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Although I had an engaging English teacher in eighth grade, my loathing for grammar and writing was already ingrained. It wasn’t because I didn’t like language arts, but grammar and writing seemed like a mist. Nothing was clear to me, or taught to me in a logical order. I seemed to take a self-guided writing tour in my elementary years. I was looking for a homeschool grammar and writing program which taught the process in steps, and took the struggle out of learning grammar and writing. So I was tickled to find Growing with Grammar and Winning with Writing by JacKris Publishing.
Before you read on, I want to be sure you get a heads up for the awesome giveaway below!
Writers – Born or Made?
This was not my first introduction to Growing with Grammar; however, it was my first look at Winning with Writing. We used Level 8 in both the grammar and the writing program. At this time, Level 8 is the highest level available and levels equate to grade levels.
Whether your kids are middle school or high school level, mastery of language arts is the foundation for all other subjects. Teaching the rules of grammar, and teaching an inexperienced writer how to articulate ideas through written words requires repetitive work. Small and simple changes are best, but again it takes time. Kids and even some adult authors get impatient with the process. Short and straight forward explanations with examples have always worked best for us.
An Overview of Growing with Grammar
and Winning with Writing
As I mentioned, I returned to Growing with Grammar. There are several reasons:
- lessons are only 3 times a week,
- it includes diagramming and I like that because I have kids that are visual learners,
- it’s based on a 36-week school year which is a standard school year,
- it reminds us that grammar is achievable because there are not really a lot of rules,
- it is a worktext (more on this in a minute), and
- examples and explanations are used as models when applying grammar to the writing process.
Grammar is the rules of a language and I feel it’s best learned while writing; however, a separate short study of the rules of grammar helps any struggling writer to cement the rules in his mind. Teaching grammar only 3 times a week aligns with my experience in how grammar is best learned.
Learning rules separately from writing or oral speaking has limited value. Application of rules makes the most sense while learning to write or while speaking in public. Grammar is valued then as a practical life skill.
Although writing is a progressive skill, it doesn’t have be tedious. Look here at how the writing process is laid out in Winning with Writing:
- lessons are daily meaning it follows a 5 day week,
- lessons are short,
- it’s based on a 36-week school year,
- it’s a worktext which means it teaches by example, models, and illustrations,
- it takes a two part approach which are the outlining process and the drafting process,
- it has incremental review which writers need, and
- once you learn the the straightforward process it works for a single paragraph or book.
Too, I know you want to know what the writing program contains because that is the hardest part for me in judging whether this level or another level will work for your struggling writer. I hope you find this look at the table of contents helpful.
Level 8 Winning with Writing First Semester Topics
Lesson 1 Main Topic, Details, and Staying on Topic
Lesson 2 The Writing Process
Lesson 3 Sequence of Events and Time Order Words
Lesson 4 Personal Narrative
Lesson 5 Personal Narrative
Lesson 6 Review of Lessons 1-5
Lesson 7 Spatial Organization, Comparing Objects, and Comparing Characters
Lesson 8 Similes, Metaphors, Analogies, Personification, and Sarcasm
Lesson 9 Alliteration, Onomatopoeia, Hyperbole, Oxymoron, and Pun
Lesson 10 Descriptive Writing
Lesson 11 Descriptive Writing
Lesson 12 Review of Lessons 7-11
Lesson 13 Parts of a Creative Story
Lesson 14 Quotations, Dialogue, Point of View and Voice
Lesson 15 Creative Writing
Lesson 16 Creative Writing
Lesson 17 Creative Writing
Lesson 18 Review of Lessons 13-17
Level 8 Winning with Writing Second Semester Topics
Lesson 19 Facts and Opinions, Emotional Appeals, and Advertising
Lesson 20 Thesis Statement and Transitional Sentences
Lesson 21 Compare and Contrast Essay
Lesson 22 Persuasive Writing
Lesson 23 Persuasive Writing
Lesson 24 Review of Lessons 19-23
Lesson 25 Documenting Sources
Lesson 26 Biographical Essay (Part 1)
Lesson 27 Biographical Essay (Part 2)
Lesson 28 Explanatory Essay Cause and Effect (Part 1)
Lesson 29 Explanatory Essay Cause and Effect (Part 2)
Lesson 30 Review of Lessons 25-29
Lesson 31 Bias, Reliable Sources, and Taking Notes
Lesson 32 Informative Essay Problem and Solution (Part 1)
Lesson 33 Informative Essay Problem and Solution (Part 2)
Lesson 34 Informative Essay Research Report (Part 1)
Lesson 35 Informative Essay Research Report (Part 2)
Lesson 36 Review of Lessons 31-35
Do you see any writing topics that your middle school kid struggles with?
