- Would you like to show your students how to write a strong five-paragraph essay to a timed prompt, and have them complete it in about an hour?
- Would you like to show your students a simple format that will help them write essays from any writing domain?
- Would you like your students to be able to write exciting introductions and conclusions?
- Would you like a detailed lesson plan that will show you, step-by-step, how to teach the five-paragraph essay?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then Create Better Writers may be the program for you!
Create Better Writers provides easy-to-use writing and grammar programs for grades 3 and up. We received 3 ebooks — How To Write A Paragraph and How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay, along with the Home School Writing Action Plan, for review.
The Home School Writing Action Plan is a road map for writing instruction. It lays out a sequential plan for teaching writing, beginning in about 3rd grade. It points to products from their website to use along the way, or helps you understand how to use writing curricula you may already be using. It includes a pacing guide for beginning in grades 3, 6 or high school, as well as a road map or action plan for ensuring that your student learns everything, from sentence building to narrative writing, needed to write well for college and score well on SAT/ACT exams.
Ben is at the end of 5th grade and has had little formal writing instruction, so I began with How To Write a Paragraph. The premise of the book is to teach your students one simple trick to writing paragraphs — the prewrite, getting your ideas down on paper before you begin writing. And then to drill the concepts until setting up the prewrite and writing paragraphs becomes second nature. It is a simple and effective concept. For younger children (3rd-4th grade), this process may take months. For Ben, it took a few weeks before I felt confident that he was consistently writing paragraphs well, using the prewrite trick. Then we moved on to the beginning stages of How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay. While he still needs much improvement in dressing up his sentences so that his paragraphs are more interesting, the foundation is there. We definitely have something to build on with this method.
Teaching the Five-Paragraph Essay is an extension of the first book — taking the prewrite trick to the next level, in an outline form. We are in the beginning stages of this book, mostly just practicing the prewriting exercises over and over. Looking ahead in this book, I believe Ben will get some great instruction in how to write an essay, improve his paragraphs, and writing introductions and conclusions.
Ben preferred I not share his exact writings with you on my blog, so out of respect for him, I won’t. However, I will describe some of the differences to you.
Before we began, I asked Ben to write a paragraph about “something fun he did this summer.” He immediately asked me this question, “How long does it have to be?” I told him to write whatever he considered to be a good paragraph.
When reviewing the paragraph he wrote, this is what I noticed:
- He did not indent the paragraph.
- He had a great topic sentence.
- His supporting sentences stayed on topic, but were not very descriptive.
- His punctuation, especially the use of commas was poor.
- He did not have a closing sentence.
After working with him for several weeks, I asked him again to write a sentence about, “something fun he did this summer.”
When reviewing the new paragraph (which he happened to write about the same experience as the first), this is what I noticed:
- The paragraph was indented.
- The topic sentence was even better, more engaging.
- His supporting sentences not only supported his topic, but they were interesting to reading, using more and better adjectives (instead of “I really liked building the time machine . . . ,” he wrote, “Building the time machine was a very interesting and fun experience!” (these sentences uses with Ben’s permission)
- His punctuation, while not perfect, was much improved.
- He wrote an excellent closing sentence.
As you should be able to tell, Ben’s paragraph is much improved! He’s now ready to move on to essays, and what’s even better than that is he is excited about it.
I absolutely love that we can take this method to any subject matter Ben is studying and use it to write essays on anything from geography to history to math, even. My hope is that it will spark a desire in Ben to write more. I have the expectation that he will write more in this coming school year. I’m thrilled to see that there is definitely a vast improvement in his writing. I have also noticed that as he has developed more writing skill, he has gained more confidence.
All of these books provide detailed lesson plans and pacing charts with easy-to-understand, concise, step-by-step instructions for the teacher. Even if you are not confident in your own ability to write, you will find this method easy to teach, and it will likely improve your own writing as well.
Purchase Home School Writing Action Plan $15.95 (ebook) or $19.95 (softcover)
Purchase How To Write a Paragraph $7.99 eBook Only (Free with the purchase of How To Teach the Five Paragraph Essay or The Complete Writing Program)
Purchase Teaching the Five-Paragraph Essay $17.95 (ebook) or $19.95 (softcover) (Free with the purchase of The Complete Writing Program)
Purchase The Complete Writing Program
$59 Sale $54.80 (ebook) or $69 Sale $59 (softcover)
Be sure to stop by the Create Better Writers website to sign up for their free newsletter. You’ll also find free weekly writing tips on the home page. Other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have been using this program in their homeschools as well . . .
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