Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Taking Stock: Focus Today~ Learning Grammar

I am spending some taking stock in what we have done, how we have grown and changes we have had along our way. I have been clearing things out (bins, cabinets, bookshelves) and stepping back to really take the time to see what has worked and what just isn't working and re-vamping some things. The Spring weather seems to do that to us, we want to say "out with the old and in with the new"~

I thought I would start a new series entitled "Taking Stock", each post will focus on a different topic, subject of study or idea.

In stepping back and considering things I would have to now acknowledge that we practice a great deal more Charlotte Mason  than I actually thought we did. The textbooks have fallen to the side and so have the programs, well many of them, at the very least.

I recently created a new facebook group "Our Charlotte Mason Homeschool" (with a slant) - I tried to create a comfortable spot to share ideas and CM style methods in a place that is non-judgmental and diverse.  It has been going very well so far~ some of my readers here might already know about my new group but I thought I would share here just in case some may not know about it.

I spent my afternoon today going through a few more things. I am creating some CM-minded curriculum worksheets or planning sheets (might be a better term to use)  to help outline and organize my plans since the usual "find a textbook or program and then just buying it" isn't exactly the way we can do it if we want/need to use a CM style of teaching. I should have those ready in a short time to share.

I spent some time today as I was looking at things thinking about our Grammar learning. The boys are doing very well with the memory indexes we now use for all areas of learning. There are many index cards for  grammar in an attempt to help the boys remember and have better understanding, making for easier grammar practice. (its hard to learn and do grammar when you don't remember what a pronoun is! )

I had been reading over some resources I had chosen to save for learning grammar. Some were programs others were books. One was a link resource I am not sure I shared about here yet~ KISS GRAMMAR.  It is a free program that has online and printable workbooks ( I know, that dreaded word, workbook! but this is in a kind of narrative form by the author and doesn't have the same workbooky feel, yes I made up that word I think) that you can either print out and have your learner use OR if your like me, use as a "guide" to teach grammar principles in the books your reading and learning from already. That is what I am planning on doing.

I was just about to purchase yet another grammar book when I started to look at KISS and once I read completely through the site I realized I didn't have to purchase yet another Grammar program, it was all in front of me for, free. Everything I feel I might need to help my boys develop a better understanding for why and how we need good Grammar.  There is also a yahoo group ( the author is not on this group because he felt that people would feel more comfortable speaking with more candor about his program) to correspond with other users.

I know what you might be thinking, another "freebie" program ( something I have to feel like is great for the price but how can I be sure I am getting what my child needs or the instruction I might need to teach?), before you get too concerned, take a really good look at this program. I think you might like how comprehensive it actually is.

Written by Dr. Ed Vavra ( see autobiographical notes)  who has many other classes and courses on this site as well.

We will be using this starting now~ I have downloaded the booklets and burnt them onto CD's so I can refer to them at anytime, print out whatever I want and I can adapt the concepts/skills into their books and writings they are doing right now.

I hope my readers are able to take the time to look through this site~ I really think it is worthwhile, most especially if your considering changing your grammar program~

some personal notes on KISS: 

KISS Grammar:
1. Everyone should be starting with Level 1 Book this goes over all the basics of grammar with just a bit of depth, the later levels build upon the first so it is a sequence you follow. 

2.In the tables the link to the left are the online practice work if you want. The Docs are the students versions while the AK is the answers and teaching keys. 

3. You will see as each level progresses the depth it goes into upon each level.

4. The Master Exercises are just that "extra exercises" according to the topic for each level that it is broken down. 

5. If you look at the Level 1 - (where you would start) and then go to the Doc you can download you will see it is a workbook for your student to use and work on. 

6. The lessons are clear and concise, and color coded ~ 

7. I also noticed all the lessons are based on literature for the most part.

** update~ OUR LANGUAGE ARTS ~  in working through my "taking stock series" I have realized that our grammar was actually redundant. And I needed to stop being redundant. Do you find your grammar or LA learning can be redundant? I did. It came to me while working on our Science for the new year~ it all came to me~ I do not need to work a separate grammar program while I have wonderful resources through the comprehensive IEW program.   Our Language Arts planning is complete. We are using the following:

IEW US History Based Writing Vol. I and Vol. II ( these lessons also include Grammar and Usage learning while learning to write, two supplement resources KISS and Blue Book of Grammar for my older learner will help me with any areas needed for extra work and study)

IEW's Fix it- this program is based on proofreading and using grammar/usage knowledge through the classics ( again this reinforces their writing principles they learn from IEW and putting grammar into practice through "doing")

Teaching The Classics - a wonderful Literature Analysis program that is used and again reinforced through the above programs. They compliment eachother well with "reinforcement without redundancy" .

Spelling is done naturally through written narrations, copywork and dictations- the boys write and then correct their own work and we work on those words they have a hard time spelling. They do excellent work through spelling with spelling lists so that is of no help to us~ they need individual spelling lists created by them.

Vocabulary is worked orally through read alouds and also through the practices in their writing program and Fix it program, again, "reinforcement without  redundancy".

Its nice to have things planned out! ~ until next time....

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