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Grammar for Writers from Compass Classroom (Review)

Disclaimer: We received this product free for the purpose of reviewing it. All opinions expressed are my personal, honest opinions. You can read my full disclosure policy for more details.

Grammar is admittedly not everyone’s favorite subject to teach. I will say that I DO enjoy it. It’s the English major in me rearing its diagramming-loving head.

That said, for those who do NOT enjoy teaching it, finding resources to help high school students in this area, especially ones that are engaging, can be difficult. Fortunately, Compass Classroom recently released a new program, Grammar for Writers, that may be the answer for some homeschool families.

Grammar for Writers is a video-based, self-paced course designed to help students and writers analyze their own writing, diagnose problems, and write better sentences.

The course builds on a native speaker and reader’s instinctive understanding of language in order to demystify English grammar and sentence structure. The course provides very concrete tools to analyze, diagnose, and repair writing problems.

How We Are Using Grammar for Writers

The lessons each begin with a video component and then are often followed up with a worksheet/quiz for review. Students can read along in the book and highlight if they desire.

Typically Zachary watches the video lesson and completes the quiz the same day, sometimes the next day depending on our timeframe. Not every lesson has a quiz to go along, so there are weeks we work through an additional lesson. Our overall goal is to complete at least three lessons in a week.

Several lessons can easily be worked on each week so the course can be completed in a semester. We had some catching up to do in a different subject area and were down to one or two lessons weekly for a stretch of time, so we won’t quite finish it before Christmas although we are steadily working.

If you’d like to relax the pace a bit, you can easily complete one or two lessons each week and extend the program over the course of the year. Personally I wouldn’t recommend this (just so the content stays “fresh”), but it would allow for the program to be combined with another 1/2 credit class for the year (we are using it in conjunction with Grammar of Poetry during the 9th grade year).

Ultimately, the scheduling part is really flexible for families. Since the class is either DVD or streaming based, you choose when to watch the lessons and complete the program.

A Quick Peek

Here’s a sample lesson from the first unit that will give you an idea on the teaching style of the lessons and what to expect.

  • 41 lessons video lessons (6.75 hours total)
  • Lecture Notes (transcriptions of the videos) in a PDF
  • Quizzes for almost every chapter in PDF form or in the printed book
  • A teacher key for the quizzes

Our Thoughts (and for You to Know)

Over the years we have used various grammar programs and, thanks to my love of grammar, our kids have worked consistently on their grammar skills, because I personally believe it is one of the most important areas to focus on in learning – i.e. so much that we do in other subject areas relies on our knowledge of grammar.

No matter what field our children end up working in, we want to ensure they have a solid foundation in writing and grammar.

We have some children that love (and excel) in the area of grammar and some that could take it or leave it (honest truth). Pretty sure that’s true for most of us in life. You either love the nitty-gritty stuff or you just want to be done with it.

Grammar for Writers offers a program that is more engaging than your typical workbook format. Through the video portion, the instructor, Jonathan Rogers, is very straight forward but keeps viewers interested. Each of the lessons is written out in the workbook as well, providing a way for students to follow along in the book as they watch the lesson.

Getting started with this writing and grammar program is very user-friendly. With the lessons on DVD or streaming, you can quickly pop in the first lesson and get going. We recommend ordering the spiral-bound book (we also have a PDF copy and print the quizzes off so the book isn’t written in).

Although the lesson is written out in the go-along workbook, I highly recommend watching the lessons, as tempting as it may be to only use the book, because there are times that hearing the context is important to fully understanding.

Periodically there are quizzes that follow the lessons (there is an answer key at the back of the book if you need some help). Most quizzes are relatively short and take under ten minutes to complete.

I honestly wasn’t sure that Zachary would like this program as much as he does. When we sat down to review how he feels it is going so far and get his input, he mentioned how much he enjoys the lectures and felt the instructor explains things very well (this is coming from the teen who wasn’t as strong in the grammar department earlier).

