One of the toughest parts of most English language courses is the part that deals with structure and syntax—the sort of thing that diagramming teaches. However, for one reason or another many students just don’t get diagramming. Instead of traditional diagramming, you might prefer to use Winston Grammar.
Winston Grammar has both Basic and Advanced sets. All students should begin with the Basic set. Although the Advanced set does some review, it assumes familiarity with the components and methodology introduced in the first set.
Winston Grammar uses key questions and clues for word identification. Rather than constructing diagrams, students begin by laying out color-coded cards in a horizontal fashion that correlates with the sentence under study. Then they use symbols and arrows to “mark up” sentences on their worksheets, showing parts of speech. There are larger colored cards that lead students through strategies for figuring out word functions within sentences. It begins by identifying only articles and nouns, but progresses up through prepositional phrases and predicate nominatives. Overall, it is a much more multi-sensory approach than most others.
The Basic Winston Grammar set teaches parts of speech, noun functions, prepositional phrases, and modifiers. It can be used with students at least fourth grade level or above. It includes a teacher manual, student workbook, and the cards, all of which are stored in a heavy-duty vinyl case. Four quizzes, a pre-test and a post-test are included in the student book. Extra student packets (student workbook and a set of cards) can be purchased since each student needs his or her own set.
In addition to the above, there is also an optional Supplemental Workbook for extra practice. This workbook corresponds exactly with the original in content and difficulty, offering “more of the same” for those students who need it. It comes with an answer key, but workbooks can be purchased without answer keys for additional students.
Once students have mastered the basic course, they should continue with Advanced Winston Grammar, but not before seventh grade. This level moves on to more complex noun functions, reflexive pronouns, possessives, gerunds, infinitives, participles, and various kinds of clauses. Some of these sentences get very tricky! I think many of the lessons are fun for a parent and student to work through together, sort of like trying to solve a puzzle.
Precious Memories also publishes Winston Word Works: A Usage Program ($27). This is a complementary program that focuses on the most common usage errors such as subject-verb agreement, use of personal pronouns, use of who/whom, correct forms of indirect object pronouns, and comparative and superlative forms of adjectives. (The components are similar to the other courses, but there is an additional quiz in the student book.) This course builds upon the Basic Winston Grammar procedures for identifying sentence elements. It can be used any time after completing the Basic set. You might use Winston Word Works between the two courses if a student completes the Basic set in fourth or fifth grade or if you want to save the Advanced set for high school.