Simple Fix It! Grammar Learning in our Homeschool

This entry is part 40 of 43 in the series Homeschool

a guide for getting started with Fix-it Grammar in your homeschool, including a Quick Reference Bookmark for parent-teachers

Our Summer Term presents an opportunity for us to return to some favorite curricula we simply do not have the time for during the year. I started off with genuine intentions to continue our work on Fix It! – The Nose Tree during our school year last year. We started it in our Summer Term last year and loved it so much, I just knew we would be able to continue it.

About three weeks into the “school year” with Classical Conversations first tour Essentials added, I looked up to realize we had no longer had time in our day for it. We hadn’t touched it in a couple of weeks and I could not foresee an opportunity of inserting it without making school onerous.

But we loved the Fix It! program so much I knew we would add it to our list for Summer Term. My first year Essentials student (4th grader) is so excited about continuing the story of Fix It! – The Nose Tree!

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About Fix It! Grammar

The Fix It! Grammar program is a favorite grammar curriculum from IEW – the Institute for Excellence in Writing. IEW is the author of the History-Based writing books used in the Essentials years of Classical Conversations. I have written before about our love of the PAL program from IEW. Their resources are phenomenal!

All of the components of a good grammar curriculum are included in Fix It! – except for sentence diagramming. There’s training in penmanship, vocabulary building, editing, grammar definitions and grammar identification. And there’s a compelling story as the basis for all this learning! You can always add sentence diagramming elsewhere. We are adding Our Mother Tongue this summer.

In most cases we choose curricula of which other homeschoolers are highly critical – Saxon Math, PAL. And in most cases, the critics acknowledge the programs are “Really good, but…” I prefer to place a period at the end of really good.

With Fix It! I have found most homeschool moms place their period in the same place I do. Which is nice. We are all in the same boat.

My daughter absolutely loved it last summer. And, as I said, is looking forward to returning to the story.

What you Need for Fix It! Grammar

Although we started on Fix It! Grammar – The Nose Tree, other students more grounded in grammar may be ready to start on another level. IEW has a placement test for Fix It! you can take here.

Once you have properly placed your student, to get started with Fix It! Grammar, you need:

  • The Fix It! Grammar Teacher Manual – the teacher manual includes a digital copy of the Student Book for subsequent students. If you have only one student, you can either get the Student Book when you get the Teacher Manual or you can print your own copy and bind it how you prefer.
  • A Fix It! Grammar Student Book – I get the bundle of Teacher Manual and Student Book. I just like the convenience of having the first student’s book printed out for me.
  • my Fix It! Grammar Quick Reference Bookmark – you can get it here.
  • pen and paper
  • binder
  • dividers

Setting Up Fix It! Grammar

Last summer we tried to keep our Fix It! work in a student file folder. It got to be a bit much. This summer I am setting up a one-inch binder for my student. Here’s how I did it:

  1. At the front of the binder, I placed notebook paper (wide-ruled), followed by a divider labeled “Story.”
  2. Behind this divider the student will place her corrected, hand-copied story as she completes it.
  3. Then I placed another divider labeled “Glossary.” Behind this divider the student will place her hand-written vocabulary list.

To prepare myself for Fix It! Grammar this summer, I simply put my Teacher Manual where I can easily grab it when my student is ready. I also printed out my Quick Reference Bookmark, so I can always place it where we are in the book. Of course, I printed it on heavy-duty paper and laminated it, too – I am a homeschool mom! {that reminds me, I have a number of homeschool printing hacks which you may find helpful as you prepare for your school year}

How we Do Fix It! Grammar

As I prepare for our return to Fix It! Grammar, I thought I would share how we do it.

Note: we only homeschool three days a week during our Summer Term. So, we fit all the coursework for a Fix It! week into those three days. A Fix It! week is four days; so we aren’t pushing hard.

First Day

On the first day of our Fix It! week, I sit with my student and talk through the Review – LEARN IT section. During this session, we are often reviewing concepts she has already learned through the Foundations years of Classical Conversations. In these cases, we take the time to sing or chant our review songs – we have developed quite the repertoire!

After the LEARN IT discussion is over, we move to work on the first sentence of the week. We follow the Fix It! Teacher Manual’s instructions here:

  • Read the sentence aloud.
  • Look up vocabulary.
  • Walk through the sentence methodically.

