While not technically part of the Imitation in Writing series, the Writing Trails books are published by the same company (Logos School) and follow essentially the same format. Based on the writing instruction methods used by Andrew Pudewa and the Institute for Excellence in Writing, Writing Trails provides specific assignments so teachers don't have to collate a bunch of material on their own.
How Do These Work?
Each consumable text relates to a specific topic: American history, famous scientists, and great composers. Students grades 2-6 read a portion of text (either source material or a brief biography or description), take either oral or written notes, and practice re-writing what they have read in their own words. Each lesson is two pages long and includes plenty of space for students to complete written assignments, though some will require a separate sheet of paper.
The idea is that students learn to write primarily by imitating others who know how to write. While attention is paid to proper spelling, grammar, neat handwriting, etc., this is not a language arts course—it is designed to be part of a writing course. Students who have learned using Andrew Pudewa's course will be familiar with the format of each assignment, though the instruction is clear enough even those who have learned writing from another course should be able to complete the lessons.
Using actual history, science, etc., for the assignments is key to the author's philosophy of education. Writing should not be taught as a wholly distinct subject; rather, since it is so integral to a complete education, it should be the foundational guide for teaching all the other subjects a student needs to learn. Students will come to understand the importance of good writing to all the disciplines, and this will not only take the edge off writing as a big scary subject but make it seem fun as they pursue it in the context of studies they really like.
Our Honest Opinion:
This is an excellent little series, especially for those using the Teaching Writing: Structure and Style program from IEW. The IEW course is already teacher-intensive, and many parents will be relieved to find a series of assignments that have already been collected and clearly presented. Of course, these texts can also be useful for use as supplements to help children using an entirely different writing/composition curriculum. The selected readings contain interesting and useful information that may even take children's minds off the fact that they're learning to write better. Adaptable and well-organized, Writing Trails is highly recommended.
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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