Monday, March 28, 2016

Logic of English (A Schoolhouse Crew Review)

English is a subject that I enjoy teaching the kids, mostly because it's a subject I always did well in both at the grade school level as well as in college.  However, I was honestly having a very difficult time finding a curriculum that covered grammar and spelling that I felt was complete enough without being too advanced and over the heads of a pair of 2nd graders.  English is complicated to begin with and can be very confusing.

I had never heard of Logic of English prior to this review opportunity but I was pretty impressed with what I could tell of the Essentials 2nd Edition curriculum on their website so I was pretty excited to try it with my kid.  For the past seven weeks, I have been teaching the Essentials program five days a week to both Garrett and Ashleigh as our Grammar and Spelling curriculum.

What Is Essentials?

Designed by Logic of English and in a newly updated 2nd Edition, Essentials Volume 1 is an all in one multi-level reading, spelling, grammar and vocabulary curriculum designed for ages 7+ or roughly 2nd grade all the way to adults who are in need of grammar instruction.  Offering three different levels of instruction (A, B, or C) in 15 lessons, the Essentials Volume 1 curriculum offers a systematic program that uses games, activities, and repetition to create a fun learning approach to a typically boring subject. 

What We Received:

For the purpose of this review, Logic of English was very generous and provided us with the Essentials 2nd Edition (Vol 1) Complete Set.  This set included the following: 

One other optional purchase which I made on my own for this review is the Single Student/Family License PDF downloadable version of the Student Workbook so that both Ashleigh and Garrett could both participate in the curriculum.  This additional license was very reasonably priced at $9.60 per license through the website. 

Upon opening the box that this curriculum comes in, the first thing that you will notice is the sheer magnitude of all the components that are included.    Organization is an absolute must or you will quickly get completely overwhelmed with all the cards that are included with the Essentials curriculum.  I highly recommend a box, metal clips and ziplock baggies to keep everything neatly organized and secure so that when going through the lessons, you can quickly find the cards that are needed for the lesson. 
Each of the components are used together for the various activities and lessons to help teach various spelling rules, morphemes, and grammar rules that are covered throughout the book.

The 632 page Teachers Manual is the real Meat and Potatoes of the curriculum.   If you are not an English teacher, that is okay  as each lesson is completely scripted out and easy to follow.  Sections of the lessons are marked either ALL, A, B or C to indicate which student level each activity and included placement tests allow you to determine which level your student should be working at.   Each of the 15 lessons are broken down into daily assignments and the activities and workbook pages found in the Essentials Student Workbook are all labeled clearly for planning ahead of time.   

As mentioned already, I had been having a difficult time finding a grammar curriculum that I felt covered what I felt was a necessary core understanding of grammar. Many grammar curriculum focused too much on writing and structure rather than actual grammar but since we already had a writing curriculum, I wanted something that concentrated more adjectives, verbs, nouns and adverbs.   Upon receiving this curriculum and taking a weekend to familiarize myself with some of the lessons, I had a feeling that Essentials was exactly what I was hoping for.  I knew I wanted both kids to be included in these lessons and was thrilled to find that Logic of English offers a PDF version of the student workbook with a single student/family license which was exactly what I needed for Ashleigh. 

The Essentials Student Workbook is a 320 page workbook that includes many of the games and worksheets required in the course of the various lessons and is required for the Essentials curriculum.   Activities included in the workbook range from sentence diagramming, phonics games,  word building exercises and lesson recollection pages.   Pages are very simple and to the point with no graphics which is very helpful for easily distracted students like my own.  Each page is clearly marked with a page number as well as as with the Lesson and Level that it corresponds to, making it very easy to match it along with the Teachers Manual. 

And then there's all the cards!!   Throughout the lessons, you are asked to refer to a particular phonogram card, grammar or a spelling card that is the current focus of the lesson.. Cards are double sided and printed in color in heavy cardstock.  Through the course of the 15 lessons, students are taught 74 various phonograms, 31 spelling rules and an additional 46 Advanced phonograms  and each of these has a corresponding card.  There are also additional cards used for various games and activities throughout the book. 

