InWriting With Skill Level 1, students learned that the primary building blocks of original compositions aretopos andcopia.Topos refers to the formation of a topic, andcopia refers to the generation of ideas and content in relation to that topic.Writing With Skill Level 2 doesn't go far afield from this starting place, but builds directly on the information learned in Level 1, expanding students' knowledge and ability through repeated practice.
There are 36 weekly lessons, each with four daily installments, for one complete school year of writing instruction. All you need is the Student Workbook and the Instructor Text, and paper to write on. This is mostly a student-directed course, though parents do need to be on standby for certain assignments, and they'll also need to grade/evaluate students' work. Many of the ideas are quite complex, and even students who excel at writing can find themselves in deep waters.
Daily installments are generally fairly long, and between the reading and writing will probably take about an hour to an hour and a half depending on your student. Students read text from the workbook, and while there's room to complete some of the assignments in the text, it's best to have them complete everything on a separate sheet of paper. Bauer emphasizes over and over the necessity of ensuring that students read the content thoroughly and slowly in order to absorb the information.
Topics range from writing essays and a research paper, to literary analysis, to writing about poetry, to taking notes, to footnotes and endnotes, to style, and more. It's a very challenging and complete text, and not one to be embarked on at a whim or without some pretty rigorous writing instruction beforehand. The author says you shouldn't work throughWriting With Skill Level 2until completingLevel 1, and she offers a plan for getting through the first book quickly (in less than a year).
The Instructor Text contains answers to student exercises, but more important are the plenteous notes for helping students, presenting ideas, and evaluating writing (Bauer discourages parents from assigning letter or number grades). The student and teacher books are not identical, and you'll need both to complete this course. Some may be turned off by the need for a teacher book, but as writing is best taught and not absorbed intuitively, it's an important feature that sets this course apart.
Students develop their skills both as academic and creative writers. Learning the two simultaneously helps them to see that all good writing features an interplay between creativity and thoughtfulness, andWriting With Skill Level 2 helps students hone their composition and critical thinking abilities far more than most writing programs. Sure, it's also much more challenging than most writing programs, but that just means your students will become all the better at this fundamental academic discipline.
We need to reiterate: this is a very difficult and fast-paced program. WhileWriting With Skill is technically for middle school students, it probably makes more sense in most cases to save it for early high school. This volume features less basic and more advanced assignments than the one before it, and kids who haven't completedLevel 1 beforehand will likely be very confused very quickly. Those who catch on, however, will be exposed to some of the best writing instruction available.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and 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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