Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Year 7: Grammar and Composition

I will continue with this. The Ignatian manual says that grammar should be taught functionally, which to me means a syntactical approach -- how words work in sentences, not the theory of parts of speech (that can come later). Dr Vavra has explained this approach well in his vast and beautiful website.

This year, we made it through the analysis of all the basic sentence patterns:

That's all there is. Here is the KISS checklist. We didn't make it to discussing prepositional phrases, and clauses, and that kind of thing. But the boys can both take a simple sentence in this format and tell how every single word functions in the sentence. This is definitely progress. I think that once I had a clear goal in my own mind it was easier to target it (and I was an English major, after all).

So next year I will review what we did this year, and then start on Dr Vavra's Objective #4 -- Finding Prepositional Phrases. Right now, what the boys do is put in brackets anything that doesn't make sense to them as part of the main sentence. So in other words "the man went to the store" -- they bracket "to the store". From there it will be relatively easy to teach Kieron (Sean won't be here) to figure out whether the phrase modifies the verb (adverbial phrase) or a noun (adjectival phrase).

Then we can get through the rest of the objectives for middle school. Vavra says that once they can understand clauses, they can start using this syntactical knowledge to improve their sentence structure. He has all kinds of information on this which I will delve into closer to the time period. During the first part of the year, for composition, I'll check off all the Classical Writing: Aesop goals. Most of them are already familiar to Kieron. I will let him try to put clever "slants" on the tales if he wants because after all, he is already in that dialectical stage. I think some science and opinion type papers can be addressed with the CW Aesop format, too.

I am going to make a resource bank of paper topics. This is the one thing I really regret not doing before the year begins. It's one thing to be flexible, another thing not to have a clue where things are going to go.


  1. Willa, I can so relate to regretting not having a cache of possible paper topics in advance. I don't know how many times this year I was left grasping for a topic for Ar.

    This is on my to-do list for next year!

    One place I enjoyed looking at possible topics was in Designing Your Own Classical Curriculum in the dialectic stage section.

  2. Willa,
    Have you looked at Write With the Best?? It looks like it might be interesting (I like the progym so much more but still haven't gotten around to planning it enough here...Oh, the woes of and inept planner!)