- Series: The Complete Writer
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: The Well-Trained Mind Press; Workbook edition (January 25, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1933339314
- ISBN-13: 978-1933339313
- Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 1.3 x 11.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Complete Writer: Level Four Workbook for Writing with Ease (The Complete Writer) Paperback – January 25, 2010
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About the Author
Susan Wise Bauer is a writer, educator, and historian. Her previous books include the Writing With Ease, Writing With Skill, and Story of the World series from Well-Trained Mind Press, as well as The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, The Well-Educated Mind: A Guide to the Classical Education You Never Had, Rethinking School, The Story of Western Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory, and the History of the World series, all from W. W. W. Norton. She has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the College of William & Mary in Virginia, as well as an M.A. in seventeenth-century literature and a Master of Divinity in Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature. For fifteen years, she taught literature and composition at the College of William and Mary.
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Minus two stars for the excessively long and difficult dictation exercises. I have difficulty remembering word for word the three or four complex sentences that are to be read aloud three times and remembered. We easily make adjustments to fit our situation, as we are very familiar with this program. I don't know that I would start using this book with a 9-10 year old, unaccustomed to this method of learning language arts.
The lessons are based on a 4-day week and the same passage is used for all 4 days.
For example: Day one, the teacher reads the passage to the student and asks them to summarize what they just heard in 3-4 sentences.
Students will have practice with dictation - hearing a short passage read aloud 3 times and then repeating the passage aloud and writing it in their notebook. There are reminders of how to teach when to insert commas, how an author can use incomplete sentences correctly, using dashes, etc.
This book allows opportunities to teach not only writing with excellence, but literature, history, improving memory, punctuation, editing, logical thinking, and more. My only regret is that I did not encounter this curriculum earlier to use with my boys when they were younger. I highly reccomend this curriculum.
Many famous authors began their writing by first copying down lines from accomplished authors before embarking on their own writing careers. This is the premise of "Writing with Ease" - the first years the student copies lines from great works or dictates their own sentences to the teacher. By the 4th year the teacher dictates sentences and the student has to write them down. There are 4 lessons per week with 2 set aside to copywork or dictation (copywork for the younger grades and dictation for the older).
Besides writing there is a reading and comprehension part to the program and 2 days are set aside for the reading assignment. The younger student is asked leading questions to prompt him to the correct summation of the passage. As they get older they are just asked to summarize the passage without prompts from the parent/teacher.
Specifically, the Level four book continues with dictation (copywork was done in years one and two). The dictation sentences are quite lengthy: some of them as long as a paragraph. This has caused problems for my children as they have a hard time remembering it all. Therefore, I will either break up the dictation into smaller chunks, or dictate part of it and have them copy the rest down so they are not so overwhelmed. As for the reading and summation part of the book, the parent no longer ask leading questions to help the student sum up the passage. If the student has issues, there are questions provided for the parent to help the student arrange their thoughts into logical sentences. Once the parent writes down what the student says, then the sentences are dictated back to the child for them to write down. The main focus of this book is having the child logically sum up the passage without prompts from the parent/teacher. But like I said there are questions provided if your child is having issues.
The workbook is set up with the parent portion at the beginning of the workbook and the student's reading passages and writing pages at the back. One thing I do so I am able to use the books with all of my children is I do not have my children use the worksheets. I prefer to have my kids write on our own paper. This way I can continue to use the same book year after year. You can copy the worksheets, but I personally feel this is a waste of ink. The books are holding up well after being used three separate times with the three girls. I did protect the cover with clear contact paper.
I should also add all types of sentences are covered: statement, command, question and exclamation; along with all types of punctuation: period, commas, quotations, exclamation and question marks, contractions, etc. Passages are taken not only from fiction but also from history books, biographies, autobiographies and even poems. It is quite amazing how much is covered within these workbooks.
The girls love the reading aspect of the program and the summation (they have even been known to check out the books at the library after reading a passage of the book within the curriculum), but sometimes my children have had issues with the dictation. Some of the sentences have been quite long. When that happens I usually break it up or have them copy part of it instead. But this program has created much better writers. Enjoyment of anything usually comes after hours of work and effort have gone into perfecting the skills, and writing is no exception. This is a program also takes time on the parents part, but no more than 10 minutes per day on average, but there is nothing the parent has to do prior to the lesson as everything is provided.
So to sum it up. I wholeheartedly believe in this writing curriculum. The idea that good writing comes from reading and copying the writing of other amazing authors is a proven one. My children have developed and enhanced their writing skills. This may be the last book of the series, but having a good base in writing is just the beginning of excellent writing.