Today, I want to share with you a program that I absolutely love called Winston Grammar which can supplement an Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching language skills very well. It can be used in 1:1 setting or in a classroom setting. I have used it successfully with many students who have dyslexia, dysgraphia, and/or ADHD.
I was never formally taught grammar or analyzing sentences in school– we just wrote a sentence, and it either sounded correct or it didn’t. But the formal study of grammar can be very helpful for those who struggle with writing skills or for whom English is not their first language. It can make it much more clear why a certain way to write is correct vs. incorrect, so for that reason I feel that it is an important thing for our students to learn.
Unfortunately, studying grammar, and diagramming sentences can be tediously boring for many students, and memorizing all the terms associated with grammar (noun/verb/adjective/adverb) can present a real problem for students with Language-Based Learning Disabilities such as dyslexia.
Winston Grammar is perfect for these students (and really great for all students, in my opinion) because it is a multisensory, hands-on grammar program. Best of all, it’s very affordable (no, they are not paying me to endorse them!) The Basic set costs $41 plus $4 shipping, and includes everything student and teacher need to teach the program.
The way Winston Grammar works is two-fold. First, you learn about a new part of speech and use color-coded clue cards to represent words in an example sentence. The program is cumulative and systematic, so it introduces one new thing per lesson and includes practice of previously taught concepts. While you are still learning parts of speech, you use solid black cards to represent an “unknown” word.
Once you get through the first 20 lessons, you know all the basic parts of speech, and when you analyze a sentence it looks something like this:
Then, after you practice a few sentences with clue cards, your students are ready to transfer that knowledge to “mark up” a sentence on paper (this is the part which is sort of like diagramming, and shows you how the different parts relate to each other).
Once you have practice with clue cards and marking up the sentences for each part of speech, then you begin to identify the “Noun Functions.” Every noun in a sentence has a function, and you learn to identify them all.
Each of the Noun Functions has a card, and you advance through them as in a flow-chart or “Choose Your Adventure” story– by the end you have identified the function of all your nouns. Here is what the Noun Function Cards look like:
That is what is learned in Winston Grammar Basic– there is also an Advanced Level which gets in to more complex topics.
According to their FAQ:
Because almost all grammar concepts are abstract, it is recommended that the Basic Level be done in 5th grade when children most often have developed their abstract thinking skills. In the front of the Basic Teacher Manual is a suggested lesson plan which, if followed, will take approximately one school year to complete the Basic Level. Using Word Works in 6th grade provides good reinforcement and helps with the difficult areas in our language. Teachers may choose to do the Advanced Level Program in 7th grade or choose to focus on other areas of language with review of the basic concepts that year. The Advanced level could then be started in 8th grade. The Advanced level is nearly twice as long as the Basic and could be stretched out over two years if desired.