Friday, September 26, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Fix It! Grammar

Ashlyn has been very interested in writing and grammar lately, so when Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) asked us to review one of the books in their newly redesigned Fix It! Grammar series, she was happy to oblige.  After taking the placement test, we decided on Fix It! Grammar: Robin Hood [Book 2].  By a happy coincidence this fits in perfectly with our history studies of the Middle Ages this year.

Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) generously sent us both the Robin Hood Teacher Manual ($19) and the Robin Hood Student Book ($15).

You can watch this webinar for a thorough explaination of Fix It! Grammar. Rather than being grade-specific, the entire Fix It! series is designed for grades 3 and up. It is suggested that the child take the placement test and start with the book that is right for them.

The Teacher Manual is the key product to purchase. It comes with information on how to download a .pdf version of the student book for use within your immediate family at no extra charge. If you prefer, you can also purchase a spiral bound Student Book. The teacher's manual is non-consumable, the student book is a workbook, so if you are using it, you will need one per student. The copyright on the Student book does allow for photocopying for multiple students within your immediate family, though it seems easier to print the .pdf than to photocopy each page.

If you plan to print the .pdf student book, you will need a 3-ring binder, with dividers, for each student. If you use the spiral bound student book, you will still need a notebook of some sort, we chose a composition book, for vocabulary words and copying the sentences.

The course consists of 33 weeks, with 4 days per week. This is a simple, straight-forward curriculum, you can easily see how it works from the placement test as well as the samples on the IEW website. Each day looks at one sentence from the story, the child adds punctuation, capitalization, etc, and marks the parts of speech in the workbook. Each day also includes one or two vocabulary words. The child looks them up in the dictionary and copies the vocabulary words and definitions into the vocabulary section of their notebook. Finally, either each day or at the end of the week, the child copies the corrected sentence(s) into their notebook, so that, by the end of this course, the child will have written the complete story in their notebook.

When we received the books, I was very happy with how simple, but comprehensive the start up information is in the teachers manual. In just a few minutes, I knew what we needed to do, and how to do it. On an on-going basis, there is really no teacher prep required, which is definitely a plus in my book! The course is designed for the parent/teacher to instruct the child daily, and check their work. However, because Ashlyn is very self-motivated, we found that it worked best for her to take both the student book and the teachers guide, and work through it on her own, checking her work as she goes.

I love this approach! When I was a kid, I used to sit in church and "edit" the announcements in the weekly bulletin. The man who printed the bulletin was most definitely not an English major, and that was in the days before spell-check. It kept me well entertained for a good part of the sermon. So I understand the "fun" of checking someone else's work. This has been a wonderful way to help Ashlyn recognize proper punctuation, capitalization and grammar. And she's enjoying it as well. She's also focusing on using her best handwriting when copying the sentences, so that, when the course is done, she'll have a beautifully handwritten copy of the story of Robin Hood. Because of needing to have a notebook for the vocabulary and copywork (shhhh .  . .don't tell Ashlyn she's doing copywork, she's always "hated" it, hee hee), if I were purchasing this curriculum, I would purchase the teacher manual and print out the student books so that all of my student's work could be together in one notebook.

When I asked Ashlyn what she thought of the product, she said she likes it. She enjoys editing, so it's right up her alley.

I appreciate that this program builds on itself, instead of being grade specific. In the past, because we believe in delayed academics in some areas, we've found it challenging to find products that taught the early levels in a way that wasn't too "babyish" for my children. Also, because it is not in any way marked as being for specific grades, there's no feeling of being "behind" or "ahead" based on what level a child is at, or how quickly they move through it. This is definitely a grammar program I will recommend to those looking for something that teaches grammar simply, practically, and in a way that isn't burdensome to the child or parent/teacher!

I'm thrilled to have the .pdf version of the student book that I can use with Lexie and, in several years, Lina as well.

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