Jump to content

Menu

Are all English grammar curricula about nothing more than diagramming? (and questiond about KISS)


Iskra
 Share

Recommended Posts

I'm researching a middle-school grammar curriculum to use for next year, and everything that I've been exposed to so far seems to be just about parts of speech, diagramming sentences and mechanics of writing. 

 

English is not my first language, and when I learned it as a foreign language in school, it seems that we did a lot more in grammar than just the things listed above.  We learned about verb tenses and we conjugated verbs all the time in all the different tenses.  We converted different types of direct speech sentences into indirect speech.  We converted sentences of all the different tenses from active into passive voice and vice versa.  We probably did many other things that I can't remember right now, but it was definitely not all about just diagramming. 

 

I've done FLL and MCT and even the CC essentials program with my kids and it seems that all we ever do is talk about parts of speech and diagramming.  They are doing well with those things, but the things that they don't know about, such as how to conjugate verbs (both regular and irregular) in all the different tenses (and of course I don't mean just present simple, past simple and present progressive,  but really all the tenses that exist in English) are given very little (if any) attention.  Is this because that's saved for later grades in these curricula and it will come, or is it just not the focus of grammar instruction in the US at all?   I almost feel like digging up my old English foreign language books to teach grammar straight from there. 

 

I am looking for a really solid rigorous and thorough grammar curriculum for my kids for next year.  I'm done with fluff.  The following excellent threads were helpful to me:

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/324737-kiss-grammar-questions/

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/229007-had-it-with-mct-is-there-a-structural-grammar-curriculum/?hl=structural%20grammar

 

Based on what I read in there I want to give KISS grammar a try, but nobody in those threads addresses whether there is some emphasis on the different tenses and verb conjugation and all the other stuff I mentioned above. 

 

Can someone who is using KISS reassure me that all of this is covered thoroughly and also what are other examples of really solid rigorous curricula that cover everything?

 

I would also love to read some more of the great grammar threads that have happened on these boards over the years, so if you are aware of some great ones other than the 2 I linked above, would you please post links?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You will find this level of study in the Rod and Staff curriculum, or in Voyages in English (Loyola Press). Voyages is also known as Lepanto Grammar if you shop through Seton's website.

 

I prefer Rod and Staff. We live near Amish and Mennonite territory so that peculiar focus doesn't distract us, and our religious beliefs are similar enough that the use of scripture verses as models is also acceptable to us. R&S trains the children thoroughly in all of the concepts you mentioned, with frequent spiral review, oral recitations, mnemonic aids, diagramming, and lessons that teach to mastery. Quizzes and tests are included.

 

My boys begin the Latin grammar (with Henle) when they reach Rod and Staff's fifth grade book. By the end of the year, the Latin grammar is outpacing the English, but the two complement each other in the student's mind.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hake covers some of that stuff, but honestly I don't find the information useful.  For example, nouns don't usually change based on their case.  Pronouns do, but there aren't many of them, and native speakers don't have trouble with most of them.

 

Verbs most definitely conjugate though and I found it very useful to do that while I was learning English (and we did that actually as part of grammar in my native language as well and it has also been a part of every other language that I have learned).  I can see that my kids lack that ability and I don't like the fact that english grammar texts just skip over that.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Easy Grammar doesn't do diagramming. Ever.

 

I'm not familiar with KISS Grammar. I found Easy Grammar and never looked back. :-)

 

I actually do want my kids to do lots of diagramming (hence KISS).  I just don't want that to be the end of it.  I want them to learn all the other things as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually do want my kids to do lots of diagramming (hence KISS).  I just don't want that to be the end of it.  I want them to learn all the other things as well.

 

Are you at all open to Rod and Staff? The Christian/Mennonite and farm themes are off-putting to some, for good reason. I'd never try to talk people into ignoring these aspects because it is impossible. But if you are neutral on all of that, the program really does have everything you're hoping to find.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tibbie, I have honestly never looked into it, not because of the religious bit but because I have heard that the Amish/Mennonite don't value education much and only teach their kids till a certain grade and then stop.  This is probably just a stereotype, so please someone correct me if I'm wrong, but basically I want my kids to think deeply and get a rigorous and thorough education and somehow that seems to be the opposite of the philosophy that I've heard about how Amish education is set up.  So I've steered clear from curricula that they produce.  However, I do see that lots of people on here use Rod & Staff so it is probably worth looking into,  but I also know people homeschool for various reasons (and not necessarily for the quality of the academic side of it) so I can't go solely by "lots of people use it" either.  I don't know personally (in real life) anybody using it so that I can just look through it myself and evaluate it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tibbie, I have honestly never looked into it, not because of the religious bit but because I have heard that the Amish/Mennonite don't value education much and only teach their kids till a certain grade and then stop.  This is probably just a stereotype, so please someone correct me if I'm wrong, but basically I want my kids to think deeply and get a rigorous and thorough education and somehow that seems to be the opposite of the philosophy that I've heard about how Amish education is set up.  So I've steered clear from curricula that they produce.  However, I do see that lots of people on here use Rod & Staff so it is probably worth looking into,  but I also know people homeschool for various reasons (and not necessarily for the quality of the academic side of it) so I can't go solely by "lots of people use it" either.  I don't know personally (in real life) anybody using it so that I can just look through it myself and evaluate it.

