Writing & Rhetoric Book 1: Fable Student Edition
Includes 14 lessons, each utilizing one of Aesop's Fables. Skills covered include summary, amplification, main idea, followingan outline, and point of view and include the student's writing his own fable. Both books are about 150 pgs.
What! Another writing program? It's easy to imagine such a question popping up since we do have a number of excellent writing programs already available. This one is a worthy addition. First of all, it follows the classical model for teaching writing (and rhetoric) skills. What exactly does that mean? It means a program that is, in essence, a step-by-step apprenticeship in the art of writing and rhetoric. It's a program that believes that imitation is the foundation for learning writing and at the same time provides an easy to use framework for starting with models of good writing, building a "conversation in the head" (in other words, content through discussion and writing exercises), and for following the persuasive writing system developed by the ancient Romans. This system - the progymnasmata (progym, for short) - takes the student from simple retelling skills through the more and more complex skills of reporting, narrating, praising, comparison, persuasion, and defense. Modern writing borrows heavily from these skills, but the underlying methodology is distinctly different. Modern writing courses emphasize mastering the writing process and gaining experience with the different forms of writing. Accordingly, they often start with a blank sheet of paper and a brainstorming session. The progym, on the other hand, starts with well-known and excellent writing models (also known as classic literature).
Secondly, this program is user-friendly with virtually no teacher prep needed and the possibility of a minimum of teacher-student interaction (although interaction is always a plus). The publisher is the same one who has given us Latin for Children and Latin Alive! They know how to do user-friendly (and appealing). Even if you had no inkling of the meaning of a classical writing program, this would be an excellent choice. The Student Books provide instruction and examples with plenty of space to write. The Teacher Books have identical pages to the student books but add grey boxes which provide additional info, writing samples, answers and talking points. The two books are designed to be used together, and I think it would be unwise and difficult to try to use one without the other.
The lessons follow a pattern. The teacher reads through the text followed by a subsequent reading by the student (in upper levels, the student reads through the text examples). Narration (Tell It Back), discussion (Talk About It), and comprehension (Go Deeper) are all part of this initial look at the source material. Then starts the writing exercises (Write & Discuss). To give you an example of these, from one lesson in Book 2, copywork, dictation, sentence play, copiousness (using synonyms), and amplification (rewriting). Later in the lesson there is a time for reading/presenting the lesson's written work and separate Speak It exercises. It's suggested that this writing series would alternate with a grammar program (although no recommendations are made).
Each book is a semester's worth of writing instruction, with a total of twelve books planned. In a perfect world, a student would start in 3rd grade and complete the series in 8th grade. If your world isn't quite perfect, this series could be started anytime up to 5th or even 6th grade (in my opinion). Students beginning this program should know how to identify and create a complete sentence. It is possible to enter the program at upper levels but requires careful evaluation of the student's writing experience and the scope of the level. Some familiarity with the Progym series would also be helpful. You may wonder how this series interfaces with Common Core. The publishers note that their program "covers a host of these standards." But they further note that "while these goals are worthwhile, the Progym derive their strength from the incremental and thorough development of each form of writing. The Writing & Rhetoric series does not skip from form to form and leave the others behind, but rather builds a solid foundation of mastery by blending the forms."
Optional audio CDs are also available for each volume, which feature Dr. Christopher Perrin, his wife, Christine Perrin and/or others, reading the fables, myths, historical narratives and other source material used in the books aloud, to either add an auditory dynamic to your lesson or help auditory learners enhance their understanding of the material. Packages are available for most levels. ~ Janice
These materials offer complete coverage of both writing and grammar.
over 2 years ago
I just pulled out WR Narrative 1 my son will be begin shortly, and he exclaimed, "Can I start reading the stories?"
I plan on continuing this curriculum. My daughter in high school, who overhears me working with my son, wishes it would have been available for her.
I started this program with my late-birthday 3rd grader. If he had been a younger 3rd grader, I would have delayed starting the program to 2nd semester or 4th grade.
My son never knew what to write and hated writing, but that changed after we started W&R: Fable. He really enjoyed one-on-one time, when we read the lesson and fable and then discussed the "Talk About It" questions together. They also provide MP3 audio files or CDs for purchase, but I did find that connecting at the beginning of the lesson was important for my son. The discussion questions are a wonderful guide for the instructor/parent to assess comprehension, so this program can also be used to supplement a reading program.
Each lesson cumulatively builds on different skills, such as varying nouns, verbs, and adjectives to change elements of a sentence. There is also some play with sentence structure, rewriting the sentence so the direct object is the subject. The program itself doesn't bog the student down with these technicalities. Instead, it focuses on having the student play with the words and realizing you *can* rewrite one sentence in many different ways.
The writing assignments start with rewriting a fable by changing the characters and actions/conflict with keeping the same moral, graduating to writing an original fable with choosing a moral from a list. They also introduce the student to writing from the 1st person perspective. A fable is brief and has a simple structure, so my son did not find the assignments too overwhelming or intimidating.
We completed Book 1 and continued onto Book 2. My son loves the program so much, he requested we continue to do lessons in Book 3 periodically, despite us starting IEW with our CC Essentials class next year. He's actually asking for *extra* writing?? Talk about a turn around.
Despite my love for the program and my son's enthusiasm, I did notice that his sentence structure and grammar declined! He was so determined to fit in as many details from his flights of fancy as possible, he became prone to run on sentences. Hopefully we will fix that. If I did this year over, I would also teach more grammar and mechanics in tandem.
I think whether your child is a "natural" writer or a reluctant one, they would enjoy W&R: Fable.
over 5 years ago
Thank you, Classical Academic Press, for this program. Please continue the good work of providing excellent classical materials that are manageable for home educators.
over 5 years ago