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Compose Yourself!: A Guide to Critical Thinking and Analytical Writing in Secondary School

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1608446452
ISBN-10: 160844645X
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing, LLC (July 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 160844645X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1608446452
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,143,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Karin Chenoweth on August 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
Reading this book made me wish it had been around in high school when my teachers told me things like, "You have good ideas but you don't know how to write." If I had had this book it could have short-circuited many painful years. And if my teachers had had this book, they could have said, "Let me help you learn how to write."
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I love this book, but I emailed the author for support and I never heard back. I am a college English professor, but I bought this book to homeschool high school Sophomore my son. I would love to use this in the classroom, but I can't seem to get through to the author. She has a website that promises worksheets, templates, etc, but they are not up on the site. Too bad she's missing in action because I was going to suggest this book to the textbook committee, but I can't do that if we don't get the support.

What I love about the text: It clearly breaks down the steps of writing in different modes (that is, writing for different purposes - to evaluate, to argue, to explain, etc). There are charts and lists that help students understand what they need to do in each stage and how to get to the goal of the essay. Very good stuff.
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As the mother of three (now grown) children, I would have been delighted to have had this book when they were in middle and high school trying to complete project after project. "Compose Yourself!" breaks down the process of thinking about a topic into easy to understand steps that would have helped calm the "night before" scramble of one child, and perhaps avoided the "Whoops! That was due today?!" procrastination of another. My one child who probably didn't need "Compose Yourself!" is now an English teacher who uses this book in her high school English classes to teach analytical writing. Once writers use the provided graphic organizers to think through the topic, Stempel shows them how to put it all together into a coherent whole. This book takes something that is considered mysterious, how to organize analytical thinking and writing, and demystifies it so all can do it. "Compose Yourself!" would have been a welcome tool in our house, but those in the trenches can use it now.
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Filling in bubbles on a standardized multiple choice test asks students to answer questions that already have answers. What really measures a student's depth of understanding is a well-thought-out and well-written critical analysis of the topic. Amy Stempel's workbook is a blueprint for teaching students to think logically, to analyze the facts, and organize their findings and conclusions into a coherent, readable essay. It is a step-by-step approach that can be used by teachers and parents to help students become fluent writers and thinkers. Although the workbook is designed for middle school students, the basic principles outlined in it are applicable to all types of writing, from high school essays to graduate theses and the polished communication expected in most careers. By mastering these few, simple rules, students acquire a skill that becomes automatic and is never forgotten, like riding a bicycle.

Teachers who fear that logical, structured writing stifles creativity will discover the opposite is true: students will achieve a level of expression that goes far beyond formulaic narrative, the kind of writing taught in elementary schools. Invariably, the most enduring works of fiction are built on a strong, though subtle and nuanced, underlying structure.

Disciplined thinking and disciplined writing should be required in every subject, including math and science. Giving students the tools to express themselves coherently and with ease is the best gift a teacher or parent could possibly give them. I wish my early mentors had been handed a copy of Stempel's guidebook.

I would like to add that a visit to Stempel's Web site (lightbulblearning.net) is well worth the time spent perusing her thoughts on education.

Community College Admissions Advisor
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Format: Paperback
The ability to use language well is a fast disappearing art. As proof of her ability to teach you to write an analytical and well-organized piece, Ms Stempel has herself written an analytical and well-organized book. This cleanly written and concise book is a must-have for any one older than 12 who wants to learn to think clearly and write well. It is accessible but not dumbed down, practical but not rigid, and useful for all kinds of writing.
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Format: Paperback
Compose Yourself fulfills an obvious need. Too many high school students have never learned how to write clearly and concisely. This easy-to-follow workbook not only shows students how to overcome that barrier, it demonstrates how to use this new-found knowledge in all subject areas. It can transform that burden of fulfilling classroom writing assignments into no problem at all!
Nancy A. Dean
English Language Communication Specialist
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Kudos to Ms. Stempel for recognizing the need for guidance in leading young adults on the correct path to critical thinking and analytical writing. She has set forth to clearly and simply synthesize the material in a manner that is not overwhelming for either teacher or student. The skills that will be gained will serve students well, as they embark upon the path to college and career. This book should be a must for those who will be writing essays for college applications, for creating papers in collegiate subjects and then again as a refresher and permanent resource guide in the corporate world.
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