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Last year, my then-third grader completed WWE3 with plenty of complaining but no real difficulty, and with excellent results.  He is easily writing paragraphs of 3-5 sentences of related information.  This year we're working on Killgallon's Sentence Composing for Elementary and... it is just way too hard for him.  I think two things are combining to frustrate him.  I haven't done formal grammar with him, so we are lacking a vocab to talk about what kinds of sentence parts we're looking at.  If I say, "Okay, this sentence begins with an adverb..." he looks at me blankly.  This kid is also not big on original writing.  It helped him that WWE said, "Now summarise that passage," whereas Killgallon's is a much more open "write a sentence about anything you like, as long as the structure parallels the model."

I think I'm going to shelve it for now in favor of Writing and Rhetoric: Fable, but I need a plan until that arrives next month (hello, international shipping).

  • Is there a teacher book I haven't seen that would provide some ideas?
  • There is a Story Grammar for Elementary book in the series - should I have done that first?
  • What do you think of scaffolding Killgallon with some printed word lists - conjunctions, prepositions, etc - to help him identify parallel constructions?  Do you see this extending his ability or just turning it into a trained monkey substitution exercise?
  • I'm wondering about having him rewrite a single sentence from his history narration, or perhaps giving him a picture and asking him to write a sentence about that, to tease apart the composition skill and the invention part a little more.  Other ideas for how I could do this?
  • Should I just ditch Killgallon altogether and just work on "sentence stretchers" - you know, "The cat sat", "the black cat sat", "my black cat sat on the rug", "last Wednesday, my black cat..."  I guess these would help him think about saying more, but I don't think they will result in the kinds of beautiful, rich language that Killgallon draws out of him when he does understand it.
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I've never heard of a teacher book.

Are you planning to teach grammar terms eventually? You could work on that.

The printed list of words sounds a lot like letting kids use multiplication tables as a scaffold. That doesn't seem like a problem at this point in his writing career.

Similarly, having him start with an already written sentence doesn't seem problematic. I feel like the intent of Killgallon is learning to make interesting sentences, not particularly boosting creative writing skills.

We did some of those "from scratch" exercises out loud to take off some of the pressure and make it feel easier.

In our house we alternated a few weeks of Killgallon with other programs and I could see an uptick in sentence quality after using it, so I think you might want to keep it in your rotation.

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I did not do Killgallon with my kids until after we'd done grammar, including different parts of speech, phrases and clauses. Thats when you get the bang for your buck, IMHO.

I'm just now tutoring some ps middle school kids in English, and we started this fall with grammar and are just now getting to Killgallon. I knew it would be too frustrating,  for me if not for them, lol, if we didn't have a shared vocabulary for the actual grammar. "Chunks" only gets you so far...  that said, I find it a really good bridge to work on applied grammar and writing good sentences. 

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You might check out these supplements for sentence-writing right now, to "tide you over" until Killgallon is a better fit:
- Evan Moor: Write a Super Sentence (gr. 1-3)
- Evan Moor: Writing Fabulous Sentences and Paragraphs (gr. 4-6)
- Evan Moor: Daily 6 Trait Writing (gr. 3)
- Scholastic: Super Sentences and Perfect Paragraphs (gr. 3-6)


You might also take a look at Wordsmith Apprentice (gr. 4-6). It is a fun break after WWE3. It is written to the student, with a fun "cub reporter" theme of the student writing in all the different departments of a newspaper, and silly 1-page comics to introduce each new department. Parts of speech are introduced in context of the type of writing -- for example, nouns and adjectives to help you write classified ads that will help readers visualize what is being sold; and, "vivid verbs" for telling the events of a news story; etc.
 

Two other ideas that are integrated Grammar and Writing Instruction in a fun format -- and your student is at the perfect age:
- Writing Tales - level 1 (gr. 3-4) and level 2 (gr. 4-5)
- Treasured Conversations (now called Teaching Writing Through Guided Analysis) (gr. 3-5) -- by WTM poster 8FillTheHeart; see samples


In answer to your questions: I would wait on Killgallon until you have done Grammar for awhile with a resource that is a good fit for both of you. However if you really want to teach parts of speech *right now*:
Mad Libs
Grammar Ad Libs
Scholhouse Rock: Grammar videos 
are a fun beginning way to introduce parts of speech... 😉 (and, here are the song lyrics, if desired).


Also, while I think it's too much for a 3rd grader, Joyce Herzog's 6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar is a great resource for YOU for understanding how to *introduce* and how to *teach* Grammar. 40-page softcover that covers 7 basic concepts in 6 lessons:

  1. Eight parts of speech
  2. Three kinds of sentences and one variation
  3. Five sentence completers or complement
  4. Subjects and predicates
  5. Difference between a phrase and clause
  6. Sentences by function: declarative, interrogative, imperative, exclamatory
  7. Sentences by structure: simple, compound, complex
Edited by Lori D.
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I strongly recommend MadLibs for parts of speech - they are genuinely fun and developing that shared vocabulary around grammar will be very beneficial as you move forward with his writing.
 

A quick run-down of subject / predicate should suffice as I assume he isn’t writing sentence fragments and therefore has some understanding of the concept whether he has a name for it or not. 

Fable would likely be fun for him, and a bit of a midpoint between being told what to write and having totally free reign. 
 

IEW might also be a good fit; it begins with rephrasing, then retelling from an outline, and finally proceeds to pulling from multiple sources to synthesize information. 

Edited by Shoes+Ships+SealingWax
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3 minutes ago, Shoes+Ships+SealingWax said:

I strongly recommend MadLibs for parts of speech - they are genuinely fun and developing that shared vocabulary around grammar will be very beneficial as you move forward with his writing.
 

A quick run-down of subject / predicate should suffice as I assume he isn’t writing sentence fragments and therefore has some understanding of the concept whether he has a name for it or not. 

Mad Libs.  :wub:

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Thanks everyone, there are some great ideas here.  Mad Libs are new to us since Christmas and we are loving them!  If anyone is just reading along, I hope this thread doesn't put you off Killgallon: the times when he gets it, the sentences he writes are beautiful and he is as impressed with them as I am.  I am definitely shelving it for a year or so, not throwing it out.  I think that, as @Matryoshka says, once he has some language for phrases, clauses, subjects, objects, it will be a powerhouse.  And now I can go explore my first @Lori D. treasure trove of links! 😍

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My kids never got good at the identification and analysis elements of grammar. However, they did do really well with Killgallon's basic approach around 5th gradeish and I felt it really helped their sentences become more varied and interesting. We tackled it in a more holistic way. So I guess what I'm saying is... I think you're right to back off it for now and focus on other things and then circle back around to it eventually.

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