Analytical Grammar (6th Grade and Up)

Its robust without being overwhelming. Its thorough, comprehensive, and doable. After getting a good look at this program, I understand completely why weve received so many customer requests. Analytical Grammars author, Robin Finley, says she is a woman on a mission "to convince parents that they dont need to be doing a grammar worksheet every day all year long, for years and years!" Prepare to be convinced.

One might view the Teacher and Student books that make up the AG set as intimidating, I suppose, and never "look under the hood." That would be a mistake. First of all, these books represent three years of grammar instruction. Secondly, they contain just what you need to cover English grammar in a structural and understandable way, giving the student enough practice without being endlessly repetitive. Thirdly, the residual of this program (the students workbook stripped of its exercises and tests) becomes a grammar reference book that the student is encouraged to use through remaining years of grammar accountability (i.e. high school composition).

The premise of this program is straight-forward and presented simply on about three pages of notes at the beginning of the Teacher Book. Assuming the start of this program in 6th grade, in the first year the parent teaches the first 10 units (about 20 minutes a day for 10 weeks) and follows up with a one-day-every-two-week review/reinforcement exercise (from Reinforcement and Review). Yes, you read that correctly, were talking about 10 weeks plus 18 days of grammar lessons for the year. These units cover parts of speech and sentence patterns. The second year, one week is spent on review followed by Units 11-17 and a once-a-month review/reinforcement (8 weeks plus 9 days total). Phrases and clauses are covered this year. In the third year punctuation is taught (Units 18-34). "Graduation" from this program means that the student now uses their Grammar Reference Book (a.k.a. stripped down Student Book) and is held accountable for proper usage. Make no mistake: the coverage of this program is detailed and comprehensive, requiring both sentence parsing (identification of parts of speech, etc.) and diagramming. However, the material is taught clearly, exercises are manageable and reinforced by the correction process the author requires, and learning is efficient. The author provides some clever graphic organizer types of "helps" The Process and The Verbals charts. Use of the basic program assumes teacher-student interaction for part of every lesson (students do some work independently); however, teacher prep is nil everything is provided for you. If you are starting this program at a grade other than 6th, the author gives suggestions for compacting it into one or two years. In fact, there is a lot of flexibility with the program. It could be used as a three-year middle/high school program, a two-year program for either jr. or sr. high school, or a one-year 8th grade or high school "crash course."

The Student Book includes all instructional information plus Exercises (three for each Unit), Skills Support, and Tests (one each per Unit). Exercises are collections of sentences that the student parses and diagrams. The Skills Supports are passages taken from songs, poetry, and literature that the student parses and paraphrases. (Pages are perforated for easy removal and placement into a binder.). An additional student will need his own Student Book. The Teacher Book has all the instructional information plus a few pages that outline each years approach giving a daily lesson plan. Detailed answers (with diagramming) are provided to all student exercises, skills support, and test pages. The Teacher Book is necessary to the program, both to understand and implement the course as designed and for the extensive answer keys. The Teacher/Student Set includes both books.

The Reinforcement & Review provides the suggested worksheets for the first two years. These are similar to the Skills Support lessons and include excerpts from classic literature that the student parses and then paraphrases. Answers are provided after each section. Ms. Finley believes strongly that correction is an important part of the learning process. She insists that the student be involved in all correcting, that only correct answers are marked, and that tests and worksheets are completed "Open Notes" using the resource material in the Student Book.

The Analytical Grammar DVDs (4 DVD set) provide a unit-by-unit presentation of the instructional information from the course. They are an optional item and could be used as either preparation for the teacher or as direct instruction for the student (preferably with the parent/teacher present). Examples of all exercises are worked and explained for the student. The DVDs are well-made and are easy to navigate through. I have to admit, however, that I was occasionally frustrated because I couldnt see what the instructor was writing as she was writing it. She always brought her hand back, though, so you could see the completed sentence. Please note that these do not take the place of the Teacher Book, but provided additional reinforcement.

This is a strong structure-of-language English grammar course that will prepare the student exceptionally well for high school and ultimately college composition. And it does so without being burdensome for either student or teacher. ~ Janice




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