A few more thoughts:

  • Although they are labeled quizzes, most of the quizzes are really more of a wrap-up to the lesson to gauge where the student is – so more of a worksheet, if you will.
  • Jumping in to start the program is super easy – pretty much open and go!
  • Lessons are fairly short overall – an average of 7 or 8 minutes, but they vary in length.
  • There are a few lessons that can be subjective, for lack of a better word, when students are asked to re-write sentences to make them more concise or clear. On those lessons, Zachary and I talked through the quiz/worksheet together.
  • Some terminology for parts of speech may differ from what a child has learned, but s/he will quickly adapt (subject/verb vs. subject/predicate or “main line”).
  • Kids with a base in Classical Conversations or a similar homeschool teaching style will LOVE this program.
  • Moms who would like a little bit of a break and enjoy a solid teaching program will enjoy this program immensely. :)
  • If your child does not have a strong grammar background, this may not be the program for you. It is more from the approach that your child will have some understanding going into the program.
  • Personally I would love to see this fleshed out even more, whether through additional writing assignments/rubrics to create a full credit program, but for now we will settle with combining it with Grammar of Poetry during the 9th grade year for a full high school credit.

Our overall impression from using the program this year – this is a SOLID program for high school students. With an engaging instructor, in-depth lessons, it would be an asset to a homeschool family and a great half-credit option for high school.

Learn More about Grammar for Writers

Visit Compass Classroom to learn more about Grammar for Writers and other curriculum options offered. We recommend pairing this class with Grammar for Poetry (1/2 credit) in the 9th grade to round out a full high school credit.

  • Recommended ages: high school or upper middle school
  • Credit: 1/2 high school credit
  • Formats offered: DVD, Digital (Streaming), or DVD & Digital with a PDF materials or Printed (spiral-bound) materials

Don’t forget to download the sample of Grammar for Writers here for full information on what is covered in the program.

Homeschool Wrap Up – October 2019

This month has flown by! Overall the year feels different in so many ways – one kiddo overseas, another one spending more time out of the house with her job and the freedom of her own car, and so many swim practices for the boys. 

There’s a part of me that realizes I’ve been silent on social media (and the blog – who am I kidding), but finding our new groove this year and trying to focus on getting things done (there’s a balance there) has been the primary goal. And really truly, that’s a good thing. :)

Typically each year we take a break every six weeks, but at this point we are nine weeks in and going strong. Some days go more smoothly than others. Some days not so much. 

The 7th Grader

Taking pictures of Kaleb involves a lot of sneakiness. He is working quite hard this year on doing as much as he can independently. We work together on spelling and some of his reading, but otherwise he comes to me when he has worked through his primary subjects and we wrap-up the rest of his stuff together and review his answers.

We’re working through All About Spelling 3, doing 1 or 2 lessons a week, depending on our time. Kaleb has definitely gained more confidence in his writing/spelling this year. He still isn’t the world’s biggest fan of it overall, but he is trying, which is a huge jump from years past.

One thing we are trying with our reluctant reader is a book bingo this year. Because Kaleb is not a fan of reading at all (or writing), we are trying to encourage him to read some different books, branch out a bit, and we have some small incentives for him as he completes a book or row on the bingo card. He does have to complete a short summary on the book as well

If we wrap up a school day early, I try to throw in a fun educational game. I’m a huge lover of games, but the kids aren’t as much into them. Sequence is one of my personal favorites, and there are so many variations on the game  – Sequence Numbers has been the game this month. 

Kaleb and his Lego League group are prepping for their first competition in just a few short weeks. Last year their team went to the state competition, so they are hoping to do well again this year. They’ve added a new team member and switched up their robot, so it’s going to be fun to see how it goes this time around.

The 9th Grader

Zachary has been working hard the last several weeks to wrap up several of his subjects, specifically Algebra 1 and World Geography. Algebra is about a week away from wrapping up (woohoo!!) and geography was wrapped up this week (YAY!!!!). Although there are days that Zachary’s motivation can be lacking, it has been really encouraging to have him dig in and work hard to finish something up.

Most of our days involve working around our puppy friend. She’s a legitimate mess, but loves being the center of attention. All day every day. Sigh.

