A number of people have written to say that they
appreciate the KISS web site, but some have also noted how they have used
or adapted it. Since these comments may be helpful to others, they will
be posted here.
Subject: You're KISS grammar system is a valuable resource. Thank you.
It is surprisingly complete, especially for
something you are offering up free of charge.
As far as I am able to tell, your site is about the best thing ever. My daughter, the future writer, is already thrilled with the exercises.
I have used KISS grammar since second or third grade with my homeschooled son. After the first year, he begged for it and asked me not to buy other stuff. The other stuff was harder and did not make sense to him. KISS made sense, so we stopped using other stuff.
He loves the workbooks I printed out from your site. They seemed great as is.
I can't recall if it was second or third grade we started in, but I started with lowest grade material on the site and I printed out a few grades the first year. He went through the material rather quickly, just eating it up.
He has consistently scored higher than his grade level on the CAT test since we started KISS grammar. This past school year, grade 6, I told him to ease off on the grammar because he was doing so well on it. He is having trouble with fractions, so we focused on that and he only did grammar 1 day per week.
The grades on the grade 6 CAT test are as follows:
Language Mechanics - Percentile Ranking 91%, Stanine 8, Grade Equiv PHS.
Language Expression - Percentile Ranking 81%, Stanine 7, Grade Equiv 11.1
I could not be happier. He is not genius or mensa type, I believe he is just an average kid.
I am happy to help anytime Ed. Thank you so much for KISS!
The only confusing thing thus far was navigating the website at first and sometimes finding instructions and names for different parts of grammar, some of them I forgot myself from high school. I always look for a "cheat sheet" to have on hand with all of that (for math the cheat sheet was the times table). It is nice to have that in one place for reference until it becomes firm knowledge.
I have been working with a 14 year old boy this summer, helping him over a bad experience in a grade nine English class. I have used an accelerated version of KISS with him, and I was thrilled when he told me, after about 6 sessions together, "Wow, it's not just a jumble of words, is it?" Later in the summer, I used Tennyson's "Eagle" and he asked if he could do more poems "this way." (I began with a grammatical --KISS-- analysis and followed that with some free association with the imagery, leading to a discussion of symbolism.) He has enjoyed the work with KISS and I have noticed that his retention is quite good, a result no doubt of the spiral curriculum presentation.
We started KISS a couple of years ago. So many of the other systems for teaching grammar led to blank looks and lack of rememberance of grammar terms. I don't know how many times I've taught them them the official definition of a noun! Starting off with prepositional phrases and daily 5 mins. did help. I still do five minutes everyday with them. Some people do math puzzles to wake themselves up, we do grammar puzzles. We just kept plugging away, whenever they seemed to be ready for the next level I introduced it. I remember finite verbs were a bit of a hurdle, but you get a whole year to tackle it if you need to. I really found that I have to stress the procedure again and again. And still, sometimes in a complex sentence they try to work it out from the first word through to the last. Working on verbals seems to have happened before I was really ready for it, because so much of the material we were looking at had verbals in them. However, it seems that it was challenging, not impossible.
As for comparing what I do with school teachers, I have one advantage in that I have continuity over a number of years, because I teach them myself (or rather we learn this together) and if it works we stick to it. . . .
I have a background in linguistics and so am very interested in language structure, but I also know that what I know is very specialized and quite frankly 'bitty'. I could not pass that on to my children. Your analysis is easy to understand, useable and what's more is very easy to implement in the 'classroom', at least for me.
I have noticed a distinct improvement in reading out loud ability of my eldest son who is always reluctant to read (in comparison to the rest of my family). I think it is due to his increasing ability to chunk words to each other better because he understands the structure better. We also study French and I have been able to use the KISS analysis to French texts that we read and so do a little comparative linguistics on the side.
I think the person ... that said "prepositional phrases should be studied in their roles as modifiers, within the context of clauses, not as a method of clearing away words from the sentence so that the subjects and verbs and complements are easier to find" has probably not worked with young kids. One can't really talk about rhetorical choices unless he/she understands the main clause of a sentence. Getting rid of the chaff is the right way to go about it. Of course the kids know that these modifying phrases aren't really extra, and they do learn to spot phrasal verbs. I don't think my students really memorize all the prepositions, but by making them our focus, they start to understand them. Upon your recommendation, I have them decorate a sign that features a preposition, and we string them up all around the room. I call them my preposition prayer flags. I pray that they learn them.
Dear Dr. Vavra.
I am writing to you in reply to your question ďhow did we reach the level of your program that we obtained? My name is Gavin, and I am eleven years old.
We started your program two years ago. We spent a whole year trying to recognize prepositional phrases, then we progressed to finite verbs and subjects. After we had done this, we went on to compliments We spend ten to twenty minutes every morning following your program, so we got a lot of practice.
I enjoy doing grammar, because I think I am doing all right at it. I know what is happening in sentences now, and I am feeling confident in my abilities.
We find our texts mostly from my motherís books. She finds some interesting ones. The one we are doing now is a medieval battle scene. Sometimes my mother downloads your texts from the Internet. They are the hardest that we analyze quite often.
That is basically all we have done to reach this level. We pushed ourselves, but I enjoyed it all.
Dear Dr Vavra
I believe that I have reached this level by doing a bit of KISS every day for fifteen minutes.
We choose all of our own passages out of books so that we get a wide range of documents to choose from.
Some things are very difficult but I and my mother and brother all push ourselves quite hard.
First of all we started with prepositional phrases. Then we started with finite verbs and subjects then we moved to complements then we moved to clauses that modify other words in the sentence, then to verbals.
I find the prepositional phrases a small problem even now, and the verbals are quite a problem. Complements, subjects and finite verbs I do not have any problem with.
Just lately I have been having some problems with my work but I struggle through. Mom always knows when I have had enough when my eyes glaze. She said that it is probably best to finish when that happens.