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lewelma

My evaluation of numerous writing curricula

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ETA: I just realized this thread was several months old...In my excitement I forgot I had started on this thread due to search results and not the most recent posts! :)

 

Lewelma, looking at your plans for middle school that include WWS and Killgallon, I wanted to ask which elements of Killgallon you use. Do you start with the elementary level when you begin WWS, or are you jumping in at the middle school level? Do you use any of the grammar, or just the sentence composition? This is the first time I have heard of these books, and I am looking through the samples on Amazon. They look wonderful!

 

Also, you have mentioned the upper levels of MCT. Are you also familiar with the Island level, and if so, would Killgallon be similar/better? (in regards to teaching sentence structure, etc.) I had been looking at MCT Island level for this year, primarily for the Sentence Island components because the parts of speech content would be review. Should I consider Killgallon elementary instead?

 

This would be for rising 3rd and 4th graders continuing in WWE (and I am still considering whether to add in IEW this year or wait until next.) We will be at WWE 2 because I was late to jump in with the program and couldn't bear to skip the first level when we began last year. (However, I did tweak a bit to make the copywork more challenging, and towards the middle/end we started to work on writing summaries of the selections. Looking at WWE 2, I think we'll be moving through it rather quickly.)

 

I so appreciate the contributions you and others have made in the sharing of your experience with and knowledge of writing curricula. What a wealth of information to process!

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Oh dear, now I've just realized that I responded with an elementary level question on a thread from the middle school forum. Apologies, all. Hopefully the thread bump will be useful to someone, at least ;)

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4peanuts,  Glad this discussion was helpful to you!  I'll try to get to your questions tomorrow as I have to go to bed!

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I've had the chance to start reading some other threads on Killgallon and have figured out that it and MCT are not exactly similar! I've only scratched the surface of threads to read...I'd still be interested to hear what parts of Killgallon you use, but in any case I appreciate this thread so much for expanding my horizons in regards to new writing programs and how they all fit together!

 

ETA: found some more of your posts on this topic, Ruth, as we'll as a bunch of others' that have really cleared things up for me!

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 I wanted to ask which elements of Killgallon you use. Do you start with the elementary level when you begin WWS, or are you jumping in at the middle school level? Do you use any of the grammar, or just the sentence composition?

 Are you also familiar with the Island level, and if so, would Killgallon be similar/better? (in regards to teaching sentence structure, etc.) I had been looking at MCT Island level for this year, primarily for the Sentence Island components because the parts of speech content would be review. Should I consider Killgallon elementary instead?

 

This would be for rising 3rd and 4th graders continuing in WWE (and I am still considering whether to add in IEW this year or wait until next.)

 

I have used the middle school Killgallon sentence composition only.  And I really adapt it to our needs. My boy did not need a lot of the early exercises so we just skipped to the imitation section.

 

As for the MCT Island level, the writing books are more 'feel good' books rather than explicit instruction.  Of the island level, my favorite by far is the Musical Hemispheres. It is an absolutely awesome book.  Sentence Island is pretty basic and really more about the basic grammar of a sentence. Paragraph Town is better and I am currently using it with my 4th grader.  He likes the story, but the points made about paragraphs are in some ways subtle for a 9 year to grasp.  So I am having to wing it.  When I find a good paragraph in the story, we discuss what makes it a good paragraph, how it is designed and organized, etc.  This is just stuff out of my own head and not from the book.  The exercises in the back are pretty good and we will use some of them, but in general MCT writing instruction is not very effective for MY children.  I know that many others LOVE it.  So really depends on your child.

 

Personally, I would be hesitant to use both WWE and IEW in the same year, unless your intent was to have a writing-intensive year, because basically you are doubling up on writing instruction.  Personally, I prefer IEW because my kids can write about anything they want, but I know that a lot of people really find WWE to be very effective for their children.

 

Happy to answer more questions.

 

Ruth in NZ

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With my fourth grader I am going to use WWE (not the workbooks and I probably won't do the copywork/dictation) and also Classical Writing Aesop.  I may do one WWE summary and then one CW Aesop retelling (you could do IEW outline and rewrite) each week or 6 days. It just struck me yesterday that this combination is similar to WWS 1 that I am using with my older girls.  I'm going to use the Instructor WWE text and just start in late 2 and skip ahead 5 lessons at a time until we are at a comfortable place with regard to difficulty.  

 

I think adding anything to WWE would be too much if you are using the WWE program as written.

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Kendall, I think that makes a lot of sense.  In 4th grade we were usually doubling up on WWE3 days (doing a narration & dictation on the same day) and generally doing it at a little more accelerated/advanced level.  My dd isn't a reluctant writer and had been accustomed to more writing in ps, so this wasn't a stretch.  I actually ended up starting WWS in the spring of 4th grade and doing the first 10 weeks then, which I probably wouldn't have done if I had an alternative program to use alongside WWE - it just wasn't enough at that point.  With my younger dd, I'm definitely planning on completing Paragraph Town before we start WWS, however far we go in the WWE series.  SWB has said that WWE4 is optional and can be skipped if the student doesn't need it, but you can be done with WWE and not yet ready for WWS (ask me how I know!), there is quite a jump in difficulty there.  

 

Anyway, longwinded way of saying you plan looks good to me!

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Personally, I would be hesitant to use both WWE and IEW in the same year, unless your intent was to have a writing-intensive year, because basically you are doubling up on writing instruction. Personally, I prefer IEW because my kids can write about anything they want, but I know that a lot of people really find WWE to be very effective for their children.

 

Happy to answer more questions.

