Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Easy Grammar Plus {review}

Grammar is one of those subjects that we've covered lightly over the years in our homeschool, with the expectation that we would cover it in-depth in middle school.  This year, as my oldest was entering seventh grade, I was actually considering using a product from Easy Grammar Systems, so when the opportunity to review Easy Grammar Plus was presented, I knew this was definitely the year to study grammar!

Easy Grammar Plus is written by Wanda C. Philips, Ed.D. and is a non-grade level text that is intended for about 7th grade, but is appropriate for all middle school, high school and college levels.  It is written at a lower reading level, approximately fourth grade, so that students can focus on the grammar.  This, and the simplicity of the program, are probably what make it useful for older students who have never had grammar instruction or who may be struggling.  It does, however, contain higher level concepts (gerunds, perfect tense, etc.) and more difficult capitalization and punctuation rules, which would make it age/grade appropriate.

This is a teaching text, or a teacher edition.  Everything you need for a complete grammar course is included in this one book.  You can however, purchase a separate student workbook and test booklet, but they are not necessary to implement the program fully.  The teacher's book is available as a digital download as well.

The book actually has a Pre/Post Assessment Test first, and is about eight pages in length, and while the author says it won't take long to complete, that is likely subjective based on a student's prior grammar ability and potential testing anxiety.  There is information for scoring the test as well.

The Introduction is written to the teacher, and opens with an encouragement to set your student up for success, by placing emphasis on their success!   I do agree that it is more important to encourage a student by acknowledging what they know and where they are succeeding than to constantly point out any deficiencies or struggles.  The introduction gives the teacher (or parent) some guidance for teaching the course, encourages teaching to mastery, and insists that the student must memorize the preposition list to begin mastery.  Specifically, there is a list of 53 prepositions, and the student should be able to list 50, with the others being bonus points.  Frankly, if we had to memorize all the prepositions first, it would have taken us too long to get into the actual curriculum.  We did spend about a week working on just the prepositions--there were a few activities like unscrambling words and Preposition Bingo, to help familiarize the student with them, and we reviewed the list each day.  However, after the first week, I decided to copy the list and let him keep it near him while he began working in the prepositions section.  Within just a couple of days, I noticed he was referencing the list less and less, and I think this was due to identifying the prepositions in context, instead of looking at them as a list of random words.

The lessons are not numbered, because you can technically work on the units somewhat out of order.  It is suggested to do Prepositions first, then perhaps punctuation-which is the last unit, then returning to verbs and doing the rest in order, because the concepts are often interrelated.

The full list of units are:
Types of Sentences
Sentences, Fragments, and Run-Ons
Phrases and Clauses

Although the units are separated, I noticed that the topics truly aren't isolated.  For instance, even though types of sentences aren't covered for several units, right in the first unit on prepositions there was information about imperative sentences, to help the student understand that (You) is the subject.

The book is set up so that it teaches a concept, then there is a student page and the corresponding answer key on a page spread.  So there's not a lot of flipping back and forth, but photocopying straight from this book is not ideal for me.  This teacher edition is well over 600 pages and too cumbersome, so after copying a few assignments, I bought the student workbook.  It was just easier for us.  The pages are identical to the teacher edition, but the book is smaller and obviously there are no answer keys.

We do formal lessons four days per week, so we've been doing grammar about three days per week. We can easily do a full page, which is about fifteen exercises, in a reasonable amount of time.  I like short lessons, and this workbook lends itself well to that.  The actual assignments do not require a lot of writing, which I appreciate!  First things first, the student learns to mark out the preposition, which will help them more quickly identify the other elements.  As new elements are taught, the student is instructed to mark them in different ways, such as underlining the verb/verb phrase twice or labeling the direct object.  Looking ahead, there are assignments that require writing--such as when working with contractions--but the writing is still relatively minimal overall.  Since I have a son who thrives on science and math, and doesn't particularly love language arts and writing, having a grammar program with short lessons and minimal writing was ideal!

Following each unit is a unit review and test, and then a cumulative review and test.  If you choose to move forward without memorizing the prepositions, be aware that listing them does appear on future tests.  I would also consider the fact that some students might struggle with the grammar if they aren't following the curriculum as written.  I am telling you how we chose to approach the curriculum for the purpose of this review, but that doesn't mean our approach is endorsed by the author.

The Easy Grammar Plus teacher edition, and the corresponding student book that I purchased, are all black and white with no illustrations.  This keeps it clean and simple, with no distractions.

Final Thoughts
The first couple of days started off rough, with a kid who "doesn't like" grammar, but he now does his grammar without complaint and usually does well.  If he makes mistakes, I mark the number with a pencil so we can go over it together and he can correct his mistakes.  I thought this would be better than marking them wrong, and goes well with the idea of mastery and praising successes.

Overall, I am happy with the program.  The instructions are clear and direct, the assignments are short, and so far it seems the retention is there.

Easy Grammar Plus is just one part of the Easy Grammar series.  There are grade level texts for elementary, and there is also the Easy Grammar Ultimate series for high school, as well as a review series called Daily Grams.  To find out more about the different levels and how they correlate, be sure to find Easy Grammar Systems online and read more crew reviews!

Easy Grammar, Daily GRAMS & Easy Grammar Ultimate {Easy Grammar Systems Reviews}

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