Writing at the higher grades tend to focus solely on the essay. While that is a normal progression, all writers benefit at looking at the basic process from sentence writing to paragraph to essay. This takes time to teach without making it monotonous. Again, Winning with Writing aligns with my experience in that it takes 5 days of short lessons.
My Reasons for Returning to Growing with Grammar
and Winning with Writing
Earlier I mentioned about the worktext.
You may or may not know the differences between workbooks and worktext, but I appreciate the subtle differences the longer I’ve homeschooled. A worktext not only has a place for your student to record his work, but gives explanations, samples, and even background information right in the book. It’s like writing in a textbook. I have one kid that really likes that concept.
Promoting independence at the middle and high school levels is smoother when a student has everything to learn a new concept within one book. You will notice that Answer Keys are provided, so a comprehensive teacher’s manual is not needed. All of the explanations, plus a space to record your student’s answers are kept together.
Although this was a far-fetched idea to me, I learned that Tiny is not as motivated to learn a new concept while using a teacher’s manual as he is when it’s in the student text. It’s a learning practice he set up for himself; he is motivated when material is laid out. For me, it was a huge revelation and significant as I wanted to foster independence in my writer.
Besides material being presented in a way beneficial to my flourishing, but novice writer, mastery of concepts was equally important. Remembering I felt alone while learning the elements of writing in my elementary years, I’m delighted that Growing with Grammar and Winning with Writing break concepts down into cycles — 3 day cycles and 5 day cycles respectively.
You noticed on the table of contents that review was added incrementally. This makes a full circle back to what is fundamentally important for any level of writer — repetition and review.
Additionally, JacKris Publishers is faith-neutral whether you want to add your Bible content or keep it secular. That is an important feature when you want more control over when and how to teach your worldview.
- If you want a straightforward no-thrills and frills approach
- If you want short lessons
- If you want planned short days
- If your writer craves independence
- If your writer needs review and repetition
- If your writer needs clear and concise directions
- If your writer prefers to keep all of his work in one place
- If your writer needs to learn the outline and draft processes
- If your writer is not organized
While my son is certainly at the level where he can write independently, the worktexts are easy enough for you to use to guide a struggling writer.
The whole array of language arts products by JacKris Publishing are thorough, easy to use, and student friendly.
How to Purchase It.
►Product Name: Growing with Grammar and Winning with Writing
►Website: JacKris Publishing
►What they want you to know: Although they love all of their products, their Starting Line Stories are new and they’re excited for you to use it. From the site: Each Starting Line Stories book contains 70 story starters and 30 writing prompts. Unlike a formal writing program, these activities are designed simply for students to express themselves through creative writing.
►Grade Levels: Levels 1 – 8; Levels equate to grade level. Click here to see a scope and sequence to determine writing levels.
►Type of product: These is a physical product and you can click on the product to see a SAMPLE lesson.
►Prices: Vary by product.
Also, you’ll love these other tips:
- 24 Borderline Genius Ways To Relieve Language Arts Boredom
- Why It Is Hard to Teach Homeschooled Kids Writing But Not Impossible
- Homeschool Tips for Teaching a Young Writer to Take his Ideas from a Trickle to a Waterfall