One of the only drawbacks to the Teacher Manual is the lack of a step-by-step discussion prompt that mirrors what the Student Book has. Where the student has a methodical process to follow on each page of her book, the teacher does not.

I found myself asking my student “What is next?” so many times I decided to create something to help me be ahead of her. This is why I created the Fix It! Grammar Quick Reference bookmark. It has been immensely helpful to me as we have worked through this first day of the week and the third day.

Second Day

The second day of our Fix It! week is entirely independent student work. She is required to work through sentences 2-4 for the week, doing the following:

  • read the sentence
  • look up vocabulary
  • decide on indentation/paragraph placement
  • choose the correct homophone (if required)
  • capitalize sentences, proper nouns, and quotations
  • place proper endmarks
  • address quotations (if required)
  • use apostrophes (if required)
  • find nouns
  • identify articles
  • find pronouns
  • determine who-which clauses
  • identify verbs
  • locate -ly adverbs
  • identify prepositions and note prepositional phrases
  • find coordinating conjunctions
  • notice various clause starters

Ok, I just looked at that insane list and realized this is a LOT! Or at least it looks like a lot. Oddly enough, a well grounded Foundations student – like my daughter – can get all of accomplished, for three sentences, in about 30 minutes.

If you are planning on taking it a bit slower than us, I completely understand. We started off slow, too. But my student wanted more. So we do it this way. The time table is adjustable.

Third Day

The third day is the Parent-Student Conference on Editing and Grammar. Sounds official, doesn’t it?

For this I have my student read the first sentence and lead her through the discussion of the sentence according to my Quick Reference Bookmark.

The first part of the discussion, we work on synonyms by replacing the vocabulary word with the definition she has looked up. We do this to make sure she understands the vocabulary word and help expand her understanding of synonyms.

Since the review can be a bit bland, we make it super fun by singing all the songs we know – or repeating the definitions we know – as they come up in the discussion.

For instance, when I say noun for the first time in our discussion, we break out into:

“A noun names a person, place, thing, activity, or idea!”

We have a song or chant for every single grammar definition. The intermittent singing lends an overall celebratory tone to our Grammar studies. Our entire family wants (and gets) in on the fun. A favorite one is:

“A pronoun replaces a noun to avoid repetition…avoid repetition (a single voice)…avoid repetition (another voice)…avoid repetition (another voice)….avoid repetition…(another voice)….avoid repetition(yet another voice)….avoid repetition (all voices).”

Yes, we are silly; and no, we won’t apologize. It started out much more simply because it was a parent-student conversation – “avoid repetition” was only repeated 3 times. But all the other students in the one-room school house, insisted on a turn. {oh, homeschooling brings me such joy!}

By the way, we do this whole literal song-and-dance routine for each sentence. It’s super fun! And a great way to keep CC memory work top of mind throughout the year.

After the parent-student discussion for each of the 3 sentences is complete, the student then goes to rewrite the sentences into their hand-written copy of the story.

Favorites and Dress-ups

One of our absolute favorite things about Fix It! Grammar is the end of the week “best of the week” selections. At the end of the week, in the Teacher Manual, there are prompts to locate the strongest verb of the week and the highest quality adjective. We also take the time to change a weak verb into a strong verb.

A Word for the Grammar-Challenged Parent-Teacher

I have heard of parent-teachers foregoing the Teacher Manual because it is self-explanatory. Although I am sure there are parents who are brilliant in grammar, I am not one of them. I need some help to get the conversation going. The Teacher Manual provides ample help.

The Teacher Manual for Fix It! Grammar is absolutely essential for expanding past simply identifying the parts of speech and the dress-ups. The discussion of the types of verbs and nouns, adjectives and adverbs is the meat of the discussion. But for those of us who don’t know how to start the conversation, the Teacher Manual guides the discussion with questions and answers for each and every sentence.

For Classical Conversations Essentials Parents, Fix It! Grammar’s Teacher Manual operates as a review system for the Analytical Task Sheets we do during the year.

a guide for getting started with Fix-it Grammar in your homeschool, including a Quick Reference Bookmark for parent-teachers
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