Monday, July 25, 2016

Writing with Sharon Watson: A TOS CREW REVIEW


     Writing is something I LOVE!  In highschool I was not only in the AP honors English classes, but I also wrote for the school paper and was an avid poet.  My skills are somewhat less sharp these days but my love for written work remains.  
     My 2nd oldest daughter H15 is very much like me in these areas.  I was super excited when I found out that we/she would get to use and review The Power in Your Hands: Writing NonFiction in High School 2nd Edition from Writing with Sharon Watson.        
     H15 studies writing on her own and I find it hard to keep up with her in the area of finding her good curriculum/resources.  I had already heard a lot about Sharon Watson and knew H15g would be up for it!

The Power in Your Hands: Writing NonFiction in High School 2nd Edition

The Student Workbook and Teachers manual are both high-quality, glossy covered paperback books. The teachers manual is 223 pages and includes not only the weekly teaching instruction, but also how to grade and tips for you to help your student.  The student book has 396 application pages and 9 extra pages of toolbox help at the back.

There is a total of 7 parts that this writing book covers:
  1. Before You Write
  2. Persuasion
  3. Proofreading
  4. Exposition
  5. Description
  6. Narration
  7. Reference (toolbox)

     Within each Section are multiple chapters that teach the material.  The chapters are detailed and self-guided.  The chapters are full of not only writing styles, but also great “what-to-do/what-not-to-do” worked in so that the student is constantly learning practical things alongside the technical stuff.  Sprinkled throughout the book are personal little tips and famous quotes.  Those give a nice, friendly touch and breaks up the text in order to have things not “run together”.

     The student both writes in the book and has assignments outside of the book that can be done with paper and pencil or on a word processor.  H15g chose to do her assignments mainly through paper and pencil and then do final drafts on the computer.  This was her choice and her reasoning (I thought) was suberb!

     “The reason I do my assignments on paper and pencil is 3 fold.  1)There is a different connection between what you write and your brain when you are using paper and pencil.  I want that stimulation and connection.  2)I do not want the computer correcting everything for me.  I want to train my brain to find those mistakes and correct them.  3)I want good penmenship.  It might seem weird, but as a writer, I want to actual be able to “write” well.

     The Teacher’s Guide is a simple in format, clear in its directions and structured enough to give clear direction but open enough for one to teach without feeling like you are strictly reading a script.  I will be honest though, I didn’t “teach” this course to my girl.  I actually hate teachers manuals and any curriculum that comes with them I usually run from at a mad pace!  HOWEVER, with capable teens in the house that can teach themselves, I will get said curric and let them have at it.  This is what I did with H15g.  She read both books for the first few chapters and then used mainly just the Student Book but referred to the Teachers Guide as needed.  I spent time at length looking over both and then as we checked in every week, I revisited both books as well.

How We Actually Used it:

     H15g has finished up her freshman year as far as her social grade but is actually doing “Junior Year” work.  One thing we both loved about this curriculum was that it didn’t matter where you were at grade wise, it’s just good and easy to do!
     The way that we used this Writing NonFiction was easy for me- I gave it to her and she did it.  H15g is studious and self-propelled.  We would check in each week and have an open discussion over tea where she would share her thoughts, what she was learning, and her writings.  Win-Win!

H15g’s Thoughts:

     “I liked this writing course a lot! It was composed really well, easy to follow, and full of great information!  My main reason for wanting to do this course was to grow in my skills as a writer and to be challenged.  This course is definitely doing that!  I feel like the more I do, the more I improved in my skills as a writer.   I have noticed that my creative expressions are more rich and my style of writing is becoming more clear.  I feel like I am composing my works better and understanding how the mechanics of writing works in an applicable way. 
     My only negative with the program is that many of the chapters presented too much information at one time.  The first time this happened, I was sort of shocked.  The first 2 or 3 chapters (I can’t remember which off-hand) were perfect in the amount of information given and then I hit either the 3rd or 4th chapter and was just lost! I was having trouble comprehending all that they were giving me at one time.  I would read a ton of stuff and then do an assignment on what was presented at the very beginning of the reading material.  I would then have to go and re-read that section because I had forgotten what it was about.  This “information-heavy” lesson thing became more of a norm than not.   If each lesson was split in half, I think I would have liked it better.  To make it workable for me, that is exactly what I did.  It was easy enough to do, but would have been nice if it was already broken up that way.
     My favorite thing about this program is the way it was set up in general.  The chapters containing a lot of information did not take away from the clear-cut layout, easy to follow flow and clear directions.  I would recommend this program to both developing writers and those who would like to improve their skills.  There is something for everyone in there!   ~H15g ”


Also check out the other reviews by the Crew members of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

Writing with Sharon Watson Review

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Minda. My daughter is a professional photographer, so I've seen many, many family pictures. I gotta say that I love yours! :-)

    Thanks for your review of The Power in Your Hands, 2nd Edition. I love how your daughter prefers writing her work on paper before entering it in a computer. She's so very right about how writing things by hand makes connections in the brain. Recent research proves it, but she already knows it!

    God bless your new school year!