Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing Review

We've spent the last year working through a language arts curriculum with a strong grammar component. Madison has only just completed second grade, and I was quite impressed by what they were asking and expecting of her, and I've been developing a new respect for the necessity of grammar in the early grades and we're looking at what we'll be starting with third grade at the end of the summer. Today I want to introduce you to Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 from Hake Publishing.

Hake Publishing

We used Saxon math in kindergarten and for half of first grade, so I'm familiar with the way the program is set up to spiral. Following in the traditional format of other Hake and Saxon materials, Grammar and Writing 3 utilizes incremental development combined with frequent review to help students master the material. It isn't something where you'll have a unit on subjects, and then put those away for a while. Once something is introduced, it will build throughout a few lessons, peak as the focus, and then remain very visible for a while, ensuring that mastery is really attained.

Hake Publishing Writing and Grammar

To be quite honest, the first twenty plus lessons felt like review for Madison, given what she did in grammar throughout second grade. She was quite familiar with subjects and predicates, how to attach the modifier or article to nouns and verbs, and how to do a basic diagram. She was familiar with capitalization rules, plurals, and past tense. However, I find that to be true in the beginning of most curriculum, and I don't think skipping to where things become unfamiliar is the way to go. We used these lessons as a way to get acquainted with the style of the curriculum.

As with other products we've used from Saxon, this is a "no frills" workbook. No color, illustration, or cheerful distractions fill the page. It is solid text, start to finish. The vocabulary is rich, and it assumes a solid third grade reading level. There is not a lot of room to write answers. Madison still doesn't have the neatest, smallest, handwriting, and her biggest frustration was getting her answers to fit in the very limited space.

To be quite honest, even though the material wasn't difficult, getting Madison to complete the pages was a bit of a chore, which we struggled with a bit. She's a good worker, and we worked through it together, but it was dry for our taste.

From the teacher perspective, coordinating the various parts of the teacher guide and student book was a bit annoying. You can't deviate from the script in either book, or you'll find yourself missing things you're supposed to copy from the teacher guide, test days (they say every five lessons, but that isn't always the case) and days to go to the writing lesson. Although it's scripted (actually a drawback from me, something I always avoided as a classroom teacher), the teacher needs to be quite involved in keeping things together and prepared.

There are 111 lessons, along with test days. Each lesson is scripted in the teacher's book to take about 45 minutes to complete. In addition to the 111 Lessons, there are also reproducible More Practice Lessons found in the back of the Teacher Guide. Interestingly, the prompt to do one of these sheets is not mentioned in the Teacher Script, but only found in the Consumable Textbook lesson between the Practice and Review Set. There are also 22 test days. Coordinating with the test days are writing lessons with a separate workbook. We worked through a few of these lessons, even though we hadn't always quite reached the point where we'd be directed over there. These lessons work on the fundamentals of good, clean, writing. Creativity is not the focus, quality sentence and paragraph construction is the goal. For Madison, an extremely reluctant writer, this was actually ok. She didn't need to worry her topic wasn't interesting enough, she just needed to follow the rules. She could do that and did it successfully.

It is interesting to note that Madison steadfastly refused to have her picture taken showing any completed work. She did not like the way the pages looked messy when she completed them, she said her handwriting looked too big, and she didn't want people to see. She's normally a pretty open kid when it comes to this stuff, so her reluctance to show when her own writing didn't seem to "fit" with the look of the page is noteworthy.

Is it a good curriculum? Absolutely. It's thorough, it's clear, it's challenging and it will undoubtedly produce students with a great understanding of the construction of language. Is it for us? I have to say it's probably not, at least not with my child at this stage. It didn't inspire her, it felt like a bit of a chore, where if we could get through grammar today, we could spend some time on literature or history or geography or science or anything else. Forty five minutes of our school day spent only on grammar felt like a big chunk of our time, and I know it would be a battle with her personality and make our school day drag on and on. I always feel guilty when there's a great curriculum that just isn't a fit for us, but one of the reasons we homeschool is so we can always find the right fit! For a student who is a good fit with the style, there is no question they will learn plenty with this program!

Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 {Hake Publishing Reviews}

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