 

Rod and Staff is very rigorous.

 

 

Much of the conjugation is not utilized in U.S. English grammar curricula because it isn't necessary since everyone speaks English.  If you are learning English as a second language (or when you are learning any foreign language) the conjugations are unnatural and must be explicitly taught.  When you are learning grammar in your native language, there are some things you can skip, because your use and understanding is intuitive.  When an English speaker learns a foreign language, he/she learns all of the conjugations and more in-depth grammar than a native speaker would need to learn. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually do want my kids to do lots of diagramming (hence KISS).  I just don't want that to be the end of it.  I want them to learn all the other things as well.

 

KISS doesn't teach diagramming. It teaches you to analyze sentences, but not diagram them. You can definitely use KISS sentences for diagramming, but you'll need to learn the skills elsewhere. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Verbs most definitely conjugate though and I found it very useful to do that while I was learning English (and we did that actually as part of grammar in my native language as well and it has also been a part of every other language that I have learned).  I can see that my kids lack that ability and I don't like the fact that english grammar texts just skip over that.

 

 

Yes I think this would come into play with a non native speaker.  Native speakers don't tend to have trouble with it.

 

The conjugation is fairly predictable with a lot of verbs.  There are some irregular verbs of course.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tibbie, I have honestly never looked into it, not because of the religious bit but because I have heard that the Amish/Mennonite don't value education much and only teach their kids till a certain grade and then stop.  This is probably just a stereotype, so please someone correct me if I'm wrong, but basically I want my kids to think deeply and get a rigorous and thorough education and somehow that seems to be the opposite of the philosophy that I've heard about how Amish education is set up.  So I've steered clear from curricula that they produce.  However, I do see that lots of people on here use Rod & Staff so it is probably worth looking into,  but I also know people homeschool for various reasons (and not necessarily for the quality of the academic side of it) so I can't go solely by "lots of people use it" either.  I don't know personally (in real life) anybody using it so that I can just look through it myself and evaluate it.

 

I see. I can't speak about the educational goals of Amish or Mennonite people well enough to refute your bias, but I understand it. I have also wondered why Rod and Staff English is so very, very rigorous; my only guess is that they want their children to be proficient in English so they may thoroughly understand their King James Bibles! But I don't know.

 

But I can tell you of my perspective regarding education. I want my children to be well-read, well-spoken, logical, familiar with the great books, competent in science and math, familiar with histories, philosophies, governments, religions, and fine arts of the world...probably these goals very similar to the goals you have for your children.

 

Then moving forward to reasons for considering R&S: KeriJ is correct -- Susan Wise Bauer is the one who introduced us all to Rod and Staff English! :) Having used all of the levels I definitely understand why. It works. What you have been talking about in your threads about helping children know exactly why particular cases, tenses, and endings are used -- check. Reciting conjugations, declensions, rules, and forms -- check. Diagramming for understanding -- check. Being so familiar with the material that one can easily identify similarities/differences between the grammar of English and the grammar of other languages being studied, to the point that one confirms and explains the other -- check.

 

Now, results: My eldest son used Harvey's Grammar for early grammar stage studies, then switched to R&S Grade 5. He continued with R&S through the 9th grade book, while concurrently studying Greek and Latin. His Greek and Latin programs were very, very grammar-based; very old-fashioned and boring. LOL His second Greek text is a seminary classic as we could not find a secondary student's level of study, but he was perfectly able to master it. He found that his English grammar lessons perfectly prepared him for Greek and Latin grammar, and the study of those two languages helped him to better understand English grammar! I could see for myself, as I had taught him myself, how particular lessons were related and useful for cross-reference.

 

My son is a high achiever, academically, having learned to read both Latin and Greek, achieved excellent marks in physics and calculus, studied the Great Books, read all of Tapestry of Grace's rhetoric level curriculum plus all of Memoria Press's logic and rhetoric programs, plays five instruments, was a Cadet Commander in Civil Air Patrol and earned the Billy Mitchell Award, and is a National Merit Finalist. He was accepted to honors colleges, with Dean's scholarships, at all universities to which he applied.

 

He considers a few programs to be the foundations of his education. The Bible is the cornerstone, but other significant props include Ray's Arithmetic, Harvey's and Rod and Staff grammar, Kreeft's Handbook of Christian Apologetics, Machen's Greek, Henle Latin, and a few vintage science treatises which he studied on his own, the titles of which I do not recall.

