Please Note: Used copies will most likely be an older printing. The contents are the same, but the older printing doesn't have as nice of a typeset.
Easy Writing is not a complete grammar or English course. It is designed to teach elementary through high school students proper sentence structure through repetition and lots of exercises. This isn't a composition course—though it teaches sentence writing, it does NOTteach paragraphs, essay writing, etc. The text is straightforward, content is easy to understand and to teach, and there are separate answer keys for parts one and two.
How Does This Work?
The author stresses repetition of instruction. The course can be taught on any timetable; if you plan on stretching it beyond a year for each part, it is suggested you review extensively, even returning to old exercises before moving on to new ones. Since the pages are reproducible, this shouldn't be a problem.
Part one is designed for elementary students, and teaches the basics of sentence structure such as subject and predicate, participial phrases, and proper punctuation. Each lesson is two pages long and begins with a few sentences of explanation and examples, followed by exercises. There is room to write in the book (you can also copy the pages), or you can have your student write his answers on a separate piece of paper. In the first section, sentences are fairly short and simple, since students haven't developed a lot of the skills for complex writing.
Part two is designed for junior high and high schoolers. There isn't a lot of new material, but concepts and rules introduced in part one are elaborated. The two-page lesson structure is maintained, but exercises are more involved. Most of the material that is new relates to rhetoric-based structure (either/or statements, appositives, etc.).
The author suggests each student have a dictionary, a thesaurus, and a composition book handy. Students will need thorough grammar and vocabulary instruction outside of this course; they should also be encouraged to read widely, as reading will help them learn proper sentence structure more intuitively. Plenty of writing assignments apart from those included in the book will provide important practice—Phillips urges teachers to have students write extensively.
Four steps are outlined for the writing process. The first is discussion—students and teachers talk about topic ideas and how best to pursue writing about the chosen topic. The next step is writing the rough draft, followed by editing and revision, and the final step is writing the final (or published) copy. These steps are briefly explained for use by the teacher in teaching the student to write longer pieces. Again, however, this is not a composition course, so you will need to supplement to thoroughly teach essay writing.
A lively teacher, says the author, is more likely to get good results than one who dislikes the subject. Kids who don't get a sense of the excitement of writing from their instructor will likely not enjoy the subject themselves; on the other hand, if the teacher demonstrates how fun writing can be, there's a much better chance students will like to write. The learning environment should be one in which mistakes aren't cause for embarrassment, but rather occasions to learn.
This is by no means a flashy text. Pages are black and white and there are no pictures; sentences used in examples and exercises are pretty standard and uninteresting. For straightforward instruction in sentence composition, however, there aren't many better options. The text doesn't force kids to try to be original and learn to write well at the same time. Rather, it allows them to hone the basic skills to the point where they can write original pieces in an interesting and technically correct way.
The major downfall is that you will need to look elsewhere for a complete composition course. If you need help instructing your students in proper paragraph structure, or they need stylistic improvement, another course will be necessary. At the same time, if they are able to master the fundamentals of a good sentence, having them read and write extensively with some added coaching may be enough to turn them into good and efficient writers.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur.Read more of his reviews here.
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