Monday, October 28, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: Bridgeway Academy's Grammar and Writing

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I have long told people that one of the greatest benefits of home education is the ability to completely customize the program of study for each of my children.  I am able to capitalize on strengths and work on weaknesses all within the framework of the individual interests of my children.  Bridgeway Academy helps make this customization easy.

My Boy Scout has spent focused time this semester studying the components of Grammar and Writing found in Bridgeway English Books 1 and 2.  The only boy in a house full of girls, grammar and writing have not ever been his favorite subject areas.  As a high school freshman, I knew that he would need an intensive review before he begins writing the formal essays required in higher level coursework.  This was the perfect review material because it set him up for success from the very first page and held his interest throughout.  Not only is he able to feel successful as he works through the pages of his workbooks, but he is successful as he correctly completes the daily assignments.

Designed as a remedial text for 7th - 12th grade students, the Bridgeway English books have served as wonderful review tools for my son.  They offer opportunity to bridge any gaps in formal grammar instruction -- at a pace that is easy to follow.  Although we had briefly studied grammar in elementary years, I have wanted to spend some quality time digging deeper into the subject.  Bridgeway Academy has proven an excellent tool to do so.  For purposes of review (and a blessing beyond compare), my son has been using the following books:

Bridgeway 1 Focus on Grammar photo Bridgeway1FocusonGrammar_zpscf9f1c84.jpgBridgeway English Book 1 Focus on Grammar  ($23.33) is presented in a spiral-bound format.  Concepts are illustrated with black-and-white pictures and easy-to-read text followed by exercises to insure skill mastery.  Each section of study contains 10 pages which concludes with a Skills Review.  A new unit of study begins every 3 sections (called PAKs).  Comprehensive Tests are included for each unit.

Book 1 covers subject and predicate, sentence types, sentence fragments and run-on sentences, compound sentences, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions, conjunctions, and interjections in a straight forward manner that makes learning easy.

Bridgeway 2 Focus on Writing photo Bridgeway2FocusonWriting_zps35184e8b.jpgSkills build on each other and the satisfactory completion of Focus on Grammar finds the student ready to move into Bridgeway English Book 2 Focus on Writing  ($23.33).  This spiral-bound workbook includes clauses, proper sentence structure (subject/verb agreement, grammar and mechanics), capitalization and punctuation rules, proofreading and editing, critical thinking skills, letter writing, study skills, and distinguishing between fact and fiction.  Games and real-life skills are included.  Who doesn't enjoy a fun word search?   The consumable text offers students the chance to practice filling out employment applications, to write letters and address envelopes, and even to complete fax cover sheets.

For purposes of this review, we used Books 1 and 2 simultaneously with no problem.  Prior to using Focus on Writing, the Boy Scout had been the KING of the run-on sentence and poor punctuation skills.  He is most definitely showing improvement as his sentences are much more cohesive.  Whew -- a major score at Long Leaf Academy.

Bridgeway Teacher Key photo BridgewayTeacher_zps6c4a3a09.jpgAnd I've had the Bridgeway English Key ($23.33) at my disposal for use as a quick go-to in checking his work and making sure that he is taking the time to do it all correctly.  An exact replication of the student workpages, the Teacher Answer Key explains the process students should use to successfully complete each Unit of study.  Teachers are instructed to remove all tests from the back of the student textbooks before students begin work and grading is fully explained.   Students are encouraged to master each level of study before progressing as skills build on one another.    Although you may not need to check the Answer Key daily, it sure is nice to know you have it available should any question arise.  This spiral-bound teacher's helper offers support as needed.

This entire curriculum has simply been a lifesaver for us.  I had not used a formal grammar/writing program with my younger children and was beginning to feel overwhelmed with what skills they lacked.  My son is very well-spoken and has no problem giving oral presentations or standing before a group making a speech, but what he SPEAKS aloud is most often NOT what he has written on paper.  The translation from paper to verbalization leaves much to be desired.  The writing workbook is helping him tremendously in this area and his written research no longer requires major edits by me.  His sentences are now much more cohesive and he is gaining a full grasp of grammar and writing.

As a brand new high schooler, this was a most opportune time for my Boy Scout to begin Bridgeway English.  He is working hard to rectify poor grammar instruction in the past (completely my fault).   I plan to begin using the books with my 7th grade daughter after Christmas.  I want to make sure that I don't repeat earlier mistakes I've made with her and I want her to continue a love of the written word.  I enjoyed diagramming sentences in school and it is my hope that my children will also learn to enjoy the process of identifying words as to their function and gain a better understanding of how words work together.

It has been super easy to incorporate this with our daily studies.  Bridgeway English is written directly to the student so there is no prep work for mom.  My son has worked through assigned exercises on a daily basis in an effort to bridge the many gaps with which his mother has left him.  He completes his work (typically a section at at time) on his own and then uses the answer key to check his work.   I am available to clarify or explain any concepts as needed but he is allowed the opportunity to succeed without me.

I fully expect him to be challenged in the number of pages assigned and I expect him to read the explanations given and attempt each assignment on his own.  This has been easy for us both because the material is very well explained and he enjoys the workbooks.  The stories shared throughout the text are very boy-friendly.  In less than 30 minutes a day, he is making vast improvements to basic grammar and writing skills AND being challenged by words of wisdom through Tremendous Tales of modern heroes and character-building quotes to live by.  One of my favorites was found in these wise words:  Forgiving those who have caused you harm bestows mercy on both sides.  Isn't that a beautiful life lesson covered through the pages of a writing text?

A Bible-based education that focuses on building Christian leaders through curriculum for students of all ages, Bridgeway Academy offers so much for homeschool families who relish the opportunity to customize the education of their children.  Please spend some time visiting the website and reading over all of the services they provide -- there are even scholarships available. Any time that my boy will sit right down and begin work without complaining reinforces my opinion that we have a winner on our hands.  I think you'll be super-pleased with what you find.  Check out the reviews of my friends on the Crew, as well.  There's a wealth of opportunity available for your every need.

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I was given the opportunity to use and review Bridgeway English Book 1 Focus on Grammar  and Bridgeway English Book 2 Focus on Writing from Bridgeway Academy 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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