We celebrated Zachary’s 15th birthday this month too!! I have to secretly admit that it’s a bit of a relief to tell people that he is 15 – especially since he is pushing 6’4″. I know it sounds funny, but it seems that he has finally aged into his growth. :) 

Another first for our boy this month was a local homecoming with a group of his friends. It was so much fun hanging out with the other moms, snapping a million pictures, and just watching them enjoying their time together. 

I will say that finding pants to fit this boy – OY!! Amazon for the win!!

Some days (ok, quite a few) involve a teenager who likes to be in ANY position other than one that is conducive to working on the subject at hand. Please tell me we aren’t alone in this. :)

BUT – there are other days that go super smoothly. And wonderfully. And that’s a lovely thing. :)

What We’re Using

If you’d like a peek at our curriculum choices (because we did switch some things up this year), feel free to click on any of the below links. 

Homeschool Wrap Up September 2019

As much as I truly want to share weekly updates, life has a way recently of flying by. My time on Instagram and Facebook has been limited. BUT our time with school has definitely been in high gear. 

We started our school year the first week of September. It’s the latest we have ever started, but after a crazy busy summer, two kids working, swim team, and still feeling behind from the rush of Laurianna’s graduation and then joining Mercy Ships – well, I personally needed to breathe a little. 

(Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve been a bit quiet here overall lately?)

I’m hoping to share a bit more on the whole “catching up” that I’ve been trying to do with life as we settle into a new year and adjust to a different season. 

But – how are YOU all doing this year so far? 

Despite my best intentions, we didn’t get a first day of school picture of the kids. So McKenna was more than happy to jump in and help out with that. She was even nice enough to include Laurianna – all the way in Africa. 

All that said – we have jumped back into school and managed to get into a fairly good groove overall. Most school days start rather early (M/W the boys are up at 4:45a and T/Th at 5:15a) for the boys’ swim practices. The boys have been doing really well with the early mornings (some days are a little harder than others). 

7th Grade Learning

Even though we have a school room, the boys often like to spend time working in the living room, especially since we have a new couch and can spread out a little more now. Kaleb is really enjoying the switches we made this year with his curriculum. It’s allowed him a bit more independence and he is working hard to do as much without my help. 

This is a HUGE step for him, especially with his reading. He is currently 7th grade and although he is still behind grade-level, he has been making some great strides – which has definitely been encouraging to both him and us, and helped tremendously with his confidence. 

Grammar and math are two of Kaleb’s “pocket” areas. Grammar is one subject he has always done well in. In years past, he has worked through the daily lessons alongside me, but this year it is another one that he has taken over independently (and is doing great). 

Kaleb has also been working slowly through Word Up Vocabulary – short video clips and then some online Quizlet work with the new words. 

Another area we’ve really been hitting hard is spelling. While there are days it seems we are going so slowly, we are really trying to make sure Kaleb really has it down firmly. This year has been a lot easier going (some things have “clicked” a little more for him as well as his willingness to jump in full force).

There are moments when I can sit and breathe as the boys work. Sometimes that means I can grab a little bit of reading time, but more often it’s catching up and trying to stay ahead (currently reading Homeschool Bravely, amongst other things). 

9th Grade Learning

Most of our days are spent with our puppy VERY close by. Sometimes more of a hinderance than a help. :) 

Zachary started North Star Geography  last year and we initially planned to work on it over the course of two full years. After he started back up with the program this year, he decided to wrap it up sooner, so he will hopefully be finished with that class at the end of October. 

Last year Zachary started Algebra 1 with Teaching Textbooks. While he did get a good chunk of the program completed, I will admit to not being on top of all of his work, especially once our year went a bit haywire at the end. We initially planned to work on the program over the summer – but that just didn’t happen. 

Admitting my shortcomings to you all – plain and simple. 

Now Zachary has had to step it up to finish the Algebra 1 lessons and then jump into Geometry as soon as he completes it – hopefully end of October as well!

A new-to-us class this year, Grammar for Writers, has been going really well also. This should be a one semester class (1/2 credit) for Zachary, so he has a little wiggle room with lessons if he needs to focus on another area. The video lessons have been engaging so far and Zachary and I work through the lesson quizzes together. 

