Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind (GftWTM) is curriculum for teaching grammar to middle-school and high-school students. You can start as early as 5th grade, but many families find better success with a 6th-grade start. For grades 1-5, we recommend our First Language Lessons (FLL), Levels 1-4.
Many people pair our intermediate writing curriculum, Writing With Skill (WWS) with GftWTM, but the two are independent of one another. Use a writing curriculum alongside GftWTM.
How does Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind work? How is it structured? What do I need to buy?
GftWTM is structured to create a complete grammar course for middle- to high-school students and to provide enough practice to make the student proficient in grammar.
The teacher uses the scripted Core Instructor Text to take the student through up to 4 cycles of grammar instruction. Most families find that it takes 1.5 years or more for the first 2 repetitions - and that's OK: the point is not speed, but mastery.
The student material is contained in a Student Workbook with a companion Answer Key. We offer four “colors” of student materials--Purple, Red, Blue, and (Q3 2022) Yellow. The student uses a different color to complete a repetition of the course. Each color offering different content to practice the instruction in the Core Instructor Text.
You can use the workbooks in any order. Each “color” has the same level of difficulty; the difference is in the selection of sentences the student works with. So when the instructor teaches Lesson 12 (or 45 or 82) from the Core instructor Text, the student using the Red set will have different sentences to work with than the student using the Blue set: the grammar instruction is the same, and the "level" is the same. This article explains the concept a little further: About Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind. Susan Wise Bauer explains it in this video.
To teach the material, you need the Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind Core Instructor Text and any “color” set of the Student Workbook and Answer Key
We also offer two optional-but-helpful reference books for students working in First Language Lessons, Level 4, and Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind.
- The Grammar Guidebook (GG) is a lifetime reference book for you and your student.
- The Diagramming Dictionary (DD) is a power-assist in teaching sentence diagramming.
Which format should I order?
All of the GftWTM materials are available in physical media (hardback for some, paperback for others) or PDF format. Before you place your order, consider the following:
- If you are comfortable teaching from a tablet or laptop, the Core Instructor Text in PDF format can save you some money; it has a lower price than the printed text, there is no shipping fee, and delivery is nearly immediate. The same can be true for the Answer Key.
- Figure out whether it is more economical for you to print the Student Workbooks or to order the paperbacks and have them shipped; the students will write on most of the pages and the books are pretty thick. For most people, the paperback (even with shipping) is more economical. The exception is with international shipping or customs expenses.
Can I see a sample of the curriculum?
Look under the product image in the store; click the sample button under that image. If you would like to try the materials for 6 weeks, you can download the first 6 weeks of the Core Instructor Text, the Purple Student Workbook and the Purple Answer Key. Give the material a try.
At what pace should my student complete a “color” of GftWTM?
In this video, Susan Wise Bauer introduces the Blue set and describes how to use the curriculum over 4 or 5 (or more) years. This chart shows the flexibility you have in using GftWTM over 4 or 5 (or more) years. Many teachers/parents find that each color takes 1.5 years to complete in full, especially the first two cycles.
Can I use GftWTM with a high school student?
GftWTM is definitely suitable for high-schoolers. Many families are using the books on 4 repetitions of a 1.5- to 2-year cycle...which takes the student all the way from middle school through high school.
Do you have teaching tips from Susan Wise Bauer or from someone who has used the curriculum?
In this video, Dr. Bauer offers teaching tips that help you adapt GftWTM to your own situation.
In this video, Dr. Bauer and Jessica Otto, who uses GftWTM at our Well-Trained Mind Academy, talk about how to use the curriculum in different situations.
I wish I could see a role-play of a teaching session.
Can I use GftWTM in a classroom setting?
Yes. We have licensing information in this FAQ article.
Do you have a Scope and Sequence for Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind?
Yes--Scope and Sequence.
We have completed FLL-4, but my student needs diagramming practice.
One of the great strengths of GftWTM is its extensive diagramming instruction and practice. (Our illustrator produced more than 450 diagrams for each student workbook.) Susan Wise Bauer explains the importance of diagramming.
What if I am already committed to another grammar curriculum?
The Grammar Guidebook (GG) and The Diagramming Dictionary (DD) provide instructor backup for any grammar curriculum. We produced GftWTM because we couldn’t find a curriculum rigorous in teaching the structure of the language, especially through sentence diagramming. If you use GG and DD, you can give your student this additional instruction.
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