 

Ruth in NZ

Well, I actually am considering having a bit of a writing intensive year; in several ways I think this would be a good fit for us right now. I've enjoyed WWE so far (even though we did go through level 1 on a tweaked and accelerated plan) but I have also been drawn towards IEW, and it was actually one of your posts I saw a while back that made me think it might be possible to combine them. After looking back, it seems that you were referring to working in some WWE style exercises while doing IEW, not necessarily doing the whole WWE program lock, stock, and barrel. That was more of my plan ; I'd be using WWE 2 passages but probably not every single one, and often combining 2 days' activities into one. I already had started working on summaries, and doing some of the WWE 1passages as dictation rather than copywork, so some of the things that are new in WWE 2 will not be new to them. Is my restated understanding correct in regards to how you did WWE style activities in conjunction with IEW?

 

Also, while I've got you, would you say that IEW is equally well suited for enthusiastic writers as it is for reluctant ones? I've got one (3rd this year) who is a prolific and enthusiastic writer, and another (4th this year) who is capable although not as inclined to do it for fun.

ETA: more background for that question: I've heard from multiple sources that too much IEW can make a student's writing too formulaic, and I believe even you said that's why you only use it a couple of years. So would you say it is more than just a jump start for a reluctant writer?

 

With my fourth grader I am going to use WWE (not the workbooks and I probably won't do the copywork/dictation) and also Classical Writing Aesop. I may do one WWE summary and then one CW Aesop retelling (you could do IEW outline and rewrite) each week or 6 days. It just struck me yesterday that this combination is similar to WWS 1 that I am using with my older girls. I'm going to use the Instructor WWE text and just start in late 2 and skip ahead 5 lessons at a time until we are at a comfortable place with regard to difficulty.

 

I think adding anything to WWE would be too much if you are using the WWE program as written.

Thanks for that input, Kendall. My worry with trying to combine the two was how to lay it out, and it's good to hear how someone else does it! Selective, targeted use of WWE was what I was thinking...

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Just to clarify, I did not use WWE concurrently with IEW -- I used WWE for a month before we used WWS because I realized that my ds could not summarize at all.  If you were going to do a writing intensive year with WWE and IEW, I would just suggest you drop something else - perhaps no grammar or spelling (as it would be integrated into the dictation element of WWE), or perhaps no narration for history or science, as it would be in the narration portion of WWE.  Just make sure that you don't overwhelm your kids.

 

As for IEW, I have used it with both a hesitant, follow-the-rules writer and an enthusiastic, natural writer.  What I have found is that you don't have to follow the program as written.  I only used the TWSS teacher's videos, and they taught me how to teach writing.  Then, I only used the aspects of the program that would be good for my kids.  So for the hesitant follow-the-rules writer, we used all the style elements with a list and after 2 years I just relaxed the list and did not require every little thing.  For my enthusiastic natural writer, we only use the style elements to evaluate his writing when editing.  This week he seemed to have a lot of subject openers, so it was a great opportunity to brainstorm other ways to open a sentence using the style guide.  For this student I don't keep a strict rule sheet that he must complete. 

 

I think that if you used IEW strictly from 3rd grade to 12th grade you might get a formulaic writer, as some people have noted.  But really, if you use common sense, and relax the elements when it looks like your student is taking off, I don't think that you have to worry.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Just to clarify, I did not use WWE concurrently with IEW -- I used WWE for a month before we used WWS because I realized that my ds could not summarize at all.  If you were going to do a writing intensive year with WWE and IEW, I would just suggest you drop something else - perhaps no grammar or spelling (as it would be integrated into the dictation element of WWE), or perhaps no narration for history or science, as it would be in the narration portion of WWE.  Just make sure that you don't overwhelm your kids.

 

As for IEW, I have used it with both a hesitant, follow-the-rules writer and an enthusiastic, natural writer.  What I have found is that you don't have to follow the program as written.  I only used the TWSS teacher's videos, and they taught me how to teach writing.  Then, I only used the aspects of the program that would be good for my kids.  So for the hesitant follow-the-rules writer, we used all the style elements with a list and after 2 years I just relaxed the list and did not require every little thing.  For my enthusiastic natural writer, we only use the style elements to evaluate his writing when editing.  This week he seemed to have a lot of subject openers, so it was a great opportunity to brainstorm other ways to open a sentence using the style guide.  For this student I don't keep a strict rule sheet that he must complete. 

 

I think that if you used IEW strictly from 3rd grade to 12th grade you might get a formulaic writer, as some people have noted.  But really, if you use common sense, and relax the elements when it looks like your student is taking off, I don't think that you have to worry.

 

Ruth in NZ

I was re-reading this incredibly useful thread and had a question, just in case you might have a recommendation.

 

I have a dyslexic 7th grader and a dyslexic 4th grader.  We are remediating with Barton and will start IEW sometime in Fall 2013 or Spring 2014.  Once we finish the main IEW writing program, DD (13) will be well into High School.  Would just sticking with IEW be o.k., or should we try to incorporate other writing instruction after IEW, since she won't have had much exposure to writing other than IEW?

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I'm not Ruth--maybe she'll be on as it becomes day in NZ.

 

I'm wondering what your/dd's goals are? Life skills? College essays? A career that involves extensive writing such as journalism? Do they need to just be able to synthesize outside materials, or to be able to articulate original ideas?  I think that would make a huge difference in what is needed. Also, it may be hard to judge what will be a good fit for each of your dc until you/they get into it.

 

I thought IEW seemed excellent and expected it to be a great fit. The bit my son did do with it seemed to be well done, but my ds detests it. 2 or 3 assignments in he was in tears and did not want to write anymore. Alas. I still have it and hope to try again, but may end up trying to take them up on their money back guarantee--or maybe to switch out parts to what might be better fits for my ds within the IEW materials. For my ds, also with dyslexia, other things, like Bravewriter, have worked better, at least so far. And the reasons for something fitting or not, has not been primarily due to dyslexia--in fact, in the case of writing, the programs typically mentioned for dyslexia seem to have been bad fits for him, but more to do with finding what meshes with the exceptional part of 2e interests and strengths.

