For the past six weeks, Arlene and I have been reviewing The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, 2nd Edition. We were excited to be on this review from Writing with Sharon Watson for the Schoolhouse Review Crew for two reasons. The first is that we’ve always been impressed with the curriculum written by Sharon Watson, the second reason is because we’ve come to know Sharon as a family friend over our years on the Crew and wanted to introduce her to even more of you. We received both the 428 page Student Textbook and the 232 page Teacher’s Guide.
Because this product is designed to help your High Schooler improve their writing skills, Arlene wanted to write the bulk of this review for you. Please read all the way through to the end of her part ~ you’ll be glad you did! I’ll include some additional thoughts of my own after her review.
You may remember that we have reviewed other Products from Writing With Sharon Watson before those products range from Writing Fiction (in High school) to Illuminating Literature: When Worlds collide. This time we are reviewing The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School .
The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School is kind of a long title so from now on I will just call it tPiYHWNiHS. Nope that is still kind of long so I will just put PYH:WNFHS. Wow thats still kind of long, so lets just go with NFIHS. (Non-Fiction in High Schoo.) Well it doesn't matter how long the title is it is still a fantastic set of books.
(From the website)
This is the second edition and the changes are:
1. Easily keep track of daily work with newly numbered lessons.
2. Teens learn common grammar mistakes (7 lessons).
3. The emotional appeal speech is shorter and easier to understand.
4. Students can look up items in the new index.
5. Grading essays just got a lot easier! Specific grading grids in the Teacher’s Guide are designed for each essay assignment. Parents have asked for this, and these grids will make grading student essays MUCH easier!
6. The chapter on the old SAT essay has been removed. Find info on that essay here.
My favorite new part of NFIHS is the hole chapter on common grammar mistakes. this chapter will help you weather you are writing fiction or not. It has helped me when I am re-reading my own fiction and non-fiction papers to spot incorrect punctuation and incorrect homophones. The book my even help adults who haven't taken any classes on proofreading in a long time. The book is broken up into 7 Parts that include 23 chapters. These are further decided into lessons. Each lessons has many practice sections to go with it to make sure you are practicing what you are learning. as a teen I will admit sometimes I didnt like doing the practices but realize now that they have helped me a lot. Even thought I have written this review I still plan on finishing the book this fall to help me learn righting nonfiction (Something I have never really tried before.)
If you have the first edition of NFIHS you might have some questions about wether the two editions work together and the answer can be found on the web paige for the curriculum. Along with answers to other questions you might have such as:
(Also from the website)
What grade levels is this for?
Can I use it for homeschool?
What will my students learn?
The material sounds difficult. Is The Power in Your Hands for college-bound students only?
I've heard I can use The Power in Your Hands for more than one year. Is this true?
We don't have two years. My student is a senior. How can I use The Power in Your Hands?
How do I grade my students' papers?
Will my student learn how to proofread his or her own work?
The text uses humor, and some of the writing assignments are light-hearted. Why doesn't the curriculum teach students how to write about important issues?
I could give you the answers to these questions but that would make this review really long so I will just put the link to the web paige in here again. I have now put the link to the page in this review at least three times so you have no excuse not to go look at this grate product.
What we received in the box was The student textbook and teachers guides. The price for each of these is:
$45.00 for the student book
$20.00 for the teachers guide.
As a student I don’t know much about the cost of curriculums as mom pays for all of mine. (Or we get them as reviews), but personally I think this is a good price.
I have put in this review a few Incorrect homophones, misspellings and incorrect punctuation - did you spot them? (Im not done with them yet). If you did congratulations! (I Will admit that I am terrible with homophones so I don’t know haw many there are. Maybe Mom can tell me.) If not you might want to get yourself a copy of NFIHS to help refresh you memory. Remember we might not all be professional Editors but at least you can make sure that whatever you write is done correctly and to the best of your ability!
This new and improved 2nd Edition of The Power in Your Hands now includes numbered daily lessons ~ making it easier for your student to use independently because they now know exactly how much should be completed each day. It also includes a wonderfully written chapter on common grammar mistakes, and an index to make searching through for a specific topic much easier. As the parent/ teacher, I really appreciate the new grading grids for each essay they are assigned. The grids are divided into two columns, one for content, and the other for grammar/mechanics. This straightforward grading system will help you encourage and direct your student’s writing to a higher level as they will be able to see exactly what should be improved upon in each section of the essay. This reinforces Sharon’s philosophy of teaching writing found in the Teacher’s Guide: “Don’t aim for perfection, aim for progress.”
Many parts of the first chapter of the Student Textbook (Before You Write) are expanded upon in the Teacher’s Guide. Sharon gives parents/ teachers a lot of sound advise gleaned from her many years as a classroom teacher about how to nurture and encourage reluctant writers. Her plan is simple, yet effective: plan, write, fix. In the Student textbook she uses a lot of humor to keep the student’s attention, and then helps them learn to write nonfiction well without sounding stuffy.
Because I’ve been writing a monthly newspaper column recently, I decided to use Arlene’s Student Textbook and brush up on my skills. Chapter 15 includes 8 lessons on writing newspaper articles. Like the other chapters with an essay-type assignment, it includes an assignment checklist as well as a planning grid to help your student better manage their time and complete their assignment by the due date. This chapter was a good refresher for me to use as I continue to write for our local paper.
Once again I was impressed by the depth of material covered in The Power in Your Hands while still maintaining an ease of use that lets the student work independently. The new grading grids simplify the process for the teacher, and help the student pinpoint their weak areas that need improvement in their future assignments.
Writing well, especially nonfiction, takes time and practice. Sharon Watson scores an A+ for making the process understandable and interesting for a wide variety of students. Her humor throughout this course reminds the student that writing should be enjoyable, not something to be feared. She also gives great suggestions for each assignment’s length (word count) based upon the student’s writing level when they began the course: beginner, intermediate, or accomplished.
This course is an exceptional investment in not only improving your child’s writing skills, but their confidence in presenting a position orally as well. As they learn to research and plan, they gain confidence when sharing with others. For parents, you might want to read through the chapters on Proofreading, Common Grammar Mistakes, and Letters & Emails for yourself!
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