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At a time when a lot of writing suffers from lack of clarity, these books from Evan-Moor strike at the roots of the problem: muddled thinking, and ignorance of the rules of grammar and composition. None of these are flashy titles with tons of fun cartoons and games to play—instead, they're worktexts built on clear instruction and constant review to make sure students are able to convey their thoughts concisely and articulately.
A particular strength of these titles is their usefulness to parents whose children arenot homeschooled. If your kids are in public, private, or charter schools, the Evan-Moor writing products are great ways to make sure they're up to speed and comprehending at their grade level. These are also excellent titles for teachers who wantto supplement their curriculum with extra homework or in-class practice, or who simply need more ideas for instruction.
The most popular Evan-Moor writing series (at least, at Exodus Books) is the Daily 6-Trait Writing program for grades 1-6+. To be used as remedial or support texts, these books cover the so-called six traits of good writing: ideas, organization, word choice, sentence fluency, voice, and conventions. Each book contains five units covering the first five traits, each with five weeks of daily work for mastering a particular element of the trait being studied.
All assignments in theDaily 6-Trait Writing books are one-page, and are accompanied by reduced student pages and teaching notes for instructors. These teacher notes also include activities and information concerning the week's convention; since thereare no units dedicatedto the sixth trait, appropriate information is worked into the existing units. Whether or not your child struggles with composition, this series makes an excellent addition to almost any traditional writing curriculum.
More specific, the Daily Paragraph Editing books for grades 2-6+ focus on editing paragraphs with the end of guiding students toward better paragraph writing. There are four half-page assignments per week covering Monday-Thursday; each consists of a single themed paragraph which kids are expected to edit using technical proofreading marks. Then on Friday, parents present a writing prompt based on that week's theme, and students prepare their own original composition.
Almost as popular as the Daily 6-Trait Writing series are a number of individual books from Evan-Moor covering particular elements of the writing process and mechanics. How to Write a Story (with books for the grades 1-3 and 4-6 age ranges) walks young creative writers through the process of creating characters, developing plot, adding details, etc. Creative Writing Ideas is basically a series of creative and fun writing prompts. Other books cover sentences, pragraphs, and teaching nonfiction writing.
There is also a series specifically designed to teach nonfiction writing, simply called Nonfiction Writing and designed for grades 2-6+, with a single book for each grade level. Each one-page assignment helps kids understand key principles about sentence and paragraph construction, organization of thoughts, topic selection and refinement, and avoiding unnecessary bias. Teacher notes provide good hints on presentation and guidance.
Perhaps the most overlooked but potentially helpful Evan-Moor writing books are about sequencing. In these books, younger children are able to combine writing and hands-on cut-and-paste activities to internalize the nature and importance of linear and clear thinking, following directions, and organizing essays or smaller compositions. Grades covered include K-3, important developmental periods for which these types of activities are particularly useful.
We wouldn't recommend trying to use any of these books or series as stand-alone writing instruction programs. They are incredibly useful as supplements, however, hammering home essential principles of good writing that kids too often forget or are never taught in the first place. If your child struggles with writing, these texts can prove even more useful, getting them up to speed and ensuring they're proficient in grade-specific standards for testing purposes.
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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