Friday, September 26, 2014

REVIEW: Fix-It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (Book 1) Teacher’s Manual and Student Book by Institute for Excellence in Writing

Haylee and I had the great pleasure of reviewing Fix-It! Grammar: The Nose Tree (Book 1) Teacher’s Manual and Student Book by Institute for Excellence in Writing.



IEW offers a whole series of Fix It! Grammar books to suit the level of the student’s ability from third grade and up.  There are currently 6 books from which to choose.

The Fix-It! Grammar series allows your student to read just one line of text each day and mark it for specific parts of speech that are covered one at a time in weekly lessons.  Each sentence features a word or phrase to be defined by the student in its context, then he or she adds the correct end punctuation and copies the text over into a notebook.  As each day’s work is completed, the student is adding collectively to an ongoing story that is the theme of the book. 

It’s highly recommended that you use their free placement test to determine the correct starting placement.  You can also view the webinar to see how the product works.

We used The Nose Tree (Book 1), for grades 3-12.  You can view samples here:

Both books are sturdy, spiral-bound, softcover books.  The teacher’s manual can be purchased for just $19, and the student book is available for $15.



The Nose Tree contains 33 weeks of lessons with assignments 4 days per week.  This works well with our regular school schedule.  I love that the format is predictable and consistent each week so that both the student and the teacher know just what they’ll be doing each day.  Haylee is 10, and I think that’s a good quality in curriculum for kids this age.

The layout is easy to follow, and it’s all explained clearly in the introduction of both the teacher’s and student’s books.  On day 1 ofDSCF2229 each week, the student is introduced to a grammar concept or part of speech.  Sturdy cardstock cards are located in the back of the student book and can be cut out as helpful reminders of the new material for the student to use when needed.  These can be easily stored in a ziplock bag as the student progresses so they are always available for handy reference.  Haylee really liked using them to refresh her understanding as she worked.  Then the student reads the sentence of the day from the story of the Nose Tree.  One word or phrase in the sentence will be bolded, and the student must look up the contextual meaning in the dictionary and copy that definition into a separate notebook.  Then they mark the given parts of speech or clauses that have been learned so far in the sentence (and eventually begin to make corrections).  The teacher’s manual provides the answers for the given text.  It also offers explanations on areas that may have stumped the student and gives notations of more advanced concepts the student may or may not already understand.  Then the student adds the correct punctuation to the end of the sentence.  After discussing their work with the teacher, the student then copies the completed sentence into a separate notebook, noting when new paragraphs begin and being sure to indent accordingly. 

On days 2-4, the student repeats the process of defining the vocabulary word or phrase, marking the sentence and correct end punctuation, and then copying the sentence into their notebook right where the left off the day before.  In this way, the student is rewriting the complete story of The Nose Tree over time and will have the entire story in their notebook by the end of the school year.

Before we sDSCF2230tarted, Haylee wasn’t that enthusiastic about doing a grammar review.  She was willing to try it only because she does enjoy editing.  But as soon as we’d completed the first lesson, she immediately became enthusiastic about the program.  In fact, a couple of weeks into the work, she proclaimed that it was so much fun that she wanted to continue it for the rest of the school year!  I can’t tell you how huge that is for her.  She has never enjoyed grammar work.  And she almost never wants to add extra work to her school year or continue any core curriculum after the review period has ended.  So this was truly a big deal and demonstrated how much she liked it.

So we know that it’s fun for the student, but is it effective?  YES!  I could steadily see progress throughout the 5 weeks of work we completed.  She was getting better at identifying the parts of speech and clauses, and she was picking up and retaining the information from week to week.  She readily used the cards to remind herself of the material, and I noticed her referencing the reminders printed at the top of her pages in the student book to make sure she was identifying everything correctly.  I’ m SO proud of her!  She has truly embraced this program like no grammar program before it. 

As the teacher, I love the little tips and tricks it gives you to teach the student so they can more readily identify the correct parts of speech.  For instance, for nouns, it recommended the student to insert either “the” or a number word in front of anything they thought was a noun to see if it made sense and passed that noun test.  That really helped her.  After she learned about articles, it had her use the articles as flags to find the nouns to which they pointed.  In the teacher’s manual, it sometimes had extra little questions to pose to the student about the sentence, as well, that helped verify their understanding of the concepts.  I had a sense that the whole program was well thought-out, and it was so easy to administer, teach, and use.  It’s just a small tidbit of work each day that’s totally manageable for both the teacher and the student, yet the collective work does a great job of building on the learning and sticking in the student’s mind.  It’s meant to take up only 15 minutes of your time each day.  That’s something everyone can do!

One of the things that Haylee liked about it the most was the opportunity to go back and re-read the story from her notebook ea

ch day to get just a bit more of the story than she had before.  She got very animated at times and read the parts with different voices.  She loved it and couldn’t wait to see what happened next in the story!  I think that’s one of the unique things about this program…that underlying story is almost like a reward for completing each lesson.  I even recorded Haylee reading the first 5 weeks of the story that’s she’s completed so far so you can get an idea of what the story is about. 

Overall, I’d absolutely recommend this program, and I can definitely see myself purchasing the next book to use next year, as well.  One great thing about it is that once you’ve purchased the book once, you get access to download and print additional copies of the student book at home.  This means you only have to purchase each book once, and you can re-print the student book as needed for additional students in your home.  So it’s a great investment for me, as I’ll be able to use the program again for my younger son when the time comes without incurring any additional cost to reuse it.  That’s an awesome value!

Take a look at what other Crew members had to say about this and other books in the Fix It! Grammar series by clicking the banner below.