Choosing Upper DITHOR Book Pack and Student Book Levels

From Our House to Yours

Choosing Upper DITHOR Book Pack and Student Book Levels

Each of Heart of Dakota’s (HOD’s) upper Drawn into the Heart of Reading (DITHOR) book packs includes a range of reading levels within each set of books.  Specific reading levels are also noted individually for each book.  The 5/6 Boy Book Pack includes books ranging from 5.1-6.9 (fifth grade first month through sixth grade ninth month). Subsequently, the 5/6 Girl Book Pack includes books ranging from 5.1-6.8 (fifth grade first month through sixth grade eighth month). Moving on, the 6/7 Book Pack includes books ranging from 6.0-7.3 (sixth grade through seventh grade third month). Progressing on, the 7/8 Boy Book Pack includes books ranging from 6.3-8.5 (sixth grade third month through eighth grade fifth month). Similarly, the 7/8 Girl Book Pack includes books ranging from 6.2-8.3 (sixth grade second month through eighth grade third month).

Level 5/6 Boy Book Pack Samples

In general, the Level 5/6 Boy Book Pack has medium-sized chapters, less words on a page, and a few pictures. The Invisible Friend is read for 15 days and is the Mystery book selection. It has a reading level of 5.1. This makes it one of the easiest books in the Level 5/6 Boy Book Pack. There are 207 pages in The Invisible Friend. So, students read about 14 pages a day.

The Little Duke is read for 15 days. It is the Biography book selection. It has a reading level of 6.9. This makes it one of the hardest books in the Level 5/6 Boy Book Pack. There are 171 pages in The Little Duke. So, students read about 11 pages a day.

Level 5/6 Girl Book Pack Samples

In general, the Level 5/6 Girl Book Pack has medium-sized chapters, less words on a page, and a few pictures. The Secret of the Old Clock is read for 15 days and is the Nancy Drew Mystery book selection. It has a reading level of 5.4. This makes it one of the easiest books in the Level 5/6 Girl Book Pack. There are 180 pages in The Secret of the Old Clock. So, students read about 12 pages a day.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is read for 15 days. It is the Adventure book selection. It has a reading level of 6.8. This makes it one of the hardest books in the Level 5/6 Girl Book Pack. There are 181 pages in The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. So, students read about 12 pages a day.

Level 6/7 Book Pack Samples

In general, the Level 6/7 Book Pack books have longer reading assignments. They have no pictures, smaller font sizes, and are thicker chapter books with higher vocabulary and more mature topics. The Black Stallion Mystery is read for 15 days and is the Mystery book selection. It has a reading level of 6.1. This makes it one of the easiest books in the Level 6/7 Book Pack. There are 200 pages in The Black Stallion Mystery. So, students read about 13 pages a day.

The White Dove is read for 5 days. It is one of the Folk Tales book selections. It has a reading level of 7.0. This makes it one of the hardest books in the Level 6/7 Book Pack. There are 67 pages in The White Dove. So, students read about 13 pages a day. You can see the font is much smaller, the sentences longer, and the sentence structures more complex. Though The White Dove is small in size, it is more difficult to read. Just because a book is smaller, remember, that does not mean it is easier!

Level 7/8 Boy Interest Book Pack Samples

In general, the 7/8 Book Packs are thick chapter books. They have no pictures, more difficult sentence structures, higher level vocabulary, and more mature topics. They are chosen with the intent to prepare students for the high school level literature they will soon be expected to read. For example, in the Level 7/8 Boy Interest Book Pack, Caught in the Act is read for 5 days. It is one of the Mystery selections. It has a reading level of 6.3. This makes it one of the easiest books in the Level 7/8 Boy Interest Book Pack. There are 150 pages in Caught in the Act. So, students read about 30 pages a day.

Winter Holiday is read for 15 days. It is the Realistic Fiction book selection. It has a reading level of 8.1. This makes it one of the hardest books in the Level 7/8 Boy Interest Book Pack. There are 324 pages in Winter Holiday. So, students read about 22 pages a day.

Level 7/8 Girl Interest Book Pack Samples

In the Level 7/8 Girl Interest Book Pack, Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio, for example, is read for 10 days. It is one of the Nonfiction selections. It has a reading level of 6.2. This makes it one of the easiest books in the Level 7/8 Girl Interest Book Pack. There are 164 pages in Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio. So, students read about 16 pages a day.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm is read for 15 days. It is the Humor book selection. It has a reading level of 8.3. This makes it one of the hardest books in the Level 7/8 Girl Interest Book Pack. There are 229 pages in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. So, students read about 23 pages a day.

