Jul 30, 2014

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Analytical Grammar

Kaytie and I have been working on a review from Analytical Grammar. We received the Analytical Grammar Teacher Book and Student Book.

Over the years, we have actually done very little grammar instruction in our school. Kaytie and Nate have done three years with five different programs and Daniel and Abbie have done zero years with two different programs. That math actually works if you take into consideration that just because I have a course of study planned doesn't mean we do that work... A year or so ago, I dropped all grammar for everyone. This was because I became convinced that I was wasting my time teaching an abstract subject to concrete thinkers and we would all be better served if I waited until the kids were old enough to think abstractly.

With Kaytie and Nate moving into middle school this fall, I started looking for a curriculum that would teach them grammar in a concise but engaging manner on their level. In other words, I wanted a course that would only take a year or two and that they didn't have to start on a kindergarten level and work up to middle school. Such a course is not to be found. Well, at least, not until we found Analytical Grammar.

Designed to keep your child from having to take twelve years of grammar instruction, Analytical Grammar is intended to be taught in three years starting in sixth grade. If your child is older than sixth grade, then you can adapt the schedule and teach the material in two years or even one year. Once the material has been taught, Analytical Grammar offers reinforcement books that reviews the grammar, punctuation, and usage concepts just to keep it fresh.

Analytical Grammar is an open-and-go program. Everything you need is right there in the book, well, except for a pencil, but we just happened to have one handy, so it was all good. There are 35 Units, or lessons, in the book. These Units are divided into three "seasons". The Seasons are the divisions for if you are teaching the material in three years. Each lesson starts with a page or two of instruction. Next there are three worksheets, named Exercise 1, 2, or 3. The lessons in Season One have a Skills Support page which provides a little extra practice and also teaches the art of paraphrasing. Finally, there is a Test for each Unit.

The book is set up so that as the child works through the Exercise pages and Tests, she can remove and discard them. This leaves the instruction sheets still in the book for her to keep and refer back to whenever she needs to do so.

The Teacher book is the same as the Student book, except it has all the answers to the worksheets and tests and it has the schedules and some how-to notes.

Again, this book is easy to use. Kaytie and I sat down together and went over the instruction sheets on Monday. Then she filled out the first worksheet. Tuesday, we went over her work together. Analytical Grammar has its own style of checking the work, where you mark what is correct instead of incorrect. Kaytie enjoyed this method because she is a perfectionist and honestly, who wouldn't rather dwell on what one has done right instead of the mistakes? Then she filled out the second worksheet. Wednesday was a repeat of Tuesday: mark what she got right and then fill out the third sheet. Thursday we checked the third sheet and she did the Skills Support and then the test. The test is actually supposed to be done on Friday, but we don't do school on Fridays, so we just squeezed it a little bit.

I was very excited to review this program because I thought it would be exactly what I was looking for. However, it turned out to not be a very good fit for us. Bear in mind that Kaytie has had very little grammar instruction and what she had was back when she still had a concrete brain. The first lesson was on "nouns, articles and adjectives". She knows what a noun is, has a vague idea of what an article is and remembers that she has heard the word "adjective" before. One lesson combining all three ideas was way too much information to throw at her. After three worksheets, she was just struggling back to the surface of this ocean of information when the wave of Unit Two arrived. Pronouns: personal; demonstrative; interrogative; and indefinite. By this time she was drowning.

Seeing that she wasn't going to succeed at this rate, I did what I could to draw out the material: teaching the lesson in several sittings rather than just one; talking through the worksheet first before having her do it on her own; adding in lots of my own explanations and other activities; doing extra work on the white board. But it was still so overwhelming to her and we were both happy when the review period ended and we could stop.

Does that mean I think this is a bad program? Not at all! It wasn't a good fit for us, but I am not a strong grammar teacher and she is not a strong grammar student. I think this program would be ideal for a strong teacher who knows how to explain and elaborate on the lessons. Or for a student with some background in grammar who needs just that extra brush up. Or even an older student who could pick up the concepts quickly and run with them. Or a kid whose brain is grammatically inclined and doesn't need a lot of reinforcement and review and repetition to understand and move on. Analytical Grammar would be perfect for those types of kids. It's just unfortunate that my kid is not one of those types! I'm holding out hope that one of the younger kids will be able to use Analytical Grammar when they are ready.

Analytical Grammar is $94.95 for a set of Teacher book and Student book. The Student book is completely consumable so you would need to order a book for each individual student. Extra books are $49.95. If you plan on teaching the material over three years you also need a Review and Reinforcement book which is $19.95.

Analytical Grammar is intended for sixth grade and up.

You can see a sample Unit here and click on the banner below to see what other Crew members thought.

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