 

I think writing, even more than math and reading, seems to "fit" or not with a particular person's way of thinking and other needs. Some programs are more whole to parts, some more parts to whole, some more open-ended, some more controlled, some aiming for an adequate basic paragraph, some working from the person's own thoughts, some imitating masterworks.... so many options. And while I think some children probably do fine with any choice, others seem to have it matter very much.

 

 

... For us what to do for writing was probably the biggest hurdle there has been in finding materials and methods that work well, and while I have come a long way in finding things that do not work well for him (I feel like Einstein with the lightbulb filaments), still, in some ways, it continues to be challenging. Reading, which seemed like Denali when it loomed before us,  now looks like a little hill back behind us. Writing seems to be Mt. Everest, and we are practicing walking and making little minor ascents down at base camp level. The summit is still hidden up in the clouds.

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I'm not Ruth--maybe she'll be on as it becomes day in NZ.

 

I'm wondering what your/dd's goals are? Life skills? College essays? A career that involves extensive writing such as journalism? Do they need to just be able to synthesize outside materials, or to be able to articulate original ideas?  I think that would make a huge difference in what is needed. Also, it may be hard to judge what will be a good fit for each of your dc until you/they get into it.

 

I thought IEW seemed excellent and expected it to be a great fit. The bit my son did do with it seemed to be well done, but my ds detests it. 2 or 3 assignments in he was in tears and did not want to write anymore. Alas. I still have it and hope to try again, but may end up trying to take them up on their money back guarantee--or maybe to switch out parts to what might be better fits for my ds within the IEW materials. For my ds, also with dyslexia, other things, like Bravewriter, have worked better, at least so far. And the reasons for something fitting or not, has not been primarily due to dyslexia--in fact, in the case of writing, the programs typically mentioned for dyslexia seem to have been bad fits for him, but more to do with finding what meshes with the exceptional part of 2e interests and strengths.

 

I think writing, even more than math and reading, seems to "fit" or not with a particular person's way of thinking and other needs. Some programs are more whole to parts, some more parts to whole, some more open-ended, some more controlled, some aiming for an adequate basic paragraph, some working from the person's own thoughts, some imitating masterworks.... so many options. And while I think some children probably do fine with any choice, others seem to have it matter very much.

 

 

... For us what to do for writing was probably the biggest hurdle there has been in finding materials and methods that work well, and while I have come a long way in finding things that do not work well for him (I feel like Einstein with the lightbulb filaments), still, in some ways, it continues to be challenging. Reading, which seemed like Denali when it loomed before us,  now looks like a little hill back behind us. Writing seems to be Mt. Everest, and we are practicing walking and making little minor ascents down at base camp level. The summit is still hidden up in the clouds.

Thanks so much for the response, Pen.  I know that DD had never liked any kind of writing, but I think now that it was mainly because reading and spelling were such a challenge.  I also think she probably has working memory issues and I know she has some EF issues.  Now that reading/spelling is being remediated successfully, she likes writing short stories and works at that just for fun.  I am hoping to put systems in place to help facilitate that interest but had been waiting to start something as formal and intense as IEW until we had completed Level 4 of Barton.  

 

DS is extremely articulate and loves telling stories but hates writing of any kind.  But he is dysgraphic and dyslexic so writing is actually very challenging for him.  I am trying to work through the various technologies to find ways to help them with writing and am hoping when we get to IEW that it will not be too hard to implement.

 

 I intend to get the support DVDs.  We have so many teacher intense programs going right now, I am honestly exhausted at the prospect of another one, but as you say, writing is one of those really challenging tasks to accomplish and it takes effort to get there.  I loved writing in school and thrived in writing.  But I have no idea how to teach it. I can't break down what is going on in my head.  I hope that IEW will get me started and then hopefully we can find different paths to follow to find what really sparks the interest to pursue at least the ability to write well, if not an actual love of writing (although that would be great).  KWIM?

 

And yes, both DD and DS have expressed interest in going to college. There was a time when DD just didn't believe it was possible but now that reading and spelling are coming along, she has more confidence.  Therefore, they need to be able to write well enough to get into and function in college.  But my other goal is for them to be able to function with writing as a life skill and to feel comfortable writing to express themselves and to maybe even enjoy writing, even if it is just short stories for fun, or journaling, or emails to friends, etc.  Right now neither feels comfortable writing anything that others besides myself read.

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I think IEW, perhaps like narration aspects of WWE and WTM, could be very helpful for working with working memory since looking at a text and then remembering and being able to say it back is a big part of the program. That said, I think it was some (though not all) of what caused my ds to be in tears over IEW and for him should have been separated from the idea of "writing," and dealt with as 'now we are working on memory skills.'  Or memory and notetaking skills. 

 

For composition, my son did much better using technology like a recorder into which to speak his thoughts about a subject that he was interested in, and then with my help to get those thoughts onto computer Pages, then to print it out, read what he had, cut it up in the old fashioned with scissors way, and start ordering it in a way that would make sense, then working back on the computer again to edit and revise, also filling in more information (possibly with research) as needed, and so on. A very different approach.  He was able to refer to material as needed and keep in his mind what he thought was interesting or important, not the whole thing as given by IEW or some other text. He also did some practice with writing short "essays" based on prompts.

 

At this time he is writing fiction, and seems to be coming along doing that, so I have decided to let that be his writing for the time being, but I do plan to go back to some essay type more academic writing at some point.

 

I do think that some of the IEW ideas for the parent are helpful. Ideas like not working on too many things at once, for example. 

 

I think some people write best by having an outline and working from that, and for those IEW and related systems may be a better fit. My son seems to do better by, in essence, thinking things out on paper, or a digital recorder and computer as an assistive technology aid in place of the paper, and then working with that raw material. Or in fiction he just moves along sentence by sentence. It is a different way than working from an outline. I do not think necessarily better or worse, but something that it helps to match a program to rather than trying to stuff the child into a box that does not fit. Especially at the point when wrong approaches can still be traumatic rather than just presenting an idea of another way to write that might help in some circumstances such as when having to churn out a college paper, which needs to be competent and done by a certain date.

