I first heard about Essentials In Writing last spring when I was researching vendors that would be at a local homeschool convention. I was impressed by what I read online, so I made a point to visit the booth and speak with the vendor. After having the opportunity to see the product in person and speak to the vendor, I decided to purchase it for my 5th grade son. At that time, the upper grades were not yet available. I have been very pleased with the program for my son, so I was very excited to have the opportunity to review Essentials In Writing 11th Grade.
Essentials In Writing is a complete language arts program with an emphasis in compositions. Products available for grades 1-11, with 12th grade, High School Creative Writing, and High School Technical Writing coming soon. The program is not affiliated with Math U See, but it is similar in style. The student is taught by watching the DVD lesson of Mr. Stephens as he presents the material in easily digestible chunks using a step by step process. Then they complete the worksheets or writing assignments that go with the lesson. Worksheets are labeled with the lesson number and letters. So the child watches the lesson 1 DVD and completes letter A worksheet the first day, B the second day, C the third, and so on. If there is only a letter A then the student goes on to the next video lesson the next day.
The curriculum includes a DVD to view the lessons and PDF files that contain the worksheets for $40. You also have the option to purchase an already printed out spiral bound workbook containing the worksheets for $20.
The 11th Grade materials cover: sentence composition, paragraphs, the writing process, essays, using effective writing techniques, the research paper, and other topics. The essay section includes: Expository Essay, Persuasive Essay, Process Analysis Essay, Response to Literature Essay, and the Research Paper. The curriculum is split up into three sections: Sentences, Paragraphs, and Essays. The author suggests taking breaks after each section and between each essay to focus on spelling, literature, or vocabulary, but how you choose to schedule breaks (if at all) is completely up to you and what works for your schedule. There is no answer key for this level. Instead sample sentences or compositions are included in the workbook with each lesson. It is suggested that you choose one of two ways to grade compositions: a checklist or a scoring guide. These are included in the student workbook. Assignments are usually completed in one day unless noted in the student workbook.
For review purposes, we were asked to complete a few lessons in each section of the program, to get a better overall feel for the entire program. So my daughter completed 5 lessons in the Sentences section, 2 lessons in the paragraph section, and 2 essays. We used Essentials In Writing 4 days a week first viewing the DVD of the lesson and then completing the assignments to go along with it. The workbook does not have a space for most of the student's work, so Chelsea used a spiral notebook to do the assignments for the sentences and paragraphs and prewriting stage for the essays.
I really like the format of Essentials In Writing. As I mentioned, it is similar to Math U See which we are big fans of. The student can watch the videos and complete the lessons independently with the parent only needed for occasional guidance and to grade the essays. Lessons are concise and to the point. Everything Mr. Stephens teaches has a purpose. There is no "busy work." The flow to the curriculum makes sense. First he starts off teaching them how to improve and vary their sentences and sentence structure. Next they use what they have learned to create better paragraphs. Then, they use what they have learned writing paragraphs to create better essays. The curriculum is designed for you to complete it as it works best for your schedule. You can complete more than one lesson in a day if you choose or take small breaks in between each section and essay to focus on literature or vocabulary. I like that there are options within many of the assignments so the student can choose which one they would like to complete.
I think it is wonderful that you are given a PDF download so that you have the ability to print it out for multiple children in your home. But, I did want to mention that unless you have a really good printer it is worth the $20 to purchase the student workbook. The workbooks are long (11th grade is 168 pages) and by the time you print it out and buy a notebook to put it in, it probably will have been cheaper to have bought it already printed out.
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