kitchen table math, the sequel: summer 2009

Saturday, July 4, 2009

summer 2009

In theory, C. is working through these books:

Megawords 6

Analyze, Organize, Write by Arthur Whimbey & Elizabeth Lynn Jenkins (text reconstruction)

Sentence Composing for High School: A Worktext on Sentence Variety and Maturity by Don Killgallon
Grammar for High School: A Sentence-Composing Approach---A Student Worktext by Don Killgallon & Jenny Killgallon
Sentence Combining Workbook by Pam Altman, et. al.

French by Association by Michael Gruenberg
Behind the Wheel French for the car*
ALEKS Geometry

I have no idea whether the Killgallon books 'work,' whether Killgallon's exercises, in and of themselves, improve a person's writing. I don't care. I love them so much I'm insisting C. do them. I'm going to do the college book myself. Here's the Killgallons' web site.

As for the Whimbey/Jenkins book, I take Myra Linden's word for it:

"In a study of ‘before‘ and ‘after‘ papers of students who used text reconstruction, I concluded that text reconstruction was effective in helping students learn to organize their ideas into coherent paragraphs. The most marked improvement in their second samples was in content. Students were able to furnish specific details to support general statements. In addition, students showed consistent improvement in organization and style.

"I believe that this approach works because the constant practice in arrangement of content from the general to the specific provided by the text … fosters the most basic writing skills of presenting specific content and organizing it logically into a cohesive pattern. Students replace their faulty composing patterns with effective ones that become automatic skills. In addition, students who do significant amounts of text reconstruction learn indispensable techniques for effective study skills. It helps note-taking. It aids in learning outlining and summarizing skills, and it teaches the general-specific arrangement of ideas.

Why Johnny Can't Write by Myra J. Linden

* Behind the Wheel Spanish & Spanish by Association for me -- also Fluenz


Anonymous said...

I love the Killgallon books, too.

I only used them at different points in grade school and middle school, but they stil made a difference when rewriting drafts. When I asked my son to combine several short, stubby sentences in his papers, he understood what I wanted him to do.

It seems obvious, but that skill isn't really being taught in the schools, either.


Tex said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tex said...

Both my kids are doing Killgallon books this summer. Although only one has actually started on her book, so far I love what I see. Very importantly, they have all the answers in the back for me when I do corrections.

I’m beginning to understand how grammar is learned when doing sentence composing. For example, when we went through the first “imitating sentences” section I needed to explain that since the model sentence starts with a prepositional phrase, the correct imitation must also start with a prepositional phrase. Then, I had to define and explain prepositional phrases. Which wasn’t easy for me, since the “I know it when I see it” explanation didn’t seem to work very well.

I need to do Killgallon’s books. I’m certain it would greatly improve my writing.

Tex said...

Yes, this is not being taught in our local school. When I asked the English teacher about sentence composing, she said something about how it’s not important to teach that yet. She made it sound like it was an inappropriately advanced skill for a middle schooler. Yet, the grading rubrics usually include assessments of sentence composition. So, why don’t they explicitly TEACH sentence composition? I think I know the answer to that one. I guess they believe the students will discover and learn good sentence composition while they’re journaling about their feelings and impressions, which seemed to be a big part of this past year’s writing.

Catherine Johnson said...

Then, I had to define and explain prepositional phrases. Which wasn’t easy for me, since the “I know it when I see it” explanation didn’t seem to work very well.

That's the extent of my formal knowledge of grammar.

Catherine Johnson said...

just about

Catherine Johnson said...

Tex - is your school teaching sentence combining?

As far as I can tell, sentence combining is one of the few approaches to teaching composition that's supported (possibly strongly supported) by research.

I'm trying to remember when I first got the Killgallon books - I'll check the old site.

The middle school book was too hard for C. when I first got it.

Now that he's going into sophomore year -- and has had good teaching in composition at school this year -- I'm pretty sure the high school book is going to be easily doable.

Catherine Johnson said...

All he's dong so far is some "sentence unscrambling," which he completed without including commas in any of the unscrambled sentences.

I read them over & said, "You don't have any commas."

C. said, "They didn't say to put in commas."

Catherine Johnson said...

I probably need a punctuation book.

Anyone got a suggestion?

