Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A TOS Review: Fix It! Grammar

So how’s your/you’re grammar?

I have had my share of grammar instruction over the years. Obviously, I don’t remember most of it.

On the whole, I approve of grammar. I also want to make sure that Josiah has a strong grammar education.  As opposed to most of the known universe.

Did I just say that?

One of my favorite homeschooling resource companies is Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

Have I mentioned that I (on occasion) have been an Andrew Pudewa stalker?

Don’t worry, Andrew. I’m harmless. Mostly.

Andrew didn’t write the product I am going to talk about today. Pamela White has blessed this special product upon the homeschool world.

I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree (Book 1) Teacher Manual ($19) and the Fix It! Grammar The Nose Tree Student Book ($15).

 It seemed like a match made in grammar heaven.

What I Received

Both books are spiral bound and have sturdy glossy covers. Both books contain helpful grammar glossaries.

How Does It Work?

Fix It! Grammar has six levels. Each book teaches grammar sentence by sentence through six different classic tales or stories.

Book 1 uses The Nose Tree by the Brother’s Grimm tale.

IEW does have a placement test on their site. This was a big help. I wasn’t quite sure how it would all work out.

Here is a basic list.

Book 1 – The Nose Tree
Book 2 – Robin Hood
Book 3 – Frog Prince, or Just Desserts
Book 4 – The Little Mermaid
Book 5 – Chanticleer
Book 6 – Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

It is recommended to begin with Book 1. Each book builds upon the other. Of course, if you feel like your student is ready for a more advanced book you can start there.

The concept for this whole program is just brilliant.

The idea is that students learn more when the sentences are in context. Sentence by sentence the students implements the concepts he or she is learning. They learn by editing a classic tale. 

There are 4 lessons a week and 33 weeks in each book. This should take you through a year. 

You can listen to this FREE Webinar that talks all about Fix It! Grammar.

How We Used It

I have a confession. I like diagramming sentences. I had a teacher in the 6th grade who was a diagramming fanatic. I think it has honestly helped me become a better writer. Knowing the structure of a sentence has been a beneficial. Editing random posts on Facebook has also been helpful...though I have trouble editing my own stuff. So this program works well for us. 

 I chose to start with Book 1 because while Josiah has had some grammar instruction I felt like it would beneficial for him to start at the beginning of the program. I had a feeling this might be one we stick with for the long haul.

At the beginning of my Teacher’s Guide was a list of ways to get some free downloads. One of those downloads was a link to the student guide. If you had a larger group this would be the way to go. The free links are an online Student Book 1 e-book, Mastery Learning e-audio, and But...But.....But.....What About Grammar? e-audio.

As it is, I am glad we have the separate student book.

Along with the student book Josiah needed a divided notebook and a student dictionary.

The obvious thing would be to add a few dividers to his big notebook, but I decided to go the unobvious route. I just got a simple spiral notebook and put dividers in it myself. Josiah has difficulty writing in his 3-ring-binder (he is left-handed) and it is easier to keep his student notebook and the spiral notebook together.

At the back of his student book are grammar cards. I cut these out and put them in an envelope. I attached the envelope to his spiral notebook so he could keep track of them. He was able to lay the cards out every day to remind him of any particular grammar rule.

This was a very simple program to understand. There are 4 days of exercises for each week. Each day the student will work on one sentence in the story.

I’ll show you how Josiah’s first week went.

The first week, Josiah learned about nouns, homophones and end marks.

On Day 1 we read through the lesson explaining what grammar components would be highlighted for the week.

He first had to take note of the paragraph indentation.

He then to identify the word written in bold. This was his vocabulary word. He recorded it in his spiral notebook and looked it up in the dictionary. It was important for him to read the word in context so he could choose the definition that fit the best.

Josiah then had to find the nouns that were in the sentence. Some of the choices weren’t as obvious. 

For example, there were a few times he identified a pronoun. Of course, this was correct, but I explained that we would save that lesson for another day. He simply had to choose a noun.

Josiah also had to choose which end mark to apply to the sentence.

The last step on Day 1 was to copy the corrected sentence into his notebook.

Just a note: Josiah struggles with his handwriting. However, this is a task we haven't abandoned because it's difficult. I require that he does his best. His best is a bit better than what you see above. I appreciate that the rewriting involved is not overwhelming for him. I think he needs the practice. 

Day 2 threw in a new concept. Homophones. Josiah had to identify the correct version of there/their/they’re to use.

Perhaps we need to make this particular task a worldwide Facebook assignment.
Just Sayin’….

By the end of the week, Josiah had the first part of the story written out in his notebook.

Each week additional grammar nuggets are added. The Teacher's Manual contains helpful insight all along the way. 

My Thoughts

This is product is absolutely user-friendly. I have had no trouble figuring out the “lay of the land.” Not only that, it only takes up a brief chunk of our time each day. I don’t have to spend a great amount preparing for a lesson.

Josiah hasn’t been overwhelmed with pages of busy work. He is learning…one sentence a time. It is easy for my dyslexic boy to get lost in long passages and lengthy instructions.

He also struggles with handling pages and pages of copywork. He knows that he is only required to write out one sentence. He can concentrate on doing his best with that ONE sentence.

I like that Fix It! Grammar includes old-fashioned dictionary skills. Josiah loves learning new words (ironically), but can get overwhelmed with long lists of vocabulary words. Finding one word a day is perfectly doable for him.

Both the Teacher’s Manual and the Student Book are easy to manage. They are lightweight and can be stuck in a backpack or book bag for a weekend at Grandma’s.

Can you tell that I think this one is a keeper?  I can't wait until we learn more about commas. I need, a refresher, can you tell?

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You can also check out IEW on the following social media sites.

Click to read Crew Reviews

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