{How To Series} How to Determine if a Teacher's Manual is Treasure or Trash? + {printable checklist}

Posted on April 17, 2012 at 7:30 PM

Homeschool conventions are just around the corner. Again, we are faced with the decision to buy or not to buy the teacher's manual.  Purchasing the teacher's manual  may not be a fixation for you or maybe you are obsessive with having each one.

Some of us could be passing over valuable nuggets or we could be doling out money we don't have.

So how do you determine if a teacher's manual is trash or treasure?

Because teacher's manual are not created equal, here are a few pointers we share with the parents that visit our booth at the convention.

Obvious question yes, but the answer is not.  Assuming that a teacher's manual does have or does not have certain parts, could lead to more work on your part. Not to mention you may not be using the curriculum to the full potential or in the way a curriculum is intended to be utilized. Problems may occur because we may feel it is the curriculum instead of the way we teach the curriculum.

Does it contain . . .

the Lesson Plans or Scripted Lesson Plans?

Answers? or step-by-step answers? 

Schedules or alternate schedules?

Necessary printables that are not found in the work text?

Teaching Tips to enrich or expand?

Background Information on a topic or lesson?

Objective {basically the aim for the lesson plan for the day}?

Even though it is not the only one, Calvert's Teachers Manual is an excellent example of having most of the above.

If you are teaching the subjects math, writing or grammar and need help in those areas does the manual give you the answers ALONG with step-by-step explanations? For example, a good writing program will help the parent to evaluate the child's work. A good math program will not only give you the answers but should explain step-by-step how the answer is arrived at.

WriteShop is an example of a very comprehensive and excellent teacher's manual that has the above. However, you can't just pick up and go with it. It takes time to learn. That may be a minus for some that don't want the extra "help".

Did a homeschool parent who is an expert on the subject or a textbook editor writing to a certified teacher prepare it?

When a homeschool parent writes a teacher's manual he or she has many considerations into how they set it up. At times they provide only a checklist or guide to completing the curriculum. Others, provide very helpful and detailed background information. Can it be used for multiple ages?

My personal preference is the more details the better. I will use teacher's guide or manuals that are not comprehensive though because I may just want light content.

An example of a comprehensive teacher's manual written by a homeschool mom is Story of the World. It has questions with answers, additional reading, activities for older children and references for history encyclopedias. You can't teach the program without it.

An example of one that is not as detailed is Beautiful Feet history for the older children. I happen to use their history program right now and enjoy it. It has questions, a suggested reading schedule and simple answers. But it suits me now for how I approach history. I can read the books without it and make my own critical thinking questions for my sons.

One is not better than the other, but one may be better than the other at a certain point in your journey.

Rod and Staff English is an example of one of the better teacher's manual written for a public school classroom. Each lesson has background information, and concepts to review and teach.

{Know when to say trash}

If you are teaching reading the third or fourth time around, then you probably don't want to pay the dollars for the teacher's manual. Also, if the student work text is complete, the teacher's manual  could be just be a schedule grid. Your familiarity  with the subject is one fact to consider.

I have a printable for you so you don't have to remember all of this in your head or from year to year. It is a check off list to take to the convention. Even teacher's manual within the same company can be very different grade to grade. One year it may be treasure, the next year you may feel it's trash. I keep a list like this handy on my computer so I can keep it up with year to year and now you have it!

Download Teacher's Manual Check Off List here.

Visual person I am, I have rounded up some Teacher Manual pictures for you and will share a glimpse inside some teacher's manual soon.. Gotta see 'em!

You decide. Is the teacher's manual you have treasure or trash?

Hugs and here is a quote for curriculum lovers,

"Everything you own should have value, either because it's functional or beautiful or you just love it."

~ Peter Walsh~

My related Blog Post: If you Don't Want to be a Lesson Planning Momma Remember this!


Categories: {How To Series}