Complete Writer: Writing With Skill Level One Instructor Text
The Writing With Skill series has a target audience of 5th through 9th graders but the author now recognizes that many 5th graders may be too young. There is both an Instructor and a Student book at each level. One of the goals of this series is to transition the student into an independent writer. All instruction is written directly to the student while the instructor is encouraged to become more of a writing mentor. Some activities are to be completed by the student independently with no assistance while others suggest that the student should "check your work with your instructor." The student is expected to keep a Composition Notebook (three-ring binder divided into six sections). The entire course requires virtually no prep for the teacher. The student can pick up the Student Book and be on her way.
The Writing With Skill Student Book could be considered a worktext (there are occasional places where the student is expected to write in the book). Source material for all assignments except the final composition is provided in the student book. There are 36 weeks of assignments - four days per week. Assignments are laid out in steps and expectations for written assignments are often quite specific (i.e., number of words, what should be included, specifics of avoiding plagiarism, etc.)
The Instructor Book is designed to be used by a writing mentor. Its relationship to the Student Book is interesting. All of the instructions to the student are included (in smaller type) as well as the source information and any needed answers. However, when the student is asked to do something with the source material, the Instructor Book provides helps for the mentor (i.e., parent/teacher) to use as she is mentoring the student. For instance, in week 19 the student is given a list of the important events in the life of frontiersman Daniel Boone and asked to lightly mark the events they might want to include in a narrative of his life. Correspondingly, the Instructor's list of those same events has some italicized (those of lesser importance which could be left out); information that can be used to help the student make his selections. Appropriately labeled "How to Help the Student," these sections (part of every lesson) provide direction for the would-be mentor. Through these How to Help sections, the mentor is led into a complete understanding of what is expected of the student in terms of completing the assignment thus making evaluation of the students' work much easier. ~ Janice
These materials offer complete coverage of both writing and grammar.
Susan Wise Bauer has an opinion about how writing should be taught to children. Not surprising! With years of experience teaching writing at the college level, she knows that The Complete Writer is the one who has mastered the three stages of writing - Writing With Ease (combining the two distinct mental steps of putting ideas into words and putting words onto paper), Writing With Skill (learning to organize sentences into short compositions), and Writing With Style (the persuasive expression of ideas). Seven years ago, Peace Hill Press started publishing her writing courses that have an emphasis on this progression of skills. Now that The Complete Writer sequenced writing program (Writing With Ease and Writing With Skill) has been used by thousands of parents/students, Mrs. Bauer has gathered excellent feedback about their experience with her program. And, to her credit, she's "tweaking" her recommendations a bit to conform to that feedback. For instance, although the Writing With Ease series was designed to be used for four consecutive years, she is now suggesting that many - perhaps most - students will be prepared after the first three levels to progress into the Writing With Skill books. Likewise, she now suggests that fifth grade is probably on the young side to begin the Writing With Skill series.
It's easy to see that these recommendations mess with the previous neat symmetry of the program (four levels of WWE, then three levels of WWS). Not to worry! Mrs. Bauer suggests you can 1) slow down WWE-3 and cover that course over two years, 2) continue narrations and summaries across the curriculum, or 3) insert another writing curriculum - maybe creative writing - into the 1-2 year gap. [See our website for a chart listing four possible progressions.] And, if you're not certain if your student is ready to progress, she provides mastery evaluations for each level (in the WWE Text) that will help you make that determination. These diagnostic evaluations are also very helpful if you have an older student that you want to integrate into the program at an appropriate level or if you have an older, reluctant writer that needs to "go back to the basics" and acquire some necessary beginning skills.
The Writing With Ease and the Writing With Skill programs make it possible for any parent to become a writing teacher - no experience needed! The beginning levels are scripted with later levels focused on the student becoming an independent writer; the parent functioning as a writing mentor. Although each level is designed as a year long course, they are flexible and you can use your own discretion as to the speed at which you progress through them.
Language arts programs listed in this section cover some combination of reading/literature, writing, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, handwriting or typing but do not attempt to cover all of those skill areas.
What is covered in the book is not just the basics of scholastic writing (5 paragraph essay, topic sentences), but a more in-depth analysis of good writing (yesterday my son was learning how quotes from others can be used to describe a character). It puts a vocabulary and structure to what a natural writer would be able to come up with on their own, so it is useful even for kids who can write well naturally.
My 5th grader needs direction with the activities because he works too quickly and doesn't read all the directions
(and the manual is AWESOME at giving leading questions to ask to help the student along without giving them the answer - very easy to use with no prep). The program teaches directly to the student, so it is also good reading comprehension practice.
My average-level 7th and 8th graders also needed direction. I bet your gifted 7th grader would do well and enjoy the book.
I highly recommend it.