- The Boy is a junior and is actively preparing for taking the SAT and will probably be doing dual credit English at a local university next year. While the essay portion of the SAT is now optional, I would like for him to be prepared to take that portion if a college he is interested in requires it. Plus the Handbook for Writers gives instruction on many of the items tested on the writing section of the SAT.
- Ballerina is in the 8th grade but is completing English I this year for high school credit. The Handbook for Writers has been a great supplement to the composition portion of her English curriculum, helping her to make a better transition from elementary level writing to high school level writing and hopefully better preparing her to transition again in a few years to college level writing.
One of the sections of the Handbook for Writers that I most appreciate is the section on The Importance of Defining a Focus. For many students, actually probably most students, choosing the topic or focus of what to write is the most difficult part of writing. This section shows how to start with a general, broad topic and begin to narrow down that topic until you get to a narrow, clearly defined topic. The Handbook for Writers emphasizes that "it is much better to argue in depth and at length about a narrowly defined topic than to offer a superficial cursory look at something much wider." (p.43)
Another section that has been very useful is the one about The Importance of Defining a Thesis. One of the assignments that The Boy will be completing during this semester's English is writing a research paper. After defining the focus, the second most important aspect of his paper will be his thesis statement. The Handbook for Writers offers activities in recognizing useful thesis statements, as well as hints on forming good thesis statements.
Other sections in the Handbook for Writers include:
- Defining key terms
- Deduction and induction
- Organizing the main body of an argument
- Paragraph structure
- Paragraph functions
- Writing arguments about literary works
- Sample outlines for essays and research papers
- Usage and style
- Parallelism/Parallel structure
- Clarity, logic, and structure
- References and bibliographies, including MLA and APA citations
- Formatting for essays and research papers
I am hopeful that, through studying the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers, my children will become better writers, which will not only help them succeed in college but also in their future occupations.
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