Fix-It!: Grammar and Editing Made Easy with Classics
|Publisher: Institute for Excellence in Writing
Author: Pamela White
Review last updated: 2009
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Fix-It!: Grammar and Editing Made Easy with Classics
Fix-It!: Grammar and Editing Made Easy with Classics makes a perfect companion for IEW Structure and Style students to reinforce grammar and writing skills. Fix-It! uses five fantasy and fiction stories (in abridged or rewritten versions) to provide students with brief "exercises" to reinforce grammar and writing skills. Each story is broken down into lessons for four days per week for an entire school year, so the book might be used over five years from third grade through high school level. Stories each target different age groups, so you must select a story suitable for the skill level of each child.
Students not using Structure and Style might still use Fix-It!, but references to "dress ups," "sentence openers," and other IEW terms would make it challenging to the uninformed. Brief explanations of these terms are in an appendix, but without the Structure and Style context, students as well as teachers might not understand why they are bothering with them.
Similar in some ways to Caught Ya! and Great Editing Adventures, Fix-It! presents students with a short excerpt from an ongoing story each day. Students define bolded vocabulary words; make grammar, punctuation, usage, and spelling corrections; underline parts of speech; and identify dress ups, sentence openers, and other elements as they recopy each passage.
Lessons begin on a relatively easy level and gradually progress to a challenging level. Some activities are marked with [!] to indicate a higher level of difficulty. These might be skipped with younger students. All students should not be expected to catch every error or identification item. High school students who already have a decent background in grammar should find Fix-It! more than adequate review and application of grammar skills. It is expected that elementary level students will receive more structured grammar teaching, and Fix-It! will be used as a supplement. Keep in mind that Fix-It! is not strictly about grammar. It's also working on composition structures, vocabulary, and appreciation of literature.
The adapted stories that form the basis of the lessons are Tom Sawyer (for grades 3-6), Frog Prince or Just Desserts (for grades 4-8), The Little Mermaid (for grades 6-9), The King and the Discommodious Pea (a humorous rewrite of The Princess and the Pea for grades 7-10), and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (for grades 9-12). Humor, fantasy, and a delightful use of language—hallmarks of these adaptations—are all likely to appeal to most students. Here is one unedited passage from The Frog Prince, or Just Desserts so you can get an idea of the presentation. "King Mortons greatest mortification had occured 2 years earlier at a dinner party for the ambassador of nordicland. Taking an instant dislike to the ambassadors son whom, truth be told, was a bit of a brat Dorinda squirted mouthwash into his sturgeon roe soup from a travel bottle she carried in her purse" (p. 46).
Purchase of Fix-It! allows you free access to a downloadable ebook with an amazing 562 pages. This (at least part of it) is essentially your student's workbook material. A teacher may print out copies of appropriate pages for each student in his or her class. The first 20 pages are instructions and reference guide—extremely useful for both student and parent/teacher! For each story, there are two versions of student pages. One version has just the passages for each week. The other has the passages with space for copying plus vocabulary words with space for definitions. Printing only the version of the pages you prefer, and only pages for the story you plan to use that year, brings the number of pages to print down to a very reasonable number. This free ebook makes Fix-It! a real bargain when you view it as free student workbooks for multiple students over five years or more with the purchase of the single teacher's book!
In some situations, parents/teachers might prefer to present the passages on a whiteboard or overhead projector rather than give students these pages. The MS Word ebook makes it easy to cut and paste each day's passage for presentation on overheads. Choose either the PDF or MS Word version of the ebook depending upon how you intend to use it.
Fix-It! requires both independent and interactive work. Once students understand the process, they copy, correct, and markup the passage for the day on their own, including writing a definition of the vocabulary word. Then a parent or teacher should go over it with them, ensuring that they have understood the meaning and made appropriate corrections and notations. There are likely to be points at which students might need additional instruction on a skill or concept. Consequently, the time required for each passage might vary from day to day.
Fix-It! should be a great tool for those who want to reinforce lessons from Structure and Style as well as for those who want to take a break from the program without having students forget what they have learned.
- Audience: grades 3-12 for all situations except totally independent study
Need for parent/teacher instruction: needs initial instruction and interaction for correcting/discussing work
Prep time needed: minimal to moderate
Religious perspective: neutral but "Christian friendly"
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