Analytical Grammar (6th Grade and Up)

One might view the thick Teacher Book, the hefty Student Workbook and the DVDs 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 materials 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 "Season" - 10 units which takes about 20 minutes a day for 10 weeks. Then follows a one-day-every-two-week review/reinforcement exercise from the Reinforcement and Review Workbook. This first Season covers parts of speech and sentence patterns.

The second Season (7th grade) starts with one week of review followed by Units 11-17 and a once-a-month review/reinforcement. Phrases and clauses are covered this year. In the third Season (8th grade), 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 Workbook) 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 but students do some work independently. However, teacher prep is nil because 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 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.) An additional student will need his own Student Book.

The Teacher Book has all the instructional information plus a few pages that outline the approach for the year 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 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. Please note that these do not take the place of the Teacher Book, but provide additional support. The Analytical Grammar Package includes both books and the DVDs.

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. The author believes strongly that correction is an important part of the learning process. The student should be involved in all correcting. Only correct answers are marked. Tests and worksheets are completed "Open Notes" using the resource material in the Student Book.

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


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