We were given the chance to review a wonderful language arts program recently, Essentials in Writing. EIW offers curriculum for grades 1-12. In grades 1-6 the program focuses primarily on grammar skills and then starts to shift into writing for 7-8 grades, while still weaving in grammar lessons. For 9-12 grades, students work on sentence structure, paragraphs, essays and research papers, again with grammar woven into the lessons.
We were given the 7th grade level for review, which was perfect for the Lil' Chef.
The way that EIW is laid out is that you first look over your assignment (which can be printed out from a PDF. file or done in a workbook), then the student WATCHES the lesson via DVD. After gaining an understanding of the new concept, the student then completes their assignment or assignments that correspond with the lesson.
We like that Essentials in Writing is a DVD based curriculum. It is a blessing to have an experienced, former middle school English teacher teaching the lessons, and me overseeing and helping when needed. The videos lessons are laid out well and easily understood. The 7th grade level that we reviewed covers the following (from EIW's website):
- Review sentences types and sentence structure (compound sentences) and address sentence errors (fragment and run on), dependent and independent clause
- Parts of a personal letter & Writing a personal letter
- Parts of a paragraph & Writing a paragraph
- Other forms of written communication: lists/thank you note/invitation/diary entries
- How to choose an appropriate writing form.
- Writing a business letter (includes format and composition)
The writing process (prewrite, draft, revise, edit/publish)
- Use the writing process to compose narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive writing in formal paragraphs and informal writing
- Essays; compare and contrast essay, expository essay
- Effective writing skills: strong details, transitions, beginning/middle/end concept, logical sequence of events, variety of sentence structure, and use of figurative language including simile, metaphor, personification, hyperbole; vivid language
- Revision: word choice (use of a thesaurus), using strong details, a variety of sentence structure in writing, & figurative language when appropriate, adding dialogue when appropriate
- Research Project - a complete research project including planning, gathering information, drafting, revising, and publishing.
- Capitalization rules: beginning of sentences, names, city/state, holidays/countries, titles
- Punctuation rules: period, question mark, & exclamation point, and comma usage; titles
- Grammar: subject/predicate (both complete and simple, and compound subjects/predicates), nouns, proper nouns, action verbs, adjectives, pronouns, linking verbs, possessive nouns, subject/verb agreement, adverbs, propositional phrases, appositives, proper adjectives
- Spelling rules for plural nouns
- Mechanics of dialogue and purposeful dialogue
The Lil' Chef has a pretty good foundation in grammar, which is recommended before starting this level (the 6th grade level offers a pretty intense grammar course, from what I understand), at this point we really need to focus on her writing. Essentials in Writing 7 pretty much jumps into writing, but as I mentioned, it also weaves grammar into the lessons. With EIW, grammar rules are reviewed and not forgotten.
So far, the Lil' Chef has done some grammar review, worked on paragraphs and now we are on to essays. The video lessons have been helpful for her in understanding new concepts and improving on her writing skills. I have noticed that EIW has also increased her confidence level with her writing. At this point she is plugging along in the program and doing great!
Essentials in Writing is a great program that is also very budget friendly! Each Essentials in Writing level is only $40! I was pretty amazed at the price to be honest. For $40 you receive the writing lessons via DVD, as well as the PDF files that can be used with multiple children. If you prefer a workbook over printing, they offer a student workbook for an additional $20. A bargain either way!
Check out what other TOS Crew members have to say about the different grade levels from Essentials in Writing.