 

You might consider also whether you dd/ds might like a long distance pen pal to practice emails. No one she/he "knows" where it might be embarrassing to show her/his writing. My son has had a couple of these found from this website, and the messages have tended to be just a sentence or a few back and forth. It seems pretty low key and an easy way to experience writing as actual communication. A lot of errors are made, but it seems fine. If things are not clear they usually get asked about and so on.

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I think IEW, perhaps like narration aspects of WWE and WTM, could be very helpful for working with working memory since looking at a text and then remembering and being able to say it back is a big part of the program. That said, I think it was some (though not all) of what caused my ds to be in tears over IEW and for him should have been separated from the idea of "writing," and dealt with as 'now we are working on memory skills.'  Or memory and notetaking skills. 

 

For composition, my son did much better using technology like a recorder into which to speak his thoughts about a subject that he was interested in, and then with my help to get those thoughts onto computer Pages, then to print it out, read what he had, cut it up in the old fashioned with scissors way, and start ordering it in a way that would make sense, then working back on the computer again to edit and revise, also filling in more information (possibly with research) as needed, and so on. A very different approach.  He was able to refer to material as needed and keep in his mind what he thought was interesting or important, not the whole thing as given by IEW or some other text. He also did some practice with writing short "essays" based on prompts.

 

At this time he is writing fiction, and seems to be coming along doing that, so I have decided to let that be his writing for the time being, but I do plan to go back to some essay type more academic writing at some point.

 

I do think that some of the IEW ideas for the parent are helpful. Ideas like not working on too many things at once, for example. 

 

I think some people write best by having an outline and working from that, and for those IEW and related systems may be a better fit. My son seems to do better by, in essence, thinking things out on paper, or a digital recorder and computer as an assistive technology aid in place of the paper, and then working with that raw material. Or in fiction he just moves along sentence by sentence. It is a different way than working from an outline. I do not think necessarily better or worse, but something that it helps to match a program to rather than trying to stuff the child into a box that does not fit. Especially at the point when wrong approaches can still be traumatic rather than just presenting an idea of another way to write that might help in some circumstances such as when having to churn out a college paper, which needs to be competent and done by a certain date.

 

You might consider also whether you dd/ds might like a long distance pen pal to practice emails. No one she/he "knows" where it might be embarrassing to show her/his writing. My son has had a couple of these found from this website, and the messages have tended to be just a sentence or a few back and forth. It seems pretty low key and an easy way to experience writing as actual communication. A lot of errors are made, but it seems fine. If things are not clear they usually get asked about and so on.

Thanks so much for the detailed response.  Have to go build a clubhouse now but I will reread this later and may PM you if that is o.k.  Best wishes.

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 may PM you if that is o.k.  Best wishes.

 

Sure of course ok to PM.

 

I have to get off and do other things now too.   Enjoy the clubhouse!

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But I have no idea how to teach it. I can't break down what is going on in my head. I hope that IEW will get me started and then hopefully we can find different paths to follow to find what really sparks the interest to pursue at least the ability to write well, if not an actual love of writing (although that would be great). KWIM?.

You have already gotten such good advice from Pen, so I doubt that I can add much.

 

It seems to me that you should just plan one year at a time and evaluate how it is going. As Pen said not all programs work for all students and some work for a while but then it is time to move on.

 

My biggest suggestion to you is to start your own education on how to teach writing. You need to make explicit what you already know implicitly and this can be very difficult for natural writers. My own studies in writing instruction have given me great confidence that I can meet each of my students where they are and help them move forward. I think you will feel so much better if you know what you are doing. The IEW DVDs were my first step in this self education process.

 

Ruth in NZ

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You have already gotten such good advice from Pen, so I doubt that I can add much.

 

It seems to me that you should just plan one year at a time and evaluate how it is going. As Pen said not all programs work for all students and some work for a while but then it is time to move on.

 

My biggest suggestion to you is to start your own education on how to teach writing. You need to make explicit what you already know implicitly and this can be very difficult for natural writers. My own studies in writing instruction have given me great confidence that I can meet each of my students where they are and help them move forward. I think you will feel so much better if you know what you are doing. The IEW DVDs were my first step in this self education process.

 

Ruth in NZ

Thanks Ruth.  You are absolutely right.  I need to educate myself on the process of writing.  I had to educate myself on the process of reading and on the process of how we do basic math computation before I could actually teach those things successfully to my dyslexic children, so I guess it does make a whole lot of sense for the next step to be my need to educate myself on writing.  Thanks for the feedback.

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Just found this thread and spent the last hour trying to read it all but skimming a lot due to time. Great thread! I pulled up a few links - but not all yet - and so far I love the examples I see of Kilgallon. I've never even heard of that book but I really like it! Thanks for a great thread!

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Ruth, when you educated yourself on how to teach writing, did you do any of the assignments--essays, papers, etc--or did you "just" (not to minimize your effort!) read about writing through all these sources you've listed in this thread?

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I just read them.  I know how to write, but I did not know 1) how to teach writing to a child who needs explicit teaching, and 2) what exactly a high school graduate is supposed to be able to write.

 

But what I have found is very helpful is to model writing by actually writing in front of my older ds.  So when he needed to write a response essay, we read and discussed a provocative essay, and then I sat down at the computer to write a response.  Now, I have never written a response essay in my life, but as I told him, as a proficient writer I should be able to write anything I choose to.  I have found it a very effective teaching technique to not prepare for these assignments ahead of time, but rather to work through them as a student would.  We look up what the assignment means,  outline a few things to say,  create a thesis based on this, and then just start writing.  I go about the writing somewhat slowly so that I can explain my thinking as I go.  DS helps out with some ideas because we have come up with the thesis and outline together.  Sometimes I get stuck or write my way into a corner, and we talk about how to get out of it.  Often, I have to improve my thesis, because my ideas have become clearer as I write.  But all this I do in front of him and *with* him.  It has been very very useful for ds.

