Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 {review}

I typically start light grammar instruction around 3rd or 4th grade, so when I was offered the chance to review the new Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 from Hake Publishing, I was certainly interested.  I used this with Emory, who was wrapping up the 3rd grade when this arrived.  He has had little grammar instruction, so we were basically starting fresh.

The Grammar and Writing 3 program is designed after the popular Saxon Math, which is very familiar in the homeschool world, and is the newest addition to the lineup that already includes fourth-eighth grade grammar.  It includes three major components:  Student Textbook, Writing Workbook and the Teacher Guide.

Teacher Guide - The Teacher Guide includes an overview and instructions to the teacher for how to use the program.  Every lesson has a scripted meeting, which includes Speaking & Listening and  Vocabulary.  The student can read along in their book.  Then the lessons instruct you to begin the actual Grammar Lesson from the Student Textbook, followed by the Review.  Suggested time to complete each activity is included.  The Teacher Guide also includes the tests and more practice sheets, as well as an answer key for the textbook, tests and practice pages.  A suggested schedule is included as well.

The first 10 lessons are completed before the first test and writing lesson, and then they occur after every five lessons.  Some writing lessons are extended for two days.  The schedule includes 146 days of instruction and testing, so if the lessons are completed as scheduled, there is room in a typical 180 day schedule, or it allows some wiggle room for those on a 4-day week schedule.

The only minor issue I can foresee with this schedule and pacing is that they suggest 40-45 minutes for completing every lesson, and they insist that every single exercise in every lesson be completed to benefit from the incremental design of the program.  The idea for the longer lessons is to omit homework, but as a homeschool family, homework isn't an option anyway.  So it has to be done in one day, or broken over two days anyway.  We are Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, and find that her insistence on shorter lessons really is beneficial.  Short, varied lessons are far more efficient for us.  At this time, Emory completes the lessons in about 20 minutes, so it's not a real issue, but should it ever arise, I would just break the lesson into two shorter sessions during the day.  It would be easy to do the main lesson, and do ether Review Set later in the day.  Otherwise, frequently spreading a lesson over two days would extend the program and be difficult to finish in one year, if that's important to you.

Student Textbook - The student textbook contains the lessons and exercises.  Everything is laid out in clear print, black and white, with no pictures, though some pages are very full so it can sometimes still look busy.  The instructions are easy to understand and Emory does well with the workbook and exercises, without much input from me.  Concepts are introduced quickly, but he seems to catch on quickly with the frequent review.

Writing Workbook - This element contains direct writing assignments.  The writing lessons are scheduled to be completed on test days, or sometimes over two days.  The introduction encourages the student to create a notebook for collecting ideas, memories, questions, and drawings, to use as inspiration for future writing.  There are also instructions to keep a three-ring binder for their daily journals and the writing assignments.  These pages are perforated and hole punched already, making it easy to slide them into their personal binder.  Since the writing lessons are scheduled with the tests, the assignments often reinforce the corresponding grammar lessons.

So What is Taught?
When using the complete program, you'll find the grammar book includes instruction on the sentence, verbs, nouns, vowels and consonants, spelling rules, capitalization, prepositions, sentence diagramming, adjectives, dictionary information, punctuation, and much more.

The writing program starts simply, with the sentence, then works up to the paragraph.  Finally, it teaches different types of writing - persuasive, expository, narrative, descriptive and the chapter summary.  It also works through brainstorming, fact and opinion, and evaluating your writing.  This program doesn't cover reading/literature, spelling or penmanship, but when used as written, this is a complete grammar and writing course.

The website claims that this is a rigorous curriculum, and I can see why they make this claim.  The topics are introduced quickly, and it's a lot of material to cover for just third grade.  The other grade levels all cover the same content, just at different reading levels and depth of instruction, and they recommend a minimum of two years of grammar.  I am inclined to think that a mid or upper elementary level, and one middle school level should be sufficient.

What Do We Think?
I like that there is no teacher-prep.  Emory has done well with it.  He can work semi-independently in this book, because the instructions are written clearly in the student workbook.  He knows to ask for clarification, and I always check his work as he finishes.  I don't know that we'll do all of the writing exercises, as they conflict with our preference Charlotte Mason philosophy for this age range, but I like having it as a reference.  {Please note, this program does not claim to be Charlotte Mason, but I am happy to adapt any curriculum that works for us to meet our needs.}

Overall, I feel it's a thorough grammar curriculum laid out in a traditional format, but since it's a quick and easy lesson, he doesn't mind it.  We received it late in the school year, and we're very ready for summer break, so we'll just pick this back up next year to finish.

More crew members are reviewing this level, so be sure to check out the other reviews for more perspectives!

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