How Did We Use It?

After taking a full weekend to try to familiarize myself with the format and components of the program, we jumped in. I elected to start the kids at the A Level which has worked really well for us .   

I honestly wasn't sure how this curriculum was going to go over with Ashleigh and Garrett. From the first lesson, I could tell that lessons would be very time intensive, taking up about an hours worth of time between teaching and doing activities.  My kids have very little patience for very intensive lessons and I had a feeling after the first lesson they were going to balk and that there would be lots of tears to go along with the review period. 

Instead, this has turned into one of my kids favorite subjects (maybe second only to Bible Study).  This was especially surprising with Garrett, whom prefers math to anything that involves English or Writing.    Between the fun games and activities or trying to out do one another on a worksheet, they have both really enjoyed doing the lessons daily.

What is most surprising about this is that, in my opinion, much of the material is almost what I would consider college level grammar.  Granted, it has been over 20 years since I was in school, but I never learned the depth of what the Ash and Garrett are currently learning. I asked my husband and he says that he wasn't taught much of what they are learning either and he graduated 10 years after I did.  My oldest daughter, currently a Junior in high school,  also states her English courses did not include much of the material that Ash and Garrett have covered in the last 7 weeks.   The only time I can remember learning about things such as Broad and Schwa sounds, which are covered in Essentials, was during my Pre-Professional English classes in a University setting. 

The Spelling part of the Essential Curriculum indeed requires a bit of a learning curve for the teacher as there is a pretty specific way in which they approach introducing the words to the students.  Each week the kids are given a list of 15 words which uses the spelling rules discussed through the lessons (although some words are introduced before the spelling rule is introduced). Through the unique way Essentials has the teacher to introduce the words, students are taught to sound out the words on their own using the phonograms they have learned.  For example - when spelling the word "Paint", rather than spelling the word out for the kids to copy,  I would instead use sounds as well as spelling rules such as "use the two letter long A sound that can NOT be used at the end of an English Word" instead of saying "A-I".   While this took some getting use to on my own part, I noticed that the kids took to it very quickly and have remembered the various spelling rules with very little problem. 

The games and activities are really what makes this curriculum a hit with my kiddos though.  They know in order to preform well in the games, they have to learn the rules and do the work so that they know what they need to know for the games. Since my two kids are very competitive with each other and many of these review activities bring out the competition in them, they really look forward to them. Whether it's reading words, balling them up and making "baskets" with them in our makeshift "net", playing Rotten Eggs or any of the other wonderful games included in the lessons, the kids have really had a lot of fun with their learning.   Any worries I have had in regards to them rejecting this curriculum based on the intensity and the time required has been completely cancelled by the amount of smiles I have seen while they participate day after day, especially with Garrett, my struggling reader.  The optional Essential Readers have also been a great addition, allowing the kids to focus on a reading selection that uses the words or rules that they have worked with during the week and putting it all together in application. 

I have one very minor peeve with the Essentials Vol 1 curriculum, that being that there is not an actual answer key for many of the activities and would like to see that included later down the line. 

After 7 weeks of using Essentials, it's safe to say that any novelty of the games and such would have already worn off. However, they are still very happy to participate day after day with this curriculum.  Between the Teachers Manual, the Student Workbook (both the physical and the PDF format which are exactly the same) and the downloadable Essential Readers, this is really a well planned, very thought out curriculum that includes all components needed for a solid English curriculum (reading, spelling, grammar and vocabulary).  While the sticker price on this curriculum might come as a shock (currently on sale at the website for $198), when one considers not only the multi-components but also the three levels of study, making it an investment that can be used for a longer period of time.  

For more information, visit the Logic of English website. You can also find Logic of English on the following social media platforms.

Logic of English was very generous and offered 100 members of the Review Crew copies of not only their Essentials Curriculum but also all four levels of their Foundations curriculum.  Be sure to click the banner to find more reviews. 

Logic of English Review

1 comment:

  1. What a great and thorough review! We used Foundations A, and my son and I really enjoy it! It's one of those programs we will KEEP using!


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