 

++++++

 

I have also found that I need continuing education to become an effective highschool English teacher, so this school holidays I have bought and am reading more books.  These are not curriculum with weeks laid out; rather they are textbooks for high school, but not like any I have ever seen before.  Swimmermom recommended them on the high school board, and I just bought them all second hand and cheap!

 

Common Threads: Core Readings by Method and Theme

The Brief Bedford Reader (I purchased an older edition of all of the following to save $$)

The Norton Reader

The Language of Composition (AP textbook)

Everything's an argument

 

I'll write up some reviews later and a annual plan to use them, but here is a summary of the first one that I wrote up on another thread. 

 

Have you seen Common Threads: Core Readings by Method and Theme by Repetto and Aaron?  Someone on the high school board recommended it to me to work on before The Language of Composition by Shea (which is by the same publisher, Bedford/St. Martin's).  And it is awesome (I just got it and have been reading it today).  It is designed for 9th grade, but I definitely think it could be done in 7th or 8th or even both (there is enough material).  Basically, it goes through 10 different rhetorical strategies (cause and effect, definition, etc) and picks 3 essays that use that strategy and all the essays are on the same topic.  So pop culture, or education, etc. So you read the example essays, discuss, and write.  The questions about each essay are really interesting and varied.  They seem to fall into 6 categories, questions that lead to response essays, questions that lead to critical analysis essays, research questions, questions requiring you to compare 2 works in the book, ideas for your own essays using the rhetorical strategy, and ideas for your own essay about the topic. Each chapter also has very clear information on how to write essays and evaluate essays using that rhetorical strategy, including a section on style (like parallel structure when writing comparison/contrast or concrete/specific language when using description, etc).  The essays are from great writers that publish in a huge variety of newspapers and magazines.  They are short (2-4 pages), well written, and interesting.   Also, the first 5 chapters are just about finding a topic, forming a thesis, revising, plagiarism, MLA style, etc.  The version I bought was published in 2014, so definitely no ladies with fine silver or boys with drag racing!

 

Overall, seems like everything you could want in a book.  Main thing is that it is written for 9th graders, so your 7th grader would need to be either somewhat advanced or just keen to give it a go.

 

++++++

 

Just a few more ideas for this every expanding thread.

 

Ruth in NZ

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This is an x-post from Swimmermom3. I hope she does not mind me putting it here. It is just a really nice review of a lot of high school rhetoric materials.

 

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Anthologies

 

I like to use entire works where I can, but anthologies are particularly inexpensive for providing a large selection of short stories, essays, and poetry. I look for anthologies that offer a wide selection, but also additional materials that help me teach.

 

The books I wouldn't teach high school English without:

 

The Story and Its Writer: An Introduction to Short Fiction - amazing selection of most of the best short stories, but unfortunately it has only author biographies. If I need a lesson for the work, I pull from a TC course or online lesson plans. My kids have just sat and read the book at leisure.

 

Perrine’s Structure Sound and Sense - This has not only the actual works which include fiction, poetry, and drama, but it covers writing about literature, literary elements, how to read a poem, a discussion concerning drama. If you are not ready to fly solo a la TWTM, this can be a good place to start. I pull from it for short lessons when I am not feeling especially creative.

 

The Brief Bedford Reader –Kennedy - I prefer my kids to study essays done by professional writers versus peers in order to understand how to write an essay. This particular volume isn't very big, but it offers a lot of instruction and it probably one of my favorite high school English resources. The first part of the book talks about reading critically, writing effectively and using and documenting sources. The second section talks about the different methods for writing essays: narration, description, example, comparison and contrast, process analysis, classification, cause and effect, definition, argument and persuasion. So for comparison and contrast, you will read about the writing process and then read Suzanne Britt's Neat People vs. Sloppy People. At the end of the essay, there are several questions for discussion regarding the topic and the writing strategy. This is followed by essay topics and finally the essay's author gives their own thoughts on writing.

 

The Language of Composition – Shea -This is a relatively new resource for me, but it is another multi-talented volume that offers a great introductory section on rhetoric, a close-reading section, and the incredibly helpful section on synthesizing sources. My youngest struggled initially with pulling from a couple of resources and making them into a whole, coherent essay. I find the Exploring the Text questions to be deeper than most English resources.

 

I could teach for at least two years if not three with these volumes and complete works from TWTM lists. Most of my editions are older and can be obtained for $4-5 on Amazon including shipping.

 

Remember that essays are an efficient way to teach analysis and writing at the same time.

 

Anthologies that are mighty handy:

 

The Bedford Anthology of World Literature: The Ancient World, Beginnings-100 C.E. (Vol. 1)

The Bedford Anthology of World Literature: The Middle Period 100 C.E. - 1450 (Vol. 2)

The Bedford Anthologies of World Literature are great if you are on a tight budget time-wise or money-wise. We add world literature to our WTM Great Books work so we were able to pull works from ancient Egypt, China, and India as well as classical western works that we didn't own. This first volume weighs in at 1400 pages and offers a brief history for each area covered, connections to other ancient works and discussions about each of the works. The only thing missing for me, would be some discussion from a literary sense. Again, cheap on Amazon for individual volumes.

 

50 Essays: A Portable Anthology – Samuel Cohen - another small, but indispensable volume with a wide variety of authors: Maya Angelou, George Orwell, Frederick Douglas, Langston Hughes, Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King Jr., Abraham Lincoln, Zora Neale Hurston, and Dave Barry. There are questions for discussion and writing at the end of each selection.

 

The Norton Anthology of Poetry - it's not that I am in love with this volume, it's just huge and offers a lot of choices. I find it difficult to accumulate individual poetry volumes.