Catherine Johnson said...

Punctuation drill book, I mean.

Catherine Johnson said...

Great Source has sentence composing books for 6th - 8th graders

Tex said...

Tex - is your school teaching sentence combining?

Nope. Actually, what I meant to say in the previous comment was that I had asked her English teacher about sentence combining, not composing. They spend hours with her at school supposedly addressing her reading comprehension and writing skills as part of her IEP, yet never any sentence combining.

If you have the source of that research, I’d like to know. Maybe I can make the case for the school to spend 10 minutes a day using the Great Source book.

I’m using the elementary grade level Killgallon book with her this summer, and it seems right for her.

Crimson Wife said...

Thanks for the Killgallon recommendation! I'd been unsure what to use for our grammar program next year in our homeschool. The sample of the Killgallon's elementary grammar book looks exactly like the kind of thing for which I'd been searching.

Catherine Johnson said...

If you have time, let us know how it goes.

As I say, I have no idea how valuable these books are for teaching. I'm entranced by the beauty of the sentences -- and by the contrast.

So keep us posted!

Anonymous said...

I had my almost 10-year-old daughter begin Killgallon's elementary level sentence composing book a few weeks ago, but we stopped after the first unit (learning sentence imitating). As Tex indicated above, I needed to provide a lot of explanation as to why my daughter's imitations were not correct.

I really like concept of the Killgallon book and plan to return to it with her later. However, it felt a little like plopping my petite 51-inch child into 4-ft deep water. Yes, she could touch the bottom, but she was up to her eyeballs in water.

I'm easing her into the shallow end of the pool with the elementary level "Thinking Through Grammar" book by Whimbey & Linden.

I think she's had little to no formal grammar instruction at school and this book seems to be the swim ring.

Rather than let her do the work by herself I am treating it more like a direct instruction script. I read aloud as she silently reads along. Then we stop and she does each of the exercises as we come to them in the text.

She was rolling her eyes at me a bit in the beginning. ("Mom, I know what a verb is!") But I think that she is learning a lot. Actually, I am as well. (I'm definitely from the "I know it when I see it" school of grammar.)

My only peeve about "Thinking Through Grammar" is that the answers to each exercise are shown immediately below the exercise. We have to use a sheet of paper to hide that text until after she has rewritten the sentences.

We are doing one chapter per weekday. At this rate, allowing for camp and vacation, we should finish by the time school starts. By then I hope to have a confident swimmer on my hands!

RMD said...

Susan Wise Bauer's writing series looks good .. . The Complete Writer

For us "afterschoolers", it's nice because each lesson is very short.

Anonymous said...

When my kids were younger (grade school), I took Steps to Good Grammar and modified it a bit for them.
It was time consuming, but I was able to get a lot done 15 minutes a day, a few days a week.

By middle school, I could work out of the book without shortening sentences.

It's a very sequential book with good instructions. Also, the answers are all right there.

Catherine, I think Steps to Good Grammar also has punctuation pages.


Crimson Wife said...

My DD did a compacted version of the 1st & 2nd grade book of Jessie Wise's "First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind". I then tried the old Catholic edition of the 3rd grade "Voyages in English" book but it was too repetitive of FLL. So I put grammar on hold to focus on copywork and narration using Susan Wise Bauer's "Writing With Ease" program. That was definitely useful, but not enough by itself.

I did order the Killgallon book, will have to see how my DD does with it once it arrives.

Anonymous said...

Crimson Wife,

I mixed some of the First Language Lessons book with the other stuff I was doing. I love that book.

I also like the Mary Hake curriculum, but being an afterschooler, it was a little too much time-wise.


Crimson Wife said...

The Hake books do look like solid grammar & mechanics instruction. My DD would likely find doing the entire series too repetitive, but it might be worthwhile to get the 8th grade book and work through it when I feel she's ready. Thanks for the tip!

Anonymous said...

You're right, the Hake books are very Saxon-like with the repetition. Unfortunately, my son needed it, but found it boring at times. I just like the fact that they covered everything.

Another good thing about it is the essay instruction. It's much more explicit, which was very helpful for my son. It really breaks it down into easy pieces.

I wish I had started it earlier and stuck with it for both of my kids.