Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Write With the Best, Vol. 1

imageWrite with the Best, by Jill Dixon,  is a writing curriculum published by Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services for grades 3-12. The focus of the course is to zero in on the skills that produce great writing and to practice using those skills. Students are taught to write descriptively by “emulating the great masters of writing.”

Volume One covers writing descriptive paragraphs, dialogues, short stories, fables, friendly letters and poetry. Volume Two is for older students who have completed Volume One, or who are already competent writers. It covers business letters, essays, literary critiques, newspaper articles, speeches, and dramatic monologues.

I have tried several different writing curriculums over the years, but haven’t found anything that I was thrilled with. Some were too tedious to use, some didn’t seem to have obvious carry-over into other writing and some provided writing assignments, but no real instruction. Honestly, my main approach with my three older kids was to just have them do a lot of reading and writing. They have all become fairly competent writers, but I’m not sure if I actually taught them much.

After completing Unit One, I am very pleased with the program. 10 days of activities are all based on one reading passage by Jules Verne, culminating in the student writing his or her own descriptive paragraph. The assignments included analyzing the example passage for specific qualities of good literature, locating all of the descriptive nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs and learning the components of a 5+ sentence paragraph. Before Emily wrote her own paragraph, she had to not only choose her topic and write the topic sentence, but make lists of descriptive words that could be used in her paragraph. This made the actual writing easier and we were both pleased with the results.

I liked that the program incorporated grammar review into the writing, making it relevant. This is a program that I intend to continue using through the year.

Write with the Best sells for $19.95 to $24.95. The e-book version is currently on sale for $14.95. The first two units (out of a total of nine) can be downloaded as a trial version at the EDUDPS site, so that you can determine if the program is right for you!


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