Thursday, July 21, 2016

Getting Your Highschooler Ready for Real-World Writing! (Review)

I think one of the hardest subjects to teach is Writing. It is intimidating to the student as well as to the teacher, in part because it is somewhat subjective. As our students get older, it gets even more interesting, particularly as they must begin writing more non-fiction in preparation for real world writing... reports, reviews, grants, etc...

In line with that thinking, TOS Review Crew members were sent Writing with Sharon Watson's The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition. 
My 15yo son was the test subject for this review.

First a word about the Teacher's Guide.

This is an excellent resource for the homeschool parent. The bulk of the manual is a well organized "Key" for the lessons in the Student Manual. There is so much thought that has gone into this part of the manual that it is very easy for Mom (or Dad) to be confident in their use, and guiding of their student.

Obviously, in a writing course there won't be simple subjective answers (although there are some of those as well, dealing with the mechanics of writing, and comprehension and evaluation of those mechanics), and that is where the first portion of the Teacher's Guide comes into play. Sharon Watson has created a "Grading Toolbox" for teachers that explains "How to earn a____ (A, B, C, D, F)" by giving real-life examples of papers that earned those letter grades along with an explanation of why those grades are given. In addition to those examples (which I personally found very useful), Sharon Watson includes a grading rubric specific to the content as well as one for Grammar/Mechanics at the end of each chapter.

Now~ on to the Student Book
I love the fact that this isn't called a manual or a guide. Sharon Watson uses Construction Industry/Power Tool imagery with the title The Power in Your Hands. She writes in a very conversational tone, which kept my son's attention very well. He really appreciated that he didn't feel like he was reading a text book, but rather was actually being taught by Sharon Watson herself. Here is what he had to say:

I like how they start you off with a topic and you then build on it implementing the rules and techniques that you learn. I also like how it seems less like a "textbook" and more like a conversation.

Using relevant topics to teens is of course a good idea (gun control, global warming, teens owning credit cards, global warming etc.),but I really like how they break the techniques and orders and rules that you learn down and let you build on what you've already started. 

It really does seem to keep my attention more than some other writing courses have... Feels like a teacher is instructing you not like you're reading a book. The "puns" and relevant topics really help keep your attention and just make it more interesting in general. Easier to read and less bland I guess?

My son really appreciated that he was given a topic to consider and that topic carried through for more than just one lesson, so he didn't have to start from scratch each time a new technique or rule was learned. 

As I mentioned before, there ARE some work-book style exercises integrated into the text. These are some of the POWER TOOLS being put in the hands of my teen, so that he can construct quality papers. I look forward to using this throughout the school year, as he learns to construct:

  • Persuasive Essays using 
    • Logic
    • Compare and Contrast
    • Moral/Ethical
    • Emotional appeals
  • ExpositoryWriting in the form of 
    • Letters and Emails
    • Position Papers
    • Devotionals
    • Newspaper Writing
    • Biographies
    • Compare and Contrast again with a different emphasis
    • Literary Analysis
    • Definition Essays
    • Descriptive Essays
    • Narration
    • Interview Narrative
    • Personal Narrative
  • Tools
    • Proofreading (This actually comes fairly early on in the book, but I'm including it here for ease)
    • Reference lists for a variety of editing helps including do/don't lists and general definitions
I am really a book in the hand, notebook for the student work sort of person, but I do want to mention that there is also a downloadable version of this book, which might be a great option for larger homeschooling families, especially if your kids like to fill out exercises more "workbook style" or if you have more than one student taking this course at the same time. 

I think this is going to be an invaluable resource for my son as he continues through high school and on into college life. I also expect that my graduated daughter may find it useful as well, as she enters into the college world of writing. 

Not So Nutty Nitty Gritty 
Visit Writing with Sharon Watson Social Media Pages: Facebook and Pinterest

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1 comment:

  1. Hi, Lis! Thank you for this review. I hope you and your son have a great school year together constructing essays and really enjoying each other!


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