One of the things I am so glad that we decided to do again this year is a small co-op for both biology and Personal Finance. Biology has been so much fun already – and quite honestly it’s been interesting to see how much Zachary really remembers (and how easily he can memorize – because let’s face it, sometimes I wonder about the teenage brain). When it’s something he ENJOYS, he is all in.

And personal finance, he absolutely LOVES. We were recently out with friends and the bulk of the time he spent explaining compound interest to all of the kids. It was rather hilarious to listen to, but again – when he loves it, he is ALL IN!

11th Grade Learning

The bulk of McKenna’s work has been independent, and she checks in with me with papers she has written, etc… but overall she is falling into her own routine for the new year. She started a new job and works two afternoons a week, and her fall drama/musical class started at the beginning of October. 

The Kid in Africa

Laurianna is adjusting to life on the Africa Mercy and doing really well. Since flying to Guinea, Africa at the end of May, she has since sailed to the Canary Islands (while the ship was in dry dock and getting prepped for Senegal) and then on to Senegal.

She has already decided to extend her time with Mercy Ships. Her initial return would have been in March, but at this point she has pushed the date into May. We’re still waiting on a specific date, but thankful she is settling in. :) 

You can follow along with her trip via her blog here: https://deeplyrooted.blog/

One thing we are thankful for is the opportunity to Facetime with her. The ship has wifi, and we sometimes have a spotty connection, but it’s good to be able to SEE her, even though she is so far away. 

It’s rather strange adjusting to life with one less kiddo in the house – and being a parent of one that is technically an adult – and learning how to parent from a different place in life. But it’s also a good adjustment too. :) 

What We’re Using

If you’d like a peek at our curriculum choices (because we did switch some things up this year), feel free to click on any of the below links. 

 

 

 

10th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Picks (2018-2019)

So far, McKenna has earned a total of 13.5 credits toward high school diploma. At the end of her 10th grade year she will have completed 6.5 more credits, making a total of 20.5 credits toward her diploma. Several of her classes will require a bit more from her (hello, we’re looking at you chemistry).

McKenna did a fairly good job establishing her own routine last year, but this year we are going to tweak it a little bit and set it up together. McKenna has a tendency to over-plan and over-do and be very thorough in her work. Sometimes a little too much (gotta love the girl). This year I’m hoping to help her establish a little more balance so she isn’t quite as hard on herself, since she tends to stress herself (and those around her) out. 

Rule #1 for the year though is to make sure her cell phone (and mine) are put aside during our school time. Distraction can be a huge impediment to our day, so the phone will disappear fairly early in the day and provide incentive for her to get through her work. :) 

We will be working with one other family in a small co-op to complete our chemistry review and labs as well as our literature class.

10th Grade Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 6.5

Algebra 2

We’ve used Teaching Textbooks in past years and this year we will be continuing, but instead of using the typical textbook/CD-rom we are switching to the Algebra 2 3.0 online version. I’m really excited about this switch since I can log into the account at the same time and view the lesson, and we can access from any computer, not just one specific (which we had to do with CD-rom version).  

Government/Economics

Each of these classes will take place over a semester (each a 1/2 credit). We’re planning to start with government and will then move into economics. We’ve used Notgrass other years (for different subjects), but haven’t used the Government or Economics specifically. McKenna really enjoyed the format of the books last year, so we’re looking forward to the continuity and familiarity of the layout. 

Spanish

We’re switching to a new Spanish curriculum this year. I did a lot of research over the last year trying to figure out what to use with McKenna (Spanish with Laurianna wasn’t one of our favorite subjects at all and we really disliked the format of what we started with – and that the program had no support since it was bought out by another company). 

A few friends recommended Breaking the Barrier, and while it is not online, we’re hoping the workbook format will be a little more user friendly for us overall and easier to follow. 

