Monday, September 29, 2014

Institute For Excellence in Writing - Fix It! Grammar - The Nose Tree {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

Fix It! Grammar Review

I love Institute for Excellence in Writing and have used their writing products before. So when I was given the chance to try their Fix It! Grammar was really excited. Yes 'I' was excited about getting the program - however I knew it would have to be good so I could sell it to my kids. When I told them we were going to be reviewing a 'GRAMMAR' program they looked at me and said 'great' in this really shaky voice. However they both really liked the writing program we used and think Andrew Pudewa is awesome, so they were willing to give the complete grammar program a shot.

Fix It! Grammar Review

I was pleased to see that IEW offer a placement test and webinar available to help you decided where to start. There are five levels available and although my older two can read at a very high level we have never done a complete 'grammar' program before. So after watching the webinar and looking over the placement test, I decided to just follow the advice of the program and start with Level 1 - The Nose Tree.

I received the Teacher Manual - The Nose Tree ($19.00) and the Student Book - The Nose Tree ($15.00) The Nose Tree is suitable for all students in grades 3-12.

Although I got the hard copy of the student book, the teachers manual actually comes with a free download of the student manual. This was excellent addition for us as I wanted to use it with both of the older kids. I mean how do you 'pick' one - this made it SO much easier for me. Boo claimed the printed student manual (and Jam being a gentleman let her win) so I downloaded a copy for Jam and printed it out at home. I also have a spiral binder machine, so it still looked great. The teacher's manual also comes with these awesome downloads;
Mastery Learning e-audio ($3.00 value) and the e-audio to But...But...But...What About Grammar?

I wanted both kids to start at the same time so as soon as the books arrived I got straight to work downloading, printing, and binding. It was all done in about an hour - perfect. However if you do need help there is a 800 number to call.

I sat down and read the introduction in the teacher's manual and was pleased to learn that each lesson was supposed to take about 15 minutes per day - a great selling point when you are adding things to kids timetables.

The introduction explains the methods used in this program to teach grammar. Fix It! Grammar teaches grammar at the point of need. Instead of pages of boring grammar exercises the students work on real literature using limited instruction. Basically the student edit a sentence every day, with new concepts being gradually implemented as the student gains more experience and confidence. It is a very positive way to work. If you have ever listened to a lecture given by Andrew Pudewa you will understand what I mean. He is fun and energetic and encourages these methods in teaching. The only thing that would make this a better grammar program would be for Andrew Pudewa to be teaching it!

Each level is intended to last for 33 weeks, 15 minutes a day, four days a week. However it mentions that if using a lower level with a older student then you could choose to work at a higher rate. I let my kids determine whether they did more than 15 minutes or not.


Jam and Boo are quite competitive when it comes to school work, OK maybe I should rephrase that Boo is quite competitive when it comes to anything she does with Jam. So I decided to work seperately with them instead of doing this as a group. So although I will mention each step once - think twice and I will add any differences as I go along.

The first thing we did was set up our workbook. The program suggests having a folder and adding each section to it. However we decided to use spiral notebooks since we have an abundance, and they worked really well. They worked from the front with their re-write (I'll explain later) and from the back with their definitions, along with the Grammar Glossary and Fix Its sections which we kept with the notebook. The only thing added to this is the Grammar review cards (I printed these on colored card stock for Jam but Boo had yellow card stock ones included in the student book which we just had to cut out).

Once our workbooks were ready it was time to begin.

At the beginning of each week is a 'Learn It' section. This is read with each child. This tells the child what to look for that week. Once a concept is introduced it is always on the list, so at first it is simple. You then find the appropriate grammar cards and place them on the table in front of the student.

Everyday the process is the same;

1. Jam and Boo would start by reading the sentence.

2. The next step would be to look up the new vocabulary word (bold in the text) in the dictionary. They then chose the definition they think makes the most sense in the sentence read. They then wrote the word and definition in the vocabulary section of there notebook.

Day 1  Then we would work through the sentence together marking the grammar points using the necessary abbreviations and fixing the passage. Then Boo and Jam would re-write it in their notebook. One thing that we really liked about this stage is the suggested given of writing it double spaced. This is something that we have carried over into the rest of our writing work. It seems to make even slightly messy writing neater. It also gives the space necessary to edit the writing.

Day 2-4  Using the reminder abbreviations at the top of the page Boo and Jam would then repeat the process by themselves everyday. I would then review each passage with them. They would then re-write the section in their books. The kids really liked this part. Boo is really looking forward to having a written copy of the whole story when she is done.

It is a really simple process but is amazing how quickly you learn to identify the different parts of grammar. This is something I can't really remember being taught in school.

The teacher's book contains all of the corrections you need to mark the students work. It also offers the correct definitions, and explanations for each grammar point (including a few extra pointers for advanced students). My kids struggled to find every correction, every time. Mostly due to lack of concentration however, I am sure this is true for most kids.

I loved how easy this program was to use. Boo races ahead as she is intrigued by the story. Boo has really pushed herself with this program doing much more than I required. In fact while I am writing this she is working on week 20.

I don't have anything negative to say about this program at all. It is simple to use and very effective. The fact that the teacher text comes with the free download of the student text makes it very reasonably priced. However if you are like me the cost of the student book with all the bells and whistles is very attractive at $15.00.

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Since there are so many levels of this book there is definitely something for everyone. Other members of the crew reviewed the other levels so click the link below to read what others thought.

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