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Monday, March 18, 2013

TOS Review~~~Essentials in Writing, 9th Grade


Essential in Writing logo photo EssentialsinWritinglogo_zps7affe1cf.jpg
 
     Would you like to invite a professional teacher into your living room to teach your student  writing?   That can "virtually" happen with Matthew Stephens and  Essentials in Writing! My family received the 9th Grade Essentials in Writing, which my upcoming 9th grader has used for several weeks.  Essentials in Writing is a Language Arts/writing curriculum for grades 1st-12th.  The teaching is done by Matthew Stephens by way of a DVD lesson.  Worksheets via PDF download contain the lesson in written form, lesson examples, and assignments for the student to complete. 
     The Teacher:
     The teacher can make a subject fun and engaging, or boring and laborious.  Mr. Stephens does a great job in making writing an enjoyable task.  My son has yet to complain about watching the DVD lessons.  (In fact, he rarely watches his lessons alone.  His little brother and I almost always watch too!)  Matthew Stephens has a teaching degree with an emphasis in Elementary, Middle School and High School English.  He is also a Christian and a homeschool dad.  As Mr. Stephens teaches, I can tell my son feels right at ease.  The teacher smiles a lot, and many times puts things in a "funny" way to make a point.  He does a fabulous job in making things clear for the student.  (My kids especially like it when Mr. Stephens has to write a lot on the board...the DVD automatically goes into fast motion so that we don't have to sit there forever waiting for him to write for several minutes!  I thought this was a very clever idea they had.)
 
 
The Curriculum:
    1. Sentences: 8 Lessons
 
 2. Paragraphs: 10 Lessons
 
3. Essays: 30 Lessons.....
(2) Intro Lessons
 (6) Personal Essay Lessons
(7) Persuasive Essay Lessons
(8) Expository Essay Lessons
 (7) Compare and Contrast Essay Lessons
 
4. Research Paper: 15 Lessons

How it Worked for us:
     For each lesson, my son (and I) watched the very short (no more than 5 minutes) writing lesson taught by Matthew Stephens.  I encouraged my son to take notes as Mr. Stephens taught, pausing the DVD as necessary.  (The "notes" are in print form on the PDF, but I just wanted my son to get in the habit since college is fast approaching!)  I then printed out for him the lesson for that day and let him get to work on it.  Most assignments took no longer than 30 minutes.  (Sometimes there is an "A" lesson and a "B" lesson.  For the "B" lessons, they can be done the next day, without having to watch the DVD.)  My son worked all the way through the sentence lessons and has done most of the paragraph lessons and a few of the essay lessons.  We have not yet tried the Research Paper lessons.  (But I have looked ahead at them....and they look equally as thought-out and well done as the other lessons.) 
     The sequence makes a whole lot of sense.  Sentences build paragraphs, paragraphs make up essays, etc.  Mr. Stephens also follows a guideline for writing.  He doesn't expect a student to "right off the bat" write an essay.  He  shows them step-by-step how to organize their thoughts.  He makes graphic organizers available for those students for whom they would help.  He even goes the extra mile of not just telling students how to write a paragraph, but showing them, step-by-step.
      Mr. Stephens believes in repetition.  He explains that this is what is going to make good writers.  He talks about how there will be essays on the SAT and in college.  This is why he uses writing prompts for the essays.  In college or during a test of some sort...one may not have free choice of what to write.  The student will be expected to write within the parameters given.  This has been good practice for my son.  Many of his past writing assignments were pretty open as far as "topic" was concerned. (For example,he has written many "persuasive essays", but almost always about whatever he wanted to persuade someone to think or do.)  The other day, for example, he had to chose between 3 prompts for the persuasive essay.  None of them really suited him.  I told him to pick one and just make it work.  I gave him just a little guidance, and after his second try, he had a great essay!
     Matthew Stephens may be an excellent writing teacher...but guess who gets to grade the papers?  That's right...mom! (or dad!)  Mr. Stephens, unfortunately, cannot fit all of us into his schedule.  (Ha!)  He does give us a very good tool, thought.  Within printable lessons, there are scoring guidelines or rubrics along the way to help in your grading. Just prior to the scoring guidelines are printable checklists for your child, so that they can do some final editing before handing over the final work to mom or dad.
 
 Cost and Other Available Products:
*$40 for the 9th grade program, $20 for the optional workbook
(The $40 includes access to printable files.)
*Similar courses can be purchased for grades 1st-12th.  Two High School electives are coming soon.
 
 
Check out what some of my fellow crew mates had to say about Essentials in Writing HERE!
 
 
 
Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

 
 

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