This writing curriculum from the publishers of God’s World News and WORLD magazine is meant for middle school aged children in grades 6th through 8th. It is a 2-year program, of which I reviewed the first year. The course is divided into 4 units. Each unit has four lessons, with each lesson having 5 chapters, or ‘capsules’. Unit 1 guides the student to examine images from photo journalism and to practice observing and describing them. In Unit 2 the course emphasizes well defined subjects; strong verbs and other parts of speech are taught and reviewed. Unit 3 addresses paragraphs, with an emphasis on evaluation writing with logical order and transition. And in Unit 4, the student is taught that through effective narratives, strong paragraphs create compelling essays.
Throughout the course, students write in a journal, called a Conversations Writers Journal, or CWJ. In later units they refer back to earlier entries to see their progress and improve their work. For example, in unit 2 lesson 2, the student is learning about composing and linking sentences. In capsule 4 the text describes how to construct a compound complex sentence and gives examples of dependent clauses and independent clauses. There is then a quote from an editor of WORLD magazine for the student to read, which gives advice about writing interesting and informative sentences. In the exercise portion are 5 assignments, which include creating a compound-complex sentence and then combining it with another simple sentence that the student previously wrote in their CWJ.
My kids enjoyed doing these lessons a lot. The curriculum really made them think about what they were going to be writing, and the ideas they were trying to convey to the readier. They also enjoyed the exercises where they were asked to "read" images in media, and trying to see what message was being conveyed through the image. I liked the methodical yet fun way that writing with proper grammar was taught. I especially liked some of the writing samples they gave in the book. For example, in the section on linking sentences the students reads a paragraph written in mostly simple sentences, which tends to be choppy and disconnected. Then they read the same paragraph, but instead with the sentences linked by conjunctions. Seeing the better written paragraph strengthened the point in the lesson.
Each year of this program is $95, which includes the student book, teacher manual, and online access; you also have the options of purchasing both years together for $165. The books are non-consumable, which makes this is a great price for a writing program. Access to the website will include updated examples, writing prompts, and a helpful teacher forum. I was not able to review the website but the site will be active by the fall. The teacher manual is a copy of the student book but also includes bits of teaching advice, convenient definitions, and assignment ideas in the outside margins.
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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, for my honest and humble review. All opinions are mine.