We recently began using the Fix It! Grammar program from the Institute for Excellence in Writing with our oldest daughter who is preparing diligently for her college entrance exams. Because Fix It! Grammar is a complete Grammar program, we thought it would be a wonderful way to review for the English section of the ACT in a very time efficient manner.
What We Received:
Our family received both the Teacher’s Manual as well as the Student Book. These resources were both spiral bound with durable laminated cardstock covers. The spiral binding allowed these books to sit flat on the desk when writing in them.
In the back of each text is a separate Grammar Glossary that is a wonderful resource in all things Grammar. Both my daughter and I loved the fact that the section had its own laminated cardstock divider as it made it easy to find as you quickly thumbed through the pages.
We chose to use Book 5 with our daughter. This decision was in part to select something a bit more challenging to review for her college entrance exams. Additionally, we used the placement tool provided by IEW for this express purpose of figuring out the best place to start in the program. The company suggests that all students start in Book 1 for a thorough review of grammar concepts. Given our circumstances, we chose to use Book 5 for this review.
The Fix It! Grammar program has 6 books in all. Book 1 is ideal for students in Grade 3 and above. The primary text for this course is the Teacher’s Manual. This resource is available for $19.00. Included in this purchase are a free download of the student book in e-book form as well as two audio files that are wonderful supplements for the program. To avoid copy costs or to hit the ground running, a copy of the spiral bound student book can be purchased for $15.00.
For an overview of this program separate from our review, please visit this webinar published by IEW.
How We Used it:
The book has 33 weeks of lessons with 5 daily lessons per week to analyze and discuss for all forms of grammar concepts and techniques. The lesson is in essence one sentence per day that requires students to look up two words to expand their vocabulary as well as proofread the sentence for any grammatical errors in spelling, punctuation, or word usage. In addition, the students are asked to identify main and dependent clauses as well as various phrases and parts of speech. In addition to the grammar glossary, there are also grammar cards that can be detached from the student book and used as reference during the daily lesson. Our experience was that the entire process could be completed in 15 minutes or less once we got used to the program.
This program can be a warm up to your school day and checked by the parent later in the day. However, we found that much more learning was accomplished when we verbally reviewed the sentence together after the student made her first attempt. We transitioned to using a white board where I would begin the day by writing the sample sentence on the board. All of the words in the sentence would be in one color with the bold vocabulary words being written in a contrasting color. Our daughter would then use a third color to make her notations. When she was done we would review her work together.
As is the case with so much that we do in homeschooling multiple children, some of my other children would sometimes jump into the discussion or provide thoughts on how they would complete it. This got me to thinking that it would be a great resource to use as a family or even in having an older child go through this same process in an easier book with a younger sibling. Teaching after all sometimes teaches us more than when we are the student!
When we first received this program, I was reluctant in believing that it could be used as a complete Grammar program. After using it for several weeks it is apparent that if the glossary, grammar cards, and discussion in reviewing the daily assignment are all used that it can in fact constitute a full grammar curriculum.
I really like that it is not time consuming, unless our discussion leads in that direction. So you in essence can make it what you want as far as the thoroughness of the lessons. The placement tool was also smack dab on as I felt that the concepts reviewed in Book 5 matched exactly where our daughter was at.
Proofreading as done in this program is a different skill set than incorporating good grammar technique in writing. Being able to identify mistakes and better sentence organization can be critical both in proofreading the student’s own work, but also in any standardized testing format.
As a credentialed standardized test administrator as well as a parent of students preparing for the ACT or SAT, I can say that the skills being mastered in Fix It! Grammar will prepare them well for these test formats.
Our daughter has improved her score on the English section of the ACT by at least 4-6 points doing practice exams. Her only source of instruction and preparation has been Fix It! Grammar. As the old saying goes, “The proof is in the pudding.”
The only recommendation that I would make to the publisher for future updates to the program would be to provide a quick reference guide to the editing notations. This was the biggest learning curve we experienced in using the program and not having started in Book 1.
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