Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Writing with Sharon Watson ~ A Review


The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition is a great tool by Writing with Sharon Watson for high schoolers to hone in on their writing skills. This curriculum is intended for use with grades 9-12. Your high school student will learn four forms of nonfiction writing: exposition, narration, description, and persuasion.


We all know that when our children become teenagers they prefer to do schoolwork on their own. At least mine do! This curriculum is great in that it contains student-directed lessons. The curriculum is written in a conversational style, and though complex material is presented it is written in a way that is easy for the student to understand. There are 117 suggested daily lessons, complete instructions for 21 written assignments, and a year's worth of writing prompts. 

There are seven parts to the curriculum which include:
  1. Before You Write
  2. Persuasion
  3. Proofreading
  4. Exposition
  5. Description
  6. Narration
  7. Reference
Throughout the lessons your student will work on skills such as brainstorming, citing sources, organizing thoughts, strong introductions and conclusions, audience, common grammar mistakes, things to avoid/deadly mistakes, themes, plots, and so much more.

I used this curriculum with my 10th grader. He was less than pleased about having to "work" on writing during the summer. With that said, what he did work through, was quite helpful. Instead of completing a lot of writing he utilized the curriculum to review his own writing technique and skills. The curriculum gave him a great boost going into the new school year.

I love that each chapter begins with a witty quote. This curriculum does an amazing job at reaching the interests of teenagers by utilizing topics familiar and relevant to teenagers. My son was fascinated by the following statistics. Did you know that comic books are written at a 6th grade level, Reader's Digest on a 9th grade level, and TIME written on an 11th grade level. Did you know that you can grade your own writing with a technique called the Fog Index. The Fog Index uses sentence length and difficult words as its main criteria. In Chapter 12 ~ Process Writing (How-to) your student will be able to follow a six step process to grade their own writing.


My son was intrigued with the content in Chapter 7 ~ Persuasion -- Moral/Ethical.

"It is curious - curious that physical courage should be so common 
in the world and moral courage so rare."
~Mark Twain~

In this chapter your student will learn how to effectively structure and write moral/ethical essays and letters.


Some of the highlight's that my son pointed out that he really liked was:

  • Writing takes time. For every 100 words you are assigned, set aside at least one hour. If any researching is needed, add more time. Rule of thumb: 100 words = 1 hour
  • When using quotes, readers need to know why you are using the quote or how the quote fits into your topic. 
  • What is good English? In writing it is "English that is appropriate for your audience."
  • E-mail etiquette and how to write various letters and notes. 
  • Know when to use loaded words and when to use neutral ones. 

The Teacher's Guide is thorough and gives you as the teacher the tools needed to successfully follow and grade your student's work. Not sure about how to grade? Well, not a problem. The teacher's guide does a fabulous job at explaining what a student needs to produce in order to make an A or an F. The guide details what is included in the student's toolbox. Every assignment has an exhaustive grading grid to help as you grade each assignment.


The teacher's guide provides an excellent reference guide which entails the Objectives for The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School. There are 12 objectives in the course, 5 attitude objectives, and 16 skills objectives. This is a great list to reference throughout the year as your student progresses through the material.

I would most definitely recommend this writing curriculum to others. Last year I had the opportunity to review another great writing curriculum by Writing with Sharon Watson entitled, Illuminating Literature ~ When World's Collide. Feel free to check out what I had to say about it.


To read more reviews click here.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi, Jennifer! Thank you for your review! Your images of your son's work and a grading grid are so helpful, and I absolutely love it that you included parts of The Power in Your Hands that your son likes. :-)

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