Friday, May 24, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Joyce Herzog

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Do you have a "budding author" or writer in the making?  Or is this an area where your students need help?  Will your children sit down and write with complete abandon OR is writing the hardest thing y'all do?  Maybe you're like me and feel the need to hit grammar in a hard core way.  If you have students who LOVE to write or students who HATE to write, students who LOVE to diagram sentences or students who couldn't care less about nouns and verbs much less transitives and direct objects, then Joyce Herzog has something for you.  Through a multitude of products and ideas, Joyce Herzog offers educational support and encouragement to help people learn -- and to help YOU help your family learn best.

We've had the privilege of trying out the  Budding Authors Series to improve the writing skills of my Princess and my Boy Scout AND using the 6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar to work on bringing their grammar knowledge up to par.  It's been a great way to end our official school year with solid review that should help to hold them steady as we continue to work through the summer in a modified way.

The Budding Authors Writing Skills Series consist of 5 softcover books (either comb-bound or coil-bound depending on the size) that range in price from $10 - $15.  There is a book appropriate for the skill level of every student and sample pages OF EACH book available for download.  You can see firsthand what is included and best determine where your child should begin.

The writing skills series includes the following books and each can be used as a stand-alone or students can complete the entire series:
  1. Step Into Writing --  41 pages that teach the first steps of writing sentences and stories.  ($10)
  2. Step On Into Writing -- 57 pages that take sentence and story writing one step further.  ($10)
  3. Adventures in Writing -- 38 pages that teach short stories written in one paragraph.  ($10)
  4. Then and NOW -- 42 pages that teach writing comparisons in two paragraphs.  ($12)
  5. Writing U.S. History -- 76 pages that teach students to research and write about U.S. History.  ($15)
At Long Leaf Academy, we have focused on the Then and NOW and Writing U.S. History Budding Author books.  My 6th grade Princess is using Then and NOW.  We began by studying paragraphs and the proper sentence order to make a good paragraph.  I made sure to discuss how to indent a paragraph with her and the proper use of capitalization and punctuation.  (These rules are also covered in the 6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar book that we have used simultaneously.)  Each lesson is based on a picture from a 1923 early reader and asks the student to study the picture, think about some given questions (designed to spark creativity), and write two  paragraphs describing each picture and what is going on in it.  She LOVES this.  The pictures are delightful and her writing has improved by leaps and bounds.  It helps that Joyce reminds me to "be patient with your learner . . . [because] you are teaching [her] to think, organize, and to write."  She reminds me that the writing/learning process is not easy.  Sometimes, I expect too much and and forget to praise all efforts.  Thanks for helping me remember -- and for helping me be a better mom.

My 8th grade Boy Scout has been using the Writing U.S. History book and it has proven to be an excellent review of our history studies during this school year.  This is an added bonus as he improves his writing skills as he reviews.  In this book, students learn the ins and outs of research.  They begin by writing quick notes (not complete sentences) on 3 x 5 note cards and learn not to plagiarize another author's work.  Students learn how to take notes and how to transfer notes into a well researched, well-documented essay.  Writing prompts (with pictures) are provided on important events in American history and my Boy Scout is enamored.  Students begin "In the beginning" and continue researching and writing through natural and man-made disasters of current times.  This is a GREAT way to reinforce writing skills and encourage a love of history as studies are delight-directed.

The 40-page, softcover 6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar ($12) has been most wonderful for Long Leaf Academy.  Joyce calls it a "tiny treasure" but it is jam-packed with information that makes learning the rules of grammar easy and fun.  You can download a sample for yourself and see just how amazing this resource is. Beginning with her introduction on just what grammar is and explaining why teaching grammar is not only important but necessary, Joyce makes the entire process simple.  What I like most is that I can really help my kids UNDERSTAND grammar in a mere 6 week time period.  I like being told which concepts to reinforce each week -- and then being reminded to "step aside for a day or two" so that those concepts can soak in while I introduce new concepts.  Both of my children were excited to continue each day because we did not sit too long on one concept.

At the completion of the six lessons, students know and understand the 8 Parts of Speech, the 3 types of sentences (declarative, interrogative, and imperative -- and the exclamatory variation on those),  the structure of simple and compound sentences, AND independent and dependent clauses.  They have ALSO worked on capitalization rules, punctuation rules, spelling rules, verb tenses, infinitives, gerunds, participles, AND irregular verbs.  Definitely this is a TREASURE and valuable resource to keep on hand.

You'll want to make sure to check out all of the great resources available from Joyce Herzog.  She truly desires education to be a successful endeavor for all -- and she wants to help YOU help your family.  I appreciate the encouragement to succeed and know you will, too.

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 I was given the opportunity to use and review the Budding Authors Series and 6 Weeks to Understanding Grammar by Joyce Herzog as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)


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