Book Review: Schofield & Sims Grammar and Punctuation

Schofield & Sims Grammar and Punctuation

Grammar and punctuation can, and often do, tie children and adults in constrictor knots. They are both essential tools of the trade that can’t be ignored, swept under the carpet or locked in a cupboard for another day.

Children have to make friends with them, get to know them and play with them. Once they start to do this they begin to really take off but even then it’s a relationship that needs constant maintenance, clear communication and support.

They will fall out, they will have their moments and although children might not ever be BFFs with grammar and punctuation, they will soon realise that they need G and P more than they think.

Where do you start looking for grammar and punctuation resources?

Not far at all – the market place is knee-deep in the stuff so the trick is finding something with pedigree that will dovetail the needs of your pupils. It depends what you are looking for.

If you want something that is a structured ‘mastery’ programme with pupil books and teachers guides that is great value for money and doesn’t compromise on quality content then Schofield & Sims Grammar and Punctuation is shouting “Cooee, over here!”

Down to brass tacks: there are 6 pupil books and 6 teacher’s guides from Y1-6 and together they work as a team to provide an all-inclusive programme for teaching grammar and punctuation keeping a close eye on developing vocabulary, reading and writing skills too.

The pupil books for each year group obviously differ in terms of content but they share similar features. Year 1 contains 15 double-page lessons and Y2-6 contain 30 single-paged lessons covering every topic you will need stretching from capital letters and verb endings to fronted adverbials,  double negatives and the subjunctive form with plenty sandwiched in between; the fillings are seriously meaty so there is plenty to tear at.

Each of the practice pages contain a punchy summary of the chief learning points and hot on its heels you will find a couple of sharp and snappy ‘Try it’ exercises and a ‘Sentence practice’ activity.  There are also some regular revision pages to help reinforce learning with imaginative writing tasks so that children can showcase their skills.

At the back of each book children will find a very handy glossary for looking up key terms and there is also a self-evaluation checklist to help them assess their own learning. Importantly, the pupil pages are all user-friendly with vibrant text, clear instructions and stimulating activities and these are interspersed with the judicious use of pictures to add some fun and visual stimulation.

The teacher’s guide provide lesson plans, assessment and recording keeping resources and those all-important answers to the questions found in the pupil books with some very useful annotations to help you detect topic areas where children will need extra work.

The supporting material in the guides is quality through and through and follows a ‘teach, practise, apply, assess’ model. Everything you need you will find in the guide for setting up and executing a successful grammar and punctuation session and includes the learning objectives, key terms used copious teaching notes and reinforcement activities.

What I like about these notes is that they contain short but interesting ‘Focus texts’ so you can teach each learning point in a meaningful context and there are also short dictation exercises for assessing whether children have understood.

The guide goes further still by offering an end of year test along with a detailed mark scheme and analysis sheet.  Like the pupil books you will find a glossary although this one is detailed and comprehensive and can support your subject knowledge and understanding.  The guides all have a very clear focus and they are easy to pick-up and digest to teach from with confidence.

Pupil books and teacher guides have to work in tandem and these clearly pedal together. They both focus on grammar and punctuation but they both promote and develop wider literacy skills in the process so they add plenty of value.

There are plenty of opportunities for children to engage with and develop a wide range of skills. A selection of free supporting downloads is also available from the Schofield & Sims website.

Both resources offer incredible value at just £3.50 for a pupil book and £10 for a teacher’s guide.

Colin Sims and Wright Schofield would surely be proud of these resources if they were still here to see them. Both headmasters in the 1880s, teaching was considerably different to what it is now but I reckon if we could send them the series they’d be blown away by their high quality, obvious rigour and genuine affordability.

Children might not see that writing is an art, but it is and sits proudly inside the 4th letter of STEAM. Grammar and punctuation thread throughout the curriculum and its concepts feed into so much of what we learn elsewhere.

One of my pupils once said that he wished he was an octopus because he’d be able to squirt black ink at his predators. He classed his predators as ratio and proportion, grammar and punctuation and Jake in Y6. At least with these Schofield & Sims resources he can cross a couple of his slayers off his list and see G and P as his friends and not his arch enemies.

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