How do you move through an English lesson in a timely fashion?

Dear Carrie

How do you move through an English lesson in a timely fashion?

All is going well with Heart of Dakota – off to a great start! However, I have some questions about how to move through an R & S English 4 lesson in a timely fashion. Do you do all of the oral review questions, the oral assignment questions, and the written assignment questions? Today, for example, we did the oral, but then the written was almost identical. It seemed like I was having my son do double the work. I’m also struggling on writing assignment days. They seem to take much longer, and I usually need two days for each of the writing assignments. I have my son write his story. Then, I correct it and go over it with him. Finally, I have him re-write it correctly. I know this is all taking way longer than it should. So, my question is, how do you move through an English lesson in a timely fashion? Thanks in advance!


Ms. Please Help Me Move Through English More Quickly”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me Move Through English More Quickly,”

We do the 5 oral questions at the beginning of each lesson, and then we do the entire lesson. However, we do most of the entire lesson orally. This means that we do the sections marked as “Written Exercises” orally too. I only choose one small section in each lesson to have my kiddos do in writing. To do the written exercises orally, I just have my kiddos say the answers instead of writing them. I often read the sentences aloud in the exercises, and then have my child quickly say the answers right after me. My reading parts aloud to them keeps their attention and keeps the lesson moving quickly. Before the lesson begins, however, I have my kiddos read the first part of the lesson to themselves. This way they are prepared for what is to come. This all helps us move through English more quickly!

We diagram sentences on the white board to move through diagramming more quickly.

We often diagram together on the white board, which helps us move more quickly through the lesson. I might just draw the diagram lines and have my kiddos point and say where the various words will go. This procedure has allowed us to keep Rod and Staff English very manageable. Even at the upper levels like English 6-8, we move very quickly through the lesson; we don’t exceed 30 to 40 minutes total on most days for both oral and written work. It is true though that review lessons and writing days take longer.

To move lessons along quickly if you are running behind, you could do the rest of the written work orally.

I do think another factor around English 4 is that students have not really cemented their English skills yet, so their answering doesn’t come as quickly. They are having to think harder to remember and English is not naturally a part of their skill-base yet. So, for some kiddos it may take longer at the English 4 and 5 level until they become more familiar with what is being asked of them. Don’t despair! If your lessons are running long, you could do evens or odds for awhile. However, in the long haul I’d try not to make skipping a practice. I would set a goal not to exceed 30 minutes at this stage. If you see you are coming close to that time and are not done for the day, omit any written work and just do it all orally. This is another technique I use when running behind. I want to encourage you, you will see such progress with these few tips!


In Their Sandals and R & S English… a winning combination!

From Our House to Yours

In Their Sandals and Rod & Staff English… a winning combination in USI!

In Heart of Dakota’s U.S. History I (USI), the English III credit includes a combination of literature, grammar, composition, and vocabulary. Today, I want to take a closer look at the composition and grammar parts of the credit. In USI, the creative writing course In Their Sandals is alternated with the first half of the grammar course Rod and Staff English 8. So, students use each of these resources two times each week. Two of our sons have used these resources now, and I am happy to say we have found them to be a winning combination!

What makes these two resources such a winning combination?

Now, you must be wondering what makes these two resources such a winning combination! Well, this combination works well because the first half of R & S English 8 covers expository, persuasive, narrative, and descriptive paragraphs; outlining; writing compositions; proofreading; researching; note-taking; and developing oral and written reports. When it comes to clear-cut, systematic writing that can be applied to oral/written assignments for virtually any school subject, R & S English cannot be beat!

However, In Their Sandals fills another need by beautifully by taking students step-by-step through the writing process and teaching elements of literature and composition along the way. Students are expertly guided to write in various styles and in different points of view. They learn how to take notes and to write from those notes. Likewise, they learn to summarize narrative stories from varying viewpoints, as well as summarize using multiple references. They conduct research for reports, epistolary writing, and creative writing, as well work through the writing process of researching, prewriting, outlining a lot, developing descriptions, and writing, applying, and revising.  Not only does In Their Sandals address often neglected areas of writing, it also pairs beautifully with Starr Meade’s New Testament Survey, which is used for the Bible credit in USI.

My Son’s Latest In Their Sandals Writing Piece

My son, Riley, handed in his latest In Their Sandals writing piece to me recently. I confess, I did very little to help with this. In fact, he was pretty much solo on this, other than me spot checking his work along the way. Well, all I can say is I was in tears by the time I was done reading! Happy tears! In this writing piece, Riley became Joseph and wrote journal entries on his brothers’ betraying him by selling him to the Egyptians as a slave. He really put his heart into this, and I truly felt like I was reading Joseph’s journal! As I finished, I thought how glad I am Riley is having a Christian education – the kind where God is welcome and present in a very real way every day!

In Closing

So, this is why these two resources are such a winning combination! Both are Christian. But, one tugs at your heart, and the other makes sharing what’s on your heart transfer well to paper. Though there are some errors, and I gave some leeway due to this being a journal, I thought he did a great job overall! I still gave him an “A+” – I am the teacher, right?!? Thanks Heart of Dakota for keeping Christ front and center! Thanks also for building strong writers! May our children take what they’ve learned and go out and change the world – for His glory!

In Christ,