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It was a very devastating time finding a writing program that is really suitable with my children. They have just finished their grammar stage based on the classical method that we are There are a lot of options to choose. They start from the most classical to the most modern way to learn writing. We have encountered some wonderful writing programs, but we had some trouble to go with either they were too advance, too boring, or too short. As you know, we are an eclectic homeschooling family with a tendency to the classical methods.
I was very happy when Kimberly D. Garcia told me that she was writing a classical writing curriculum for the middle middle school learners. I just applied for reviewing Writing from Rhetoric 1 as soon as the book was ready. I knew that I would like it since I have fallen in love with her previous books: Bible Memorization Made Easy.
It was a very long waiting for us since our academic year was started on July 2014, but we wait for it till finally Writing from Rhetoric 1 was published. I was very happy to know that this curriculum pack has a Teacher Book since we are not a native English speaker. I need more confidence to make sure that kids have given the correct answers. There are also some writing examples that let me know what kind of quality is expected from kids.
As I said previously, there are a lot of options for writing curriculums. Some of them emphasize learners to be creative without fully paying attention to the grammatical areas. Another kinds of writing curriculums are too strict with instruction and grammar so that the sense of creativity is very limited. I can say that Writing from Rhetoric stands right in the middle keeping the aspects of grammar and creativity in balance.
Writing from Rhetoric adopts the ideas of progymnasmata as it is said in the introduction.
The progymnasmata are a series of writing exercises which were used during ancient times.
Therefore, all of the exercises in the lessons are created to get learners ready for the study in the rhetoric stage (year 9-12), which is a more advance stage after the logic stage (year 5-8). Here are some aspects included in the lessons:
- Encomium (Praise)
- Vituperation (Blame)
- Characterization (Speech-in-Character)
There are six chapters in Writing from Rhetoric 1 discussing from sentences to narrative.
Chapter 1: Writing Sentences
Most of the lessons in Writing from Rhetoric are focussed on the sentence structure to lay a stronger foundation to make great narrative paragraphs. Therefore, when the first time I opened the book, I thought the curriculum would be boring as there are some grammar theories and practice. However, when I look further into the content, there are some explanation about the relationship of the grammatical matters and the effects in the writing. I can say that it is not a merely grammatical lessons, but also how the grammar can give impact to the beauty of writing.
Chapter 2: Writing Fables
The sentence writing focused in the first chapter is developed further in chapter 2 by writing dialogue to expanding fable. Learners will practice changing the direct to indirect sentences and vice versa. The sentences are constructed into paragraphs using direct sentence to engage readers better. It impress me a lot that learners can expand their story with the technique.
Chapter 3: Understanding Point of View
In this chapter, learners are introduced into the first and third person point of views with much deeper and more various terms. At the end of this chapter, learners are expected to be able to write an original fable with some help and clue. Many people often think hard to start writing. To get learners confident in starting the story, some clues are given in the assignment description.
Chapter 4: Understanding Narratives
This chapter discusses narrative plot in more detail points so that learners can enrich their story with more various plot structures. After some theory is presented, learners are asked to analyze some stories based on the theory. Next, learners are expected to be able to use the materials given to create much better narrative writing.
Chapter 5: Summarizing a Story
This is the shortest chapter of all, but it is not least important. A good writer is usually a good reader too. Reading stories to inspire in writing sometimes needs summarizing skills. Here are the skills explained around.
Chapter 6: Writing a Narrative
This is the final chapter of Writing from Rhetoric 1 that expects learners to apply all knowledge and practices they have got in the previous chapters. Of course there are some polishing process discussed here, such as editing, showing, and slanting the narrative writing.
At the end of the book, there are some appendixes listing commonly used words based on the parts of speech and also story plot table.
In each chapter, there are some assignments following up the topics given. Using the teacher guide, all parents should not be worried too much about the writing process. Writing from Rhetoric doesn't demand parents or teachers sitting next to the learners in all process. There are some parts that learners can do the activities independently.
I really recommend Writing from Rhetoric for any homeschooling family with middle school children that really want to have a balance between grammar and creativity, especially those who love the classical and Charlotte Mason methods. Anyway, being classical is not always being old fashioned.
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