Whether your child comes to you with only one or two sentences on a very wrinkled page spattered with sweat and tears, or a mini-novel full of misspelled words, incorrect punctuation, and scrawled ideas, this book can give you tips, ideas, and confidence as you evaluate his or her writing. Evaluating Writing is the parents' manual for the Writing Strands books, and is recommended for use by parents with every book in the series except Level 1. But no matter what writing curriculum you use, this book would likely be helpful.
In three sections and an appendix, this book helps you understand how to evaluate writing, and also how to teach spelling, grammar and punctuation as parts of writing, rather than as separate courses of study.
In the first section, Dave Marks (who taught writing in the public schools for 30 years but found homeschooling his own son much more fulfilling for both of them) goes through nine conditions that make writing hard, including fear and insecurity, thinking through ideas, and not wanting to rewrite. Though his own writing style is a bit clunky, you will be able to glean helpful information from his advice.
The second section points out common writing problems such as redundancy, tense error, sentence variety, and many others and offers simple, practical advice on how to correct them.
The third section may be the most helpful. It is full of several examples of writing from real students along with their parents' advice and tips from the author about what guidance he could have added. This helps his method of encouraging before correcting become clearer and easier to imitate.
The appendix includes rules for writing rough drafts as well as a quick reference guide to spelling rules. Also included is a list of words that are often confused (is it dessert or desert that refers to a yummy treat for after dinner?).
Over all, this book is not the most interesting to look at, nor the most creatively formatted, but it should prove helpful in instilling confidence in both parent and student. While it might be a bit too focused on making children proud of their writing, the author's conversational method for evaluating writing is oriented around the relationship between parent and child that should be found at the heart of every homeschool.
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