 

Sleeping on the Wing: An Anthology of Modern Poetry with Essays on Reading and Writing - love this little volume, but that is just a personal choice.

 

Everything’s An Argument – Lunsford - More essays, a lot of solid instruction on argumentation. Often used in AP Lang. courses. Another favorite.

 

 

The Kitchen Sink - I have pulled from all of these at one time or another, but I don't consider them essential. I won't pay for Norton and usually pick them up on PaperbackSwap. I also picked up the huge Bedford volume on PBS, but I would have paid for it. It's another resource like Perrin's and is handy. I am partial to Bedford/St. Martin's language arts materials so I can seldom resist them.

 

The Writer’s Presence – McQuade (essays, AP Lang.)

The Nature of Life: Readings in Biology (I like science essays and am looking for a collection for chemistry)

Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages - just fun and left over from middle school

The World’s Great Speeches - handy as we do a speech class

The Bedford Introduction to Literature

The Norton Anthology of English Literature - meh

The Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces - older volumes are really just western choices with a token eastern work or three

The Rattle Bag, edited by Heaney and Hughes - good poetry

 

College Book of English Literature – Tobin, Hamm, Hines 1949 - mother's college book, three generations have now written in it. Solid commentary.

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What I will be using:

 

 

9th and 10th LtoW, I may even compact levels 1 and 2 into 1 year. This is early rhetoric.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

First, thank you for sharing your research. Two years later and your posts are still helping others.  :hurray:

 

Second, did you end up combining LtoW into one year? If so, how did that work? I am considering this for my dd (11th). She's a strong writer, so my goal is to strengthen skills (especially clarity and organization) and broaden understanding of composition with LtoW.

 

I'm also thinking about Great Courses Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft (24 lectures by Brooks Landon) as a weekly discussion. 

 

She's won state creative writing and essay contests, but wants to compete nationally.

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I was wondering if my nephew would be able to handle CW, especially since he seems so lost with WWS. I suspect he has ADHD and has such a hard time staying focused and following directions. You have sold me, however, when you stated that CW provides a lot more hand holding. That is exactly what I am looking for.

 

 

 

I am resurrecting this thread!  I've had it open for about a week on my browser, lol, reading it over closely as I ponder the various options for writing instructions.  The above quote is encouraging for me in my current plan to try CW as our spine starting next year, since my son is also a creative type with ADHD.  My daughter doesn't have ADHD but is the creative-writing type and has little patience for dry academic texts.  I've gotten the impression that creative-writing types of kids tend to not like WWS as much.

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I was wondering about WWS with the more creative kids as well.  I am a very logical, structured kind of person who would appreciate the kind of instruction given in WWS -- and I do think it seems to be very well done and thorough.  My daughter, on the other hand is a creative person who really can't stand following a formula for much of anything.  I want her to learn to write well, and I think WWS would do the job, except that I fear it might make her hate writing so much that she doesn't learn anything at all from it.  Any thoughts on WWS with the creative free spirited kids?  Or any of the other curricula mentioned in this thread?  I was looking at CAP W&R, but haven't heard any results from it yet.  That, I guess I need to research.  I only wish the whole series was already finished so I could see exactly where it is going.

 

Thanks Ruth, and all the others, for offering your wisdom and experiences.  This thread has been extremely informative.

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I can't recall how old your dd is, but I used parts of W&R - Narrative 2 & Chreia - with my then 6th grader.  She really enjoyed it and did some nice writing with it, I'll link to a thread where I shared some of it.  I think it's great for encouraging creative expression - we definitely weren't going "by the book" and I let her expand the assignments.  That was the issue, it wasn't stretching her too much, she needed to move on to doing some more structured essay writing.  I wish more of W&R was out too.  We are using Lively Art of Writing at the moment.

 

Anyway, here  is the link.  Like I said, she expanded these assignments, and I didn't have her doing all the other work in the workbook, she was beyond that level.  HTH.

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/514019-using-cap-wr-with-older-students/

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  I've gotten the impression that creative-writing types of kids tend to not like WWS as much.

 

 

I was wondering about WWS with the more creative kids as well.

 

I don't think it's an easy formula such as a creative child will or won't like WWS. There are so.very.many other variables!

 

My daughter spends much of her free time writing. She treasures her writing time. Sometimes she is writing a short story, sometimes the beginnings of a book, sometimes a poem, sometimes nonfiction. (When she was younger she would write little parenting manuals for me to read in the hopes of improving my parenting skills, which apparently weren't up to snuff :thumbdown: ... ;) ) She writes almost every single day.

 

AND......She adores Writing with Skill.

 

I really don't think there's a formula. Some kids like it, some kids don't. :)  Maybe it's not so much kids who like creative writing, maybe it's kids that don't like nonfiction writing who won't like WWS. That makes more sense to me. There is quite a bit of nonfiction writing - pretty much the entire book. My daughter likes nonfiction writing too, so that's a plus in our book.

 

Creativity abounds in nonfiction writing, so I'm not sure whether or not kids are creative will be the determining factor in whether or not they like WWS.

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I don't think it's an easy formula such as a creative child will or won't like WWS. There are so.very.many other variables!

 

My daughter spends much of her free time writing. She treasures her writing time. Sometimes she is writing a short story, sometimes the beginnings of a book, sometimes a poem, sometimes nonfiction. (When she was younger she would write little parenting manuals for me to read in the hopes of improving my parenting skills, which apparently weren't up to snuff :thumbdown: ... ;) ) She writes almost every single day.

 

AND......She adores Writing with Skill.

 

I really don't think there's a formula. Some kids like it, some kids don't. :)  Maybe it's not so much kids who like creative writing, maybe it's kids that don't like nonfiction writing who won't like WWS. That makes more sense to me. There is quite a bit of nonfiction writing - pretty much the entire book. My daughter likes nonfiction writing too, so that's a plus in our book.

 

Creativity abounds in nonfiction writing, so I'm not sure whether or not kids are creative will be the determining factor in whether or not they like WWS.