Chemistry

This is another new-to-us curriculum. After Carisa’s son used it last year, we sat down and reviewed it with her and decided to make the switch to this program. Truthfully, I’m a little nervous about this class since Laurianna went through chemistry in a co-op setting. BUT, if anything, we have a great teacher’s manual and will have fun working on experiments/labs together. :) 

Literature

The last few years we have used two of the literature programs by Janice Campbell and love the format of them. This year we are using her British Literature program. It isn’t one we’ve used before, but has a few books I can’t wait to dig into with McKenna. 

Drama

McKenna is really excited to be taking another theatre class at our local community college. Each week she is participating in workshops, vocal training, and at the end of the semester the group will be performing the musical, Urinetown (I know it sounds crazy, but it looks hilarious). Because this is an intense class with a lot of in-class and out of class hours (and she will be one of the leads!!), she will earn 1/2 credit for the class. If she decides to participate in the spring semester class as well, we will bump it up to a full credit. 

Poetry

This year we will also be working through the Grammar of Poetry from Compass Classroom. There is a local workshop that will tie-in with what we are learning in the program, and McKenna will earn .5 a high school credit for this class. 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with McKenna the past few years:

Planning the Middle and High School Years

Overview planning pages for middle and high school

One thing that has been a huge help to me in mapping out the upcoming years with our kids  is this middle school and high school planner. Essentially I am able to get an extended view and map out the future years to see what we need to work on and when it might fit in best -and make sure we aren’t missing anything overall. 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

Homeschool Teaching Styles and Philosphies.png Identifying Children's Learning Styles copy How to Choose Homeschool Curriculum

See What the Other Kids Are Up To…

Click one of the images below to see curriculum picks for our other children.

9th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices

9th Grade Curriculum Choices

Credits to earn: 7.5

 

While the bulk of our classes for 9th grade are the same ones Laurianna took a few years ago, we have changed up the order a little for McKenna and are using a few different things with her. McKenna really took ownership of her classwork last year and earned 5.5 credits toward her high school diploma (8th grade). This year she will be earning an additional 7.5, possibly 8 depending on her class decision in the spring semester. 

We are switching the order of math for her (Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2) where we did it a little differently for Laurianna (Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry), partly based on feedback from Laurianna on how they tied in with her other classes (chemistry, etc..). 

Also, McKenna is really excited to be taking a theatre class at our local community college. Each week she is participating in workshops, vocal training, and at the end of the semester the group will be performing Les Miserables (cannot wait!). Because this is an intense class with a lot of in-class and out of class hours, she will earn 1/2 credit for it. If she decides to participate in the spring semester class as well, we will bump it up to a full credit. 

The Joys of Independent Learning

Last year we did have a few issues with McKenna putting aside subjects she was “less enthusiastic” about, creating a bit of a back log in some areas (and then some added stress on her part). This year we are going to have to be on top of her a little more to make sure she is staying on target and we will be putting markers in her Student Planner so she can be sure she is where she needs to be in each subject at various points of the year (i.e. if there are 32 lessons in Latin, she should be at lesson ___ by Christmas break).  She and I may have butt heads a bit about this throughout the year. :) 

Hint: my idea of how things should be scheduled may be a little different than hers, and since this is a life skill, we think it’s important to master this now.

Co-op Learning

We have a small group of high schoolers that will be meeting weekly to work on literature and personal finance. McKenna will also be getting together with one friend to do the lab part of biology (because any dissection is better with a friend, right?). 

Curriculum in Year’s Past

In case you are interested in seeing the curriculum that brought us to this point, here’s a peek at what we’ve used with McKenna the past few years:

Does High School Have You Scared?

If homeschooling high school is worrying you, don’t miss the free middle and high school planning printables and map out your middle and high school years!

5th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Choices 2017

 

If you are new to homeschooling and aren’t sure where to begin in choosing homeschool curriculum, please don’t let this post overwhelm you! Here are a few posts that you might find helpful as you discover what is best for your family. Be sure to check out the entire Homeschool Basics series for answers to more frequently asked homeschool questions.

 

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If you are looking for classes for middle school and high school, be sure to check out The Academy from Bright Ideas Press. For ONE DAY ONLY (Thursday, June 15th) you can save 20% off your purchase
 
 
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