Monday, July 07, 2014

School Books Beginning to Arrive!

We spent the weekend resting and playing, including a day-trip to an historic French and Indian War site a couple of hours away. Though the end of the first week of July is really way too early to be thinking about school again, we have occasional happy blips when boxes of books arrive. I suppose that's one good thing about having to order things a bit at a time, as I'm paid for various writing and teaching projects...the books trickle in rather than crashing down on us like a waterfall!

Today made me smile because the grammar books arrived. (I know. I'm a geek.) The sweet girl struggled with grammar last year, not because it was too difficult, but because it was too easy. Her grammar skills are strong, and it turned out that Saxon and Hake 6 did a lot of review, too much for a student who didn't need it. Having invested in the books, and still wanting her to keep her hand in with some skill practice, I tried my best to steward the resources we had and utilize them for drill as needed. But I knew we needed something different this year, something that would be less rigorous and more supplemental. I also knew that I didn't want to purchase a full grammar curricula because those tend to be tied to writing programs which we don't need, since we already have a rigorous and fully-formed writing program (Writing With Skill) that really, really works for us.

What I ended up ordering was Exercises in English (grade 7) from Loyola Press. It's a supplemental workbook set to their larger curricula Voyages in English. S. wanted to take a look at it as soon as it came out of the box, and her assessment of it made me smile. She noted right away that it had a bit of color (it's printed as a one-color workbook, green, rather than just black and white) and that the quality of the paper felt and looked great. (Saxon uses a rather gritty and grayish newsprint, probably to cut costs, which I appreciate, but it's quite flimsy and tears easily. And it just doesn't feel substantial enough somehow.)  She also noted that it had graphics, and that the lessons looked short enough that she really can use it as a daily drill. So my visual learner was really happy with the choice. All the things she noted were a big part of the reason I chose it! I've slowly learned over the years that the way information is presented really matters.

I noted the various sections were well-organized and seemed to cover grade-appropriate concepts, both some review and some newer concepts. I also liked the fact that many of the sections involving practice sentences cover good, appropriate topics or themes which I know she'll find interesting. Three topics that I happened to note at random involved outer space, Helen Keller, and the Chronicles of Narnia. It even concludes with a unit on sentence diagramming, something I find valuable and she finds enjoyable and not every curricula includes. All of this bodes well for less frustration and more actual grammar practice in the coming year. Yay.

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