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Grammar for Writers from Compass Classroom (Review)

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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.

This post may contain affiliate or advertiser links. Read my full disclosure policy .

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