This is a review I've been looking forward to working on and writing, because The Power In Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition from Writing with Sharon Watson has been on my wishlist for awhile. We were able to work on reviewing this updated edition, and get a head start on the upcoming school year as well. For the win!
We'll be ready to start in with Chapter 3 (Persuasion) when the new school year starts, because she is now working on her Opinion Essay, using everything she's learned in Chapter 2; which includes lots of practical tips on writing a great hook to introduce the essay, and a strong conclusion; and advice on how to manage time when working on a writing assignment.
And just when you thought it was safe, you find another order on the next page.
|brainstorming about bicycles and credit cards and other topics|
|with some Mountain Dew for fuel! Ha!|
We were very intrigued by the collection of 14-Minute Power Surges included in the Teacher's Guide. These are writing prompts designed to encourage students to write without being graded on ev-er-y-thing. I think you know what I mean. That's too much pressure, but teens need lots of "starter material" for the essays that they will be graded on. So what you can do with these Power Surges is give them a prompt four days a week and each time they'll write on that topic for 14 minutes. On Fridays they would be able to choose one of those papers to complete, proofread and polish for grading. These can be used as a break from the program or as a yearlong program by themselves.
What we did was try a couple of the Power Surge prompts chosen at random a few times over the weeks we had to prepare for this review. I thought they were good practice for getting some writing in when we didn't have enough time to get through an entire lesson. The prompts are listed in the Teacher's Guide with sixteen for each month in a calendar year, four prompts for four weeks in each month. There's a wide variety of topics that lend themselves to different styles of writing - persuasion, description, narration, etc - and the topics are creative. Just from our quick sampling of the prompts, we found a mix of light-hearted and serious, challenging and "easier" ideas.
Also in the Teacher's Guide is a detailed Grading Toolbox for Teachers, explaining how to give a grade, and what types of things a paper should demonstrate in order to earn an A, B, and all the way down to an F. Well, hopefully we'll not ever have to give a D or an F, right?! Since students are encouraged to be their own editors, the Teacher's Guide gives plenty of instruction on proofreading marks and just how to do the job of proofreading and editing well. Of course the answer key is included, as well as evaluation forms and rubrics to give clear guidance in grading each of the writing assignments.
What we liked best:
- the comfortable and conversational tone in which both the Student Text and the Teacher's Guide are written. Neither of us felt like it was over our heads or that something was being dumbed-down for us.
- the work is broken down into manageable chunks, and knowing where the stopping place was for each day is helpful.
- the flexibility of the 14-Minute Power Surges. I know those are going to be a great tool as we get going with this course full time in September, especially as I'm planning how to use The Power in Your Hands over a two-year period!
- I am a HUGE FAN of clear and detailed grading rubrics for writing assignments. And these are probably the best I've ever seen. Seriously.
What I need to mention:
- we have not used the first edition, but according to the information on the Writing with Sharon Watson website, the second edition is not exactly compatible with the first. In other words, you may be frustrated if you try to use a first edition Teacher's Guide with a second edition Student Text or vice versa. That's because page numbers have changed, and at least the emotional appeal assignment section is quite different. For more info on that, I do suggest checking the other Crew reviews, because some of the members have used the first edition and would be able to compare.
Our bottom line: We came into this review with high expectations, because I'd heard so many good things about the program and was hoping that I'd be able to get it for Kennady; and because Kennady herself recognized the writing style of the sample pages we previewed (We previously reviewed Illuminating Literature), and said, "Yes, Mom! Ask to review that!" I'm happy to report that The Power In Your Hands met our expectations and will indeed be our homeschool's writing course for the upcoming school year.
Would you like to tap into The Power in Your Hands? Here's what you need to know:
Visit the website: https://WritingWithSharonWatson.com/
Pricing: The Power In Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition is available through the website. The Student Text is $45 and the Teacher's Guide is $20. Samples are available for both.
Recommended Ages: This text is intended for students in Grades 9-12. For younger students, consider the middle school book Jump In!.
Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog for more information and to read other reviews. Some Crew members reviewed the 21 Grading Grids for Popular High School Essays so be sure to check out all the reviews!
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