 

I just have to say:   :smilielol5:  :smilielol5:  :smilielol5:

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Anyway, here  is the link.  Like I said, she expanded these assignments, and I didn't have her doing all the other work in the workbook, she was beyond that level.  HTH.

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/514019-using-cap-wr-with-older-students/

Thanks for the link and for your thoughts.  I have to say, your daughter's writing is better than some writing that I have seen come from some people at college and grad school levels.  She'll do incredibly well.  It's brilliant -- and it makes me think that maybe CAP is a good choice for us for the time being :)

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I don't think it's an easy formula such as a creative child will or won't like WWS. There are so.very.many other variables!

 

My daughter spends much of her free time writing. She treasures her writing time. Sometimes she is writing a short story, sometimes the beginnings of a book, sometimes a poem, sometimes nonfiction. (When she was younger she would write little parenting manuals for me to read in the hopes of improving my parenting skills, which apparently weren't up to snuff :thumbdown: ... ;) ) She writes almost every single day.

 

AND......She adores Writing with Skill.

 

I really don't think there's a formula. Some kids like it, some kids don't. :)  Maybe it's not so much kids who like creative writing, maybe it's kids that don't like nonfiction writing who won't like WWS. That makes more sense to me. There is quite a bit of nonfiction writing - pretty much the entire book. My daughter likes nonfiction writing too, so that's a plus in our book.

 

Creativity abounds in nonfiction writing, so I'm not sure whether or not kids are creative will be the determining factor in whether or not they like WWS.

 

Thanks.  It's really helpful to get your perspective.  I was thinking I'd like to finish a few levels of CAP W&R and then move over to Writing with Skill, but was hesitating about that choice.  I think I'll go ahead and give it a try.  It seems like CAP would allow my daughter's creative side to flourish, while WWS would give her some more of the technical aspects I'd like to focus on.

 

Anyone have any thoughts about how WWS would work after doing 4 levels of CAP?  Ruth, I think, you said you recommended the first 2.  Would 4 be too much?  For overlap or anything?

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How old is your dd?  If she's 5th grade or higher, I really think you could consider skipping Fable and Narrative 1, and just start her using Narrative 2, then Chreia, then WWS (although by the time she finished those, there will be additional levels of W&R out - one in April 2015 and one in Sept. 2015, so you could continue with those if the program is working for her).

 

When Ruth originally started this thread, W&R hadn't been released yet, so it definitely offers a new option to throw into the mix.  I find it a very strong intro to middle grade writing, and I'm looking forward to seeing future levels and where they go with it.  My older dd won't be able to benefit from it fully, but my younger will.

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A few months ago I got really excited about W&R and tried Fable with my kids, but they did not respond to it at all!  Instructions like "Rewrite The Lion and the Mouse, but use a Mouse in the role of the strong animal. What kind of weak animal would you need to make the story work?"  I thought that sounded great!  My kids, however, responded with blank stares and seemed bored to death with the assignment. Their rewrites reflected their utter lack of interest, lol.  

 

I'm hoping that Classical Writing will hold my hand more as far as asking specific questions to spur their writing.  I haven't started yet, so I don't really know, but I'm reading Aesop right now and I like how it asks questions like, "What would you say if you were the fox and wanted that piece of cheese? What would your tone of voice be? Oily, sweet, cunning, demanding, admiring?  How would your face look? Pleasant, angry, sad? How would you be standing? What would you be doing with your hands?"    I think my kids will respond well to those kind of  pointed, specific questions that prompt the child to actually imagine themselves in the story.  Seems like it will guide them toward thinking about characters and their feelings and motivations (which they enjoy talking about anyway) and prompt them to use that kind of thinking as the basis for their writing. 

 

I know that's only one example from W&R, so I'm definitely not dissing the program as a whole.  It just didn't feel right for us the few weeks we used it.  I am feeling very inspired and energized by Classical Writing so far, in the planning stages.  My gut feeling is that it could be a good fit for us.  I hope so; I'd really like to have a solid language arts "spine" and this seems like such a great candidate.  

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I loved W&R, my very creative and natural writer, hated it, too!  I was so disappointed.  He felt stifled from taking a story from the example and amplifying it or making up a story the opposite of the Lion and the Mouse. 

 

Anyway, I am using WWS 1 as a guide.  For summarizing, we are reading Treasure Island for literature reading, so he is summarizing a couple of chapters.  He wanted to learn to type so he is typing his summaries.  I use the Day 4 of WWS to go over the Topoi and then use an example from the book for him to do an exercise.  He likes the example exercises.  Then he choses a topic to apply the new Topoi.  He loves that, too.

 

I don't know if I will continue with WWS next year or not. Also, he is currently writing a second novel, so I am going to implement amplifying the story that way because he wants to write a big novel, like 200- 300 pages.  His first published book is 100 pages.  He is going to need to do alot of amplifying and describing paragraphs to get to that many pages.

 

He's such a quick learner, I cannot keep up how quickly he catches on and then gets bored easily. 

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Thanks.  It's really helpful to get your perspective.  I was thinking I'd like to finish a few levels of CAP W&R and then move over to Writing with Skill, but was hesitating about that choice.  I think I'll go ahead and give it a try.  It seems like CAP would allow my daughter's creative side to flourish, while WWS would give her some more of the technical aspects I'd like to focus on.

 

Anyone have any thoughts about how WWS would work after doing 4 levels of CAP?  Ruth, I think, you said you recommended the first 2.  Would 4 be too much?  For overlap or anything?

 

The bolded sounds similar to what we do. We use various resources to address different aspects of writing.

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The bolded sounds similar to what we do. We use various resources to address different aspects of writing.

 

Can I ask what resources you use to address which aspects of writing?

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A combo we used for a couple years was WWS, Michael Clay Thompson, and Killgallon Grammar for Middle School. We are currently using WWS II and Killgallon Grammar for High School. I am considering buying some books on fiction writing for her to read during her free time.

