Today I would like to share with you a product and a company that I have come to hold in high regards.
When it comes to teaching writing to the boys I was not sure which way to go, as I would not exactly consider myself a great writer. Then came along Writing and Rhetoric from Classical Academic Press.
I heard about it when the second book in a series of twelve just released, and I was immediately intrigued.
You see I homeschool classically, and writing is an integral part of it. Classical Academic Press puts out products geared towards classical homeschooling, so there you had the first common ground.
I was searching for something that would teach them what writing was, and guide them through the process incrementally, without bombarding them with pages and pages of writing right from the start. I found what I was looking for in Writing and Rhetoric.
What is Writing and Rhetoric?Writing and Rhetoric is a program that is founded on the principle of what is referred to as Progymnasmata. What is progymnasmata, you ask? It is this idea that children learn best by imitating good examples. Good writing is nothing new, and this philosophy, therefore, taps on this fact and seeks to teach children to write by studying and imitating other proven writings.
How does it work?Emphasis is put on reading good pieces of writing, focussed practice exercises intended to gradually build up writing skills. Each book in the series adds new skills, while cementing or reviewing previous skills.
As a true classical curriculum, it makes use of the very important skills of narration and dictation, which are integral components of the program.
The goal is to teach kids what good writing looks like, think about the ideas presented and how they are communicated, then learn the specific steps to creating good writing, to eventually writing their own piece of writing through gradual practice.
The program consists of 12 - 1 semester books, covering grade 3-9. So far, 5 books have been released and the 6th is due this summer.
Book 1 in the series: Fables, focuses on comprehension skills, and introduces the skills of summarizing and amplification through the use of description and dialogue. It also teaches:
- to identify different kinds of stories: fable, myth, legends etc..
- to determine beginning, middle and end of stories
- to determine point of view, such as first person or third person retelling
Book 2: Narrative I, builds on the skills of the first book, and also reinforces the skills of identifying parts of a story. It also adds the skills of identifying the main idea as well as the conflict of the story.
Book 3: Narrative II, introduces students to new genres of story such as historical narratives and the skill of differentiating between facts and opinions. Other skills covered are:
- Outlining stories
- Practice of story beginning
- Protagonist and antagonist
- Identifying the 5 Ws
- Elocution skills
Book 5: Refutation and Confirmation, targets the skills of refutation, where they learn to refute and/or criticize parts of a narrative that are doubtful, and they also learn to defend (confirmation) certain parts of a narrative that are clear or probable. Emphasis is on writing essays that contain sound arguments which explain their opinions. Along the way they will learn to:
- Understand comparison and contrast
- introduce and conclude an essay
- Use direct quotes to support an argument
- Revise writing
How do we use it?
These books are very easy to use and implement. They come with a suggested weekly schedule at the beginning of the book.
Each book is divided into 4 major sections, after the reading or listening of the chapter story:
- Tell It Back - narration
- Talk About It - discussion time about the story which encourages critical thinking
- Go deeper - encourages and facilitates further thinking about the story
- Writing Time - copywork, dictation, sentence play, copiousness, dialogue and amplification (which practices grammar, descriptions and syntax skills).
Day 1: Tell It Back and Talk About It, and sometimes some of the Go Deeper
Day 2: Go Deeper and sometimes Narration and Dictation from the Writing Time section.
Day 3: Writing Time
My boys, who never enjoyed penmanship, enjoy going through this series. My oldest who is a writer at heart (just not on a piece of paper), loves and has been seeking to apply everything he learns from these books. You would hear him mention the concepts he learns as he creates his own stories.
I have been using Writing & Rhetoric for the past 1 1/2 year, having started with book 1 with then, a 3rd grader and a 5th grader. As I mentioned, because they do not like penmanship I had stayed away from a lot of writing curriculum because they required way too much writing from them. With my oldest entering Middle School I felt that I really needed to have a writing curriculum in the line up and Writing and Rhetoric appeared to fit the bill perfectly. Absolutely no regrets!
I love how the first books require little actual writing, and more thinking and understanding, but as you move up the books, it gradually increases the expectation.
Each set of books includes:
- A student's book
- A teacher's manual, which has all of the student text plus teacher's answers and lesson objectives
- An MP3 of all the stories covered in he book
We absolutely love this writing curriculum and are planning to stick with it till the end. I cannot wait to see the next few books and witness my kids' writing soar and deepen.
Classical Academic Press always offers an extensive sample of their products, so go on over and check Writing & Rhetoric for yourself.
Now, for you my readers I have two wonderful offers:
First: Classical Academic Press is generously offering a %20 off any order on the Classical Academic Press website (excepted Singapore Math and live, online classes .
The following code code is valid until July 20th, So hurry!