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Middle School Grammar Workbook Review by Lori Hooten

Kimberly Garcia
Brookdale House
P O Box 7868
Beaumont, TX 77726
Phone: 281-639-3827
http://www.brookdalehouse.com

What do you do when you realize the years have flown by, you have a middle school student, and you need to cover grammar a bit more in depth? You turn to Brookdale House. Their Middle School Grammar Workbook Set (student workbook and answer key) is a full-fledged grammar program that covers it all – sentences, parts of speech, phrases and clauses, and punctuation.  This program also addresses writing with two approaches: first through composing traditional sentences and second through imitating authors' works.

Middle School Grammar Workbook is available in an ebook format or a printed format. We have been using the ebook format. It includes two files: one is the workbook and the other is the answer key.  The PDF file is pretty big because the workbook has over 200 pages of exercises in it. If you are printing it as is, that's not a big deal. If you are trying to save paper or print front and back, that is a big file to work with. The table of contents is not clickable so it is not easy to move around within the file. That is a minor issue, though, for a workbook that is chock full of exercises designed to gently guide the student through formal grammar.

The workbook is broken up into four distinct sections:

  1. Sentences – This starts back at the basics of subject and predicate and guides the student forward from there.
  2. Parts of Speech – This section covers the eight parts of speech and problematic verbs.
  3. Phrases and Clauses – This section covers clauses and phrases and their function within sentences.
  4. Punctuation – This section covers the basics of punctuation.

If you would like to include diagramming with this study, there is an optional book recommended to go along with Middle School Grammar Workbook. The schedule includes the optional diagramming lessons.

We are taking this slowly but steadily and working on one or two exercises each day. This is in keeping with the recommended schedule in the book but I find their printed schedule difficult to interpret. So, I just made up my own based on the difficulty of the exercises for the day. This works for our family since we tend to plan a day or two ahead, rather than scheduling out the entire year at once. If you like a schedule to be figured out for you, they have two options printed in the student workbook. You can also view excerpts for these schedules on the Brookdale House website.

Because this is a workbook and each exercise needed to be printed, we printed the entire workbook (minus the blank pages and pages with only lines on them for writing work or copy work) and had it bound locally. It was a couple of dollars but that little bit of extra cost has been recouped with the comfort of having all the pages together. A spiral binding makes it easy for the student to write in, as well.

This is a curriculum that does not require a lot of teacher preparation but is not one that the student should work through without guidance. This is due to the nature of grammar and the flexibility with which our culture approaches language and grammar. We talk through the lesson and any new learning for the exercises that will be covered that day and then our student takes the work and completes the exercises. When done, we check the work and talk through any changes that need to be made. This process generally takes no more than about 20 minutes. Yet, I have seen an improvement in understanding of sentences in the four or five weeks we have been using it.

One aspect of the exercises included in this workbook that I really like is Imitating Style. The focus in these exercises is on imitating the style of other authors. I like the examples but there is no citation for the sources of these passages.  I would prefer to know who the student is being asked to imitate.

The Imitating Style section gives the student a paragraph or passage to read and imitate. The imitation can be done in one of four ways: copy the passage, write the passage from dictation, rewrite from memory imitating the style after creating an outline, or create a paragraph similar to the example. The variety of options allows the student to choose an option that makes sense for them yet still gives them the practice of imitating quality style in writing.

Middle School Grammar Workbook is published by Brookdale House. Brookdale House is a company publishing quality educational materials designed to help the student excel. Their materials are used widely in home school and private school, though they also publish for public schools. This is one workbook that would be highly adaptable for public school settings. They publish a variety of materials and all of their materials meeting multiple educational objectives.

Covering more with less. When it comes to grammar, that is a great thing. Middle School Grammar covers all of the basics of grammar, as well as more in depth concepts. As we work through this, I know I am going to learn a lot. I can't wait to get to the clauses and phrases. I am always messing those up! This gentle approach to grammar has been one I am very pleased with and we will definitely continue to use it. Brookdale House has winner with this one.

—Product review by Lori Hooten, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, April, 2016

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