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Aug 2, 2017

English on a Roll ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

We've all heard those (accurate) jokes about how difficult it is to grasp all the nuances of the English language.  I love it.  I use it daily.  And yet...  some days...  I don't use the English so good.  This might just be the most horrible thing a homeschool mom can say:

I don't remember how to diagram a sentence.

I'm not even 100% sure I ever learned.  I haven't taught my kids to do it either.  Can we still be friends?  With English on a Roll's English Grammar Teaching Method you won't have to know how!

When I saw the video demonstration, I was really intrigued.  I thought it was so clever to have manipulatives for LA, because they work well for math (with Malachi especially, but all of them really).  Grammar is a tough one here, and while we have used another program, there was more writing than the boys were really prepared to do.

English on a RollI received a paperback copy of English on a Roll Book One by Linda Hopkins Koran.  The book is 142+ pages.  There are 37 lessons, including review.  At the beginning of the book is a chart of all the cubes, their color, and the full list of words on each.  The importance of manipulatives for tactile learners is discussed, but it's important to note that the techniques used in teaching with this method include the Multisensory Structured Language (MSL) principles.  These principles include teaching to all learning styles, building up from a basic foundation, repetition and review, and several other forms of reinforcement.

Thirty-eight cubes are color-coded by parts of speech.  The box also includes two completely blank cubes to customize your own word blocks.  To make that super simple, a small sheet of 30 labels is included.  The words are actually engraved on the cubes.  I think that will help them hold up to lots of use.  The words on each cube are all used in the same way, so while rotating a cube to find the correct word, the student learns the other words are all related.  One cube set can be used for up to six students. 

The English Grammar Teaching Method can be used with anyone, aged five and up.  The program is helpful for ESL, special needs, and beginning reader programs.  Thankfully, I don't even have to know how to diagram a sentence to teach it.

We began with the blue subject pronoun cube (I/you/he/she/it/they/we).  Yes, I know that is seven words and a cube, by definition, is six-sided.  He and she share a diagonally scored face of the cube.  The same comes later with his/hers and who/whom.  You get the idea.  You will only provide the few cubes required for each lesson.  Close the box and put away the rest.  Trust me on this one.  Oh, speaking of the box, you open it upside down so the cubes are in the lid.  Genius.  Have you ever tried to dig tightly packed, slick cubes out of a deep box?  I did.  Because I seriously needed training in the proper opening procedure!

While the first lesson or two, I worked alone with Xavier while Malachi was in a meeting, I decided it made much more sense to work them through the program together.  They seemed to be a bit embarrassed, though, to do some of the activities in front of each other.  So, while *logistically* I wanted them to work together, in reality, my punks did better work separately at the beginning of the course, when they felt the lessons (and actions) were "babyish."   It wasn't long before the lessons became more like the workbook pages they are used to and the script involved less obvious points and fewer repetitions.

Each lesson consists of several parts.
  • Prep - Which cubes, printouts, and other items you need for this lesson.
  • Teach the Concepts - Talking over, demonstrating, or acting out the lesson.
  • Conversation/Games - Rolling an "anchor" cube (the basis you will build around), building combinations, customizing cubes, etc.
  • Written Exercises - Using the included worksheets.

The lessons are completely scripted.  Remember, I said you didn't have to be a grammar whiz to teach this course.  The worksheets for each lesson are included in the book and completely reproducible for your family/class.  Conveniently, they are simple illustrations and words, and do not require color ink or waste a lot of black ink.  That is *my* kind of worksheet.  I do wish the book were spiral bound or the reproducibles were in a separate packet or on a disc.  Copying from a perfect bound book looks sloppy and, eventually, the binding tends to break.

The whole program is so portable, we were easily able to bring the cubes and book along to Grandma's so there were no excuses for forgotten material after we returned from vacation!

I like this program and the punks *really* like that there isn't a lot of writing required of them for it.  It's nice that I can teach grammar with minimal writing, the manipulatives help it stick, and most of it is pretty fun. 

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