, Chemistry and Biology

I realize these topics are a bit vague. There is not space to list all the unit titles but a few will suffice for a more detailed understanding. The "Change" Concept for level 5-7 has the unit titles "Identifying and Recording Change," "Time," and "History – Change over Time." The "Interdependence" Concept for level 8-10 has the unit titles "Dirt and Plants," "Native Americans," and "Ecosystems and Ecology."

For levels 7-9 and 8-10, three companion literature units correlate with each Concept book, which means there are 12 literature units per year. Each literature unit is essentially a study of a single novel or storybook. Literature units serve as a springboard to cover broader language arts skills such as grammar, composition, spelling, vocabulary, and handwriting. While literature has been selected to correlate with themes in the science and social studies books, they can be used independently. As an example, the literature selected to correlate with the "Interdependence" Concept for level 8-10 (units on dirt and plants, Native Americans, ecosystems and ecology) is Little House in the Big Woods, Sign of the Beaver, and Native American Animal Stories. Some parents might wish to use only the science and social studies or only the literature units, especially if children need to work at a lower level in language arts than they are able to function in science and social studies. For each of the Concepts in these lower levels there are both a teacher and student book for science and social studies . Literature units each include both teacher and student pages—student pages are printed on only one side and can be removed from the book. The program requires purchase or acquisition of quite a few additional books for use with the Concepts as well as the books to accompany the literature units. (These are all available through Moving Beyond the Page.)

For levels 9-11 and 10-12, a shift takes place that has students working more independently. Instructions are written directly to the student. Parent pages are relegated to the back. These brief parent pages summarize what students are accomplishing in the unit, provide a few helpful tips plus links to additional resources, and other such helps. Each age level consists of 6 units of science, 6 units of social studies, and 12 units of language arts. Each of the units is bound in its own book with student directed lesson plans, student activity pages, and the parent overview. The Life of Fred math series is recommended begin with level 10-12.

Levels 11-13 and 12-14 change the layout yet again. Concepts have been replaced with topics. Social studies and science are now given more attention with reduced time spent on language arts and literature. There are now ten units for each of the three areas. Science and social studies each feature a different topic. Correlating literature is related in some way to one of the topics but less so than in younger levels. Among literature for the 11-13 level are The Pearl, The Hobbit, Greek Myths, and Newton at the Center. One language arts unit is dedicated to an independent study/research project.

MBTP is more properly called an interdisciplinary approach rather than a unit study since all activities are not tied to the theme, especially in the literature units. For example, spelling words are culled from lists of most commonly used words and those following particular spelling patterns rather than from the book being studied.

Because the program targets gifted students, it teaches conceptually and holistically. That is, it starts with the big picture so children have a context for learning, then it moves on toward details and specific skills. It assumes that children will intuit (figure out for themselves) much of what is taught directly in other programs. It does not review or drill in the traditional sense. For example, there is no systematic instruction in grammar or math in the first two levels. However, the essential skills (according to state and national standards) are taught in scattered lessons, then students are expected to use and refine those skills through application rather than review and drill. In regard to grammar, all basic concepts such as parts of speech are taught over a span of a few years rather than each year as in traditional programs.

Concepts are written with some "differentiated activities"—activities from which parents can select those best targeted at the ability level of each student. This allows parents to use the same Concepts with students who might be one or two years apart. (Although Literature units might need to be selected for different levels to more closely target each child's ability.) Sometimes, parents will need to adapt activities to fit the abilities of students.

MBTP incorporates lots of hands-on activities and experiential learning. You will need to gather materials for every lesson, although much is already included if you purchase the complete program. Complete programs also include science kits which is very helpful since science activities are the ones requiring the most oddball resources.

While the teacher manuals have detailed, daily lesson plans, parents will need to do some lesson planning and preparation. Lessons also require parental interaction and supervision to a large extent in the younger levels. As children advance, there are increasing amounts of independent reading and writing required of students to the point where student in levels 9-11 and above work independently much of the time. Rubric forms for evaluating students' writing are included. Overall, the program requires more reading and writing of students than do most other programs.

Each unit within each Concept has a culminating project to complete. There are no quizzes or tests until Level 8-10, and even then the culminating projects might be more valuable in terms of evaluating student progress.

Student Concept books consist primarily of activity pages in the younger levels. Most of these are not typical worksheets; it doesn't seem that any two are alike. Instead, they direct students to draw, write, analyze, complete graphs, color, create booklets, complete Venn diagrams, and other such activities. Literature unit activity pages include some that are typical of grammar and handwriting workbooks, but they have many more that are similar to those in the Concepts.

