And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Monday, October 19, 2015

Middle School Grammar

Brookdale House graciously sent us The Grammar Workbook Set to review. It included a download for a student workbook and an answer key. The student workbook is over 200 printable pages full of grammar and writing assignments geared towards middle school students. The writing assignments are short and the focus is on grammar and understanding writing styles.

Each lesson contains some written instruction that is quick and to the point. I've had Apple working on this independently, and she's done very well. The Grammar Workbook included an optional schedule that I printed and put in the front of her notebook. She's followed it on her own and simply turns in her work for me to grade each school day. It is recommended that students use a 49 page workbook called Diagraming Sentences in conjunction with The Grammar Workbook. I wanted Apple to get some diagramming practice so I did purchase it. The optional schedule includes diagramming days so the work is very well organized. This separate workbook was inexpensive and well worth the addition to her grammar schedule. The schedule breaks the work down into 33 weeks. Some weeks are 4 day schedules and some are 5 day. Apple has found it easy to finish a week of work in 4 days even if the schedule calls for 5.

The  Grammar Workbook starts with sentences and covers all the major grammar rules through punctuation. At this point, Apple is very familiar with the parts of speech and most of the grammar rules so it is a big plus that the book hits each topic and then moves on. Each part includes the written instruction and several exercises to practice. There is fill in the blanks, sentence writing, and so on. These short lessons give the student an opportunity to practice the grammar skill and then go on to the next topic. This feels just right for a middle school student who has years of grammar under their belt. They need to make sure they have mastered the rules so they can move on from basic grammar. Some textbooks and grammar studies for the age group are the same as the elementary grammar books. They are long and overwhelming. That type of grammar instruction just isn't necessary for many middle school students.

I think the best feature of this grammar curriculum and what sets it apart is the imitation writing exercises. Each writing task gives four options. You can elect to have your student copy the given selection, write it from dictation, rewrite it using an outline, or rewrite it in their own words maintaining the original author's style. As the teacher, you get to assign which option(s) you'd like your student to complete. So far we've stuck with option 4. Apple gets plenty of dictation and writing from outlines in other subjects. Writing to imitate style has been a challenge for her, but I think it is a wonderful practice. The funniest experience during our time using this product was the day she was imitating a paragraph of Patrick Henry's famous speech. She wrote a complete satire without realizing it. While I deducted a few points for not fully following the instructions, I gave her a decent grade because you can't do a satire of a piece without understanding the style! How often do you really get to have fun with grammar?

I originally just printed out a small portion of the student workbook and put it into a folder for Apple. I also printed the optional schedule and the Diagraming Sentences workbook. Since Apple is enjoying this approach to grammar, I printed out a larger portion of the work this week and put it all in a 3 ring binder for her with her optional schedule. As she does a day's work, she marks it off on the schedule. This has been terrific as I have been looking for ways to push her towards a little more independence in her school time.

The Grammar Workbook allows Apple to complete her grammar independently, and she does not feel like it is loaded with busy work. I know she is getting a chance to really master the basic grammar rules that she will need to use her whole life. This is an affordable choice for middle school grammar that is available as a digital file or in printed form. I'm so glad we have had the opportunity to try it, and Apple plans to keep using it. 

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