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Writing With Skill Level 1 Student Book by Susan Wise Bauer
Susan Wise Bauer wrote Writing with Skill for students to begin to work through independently, and the text is written directly to the student. Organized by days, each "step" progressively moves students through the workbook as they move from one day to the next. Covering the basics of composition, outlining, sentence skills, beginning literary criticism of poetry and prose, writing narratives and descriptions, and researching and documenting sources, the course culminates with a final project. Using extensive literary models and step-by-step instructions on the lesson concepts, students will gain the tools needed to write with clarify and confidence. All source material is included; students will need to write their assignments in a separate book.
As is the case with all of Susan's books, this program is definitely homeschool-friendly. The student book is written directly to the student. The general layout is as follows: On days 1-3, the student is focusing on a new skill such as summarizing a passage. On each of these 3 days, the student is given a short passage to read from a piece of classic literature, then is led through (step-by-step) the process of how to summarize (for example). On the fourth day, the student is given a challenge project, which generally includes reading a longer story (such as one of Aesop's Fables). The student will then have to apply his newly-learned skills to the more challenging projects (such as summarizing the entire story in 2 sentences). In this way the student is taught all kinds of creative writing skills, including outlining, using a thesaurus, putting events in chronological order, description, metaphor, biography, characterization, documentation, poetry, research, and much more.
On many websites, this book is offered as a 5th-grade text. I personally thought it seemed more advanced than that. I personally felt it could be confidently used with late junior-high or even with a high school student who hadn't yet had a formal writing course. I was pleasantly surprised to see on the back of the Level 1 student book the following information: "For all students in the middle grades and above, Writing With Skill provides essential training in organization, composition structure, and research methods." My thoughts exactly!
The student workbook is designed to be used with the Level 1 Teacher's Book (see link below). The teacher's book gives the teacher a miniature version of the student text along with step by step instructions on how to help your student at any step of the way. In other words, if your student has trouble completing Step 2, you will find troubleshooting tips in the teacher's book just for Step 2. It's brilliant! The teacher's book also includes a "rubrik" for each lesson. Essentially this is a checklist for you to use to check your student's writing, so you know exactly what you're looking for (such as "Each sentence starts with a capital and ends with the appropriate punctuation").
Do you need the teacher's book? Well, the student book is complete, so if you're confident with creative writing and don't mind checking your student's work, then (though Susan Wise Bauer might not recommend it) you could easily do without the teacher's book. If, however, you lack confidence in the area of creative writing, you'll find the teacher's text to be a godsend.
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