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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Institute for Excellence in Writing Fix It! Grammar...A TOS Crew Review...



We have used and loved many products from the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) in our homeschool over the years, and the product we've been reviewing, Fix It! Grammar, is yet another to add to our "used it and loved it" pile!

Although the entire set of Fix It! Grammar has six levels, we received and started with the very first, Fix It! Grammar:  The Nose Tree (Book 1) Teacher's Manual, and Fix It! Grammar:  The Nose Tree (Book 1) Student Book.

What Is Fix It! Grammar?

Fix It! Grammar is grammar done in a way that is new to us.  Instead of the typical lesson and drill session, Fix It! introduces a grammar concept and then gives the student real-life opportunities to practice.

What does that look like?  Well, for example, one week's lesson in The Nose Tree was about articles (a, an, the).  Articles are introduced on Day 1 in a quick lesson, reinforced through a flashcard added to a flashcard collection, and then used throughout the rest of the week's lesson (and following weeks) by having the student find and identify articles in real sentences that work together to tell a story.

Each 4-day week is set up the same way:

--Day 1 introduces the new grammar lesson and encourages the parent to edit the given sentence in order to model the corrections for the child.  There is also a vocabulary word in each sentence that the child is encouraged to write down, look up in a dictionary, and copy the appropriate definition into a notebook.

--Days 2-4 have the child read the given sentence, work on their new vocabulary word, edit the sentence, and rewrite the sentence into their notebook.

Concepts are introduced the same way, with the same weekly format, over 33 weeks, until the entire fairy tale has been told, edited, and rewritten, sentence by sentence, by the student.

Fix It! Grammar Review
What Did We Receive?

We received both the Teacher's Manual ($19.00) and Student Book ($15.00) for Level 1:  The Nose Tree.  IEW suggests this is for Grades 3-12.  Although I used this with my 11 year-old sixth-grader, she has had minimal grammar instruction to this point.  IEW suggests that students beginning with this series should start with Book 1, but there is a placement test on their website.  Based on the placement test and their recommendations, we took their advice.

The Teacher's Manual is a 225-page, spiral bound book that offers lots of information about Fix It! Grammar, their method, their process, and how to begin.  It provides all of the teaching for each week, hints for addressing any issues that may come up, definitions for the vocabulary words, and answer keys for each sentence.  There is also a Scope and Sequence chart in the back, as well as a glossary to help "decode" the parts of speech, punctuation, and other grammar rules and concepts introduced in the text.

The Student Book is also spiral bound, and contains 70 pages of "Learn It" lessons and sentences to edit.  There are several pages of card stock flashcards to cut out, and there is the same glossary in the student book that parents have in the Teacher's Manual.

How Did We Use Fix It! Grammar?

We used this product just as IEW recommends, four days a week.  And we very rarely use a product exactly as it is recommended, so I think it's noteworthy that we did it with this one.  Each day's use took less than fifteen minutes, and it was a quick and easy fifteen minutes.  We followed the routine of read the sentence, work on the vocabulary word, edit the passage, rewrite the sentence.  After we finished on Day Four, we would always go back and re-read the story as it was written "so far".  There is a webinar that explains the process in more detail on the IEW website.

It was quick, it was easy, and the lessons stuck with Firefly.  The one thing I added was a regular review of all of the vocabulary words and semi-regular vocabulary tests, because vocabulary is another thing that Firefly hasn't had much practice with.

What Did I Think?

As you may have already guessed, I love this program!  As a matter of fact, I have already ordered the next book in the series and plan to continue through with all six.

I have dabbled with other grammar programs in the past.  So what is it about Fix It! that has me so excited?

--It's quick.  Really quick.  We can almost always fit the lesson in for the day, or can easily make it up if we miss one.

--It's teacher-friendly.  Everything I need to make the lesson work is included in the Teacher's Manual and Student Book.  I don't need to prep anything ahead of time--it's an open and go curriculum.

--It's working.  As I mentioned before, Firefly has not had a good deal of structured grammar teaching to this point, so we've gone into this program fairly blind.  In four weeks, we've covered nouns, articles, pronouns, homophones, quotation marks, and end punctuation.

And she remembers it.  All of it.

We are practicing it all every day, in that quick, reinforcing lesson.  The repetition is key for my Firefly, and just exactly what she needs.

--It's fun.  Really, it is!  Firefly and I both like the idea that we are learning a story, small piece by small piece.  At the end of the week, when we re-read what we've done, it's very reinforcing to see how much progress we've made in the story.

What Did Firefly Think?

"I thought it was a lot of writing.  But other than that, I liked the way the stories turned out, and I liked reading them and the vocabulary words were interesting.  I would like to keep doing it."  (Firefly, age 11)

**Side note**  It's a sentence per day.  One sentence.  So take the "a lot of writing" with a grain of salt.  Firefly does NOT like to write anything.

Find Out More About IEW and Fix It! Grammar:

IEW on Facebook

Twitter

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Google +

You Tube

Also, make sure to see what my Crew-Mates thought of their experiences with Fix It! Grammar:
Click to read Crew Reviews

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