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Help me choose grammar and writing curricula for middle school

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Aak.  My head is swimming with choices.  I've been reading and researching like crazy and I could really use some feedback.


My daughter, age 8, is a creative kind of kid, who enjoys hands on kind of work.  She is also very verbal.  So far, grammar comes easy to her and requires very little explanation.  She was in public school for a couple of years before I pulled her out, and last year, I pulled together a number of different grammar resources and just did my own thing.  I covered roughly the same topics as were in FLL 1, but did things like make noun collages, read fun grammar books, had mix and match cut outs of contractions.  We had a few worksheets, but they certainly did not make up most of what we did.  It worked great.


This year, I simply didn't have time to pull everything together myself, and since, much to my surprise (because it is just the kind of thing that would normally bore her to tears), my daughter loved the samples I gave her of FLL 2, I decided to use it.  I think FLL does a great job -- it just seemed like it would be a poor fit for her learning style.  It's been going pretty well and I had planned to follow with FLL 3 and 4.


I tend to get on things early, so I started looking at what to do after FLL.  Rod and Staff, though undeniably a great looking program, would probably lead to my daughter simply refusing to do grammar, so I though that might not be the best for her.  Analytical Grammar seems good and efficient.  I thought Winston, with something like Critical Thinking Press' Language Mechanic or Editor in Chief, might be a bit more engaging.  I'm not sure about the effectiveness of this program, and was unable to locate a sample. Then I came across Michael Clay Thomas' Town, which I gather I would also need to add something to for mechanics.  I looked at this one, but wasn't sure how effective it looked, though it seems engaging.  I looked at KISS, and with revised website and printable workbooks, thought it looked good. It seems to be an effective way to teach grammar.  Plus, it's free, which is a major bonus.  I thought I had it settled.  I was going to use KISS, and maybe even switch over before starting FLL 3.  (Should I, if I follow this route?  Is there value in finishing the FLL series first?)  Then, I found Killgallon's Sentence and Paragraph composing and their grammar books, which I really like the look of.  Hmm.


Killgallon uses the idea of modeling to learn grammar.  Then, this led me to think more about writing, as it seems to follow the same kind of idea that CAP does.  My daughter absolutely hated writing, and last year we were just working on getting her to put a pencil to paper, even to write the alphabet, so we didn't get far with that.  I have been using WWE 2 this year, in combination with Writing Strands (it's been going well).  Writing Strands is what helped her to not hate writing, as she finds it fun.  Bonus.  As far as I'm concerned, it has done it's job well.  I'm not sure however, that she is learning anything from it, and I had hoped to go in a different direction anyway, so I don't intend to continue on with that one.  WWE is serving a purpose for now, as there is learning taking place, but it is really not the greatest fit for my child.  I had planned to switch to CAP Writing and Rhetoric next year.  I like the premise of the CAP program, and think that it would not only work well with my daughter's learning style, but that it would probably equip her to learn to write well.  If I use Kilgallon, would that fit with CAP or would that be too much overlap?  Then, I'm thinking does Killgallon teach writing well enough?  Should I be eliminating a writing program if I choose this one?


With Killgallon, it seems that it is more about putting grammar to use rather than being able to identify all the parts of a sentence.  So, I'm thinking, isn't that the ultimate goal?  To be able to use it.  If she can't name all the parts (and I'm not sure if she could after Killgallon -- maybe someone can enlighten me on this), but learns to write with proper grammar, it seems to me that grammar education would have served its purpose.  KISS, on the other hand, teaches you to completely take apart a sentence.  It seems also to be more focused on practical application than most grammar programs, which I like.


Anyhow, as you can see, I have way too many programs to consider and I would appreciate any thoughts that would help my swimming head to settle down.  Any thoughts on what would or wouldn't be a good fit for my daughter's learning style?  Effectiveness of the various programs?  If you have recommendations for a certain one, would you combine it with anything else?


Umm, yeah, and sorry to add to this book that I wrote, but I wanted to add that it is really, really important to me that my daughter learns to write well.  That's just to say, I'm not keen on sacrificing quality of the curriculum for something that would be engaging (just in case you find one of the above to be fun but adequate, rather than great).



Thanks for your help.






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After FLL, we took a break from grammar and just used Take 5 Minutes: A History Fact a Day Editing.  We did IEW for writing that year (5th).  For 6th, we used Saxon (Hake) grammar, only about half of the lesson, there is a ton of review.  We did not finish the book.  For 7th, we are using Fix It Grammar and giving 7th grade level Essentials In Writing a try.  It has a lot of grammar review, which DD finds easy.   If we don't like EIW, then I will look at something like Cover Story for writing.   I don't feel like you need to teach explicit grammar every single year. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

We're in the same boat!  I've been looking at Winston Grammar and MCT along with everything else, but these two are in the top running right now.  We've been using Shurley English, which is working, but it seems like it progresses too slowly (that could be because I'm using the 2nd grade level with a 3rd and 4th grader).  We'll start skipping some pages (we do skip the jingles - too corny, and my dc know how to do the question and answer flow on their own, that alone is a great way to figure out the parts of speech, and I usually just introduce a new topic when it appears, and my dc do the rest of their worksheets on their own - so it really is not a teacher intensive program if you tweak it), until I decide what program to go to next, OR incorporate WC with Shurley, because I think they would complement each other well; however, I really want to incorporate the 4 levels of grammar from MCT too (which would also work well with Shurley).  Parsing sentences is so much better than diagramming IMHO.   So, look for a new blended program coming soon!  I also like what I see from Killgallon-aargh!  I feel your indecision!  Now, what about vocabulary?  I'm thinking along the lines of Vocabulary from Classical Roots.  I need a more structured program, instead of just choosing words from what we might be reading.  Ok, so I haven't helped you at all, but thanks for letting me vent.  On a side note, I had one of my dd read one of the samples from MCT, and she commented that it was too much just talking about something instead of just explaining it right away.  She seems to like structured workbooks, except that she is very much a kinesthetic learner, so that's why I'm considering WG.

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