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Jensen's workbooks

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We're using Format Writing.


Ease of use--very straightforward with clear instructions. That is, providing your dc isn't as rebellious to any and all writing programs as mine is! Grading sheets in the back help you see how to mark the work.


Effectiveness--very effective at teaching the types and mechanics of writing a paragraph, 5 paragraph essay, etc. It will not teach wonderful, beautiful writing, but I find that the boring samples make it very, very easy to see the mechanics. It's also very cost-effective and can be self-taught with some oversight to check the work, answer questions, etc.


My dd hates it, but she hates any writing assignments unless she gets to write her own fiction and would hate any writing program. She'd rather draw, read or swim laps, because to her that's fun.


We have the vocab book waiting to be used. She has a great vocabulary already, but this will be a check up course as we haven't studied vocab much as she's a natural speller, etc.

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I've used Jensen's Grammar with four of my five children thus far--the youngest one will complete it next year (age 13). It is a *very* good junior high/early high school review text of grammar. I think it would be tough if your child has never encountered nouns, verbs, prepositions, antecedents, etc.


One characteristic style employed by Jensen is a repetitive format: each lesson consists of two pages: LH page: the lesson explanation, RH page: the exercises. He purposefully does this with all his texts so that students are not figuring out what to do in a lesson--they can get right to business.


It is not a flashy program but covers grammar extensively at the sentence level (including basic punctuation rules involving phrases and clauses.) To "prove" their mastery, after lesson 20 or so, the children have to write their own sentences to fit given sentence structures (eg. Sub I, NM S V Pp Pp). If that looks intimidating, let me assure you that the students are led into it incrementally. My kids all have different styles and interests (from "I love creative writing" to logical math/science kids) and they have all appreciated Jensen's text.


Jensen's Punctuation is meant to follow Jensen's Grammar; the children need to be *very* familiar with phrases and clauses. I've used this with two of my children (now off at college) and my third will use it next year. I like to use it a bit later in high school as prep for SAT testing. When I last used it, it was published as two books--now they are combined into one.


The first part is entitled: Major Punctuation and deals extensively with the 5 most common punctuation errors related to joining clauses and phrases. Once you (or your child) works through this, you will know just how and when to use a semi-colon properly!


The second part is entitled: General Punctuation and covers many more items.


After some brief initial teaching, he basic format is a page (or section) a day in which to find, mark (the nature of the error), and correct all errors. Each page (or section) tells a story--they are not just lists of unrelated sentences, nor do they highlight only one kind of error. The child works from a sheet that lists what they are to look for, so it *is* doable.


I credit Jensen's (in part) for my two college students excellent SAT writing scores (high 700's/perfect 800).


I also have Jensen's Writing, but it was not a good fit for my two oldest daughters--they are naturally good writers. However, I have just pulled it out for my writing-phobic, math/science guy, and we will be working our way through it. It is just what he needs: a plain, here-is-how-to-do-it guide on expository writing.



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We have only used the Punctuation program, but I have found it a very valuable and easy to implement program. My kiddos had a good foundation with Shurley, but this has been useful for reinforcing key concepts. With a ds studying for the SAT, we have seen the 5 major punctuation rules in many sample test questions for writing. I also really enjoy that they use interesting literature samples for editing-makes the mindless exercises more engaging!


Becky in TX

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