Level 5-7 assumes that students know letters and sounds plus numbers 1-10. For the most part, it does not assume that children can read, although some activities seem to be making that assumption, likely based on the author's belief that most gifted children learn to read early. This level teaches manuscript printing, so activity pages are included for practicing letter formation. At this time MBTP does not incorporate cursive instruction. In Level 8-10, they recommend adding your own choice of cursive handwriting programs.

While some phonic activities are included, MBTP is not meant to provide reading/phonics instruction. You will need to select another program on your own for that purpose.

The curriculum is sold in a number of different packages. You can purchase a complete level that includes all Concepts, Literature Units (when applicable), novels, books, science kits, and math "tools" such as a scale and weights (when applicable). You can buy only the Concepts and Literature Units, then obtain the other books and resources on your own. Or you can purchase packages for only one Concept at a time. There is also an option for the upper levels to buy a complete package for the Concepts, including all required resources, but that does not include the Literature Units. And as I mentioned before, you can purchase the Literature units separately. Sample lessons that include both teacher and student pages are available on the website for free so you can check it out before purchasing.

The complete packages will certainly save you a lot of time and hassle, since there are so many items per level, and I expect you might have some difficulty locating all the individual items to purchase or borrow on your own.

For example, the 8-10 level complete package includes the four Concept parent manuals; four Concept student books; 12 literature units; 31 required books; kite kit; Idea Factory - Force and Motion Kit; Science In A Nutshell: Magnet Magic Kit; ScienceWiz Electricity Kit; Dig A Dino Velociraptor Kit; Minerals, Crystals, and Fossils Science Kit; Work: Plane and Simple; and Timeline of History.

Among the 31 books are titles such as How do Animals Adapt?, Explorers Who Got Lost, Exploration and Conquest, Dirt, Experiments with Plants, The Very First Americans, If you Lived with the Cherokee, Eco-Fun, Africa for Kids, A True Book: Asia, Geology Rocks!, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, Turn of the Century, Can You Feel the Force?, and America Votes: How Our President is Elected.

Many of the titles selected for the literature units are well-know titles like Charlotte's Web and Sarah Plain and Tall—titles frequently used for such educational purposes.

I need to add a note about the science kits. The Magnet Magic science kit includes its own activity guide, activity journals, compass, various magnets, items to test with magnets, iron filings, magnetic "test shields," and a toy car kit. The ScienceWiz Electricity Kit also includes its own manual with all materials (except a D cell battery) for multiple experiments and activities. Minerals, Crystals, and Fossils is actually three kits within the one set and includes all the materials and instructions as do the others. There's a lot to work with in these kits, and it's all attractively packaged in easy-to-use-formats.

In contrast to most of the comprehensive unit studies written for homeschoolers, the content and approach of the program is decidedly secular. Christianity is treated in the same manner as Native American belief systems, Islam, and other religions. However, parents are encouraged to discuss their own religious beliefs with children in numerous activities. While the approach to religion might bother some, others will appreciate the openness. Many parents will also appreciate an emphasis on character education as well as the attention given to ecological issues.

As the publisher says, there are elements of Waldorf, Montessori, Unschooling, Core Curriculum, and Classical education incorporated into MBTP.

With this mix of approaches, I expect that MBTP will appeal most to those who love experiential learning and real books, who lean towards relaxed or unschooling approaches, who also want some ideas, structure, and direction but don't want a religious curriculum.

* "Constructivists view learning as an active process in which the learner actively construct[s] knowledge as he tries to comprehend his world. Constructivist theory is about facilitating the learner to go beyond simple memorization toward understanding, application, and competence" (www.movingbeyondthepage.com/faqDetail.asp?faqID=20).

UPDATE: Moving Beyond the Page Online Version

MBTP is now also available in an Online Version. The Online Version offers instant access and lower prices, although you do not permanently own access rights. Multiple students in your family may use the online curriculum simultaneously at no extra cost. Families may renew the online license for half-price for younger siblings. This makes the online version more cost effective for families in the long run as well. In addition, students may also type responses to some of the questions directly into the computer, saving or printing the results. The Online Version has also beefed up multimedia with more website links plus integrated pictures and videos, especially for levels 9-11 and up.

MBTP has also instituted IdeaShare™, an online community for MBTP users to share ideas and resources they've discovered.

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Instant Key

  • Learning Styles: all
    Suitable for: 
    gifted learners, but also usable for average students.
    Audience:
    grades K-7
    Need for parent/teacher instruction: 
    moderate to high for younger levels, decreasing for older levels
    Prep time needed:
    moderate to high
    Need for Teacher's Manual: essential
    Educational Approach: constructivist plus elements of Waldorf, Montessori, Unschooling, Core Curriculum, and Classical
    Religious perspective:
    secular

Publisher's Info