Choosing Between Book Pack Levels

In general, we would say error on the side of choosing that which is easier if between two levels.  The DITHOR Teacher’s Guide and Student Books will add challenge; we don’t want the books to be at a challenge level, but rather at a level that the student can read fairly well on his/her own. Keep in mind, the challenge at this level is in delving more deeply into the book. In-depth genre studies, story element instruction (i.e. plot, tone, mood, point of view, inference, etc.), moral reasoning with more mature Godly character traits in mind, and higher level comprehension are the skills to be taught. The goal is not to simply read as quickly as possible; speed reading books with little thought is a lower level skill. Rather, more mature skills that are high school level literature preparatory focused are the goals for these years.

Choosing Which Genre Your Student Will Read First

Heart of Dakota lists the reading levels for each book on its website, in its catalog, and on its Optional Book Recommendations paper sent with your order. Genres can be done in any order, so starting with the easiest reading level for a struggling reader makes good sense. Starting with whichever genre or book your student is most excited about for a strong, yet dispassionate reader makes good sense. If you have an average reader who enjoys reading, starting with the first genre (or any genre) makes good sense. Keep in mind the range of reading levels is intentional – not too big, not too small. Students’ reading and comprehension will gradually improve throughout the year. The range of reading levels Carrie carefully picked accommodates for that growth.

Choosing Which Level of DITHOR Student Book to Use

As far as the DITHOR Student Books, the 4/5 Student Book includes assignments every 3-4 out of 5 days, has a fair share of writing, and is assuming students have had some formal literature study of the genres and the story elements, building upon this foundation. The 6/7/8 Student Book includes daily assignments, requires daily writing, is more in-depth, and is written with high school literature preparation in mind.

In general, 6th grade students who have not had as much formal literature study of the genres and story elements or who are not accustomed to writing more do one year in the 4/5 Student Book and move to the 6/7/8 Student Book in seventh grade.  Seventh and eighth grade students who have had formal literature study of the genres and story elements, who are able to write well, and who are able to comprehend well place in the 6/7/8 Student Book.  Reading levels of book packs do not need to match Student Book levels.  So, for example, a sixth grade student who is an avid reader who does not write as well or who has not had formal literature study may use the 6/7 Book Pack with the 4/5 Student Book.

In Closing

I hope this helps you with choosing which level of book pack and which level of student book you’d like to use with your older student(s). If I look at a book inside and outside, know the total number of pages in the book, and know how many pages my student would need to read each day, I can usually choose what level is best for each of my sons. I hope you find the same to be true for you and find this to be an encouragement!

In Christ,

Julie

Middle School Math Placement Tests

From Our House to Yours

Need help with math placement for your middle school students?  Well, this blog is here to help!

Middle school students vary greatly in math skills and abilities. Heart of Dakota understands age is only one piece of the math placement puzzle. This is why every Heart of Dakota guide includes multiple math levels of instruction. One child might be advanced in math, one more average, and one struggling. Heart of Dakota has plans for all types of math students. Proper math placement is important. By matching children to their current math skills, all children can move forward and improve. If math placement is off, children and parents alike are frustrated. It is impossible to move forward in math skills if you start with a math placement that is too hard or to easy. So, how can you choose the proper math placement for your middle school student? Well, that’s what this blog post is all about!

A Brief Explanation of the Middle School Curriculum Principle of Mathematics

Principles of Mathematics is a Christian curriculum aimed at grades six through eight. It is best to use Principles of Mathematics one or two years prior to starting high school algebra. If following traditional grade levels, Principles of Mathematics Book 1 would be completed in grade six or seven, and Principles of Mathematics Book 2 would be completed in grade seven or eight. Book 1 covers the core principles of arithmetic and geometry (along with some statistics), while Book 2 builds on those principles as it introduces the core principles of algebra, probability, and trigonometry (along with more statistics).

The curriculum consists of the Student Textbook and the Teacher Guide. The Student Textbook contains the lessons, and the Teacher Guide contains all the worksheets, quizzes, and tests, along with an Answer Key and suggested schedule. Each lesson takes about 30-45 minutes, with a pace of 4-5 days a week.

