Saturday, December 6, 2014

Logic of English Review....

After finishing All About Spelling Level 3 last year in 4th grade, I felt RileyAnn was ready for a change.  I had done extensive research the year before, but decided to stick with AAS one more year.  She was doing well with the program and liked it.  She is a gifted writer with well organized thoughts.  However, after completing Level 3, her spelling was still weak and hindering her writing fluency.  Hence began my pursuit for yet another spelling program.

I initially heard about The Logic of English among other homeschool circles.  I spoke with a few acquaintances that were using the program.  I also listened to seminars at the local homeschool convention.  I felt this new program could be the answer to our need.  After watching videos on The Logic of English website and corresponding with author Denise Eide, we decided to make the switch.  Riley started off this fall, 5th grade, with Logic of English Essentials.  

The Logic of English (LOE) was created "for students ages eight through adult who want to improve their reading, spelling, and/or sentence level writing ability.  The program systematically teaches how and why English words are spelled in a particular manner and how to build words into phrases and sentences, thereby providing students with the tools needed to decode, spell, and write."   The program is based on the Orton-Gillingham method of multi-sensory instruction. 

I think the idea behind The Logic of English is brilliant.  English really is a complex language.  Most people are not natural spellers.  We don't have photographic minds.  Rules and reasons explaining the why behind the how we spell English words are helpful.  For example, did you know the phonogram /ough/ has six different sounds?   Check out each of these words and notice the position of your mouth when pronouncing the vowel sound: thought, though, through, bough, rough, and trough.  How in the world do you know to used /ough/ rather than just plain o, ow, uff, or off?  Well, if you know the logic behind English, you know that /ough/ is used "only at the end of a base word or before a "T".  The Logic of English gives you the rules and reasons, "104 tools", behind the spelling of 98% of English words.   

The large LOE Teacher's Manual offers several sample schedules and much teacher support in the sixty-seven page Introduction.  As noted in the quote above, LOE not only provides spelling remediation, but also vocabulary, reading, grammar, and composition instruction.  Riley reads well above grade level and has fine vocabulary and composition skills.  However she needed spelling help so I decided to go with the "Struggling Spellers" schedule.

For spelling remediation, LOE suggests the possibility of completing one lesson every one to two days, finishing the entire 40 lesson course in 8-16 weeks.  This seemed a rather rapid pace to me so I modified it to spend three days, completing one lesson per week.  I figured with this schedule, we could complete the entire course in approximately one school year, which I felt sufficient.

Each LOE lesson is broke into three parts.  Part one introduces and reviews phonograms, explores spelling sounds, and includes teaching new spelling rules.  Part two provides spelling word dictation which includes syllabification and marking words according to their sounds.  Part three teaches grammar. It also gives phrases and sentences for dictation, using spelling words with various learned phonograms.  In addition, there are composition and vocabulary exercises.

We were excited about starting fresh.  It seemed to be going very well.  Then suddenly we hit a snag!  Every fifth lesson in LOE is an assessment and review.   Even though the beginning four lessons/weeks were review for Riley from previous school years, lesson five, the first LOE Assessment & Review, was very difficult for her.  We went back and reviewed a bit more and pushed through, as I attributed the struggle to starting a new program.  I figured we just needed to smooth out the bumps.  The next couple lessons went OK, but it became apparent around lesson eleven that LOE was not the right fit for us.

The multi-sensory piece of LOE is playing the phonogram and spelling games.  We tried a few games from the game book and they did not appeal to Riley or I.  Learning all six sounds of /ough/ in one lesson, as in the sample above, was too fast paced and confusing for Riley and I.  I couldn't remember the clues to cue her during dictation.   Riley is also currently using Michael Clay Thompson for English and grammar so the added grammar from LOE was sometimes repetitious and sometimes confusing.

Because LOE is more of an all in one program, covering spelling, reading, composition, vocabulary, and grammar, it felt like overkill to me.  I really just want a program for spelling remediation.  If improvement comes in those other language arts areas due to better spelling, it's a bonus.  However with RileyAnn, I am not interested in an all in one program.  I feel like in using Charlotte Mason's methods she has a great grasp on language arts and is heading in the right direction. 

I think we gave LOE a fair shot.  Needless to say, after twelve lessons in twelve weeks, we've decided to go back to the simplicity of All About Spelling.  The smile is back on RileyAnn's face.  I have learned if your child likes and buys into the program you're using, stick with it, you've conquered half the battle!

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