BJU Press's Writing and Grammar books for grades 7 and 8 offer thorough grammar coverage plus development of writing and communication skills. I think many parents could use the student worktexts on their own to create their own courses. However, I recommend that you also purchase the teacher editions because they will serve as answer keys, provide valuable support and supplements, and will help you sort out what to use when. Teacher editions.
There is enough material for about a semester in each course since it is expected that the English course will also include the study of literature in the other semester--Explorations in Literature and Excursions in Literature are the seventh and eighth-grade literature texts. However, at the back of the teacher editions are suggested schedules for using the courses over either one or two semesters so you can either focus exclusively on grammar/writing for one semester and literature the other, or you can intermingle the two courses over the entire school year.
The student workbooks are colorful and visually appealing. In addition, they have plenty of practice, review, and writing activities. However, like most graded language art textbooks, they review just about everything every year. Thus, even in eighth grade, students begin with the four types of sentences, then nouns and predicates, continuing through all the parts of speech. This is great for the student who has had little or no exposure to grammar but unnecessarily boring for most homeschoolers who have been studying this stuff for years. Granted, each lesson takes students from the basics into gradually more challenging concepts in regard to parts of speech, sentence structure, usage, etc. But you might want to omit some of introductory/review lessons and exercises if this material is already very familiar to your child.
Many chapters open with short literary excerpts. These are often used within follow up exercises.
"Learning Christianity" activities in the margins have students using or practicing language arts skills in Scripture research or life applications. Christian themes flow through both texts, helping students understand the purpose of learning writing and grammar as well as simply serving as sentence content (e.g., identifying the modified word in a phrase within the sentence " ‘There is a Fountain Filled with Blood' tells us of the one who gave His life to save us." (p. 172 W& G 8)
Word etymologies inserted sporadically add an interesting touch. Diagramming is explained and shown throughout the grammar lessons, but exercises within the worktexts never instruct students to diagram sentences themselves. Parents might choose to have students diagram sentences anyway. Correct diagrams for exercises where this is an option are at the back of the teacher edition.
Writing activities are scattered throughout the texts. They range from mundane sentence combining and rewriting exercises to creative activities that help children learn to work through the writing process in many different applications such as writing advertisements, book reports, a short fable, and an essay, a biographical sketch, a letter to the editor, and dialogue, plus designing a book jacket and drafting a debate. Some of these writing activities assume a classroom context for sharing and presentation, but it is easy to adapt these for homeschooling.
The last four chapters of the seventh-grade book and last three chapters of the eighth grade serve as reference and skill development chapters that might be used whenever and however you deem appropriate. These chapters are on the library, study, and composition skills, with the addition of dictionary skill in seventh grade. Cumulative reviews and chapter quizzes are included in the student book.
The teacher's editions are in sturdy spiral-bound books. They include reduced pictures of student pages with answers overprinted. Instructional material is in the side and bottom margins. Teacher editions also include CD-ROMS with warm-ups to be used as diagnostic pretests, many reproducible activity sheets for additional practice and reinforcement on grammar, ESL worksheets, writing worksheets that are to be used along with specific writing assignments in the student worktexts, and writing rubrics to simplify the grading of writing assignments.
Tests and a test answer key are optional, but these along with the student text and teacher edition are included in the homeschool kits.
You might want to check out the ready-made lesson plans from Homeschool Planet that are available for BJU Press's Writing and Grammar courses.
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