A Brief Overview of the Principles of Mathematics Book 1: Placement Test

Principles of Mathematics designed this test to help determine if a middle school student is ready to begin Book 1 of Principles of Mathematics. If students get problems wrong on the placement test, check to see if they made a careless error or if they truly didn’t understand a concept. It’s okay if students make a few errors; however, it’s important that students are familiar with these concepts before beginning Book 1:

  • addition
  • subtraction
  • multiplication
  • division
  • decimals (including adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing them)
  • fractions (including adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing them)

Middle school students also need to have the mental development to explore problem solving, which will be emphasized in Book 1. Note: Book 1 will review addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, decimals, and fractions, so if middle school students struggle with any of those concepts they will get practice and reinforcement; however, it should not be the first time they’re encountering them.

A Brief Overview of the Principles of Mathematics Book 2: Placement Test

Principles of Mathematics designed this test to help determine if a middle school student is ready to begin Book 2 of Principles of Mathematics or if they need to start in Book 1. You may explain the instructions and terms on the test as needed. The point is to see if students have the skills to solve the problems. If students get problems wrong on the placement test, check to see if they made a careless error, didn’t understand the instructions, or if they truly didn’t understand a concept. It’s okay if students make a few errors, but it’s important that middle school students understand these concepts before beginning Book 2, as they are only very briefly reviewed in Book 2:

  • basic math skills (including rounding and working with decimals)
  • fractions
  • unit conversion
  • negative numbers
  • geometry formulas (finding perimeter, area, and volume)
  • exponents
  • problem-solving skills

If you feel your middle school student could use a deeper understanding of arithmetic (place value, basic operations, decimals, fractions, etc.), the basics of geometry, or problem-solving skills, we recommend starting with Book 1 even if your student can pass this placement test. Book 1 stresses those concepts, while Book 2 focuses more on pre-algebra concepts.

Clickable Links for the Principles of Mathematics Placement Tests and for Samples of the Teacher Guides and Student Books 

Need the Book 1 placement test? Click here!

For the Book 2 placement test, click here!

To check out samples of the Book 1 Teacher Guide, click here.

Or, to check out samples of the Book 1 Student Book, click here.

For the Book 2 Teacher Guide samples, click here.

Or, for the Book 2 Student Book samples, click here.

How to Order What You Need After Scoring Your Middle School Students’ Placement Test(s)

Once you have scored your student’s math placement test(s), if you know what level to start with, simply order from Heart of Dakota the appropriate Teacher’s Guide and Student’s Book. You can order those here by clicking and scrolling to the math sections: Principles of Mathematics Teacher’s Guide Book 1 and Student Book 1, or Principles of Mathematics Teacher’s Guide Book 2 and Student Book 2. If you have scored your children’s math placement tests, and are still confused about which level to start with, simply give Heart of Dakota a call or an email. Explain what you learned from the math placement tests, how they went overall, and what scores your children made on the math placement tests you gave. We can figure it out together!

Still not sure? Well, here are some pretty standard sequence options for middle school students who have or have not been using Singapore Primary Mathematics.

If you have a middle school student who has been using Singapore’s Primary Mathematics, that student has several math paths. An average math student doing well with Singapore Primary Mathematics could use 5A/5B for sixth grade, 6A/6B for seventh grade, and Principles of Mathematics Book 2 for eighth grade. A struggling math student who is not doing as well with Singapore Primary Mathematics could use 5A/5B for sixth grade, Principles of Mathematics Book 1 for seventh grade, and Principles of Mathematics Book 2 for eighth grade. An advanced math student doing well with Singapore Primary Mathematics could use 6A/6B for sixth grade, Principles of Mathematics Book 2 for seventh grade, and do Algebra 1 for eighth grade.

If you have a middle school student who has not been using Singapore Primary Mathematics, Principles of Mathematics is also an excellent option!

What if your middle school students scored lower on the math placement tests?

If your middle school students scored lower on their math placement tests, do not be dismayed! We take children where they are in math and steadily move them forward. To move children more quickly through math levels, never double up math lessons in one day. Rather, do one math lesson each day, but do math more days. One easy way to do this is to do five days of math lessons even when using four-day-a-week Heart of Dakota guides. Or, do one extra math lesson on Saturdays.  Or, do three or four extra math lessons three or four days a week during a summer break. Little by little, students will catch up!

In Christ,
Julie