Monday, August 27, 2012

Time 2 Study Grammar With Time 4 Writing


One day Tex walked in with a frustrated look on his face.
"Mom," he said, "Don't you just hate it when people mix up the words there, their, and they're? Or the words to, two, and too?"

I had to stifle a pleased smile (what homeschooling mom wouldn't LOVE to hear their kid say that?) and said very seriously that I had to agree. I said that it is very annoying and it makes you wonder whether anyone ever pays attention during English class these days. I asked him where he'd seen these heinous misuses of our native tongue and he replied, "Facebook." We decided that the problem (hopefully) might be that people knew better and just were letting auto-fill fill in their words on their iPhones, but that it could also be that people were just being lazy with their words.

Tex then proceeded to inform me that he likes editing things and that he thinks that being an editor might be a good job...fixing people's grammatical errors and getting to read loads of books before anyone else sounds pretty great to him. He then asked if he could take the Time4Writing course on Grammar and Mechanics for high schoolers, since he liked the one on paragraph writing for middle schoolers that he took last year. (You can read our initial review about Time4Writing, but make sure you read the follow up post, too. We had a huge turn around with our experience, and the writing sample and teacher comments will show you a personal look inside the way Time4Writing works.)

I said we'd see (because the courses cost $99 for one class and that is a large investment for us), and so we waited, and then God provided us this lovely opportunity to review the very same course Tex wanted to take. He sure is good, isn't He?

From the Time4Writing website:
This eight-week course covers the technical areas of writing that high school students need to master before moving on to paragraphs and then essays, including:
  • Correctly identifying the parts of a sentence
  • Understanding complex sentences
  • Learning subject-verb agreement
  • Differentiating between plural and possessive nouns
  • Using pronouns, adjectives and adverbs in sentences
  • Identifying and spelling words that often confuse writers
  • Correctly using commas, semicolons, and other punctuation
  • Proofreading their writing for errors

What Tex Has to Say About 
High School Grammar Usage Mechanics 

  • I like the way that Time4Writing is an independent learning class (in other words, not taught by my mom). I prefer to work on my own, and I also really like doing my work on the computer.
  • I appreciate how the teachers work with you to make sure that you understand the material, and let you fix problems once you understand it.
  • I like how they let you choose what topics you would like to write about (when they ask you to write sentences to show that you understand a certain rule or technique).
  • I was frustrated a few times when I turned things in on Thursday afternoon, and did not get a grade back (so I could not progress in the class) until Monday (because they do not grade on weekends and since they have 24 business hours to respond, a late Thursday submission did not always get tended to). Sometimes I think some of the delays were me not timing things right, but a few times, I feel like I did have to wait unnecessarily. This would not be a problem if I wasn't behind already due to my injury, but it is working out anyway. I like the teacher and she seems nice and helpful.
  • I liked being able to move quickly through quizzes that covered material with which I was familiar. I could set my own schedule and move more quickly if I wanted to.
  • I appreciated that they gave me a ten day extension since I was injured at camp and was in the hospital for two weeks. I think that I will be able to finish the class even with having to take three weeks off completely since they have the option for a four week schedule or an eight week schedule.
  • There were a few times when I had to go to my mom or my grandparents and get more information on a particular topic because I didn't quite understand it. I felt that sometimes a few more examples would have helped me to "get it" a bit better. I didn't mind having to ask Mom, though, as she was an English teacher and was definitely able to clarify anything I didn't understand.
  • My mom or my Nanny would sometimes read what I was submitting and give me pointers on what I might want to think about improving (but they did not tell me how to fix things, just that there were issues I should address), but mostly I did everything on my own, and I have done well on all my assignments so far. Sometimes, I think that the class is a bit simple for high school, but I have not gotten to the end of it yet (because of my injury) and figure it might get harder at the end.
  • I wanted to take this class even before we were offered the chance to review it because I liked the Time4Writing "Powerful Paragraphs" class I did last year. I like this type of class and think it is a good experience for home schooled students so they can see what it is like to have a teacher other than their parent.
  • I am enjoying this class a lot and I am planning on finishing it and getting an "A" to put on my high school transcript...I think it is great that I can do a semester's worth of work in eight weeks. *smile* (Mom says she has a grammar editing workbook I will have to do some work in, too, but that is fun anyway).

This is what the home page looks like...

What Mom has to say about G.U.M. High School Mechanics:

  • Tex wanted to do this course before we were even given the opportunity to review it. When the review opportunity came up, he was very excited.
  • Grammar is important and typical workbook exercises covering grammar can be, well, let's be honest...BORING and tedious. This course, on the other hand, takes only about fifteen-twenty minutes a day (maybe two hours a week), and covers all of the important basics. If you have a reluctant learner, this course might just do the trick. Wouldn't it be nice to not have to nag your kids about doing their grammar exercises?
  • Because we had the church camp injury, emergency surgery, and prolonged recovery happen right in the middle of the review period, the course did not go as smoothly as we'd have liked, and our experience is not typical of what you would expect if you were completing it during a regular school year. However, I found the customer service folks and the teacher to be very understanding and they offered to extend our class by ten days so that he'd be able to complete it, if he put on a little hustle. 
  • I think the idea of having a second party teach a course for your student and hold them accountable for their work quality and submissions is a great idea. Tex is a pretty laid back student and this course gives him a little bit of a push, which he needs. Students need to know that they need to get things in on time, on schedule, and that their quality is important. I recommend this sort of course highly.
  • I like the emails that come to my email account that notify me of what work Tex has completed each session. Once, the teacher even contacted me that his progress what not enough to allow him to complete the course on time. It was then that I thought to notify them of his special situation (his injury and subsequent extended hospital stay and inability to work for several weeks) and they offered him an extension without my even directly asking them for it. I greatly appreciated that flexibility. 
  • You can print up progress reports for you homeschooling records to help with end-of-year evaluations or for your own peace of mind.
  • The one negative of this course, in my mind, is that if you are a homeschooler who is used to being a "relaxed homeschooler," and you do not intend for this course to help your student learn to be accountable (and thus support their need to be regular in their completion of assignments), then this sort of course may cramp your style. Once you sign up and pay your money, you can adjust your course (or drop it) within the first 14 days (if a class is a poor fit--too hard, too easy), but you have only eight weeks to complete it (under normal circumstances) and then you get a grade. Of course, you can choose to not use the grade if it is a bad one, but who wants to pay $99 for a bad grade that you don't use?
  • I think one of the Time4Writing classes would be an excellent way to "wake up" a child who has difficulty turning in things to Mom on time, though. Try taking the load off of mom and putting it on a Time4Writing teacher for a semester, and I'll bet things will straighten out quite nicely.
  • Feel unsure about your ability to teach writing? Get authoritative feedback from certified instructors you can trust and watch your child bloom under the close tutelage of Time4Writing teachers.
  • The $99 price tag is a bit steep for us, but knowing that this sort of class works well for Tex, we will set aside money next year to cover the cost for the essay writing course and will consider it worth the money. However, if you do not have a specific need for a class like this, you might think the price is a bit high (for homeschoolers with conservative budgets.)
  • Overall, we loved the program. I am very likely to allow Tex to take the essay writing course next year (since this course counts for his freshman year), and the test essay writing course in his Junior year. I think it is worth the money, especially if it gets a semester's work out of the way for composition and/or grammar.

Would you like to find out more about Time4Writing?

Disclaimer: I received a subscription to an eight week course from Time4Writing for one student in order to be able to write this review. I received no other compensation and all opinions you read here reflect our personal experiences and opinions.

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