Friday, May 24, 2013

TOS Review - Joyce Herzog

"Vowels are scaredy cats, vowels are scaredy cats.  They're scared of consonants.  They are!"
That is just a little snippet of Julianna's favorite song from Joyce Herzog's Scaredy Cat Reading System Express.  The Express set is part of a three level reading system that uses a mastery approach to learning phonics.  The Express level, reinforces the fifteen phonics rules that are covered in the first three levels and includes The Story of the Lettermaster (cute story about a gentleman who is chosen to give the letters their names/sounds), Using Lettermaster as a Teaching Tool booklet, a CD of phonics rules songs and the training manual with two games that can be used with any of the lessons.

 It is suggested that you teach the program through practice (with games/activities) using one of three different approaches:  Approach one: teach Rule 1 and basic list to mastery then move on to Rule 2.  You follow this pattern through Rule 6.  If all previous rules are mastered, proceed through rest of rules. (This is suggested for learners who work well with immediate results so they never feel "stuck".), Approach two:  teach Rule 1 with basic list and multi-syllable word list to mastery and then move to Rule 2, basic and multi-syllable lists, etc. (Use with older students, so they don't feel like the program is too young. ) and Approach three:  move through book in sequence (Use with an older student to reinforce what they have previously learned.)  Mastery of a rule is determined when your student can read at least 30 words of the basic list in one minute and spell 9 or 10 words from the list, randomly.  

My musings:
We used approach one with this as a supplement to our current reading curriculum.  While I feel it's a pretty thorough program, I think it's kind of difficult to implement...and I'm sure we probably didn't use it the "right" way.  ;-)  Julianna enjoyed the CD the most. (We didn't listen to the whole thing yet and we have repeatedly listened to the first song, "Vowels are Scaredy Cats".  She even made up a dance to it.  Lol  I should have taken a picture of that, but it wouldn't have done it justice!) She also enjoyed doing the timed tests for reading the basic lists.  She has a love-hate relationship timed tests, though.  She loves doing them, but is very hard on herself when she doesn't get the desired result.  (I need to figure out how to encourage the internal motivation to continue to strive for excellence without fostering the need for perfection.  That's a personal aside.  :-)  )

To be fully honest, I really don't feel like we were able to take full advantage of SCRS Express. When choosing the material, we were given the option to choose our level.  I went to the website to take the placement exam and wasn't able to view it, so I read through the descriptions and decided on SCRS Express.  I think I was wrong.  While Julianna was able to reach a mastery level for the rules we worked on (we only made it through the first few to mastery), I really think she would have done better starting at the SCRS Level 3.  This was my error.  :-(  That said, I think we will try it again as a supplement next year.  

Check out all of the products that Joyce Herzog has available on her website...there are tons!  Click the "Products" tab for a drop down list.  The SCRS Express is available for $30.  


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