As I mentioned in a recent post, it’s about time for the moms and dads of the homeschool world to start thinking (and researching…and worrying…and praying…) about which curricula we’ll be using next year. With that in mind, it’s a pleasure to be able to share with you my review of a fabulous grammar teaching product from The Critical Thinking Co. The review is part of my role as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. Since my kids are little older, I was asked to review the physical book copy of Editor in Chief, Level 2 (designed for grades 6-8).
This year, with the kids in 7th and 8th grade we made the decision to take a break from formal grammar. For years we’ve memorized parts of speech, diagrammed sentences, and circled direct objects. I felt like the kids had a great foundation in grammar, and wanted to free some time up for Latin. In the fall, after about a 1/3 of a year of grammar, we dropped the formal side and moved completely to learning grammar through Latin.
This system has worked great for us, with one small exception…
…the nagging worry about standardized testing. This post isn’t about the whole pro or con of standardized testing, but about preparation.
I’ll type it out loud here… I was worried that since we had dropped a more traditional approach to grammar that the kid’s tests scores would suffer.
I’m not one to teach to a test, but I was THRILLED when I was chosen to be able to review Editor in Chief. It seemed to me that it would be a perfect fit for my kids – and a fabulous way to contextually apply the grammar we’d learned over the years. In short, quick review sessions they could prep up for the test, review grammar that we hadn’t specifically spent time on lately, apply the grammar that they have learned, and have fun. It was the review and prep I wanted – all in one.
One of the fabulous things about The Critical Thinking Co. is their Reproduction Rights policies. According to the Critical Thinking Co. website, “You can make up to 35 copies per year of any page of any book.” (personal use), so after looking through the materials, I removed (using the well manufactured perforations) the student pages. I took them to the copy shop and made a second copy for Little, (I planned to use the originals for Big, since I only have 2 kids). We hole punched them, put them in a notebook, and got to work.
When we first started the series, I had the kids work on one lesson a day. They marked up their books using colored pencils, so it was easier to keep track of their corrections in contrast to the white page/black type.
After a couple of weeks, and in order to get the book done before our testing, we moved up to two lessons a day. I did not hear one complaint. I think that’s a great testimony to how much fun this product is for the kids! Most days the two lessons only took about 10-15 minutes, but a few were tough and took up to 30 minutes. My non-speller was definitely challenged!
One thing I really liked about the series is the way it’s organized. Instead of “edit this page”, the series progresses through different skills and build on those skills as the series progresses. Editor in Chief Level 2 starts with content editing, then moves on through capitalization, punctuation, spelling, etc. So, when the kids move from content to capitalization – they have to edit for both of those areas. It’s a great way to build and review skills. In total, it covers 12 different skill groups, with a short review / teaching session on each. There are 69 exercises in the Level 2 book that review those 12 lesson areas.
Another aspect of the lessons that the kids and I both love is that the lesson identifies the number and type of errors that exist in each lesson. This is an awesome feature. Instead of guessing if they found the errors, they have a goal and direction. This really is super motivating and definitely helps to keep the frustration levels down. We all really appreciated this clever feature.
We’ve used some Critical Thinking books in the past and really enjoyed them – and Editor in Chief is no different. It’s concise, easy to implement, doesn’t take a lot of time, doesn’t require much parental involvement, and covers exactly what it says it will. I think that’s awesome. My kids have thoroughly enjoyed finding the errors and I am thrilled that have reviews some grammar and spelling, and that they’ll be a little better prepared for their upcoming annual testing. This is a painless grammar review system that I think would be a great addition to any homeschooler’s library – or for traditional school families to use to brush up on skills before testing.