 

Now, I do think he could have done it without Rod and Staff English. He's a bright boy and I understand grammar well enough to teach it properly, I think...but we both enjoyed the no-nonsense, drill and review style of R&S so I saw no need to look for anything else. I went on to use the program successfully with several other children, including a 15 year old girl whom I tutored for two years. She'd had no grammar instruction at all (homeschool failure story) but completely made up the deficit with R&S grades 5 and 6. By the end of our time working together, she was proficient enough in grammar to begin teaching the subject to her younger siblings. Also, she won two writing contests and was published in a religious magazine.

 

And now I have to drive over to your house and show you my textbooks. Do you mind? LOL

Edited by Tibbie Dunbar
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Then moving forward to reasons for considering R&S: KeriJ is correct -- Susan Wise Bauer is the one who introduced us all to Rod and Staff English! :) Having used all of the levels I definitely understand why. It works. What you have been talking about in your threads about helping children know exactly why particular cases, tenses, and endings are used -- check. Reciting conjugations, declinations, rules, and forms -- check. Diagramming for understanding -- check. Being so familiar with the material that one can easily identify similarities/differences between the grammar of English and the grammar of other languages being studied, to the point that one confirms and explains the other -- check.

 

 

And now I have to drive over to your house and show you my textbooks. Do you mind? LOL

 

I have two questions for you: which edition of Harvey's did you / he use? After you're done at her house, can you come on over to my house? :lol: :lol:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you near Cleveland Ohio (for real) ? :001_smile:

 

 

No, I'm sorry! I wish I were near enough!

 

If you go to the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, Rod and Staff will be there. They always have a very large booth at homeschool conventions, well-stocked with their entire curriculum.

 

Now, if you do go, be prepared: The majority of the other R&S materials will make your bias leap up to haul you away from the booth. The English program really is a bright and shiny star in a rather dull (and frankly low-level) complete curriculum, in my opinion. So just open up the fifth grade English book and stay focused as you peruse. Haha

 

Online, you can see the TOC for each grade level and a (very) few sample pages at www.milestonebooks.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have two questions for you: which edition of Harvey's did you / he use? After you're done at her house, can you come on over to my house? :lol: :lol:

 

I wish I could! I should do a traveling show, and Rod and Staff should pay me lots of money. :p

 

My son used Harvey's Elementary Grammar -- the Mott Media edition linked HERE. I had intended to go on to the revised version but switched to R&S instead. On the same page you can find an answer key.

 

Classical Writing curriculum includes Harvey's and made it more user-friendly with their own worktexts, which may be found HERE.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

If you go to the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati, Rod and Staff will be there. They always have a very large booth at homeschool conventions, well-stocked with their entire curriculum.

 

 

Just to clarify, there will be an exhibitor there who sells Rod and Staff books. It is not the publisher who has a booth, not a representative from the publisher (the way ABeka and BJUP and others have reps), because R&S doesn't have reps. It is someone who has a business of buying books from R&S and selling them. And so R&S materials will only be at a convention if there is someone in the area (or who is willing to travel) who sells R&S books.

 

I know this has been an issue (maybe only once or twice, lol) when people bought some R&S books at a convention and then tried to return them to the publisher but the publisher wouldn't take them back, because the people didn't buy the books from the publisher.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just to clarify, there will be an exhibitor there who sells Rod and Staff books. It is not the publisher who has a booth, not a representative from the publisher (the way ABeka and BJUP and others have reps), because R&S doesn't have reps. It is someone who has a business of buying books from R&S and selling them. And so R&S materials will only be at a convention if there is someone in the area (or who is willing to travel) who sells R&S books.

 

I know this has been an issue (maybe only once or twice, lol) when people bought some R&S books at a convention and then tried to return them to the publisher but the publisher wouldn't take them back, because the people didn't buy the books from the publisher.

 

Oh, wow, I didn't know that. I've always bought from Milestone Books, so I have no direct experience with the publisher at all.

 

I checked before posting that R&S materials will be there: A business called BibleWay (I think) will be at this year's GHC in Cincinnati with the full line.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh, wow, I didn't know that. I've always bought from Milestone Books, so I have no direct experience with the publisher at all.

 

I checked before posting that R&S materials will be there: A business called BibleWay (I think) will be at this year's GHC in Cincinnati with the full line.

 

See, it's BibleWay that will be selling R&S books (and probably other stuff). :-) 

 

I've been buying from the publisher since, oh, 1984. And they still don't have Internet. :-)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Tibbie,

 

Thank you for this review! Did you use R&S for spelling as well?

 

Can anyone compare MCT to R&S?

 

I try use secular materials, but prefer rigor above all.

 

You're welcome! I'm sorry, I never used the spelling. I'm an 1828 Webster's Dictionary type for that.

 

I googled to find some threads here for you, comparing R&S and MCT:

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/219860-mct-grammar-vs-rod-and-staff-grammar/

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/170898-is-mct-as-rigorous-as-rs-english/

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/193081-using-mct-and-rs-together/

 

If you want any more of these links, google "site:welltrainedmind.com MCT compare R&S" -- evidently the board discussed it rather continually for about six months, when MCT was new. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...