EU laws require me to tell you if I have cookies. So many jokes there. I have ads installed, so I suppose I have cookies. By using this site, you agree to its use of cookies. Learn more. Sing along.

Beyond the Book Report - a review

Analytical Grammar Review

Writing was my favorite class in high school, and I'm always amazed that my boys don't embrace it wholeheartedly. They know the mechanics, but it doesn't flow freely. Their mathy brains were in need of a more systematic, less artistic approach to writing. Our latest attempt to get their writing juices flowing came from Analytical Grammar, who sent us Beyond the Book Report, seasons 1, 2, and 3. 

Each season is intended to be worked on over the course of one year. Ideally, it is meant to be worked through from 6th grade through 8th. If you have older students, it can be worked through in two years for 8th and 9th grade. My sons are in 9th and 10th grade, which is older than the intended audience. I, as their teacher, needed help in teaching them about essays and research papers. This program teaches me as much as it teaches them. It is not too immature for them. In fact, I wonder if it might not be too challenging for some middle school students.

Season One includes three sections:
  1. The Basic Book Report
  2. The Pamphlet Book Report
  3. The News Article Book Report
Season Two includes two sections:
  1. Poetry Book Report
  2. Drama Book Report
Season Three includes three sections:
  1. Essay
  2. Oral Book Report
  3. Research Paper

The lessons are DVD-driven, with each video lasting about 7-20 minutes. The lesson schedule works well paced at 3 lessons per week. 

We went straight to the third season because this is where we are weakest, but I checked out the first two seasons to share with you. I look forward to using them with my daughters in just a couple years. 

Season One
This teaches more than just writing about what you read for a book report. As the title of the program suggests, it goes beyond the book report. This begins by helping students to recognize what they are reading. It teaches the elements of stories and helps them summarize what they see. Over the course of a year, students learn to share that summary in three different forms: the basic report, a pamphlet, and as a news article. 

Season Two
This season is divided into two semesters. In the first section, students learn to analyze poetry. They study different forms of poetry, the elements of poetry, and how to write their own poetry. In the second section, students study drama. They learn the elements of dramatic plays and study A Midsummer Night's Dream with lecture support. I always thought of it as a comedy, so this was interesting to see.

Season Three
This is where we stopped and studied. It contains three sections that are essential for high school success: Essays, Oral Presentations, and Research Papers. This section teachers students the structure of expository writing. It is assumed that students will have already mastered the mechanics of writing with proper grammar.

Analytical Grammar ReviewThe essay portion covers personal, literary, and SAT essays. Season 3 begins with a video for the teacher, guiding me through the process of teaching the Literary Essay, beginning with Edgar Allen Poe's Tell Tale Heart. The video includes several clips  of the author teaching the same essay to a homeschool group. It was very helpful and enlightening, guiding me through the different stages I should teach over the course of 3 weeks. This video is 36 minutes long. Students also watch a video, which introduces the concept of a literary essay and is 17 minutes long.

After watching these videos, we moved on to the writing. By day 14 (5 weeks into the season if you are using the 3-lessons per week schedule,) students will have written three literary essays.  It is recommended that students continue to write one essay per month after this. The next 7 "days" teach the Personal Essay. These are teaching days, though there days in between teaching sessions for students to complete assignments. Two essays should be completed during this time. The SAT section includes 6 teaching days, giving a total of 26 teaching days which divide up into a nice, year-long writing course.

Things we liked:

  • I like that it really walks us through the process. The systematic approach took a lot of pressure off of my boys and helped them to feel more comfortable writing. 
  • I like that it is organized well. Everything is laid out for me to pull open and go. I know exactly what I'm doing each day. 
  • I like many of the supplements provided. The short stories are included in my notebook, as are samples of literary essays to model. Suggestions for evaluating students' work are also provided.
  • All of the handouts we could want are included in the DVDs. There are plenty of printouts to guide students and teachers through the year.

Things we didn't like:
  • The DVDs did not play in our DVD-player, but had to be watched on the computer screen. Pausing and rewinding are sometimes awkward on the computer, but it worked. 
  • As I said, the teacher's video for our first session in season 3 was 36  minutes long. This taught me everything I needed for 3 weeks. I nodded along in agreement, happy to understand the process for each day's lesson, right up to the end. At that point, I realized that I had already grown fuzzy on what to do on day 1. I had day 7 firmly in my head, but that didn't help me much. Of course, by the time we got to day 7, I no longer had it in my head either. I would much prefer these sections be broken down to teach me as needed. The book did not help me much here. Day Three said, "[J]ust do the same activity you saw Robin Finley do with her students, and you'll end up with your three proofs in the proper order." That required watching the video again at that point.
  • The lessons are geared toward a more formal, group setting. They are perfect for homeschool groups, but not as familiar to one-on-one homeschool families. It still worked great, but the rubrics and point systems were a bit superfluous. 
Each season costs $24.95 or you can purchase all three at once for $69.95. An entire year's writing program for multiple students for under $25 is a fabulous deal. 

All in all, I like the program. We will continue to use it and I will hold on to it to introduce to my girls in just a few, short years. Analytical Grammar has several other products available. Beyond the Book Report and several others were reviewed by the Crew. Be sure to check them out by clicking the link below.

Click to read Crew Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

No comments:

Post a Comment

"Man lives by affirmation even more than by bread." - Victor Hugo