 

We are transitioning towards writing across the curriculum. One of the aspects I value in WWS is the transitioning into topics of the students own choosing, while still  providing parameters and clear expectations.

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A few months ago I got really excited about W&R and tried Fable with my kids, but they did not respond to it at all!  Instructions like "Rewrite The Lion and the Mouse, but use a Mouse in the role of the strong animal. What kind of weak animal would you need to make the story work?"  I thought that sounded great!  My kids, however, responded with blank stares and seemed bored to death with the assignment. Their rewrites reflected their utter lack of interest, lol.  

 

I'm hoping that Classical Writing will hold my hand more as far as asking specific questions to spur their writing.  I haven't started yet, so I don't really know, but I'm reading Aesop right now and I like how it asks questions like, "What would you say if you were the fox and wanted that piece of cheese? What would your tone of voice be? Oily, sweet, cunning, demanding, admiring?  How would your face look? Pleasant, angry, sad? How would you be standing? What would you be doing with your hands?"    I think my kids will respond well to those kind of  pointed, specific questions that prompt the child to actually imagine themselves in the story.  Seems like it will guide them toward thinking about characters and their feelings and motivations (which they enjoy talking about anyway) and prompt them to use that kind of thinking as the basis for their writing. 

 

I know that's only one example from W&R, so I'm definitely not dissing the program as a whole.  It just didn't feel right for us the few weeks we used it.  I am feeling very inspired and energized by Classical Writing so far, in the planning stages.  My gut feeling is that it could be a good fit for us.  I hope so; I'd really like to have a solid language arts "spine" and this seems like such a great candidate.  

 

We've used Classical Writing right from Aesop and my daughter is finishing up with Herodotus presently.  The wonderful thing about Classical Writing is that it's flexible.  Once you get used to it, and used to your children's strengths and weaknesses with writing, you can add and drop segments and tailor it to fit your personal learning plan.  We dropped the whole last part of Homer B because I thought that she had a good grasp of the concepts and that she'd get further practice on them in any case, and it never hurt her one bit. 

 

Have fun with your first foray into Aesop!  It's a great place to start!

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Wow! This thread has been so helpful to me! My DS is in 1st grade and finishing up WWE 1 and FLL 1. He reads fluently above grade level and spells at the mid third grade range (we use spell to write and read). I originally had planned to do WWE for two years (with FLL) then go to IEW for the remainder years. As I thought more about starting IEW and moving away from the classical approach I wanted to do some more research. I realized I needed to think big picture and see what my goals are for writing for my children and then explore how to get them there. As a former 5th/6th grade teacher, I know that writing has always been the subject hardest to teach mainly because the lack of an all encompassing curriculum (like the other subjects have).

 

I had started another thread asking about writing strands and somebody posted about classical writing. Researching that has led me to this post. I so appreciate all the work Ruth has done and her willingness to share with us. Thank you also to all of you who shared based on your experiences. I also really appreciate the wealth of information regarding sources to have on hand through the journey.

 

Here's a question as I reflect and consider which writing path I want to take and which curriculum I'll use: I will be with a charter school and while I stand strong on my freedom to school how I want, I am partly concerned with any 'hassle' they might give me about my DS not turning out formal writing assignments in the traditional ps sense. (I'm new to this state and charter school, so it may be a non issue, I don't know, especially since WWE and FLL are on their list of choices.) Do any of you who use CW (or similar) or WWE all the way through and who homeschool under a charter school have any issues with producing writing assignments for your samples or if you find this to be challenging, how do you handle it?

 

Thanks for answering my question. :)

Lisa

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Lisa, it will depend on your charter situation. My contact teachers have always been very impressed with CW samples and never asked for anything else.

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Bumping up this old thread :tongue_smilie:

 

8Fill- I would be interested to hear your opinion of Norton Field Guide to Writing, With Readings.

 

 

I am also interested in other;s opinions:)

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Thanks for bumping this thread again this year. I don't remember it originally, but I know I found it last year and made some decisions (which have been good) based on it.

I am now reminded of things I want to do with my younger kids. Also, I have just bought Corbett. I'm not sure yet if it will be for me or for my senior next year who likes to think.

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wow..... what a wonderful thread!!!  Would LOVE to hear an update from the original poster:)

 

That's me!  I started this thread so many years ago, and continue to read and study about teaching writing.  I'm going to be busy this week, but I will try to get back and write up what we have done, what has worked, what didn't work, and where we are now.  Believe it or not, I must have 10 more resources than I did at the beginning.  :D

 

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
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We didn't end up using Norton, so I can 't give an evaluation of it, sorry.

 

However, one that I am using with my 8th and 11th grader that we all like is Patterns in College Writing.  We don't use the writing assignments, but the included essays are well-written and the elements of quality writing discussed are good.

 

You can view it online here.  We own the 11th ed.  It was cheap to buy a used copy.

https://porterewhs.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/89919356/Patterns_For_College_Writing_Laurie_G_Kriszner_12th_Edition.compressed.pdf

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That's me!  I started this thread so many years ago, and continue to read and study about teaching writing.  I'm going to be busy this week, but I will try to get back and write up what we have done, what has worked, what didn't work, and where we are now.  Believe it or not, I must have 10 more resources than I did at the beginning.  :D

 

Ruth in NZ

 

I'd love an update on your new knowledge. I recently bought Corbett's Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student. I thought I should get it, but didn't expect to be so taken up with it. I think it will work for my oldest to read/study next year. He absorbs information and then applies it so I think it will work well for him.

 

I'd love to hear if you've used this yet and about your new resources.

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I have to outsource writing. Ds11.7 will take either Potter's School Journey Through Narnia or Jessica Shao's Intro to Essay Writing, which has some of IEW and some Lost Tool of Writing. So torn. I still don't know which to sign him up for. Any advice?

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