The goal of this curriculum is to get students excited about writing. It does this by focusing on writing well first, and grammar mechanics (editing) later. Because writing a novel is an awesome undertaking that most of us would never try to tackle, it breaks the writing process into components, "nuggetizing" the process so that the student may see real progress without being overwhelmed. As may be supposed, since the student is writing a novel, the course teaches creative writing, though the content may be completely factual.
This course is designed to take a student through the process of writing a novel, from start to finish, in 13 steps. It uses the complete process of writing in a way that motivates students to want to write. It incorporates:
A step-by-step process to writing an entire novel
A full year's English composition curriculum with weekly lesson plans
Grammar skills learned within the context of writing a novel
Teamwork between the student and teacher/coach
An actual novel as the finished product
This can take a semester for more advanced or motivated students, or the more typical full year for an average or slow student.
It is assumed that the student has some background in grammar, spelling & vocabulary, and even writing already. But the course is pretty self-contained, except for a few supplies recommended below.
Necessary, and we would recommend purchasing the Teacher Guide along with this book. There are three steps to every week's assignments: "Learn, Practice, and Apply." The "Learn" section is done at the beginning of the week with the teacher; the "Practice" and "Apply" sections are done independently. After those sections are done, the teacher reviews the material and helps the student refine it before going on to the next step.
There are two routes to using this course: the typical and the fast. The typical route requires 2-3 hours of work per week from the teacher with the student, and 1-3 hours of independent work. The fast route requires 3-5 hours per week with the teacher and 3-5 hours of independent work. This course can work for small groups as well as one-on-one instruction.
The author says that all students should continue with vocabulary study during this course, and she recommends using the KONOS vocabulary studies or the Wordly Wise series. If additional grammar or spelling is necessary, feel free to add them, but don't make them your focus, as mechanics will be covered later in the course. You will need a dictionary and thesaurus. An English handbook is recommended, as well as a computer or typewriter. There are additional recommendations in the book's bibliography, but nothing else is required.
Our Honest Opinion:
This curriculum is NOT designed for beginning writers. The author covers most areas of writing a novel, and she does get into details of mechanics, but she does not do a thorough job of introducing the basics of writing. However, that is not really her goal; writing a finished novel is, and this is one of few curriculum options that offer that skill. Steer clear of this course if you want an introductory writing program. But we can recommend it especially for those aspiring authors.
You can use this course multiple times, as going through the process will be easier with practice. Mrs. Thaxton, in fact, recommends using it at least once during middle school, and again during high school. The curriculum is Christian based, and recommends prayer and reading Scripture when things get tough.
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