Monday, March 23, 2009

Lang. Arts Update

I can pretty much block out this area into different groups to make the reading easier. I have decided to put the teaching of reading in a separate post from the Lang. Arts section.

I can say, that I found many years ago, Learning Language Arts through Literature and have stuck by them since. I start with the yellow level. I take the time needed to get the reading skills taught then naturally slip into the LLATL there after. This program by Common Sense Press lends itself nicely to the Charlotte Mason way of teaching language skills, but is a bit more structured, which allows for less teacher prep than "going it alone". Each level covers 4 books that are to be read in conjunction with the workbook assignments. I find that when a book has already been read due to it being on our history list, or doesn't quite suit the student: we skip it or find a substitution that is similar in theme.
At the beginning of every lesson, the child is to read the section that they will take dictation from. The teacher then dictates the passage and the student writes it down. Then one is required to find misspelled words, errors in punctuation and then note these for further study.
They then flow into grammar skills, review and other pertinent information to that lesson. It is sufficient for the most part. As the children get older, I add Winston Grammar Basic, and the Advanced to ensure good grammar instruction. Both programs work together nicely.

For the reading of the required books, I simply see how many pages there are to read, and divide them by how many days I want to spend covering it. I create a typed schedule that I give to the student listing how many pages they need to read per day, and when the book is to be finished (if narrating: that is listed too). The younger books can sometimes be read in just a couple sittings, but the older levels have some lengthy ones. Making the reading schedule helped to stay on task, and avoid the non-reading of them.

I know there are many, many programs and lists for what to read out here. I find that using the LLATL ensured we had the basics covered; and yet allowed us to change up and add or delete what we wished. I am a loyalist: so LLATL goes on my top picks. I never really searched for more. That said, I do add in various things, but the main backbone is this program. I like the idea too, that if I had to buy it new-the student and TE would only set me back around $35 with each new student workbook being around $15. Always good for those of us who need to be budget conscience.

for K-5th: LLATL (avoid the workbooks and structure for early readers-they need to fine tune that skill first without overloading with the additionals) I have added Wordly Wise (vocab work) or additional punctuation worksheets when a student needed more coverage of a particular weakness. This is only used when needed. It also helps to keep the peace whilst you are working with another student and need some time to do so. Spelling is well, not something I get too worked up about any more. I will save that for another post.

for 5th-8th: LLATL (check the levels for what is appropriate for your child-it is not unusual to have a student (say) in the 8th grade working at a lower level...some just never had the exposure or need extra time. Do not let the suggested age level hinder you: start where your child needs to and go from there-that is why I like the fact they are color coded-not grade listed on the exterior). Again, the Wordly Wise comes into play for those students needing extra work on areas of difficulty.
This is when Winston Grammar can be introduced as well. I like to wait for the WG until at least the 7th grade. I like to let them learn grammar thru good reading and speaking. If they are reading excellent books, they will naturally know good grammar. DO NOT brow beat the children with too much grammar instruction. That is a good way to kill children's enthusiasm for language arts. WG has 2 levels-basic and advanced. They added a supplementary book for the basic that you can use between the basic/advanced level if your student needs more work/review. I love the way WG is designed. Each child has their own workbook and set of cards. These cards list different areas such as nouns, verbs and so on. For each page a new concept is usually added. They see the sentence and lay out the cards according to what they have learned. For example: the first lesson addresses articles and nouns. They pull out the red article cards, the gray noun cards and the black blank ones. For each word, they lay out what they know and put black ones in place of what they do not. So if the sentence is: The boy and the girl saw a man eat an apple. They would lay out these cards for each word: red, gray, black, red, gray, black, red, gray, black, red, and gray. They would then check the articles, underline the nouns once and leave the rest blank. This goes on, adding new concepts and instruction for how to mark the items. By the time they are done, they can list all the parts of speech, draw arrows that show what they refer to, find the prepositional phrases and their parts, figure out the functions (subject, indirect objects, predicate nominatives) and learn it in an easy, visual, hands-on way. No more dissecting the sentence into some linear creature that truly makes no sense when looking at it. Top Pick: WG all the way!

I would also intro, but usually wait for the 9th grade: Vocabulary from the Classical Roots. Yes, another workbook. We do not do this every day...but rather 2-3x per week (this would take about 15 min. or so). This builds their vocab skills quite nicely. I did one workbook per semester. Both the older children did quite well in the vocabulary part of the ACT. I would like to credit VC from the CR as helping in this area. Plus, knowing what words mean, they can write more proficiently. Always a great bonus!

for 9th-12th: LLATL (wrap up any levels not finished) then (hopefully) by the 1oth grade, start the Gold Level. They have American and British literature. I start with the American. Again, they have books they read independently. These levels are pretty much student directed. I only appeared occasionally to check progress, ask questions or to help with difficult assignments. We do the WG not yet completed until done (the Advanced should be finished by 10th. They also have Word Works, which I have yet to try). Add in the Vocab from Classical Roots and you have a well-rounded language program.

I have not included writing into this post. Too lengthy for this-saving it for another day.
This is what we do for our basic program. Oh, for high school credit: I list it as whatever history they are doing and tag it as such. By that I mean, when we are covering the Medieval history (remember they are reading a lot of books that are literature) I tag the Language Arts as Medieval and Renaissance Literature with a subtitle as English Grammar and Language Study (listed each year we did this). It looks impressive, and is!

Until next time......

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