“Ok, kids, today we are going to learn how to write an essay.” Gasp. Sigh. Groan. No, those reactions aren't from my children. They're from me, the teacher-mom. Have you ever wondered how to go about teaching the all-important skill of high school writing? Have you fearfully pondered just what exactly needs to be taught? Have you been bullied by thoughts of grading it once it's done? Well, I have found just the help I needed by using Frode Jensen's Format Writing. Let's look at how this curriculum helps the homeschooling teacher, as well as the student, know what writing skills to cover in high school, what format works well in constructing an essay, and the simple process of grading each of these linguistic works of art. So, what kind of writing instruction does a high-schooler need to be able to process his thoughts on paper so he can communicate effectively? While it doesn't address creative writing or poetry, Format Writing definitely covers the essentials of more formal, research-type work. From book reports, to business letters, to research papers, to the all-important essay, this book has got it covered. This curriculum can be used as a steady full-year course, or you can do as I have—use the parts you need for any given year. Assuming your student has already got the basics under his belt, no matter where you start using it--9th grade or 12th—this book will give your student the great building blocks he needs to write well.
The essay is the basic foundation of good writing for the high school student, but essays have a reputation for being intimidating. However, they don't need to be. Mr. Jensen begins at the beginning. Working through the sentence structure of a thesis statement, then paragraph construction, and on to assembling the five-paragraph essay, the piece-by-piece instruction makes the format easy to learn as well as retain. Offering seven different types of essays to construct, your student will receive all the much-needed practice to tackle any essay topic he may encounter.
But how to go about the task of grading each written piece? Unlike subjects such as math that have a clear-cut “right” answer, it's not so simple with writing. Mr. Jensen gives clear direction on just how to grade the essays and other papers by providing reproducible checksheets in the back of the book. Specific notes just for the teacher explain how to work your way through the checksheet so that you can achieve consistent and uniform grading throughout the course. The two tests included in the workbook are easy to grade as well.
Composition of any kind used to be the Goliath of my homeschool experience. But not anymore. While my children and I still have much to learn about the fine art of writing, this course has given me the encouragement and confidence I have longed for in this subject. Format Writing covers the basic components of high school writing, equipping the student to tackle almost any type of formal composition. The essay is covered at great length to build strength in communicating one's position on many topics. Grading no longer seems impossible when trying to give a fair assessment to an objective piece of work. So if you are struggling to find a writing curriculum that meets the needs and fears of composition, I think you will find this book to be a good fit. And reasonably priced, it's a wonderful bargain. Oh, and by the way, I wrote this essay based on the methods I learned using and teaching Jensen's Format Writing!