Classical Academic Press is one of my favorite resources for quality homeschool curriculum (and you don’t have to follow the Classical method to use their products!). They offer materials and resources for the expected Classical subjects like Latin and Logic but also offer other programs for grammar, poetry, Bible study, foreign language, and one of our favorite series – the Writing & Rhetoric program. Like many homeschools, we’ve tried our fair share of writing curriculum and Writing & Rhetoric is by far our favorite. This year we’re tackling the sixth book in the series – Writing & Rhetoric Commonplace.
WRITING & RHETORIC FROM CLASSICAL ACADEMIC PRESS
Classical Academic Press created the Writing & Rhetoric series as a program that’s modeled after the progymnasmata (which means ‘preliminary exercises’) — it’s an ancient system that uses a series of exercises that teach students who to speak and write persuasively. Each book in the 12-book series focuses on one of these steps. Thankfully, Classical Academic Press has taken something that could be quite overwhelming for a homeschool mom to figure out and carefully guides each step in the ‘progym’ process.
Every book in the series builds on the skills in previous levels and assignments get more detailed and difficult (in small incremental steps). For older children, it may be possible to skip the first few books — just get in touch with Classical Academic Press and they’ll help you decide which level would be the appropriate starting place for your child.
Writing & Rhetoric Book 6
The sixth book in the series, Commonplace, follows the same format as the previous books in the series, at a slightly deeper level (as kids mature through the program). The focus for Commonplace is the six-paragraph persuasive essay as students learn to argue against common vices and present arguments in favor of common virtues. A major part of this book focuses on the proper formation of thesis statements. In carefully guided lessons, students will learn to identify and craft their own thesis statements (one of my favorite parts of the program).
Like previous books, these skills are taught in careful steps. The first few lesson focus on building a strong thesis statement and the various elements of the Commonplace essay. The remaining lessons focus on writing complete six-paragraph essays as students learn to apply these new skills.
Book six, like others in the series, includes two books — a student worktext (readings and assignments are completed directly in the book) and the teacher’s edition. The teacher’s edition is an exact replica of the student workbook with answers, writing samples, and teaching notes. You can also purchase audio files that correspond to each chapter of the book (sometimes it’s nice to have someone else read aloud!). There are ten lessons in the book, making it easy to complete in one semester and still provide time for writing assignments in other subjects.
The suggested grade level for book six is fifth or sixth grade (or older) which seems right on-target. My daughter is in 8th grade and this book is a good fit for her skill level.
Lessons follow a similar format as previous levels with deeper writing assignments and more variety. Lessons will take more time and require more thought and discussion (something that should be expected as students mature through the program).
Each lesson in Book 6: Commonplace includes:
- Introduction to the topic or the story
- Chapter Story (adaptations and short historical or fictional narratives)
- ‘Tell It Back’ – narration exercises (oral narration, annotation, outlining)
- ‘Talk About It’ – discussion about the story
- ‘Memoria’ – memorize a quotation and keep a commonplace book
- ‘Go Deeper’ – comprehension questions and exercises that ask the student to think more critically about the chapter story and theme
- ‘Writing Time’ – variety of writing exercises to encourage clear, creative writing including the six-paragraph persuasive essays
- ‘Speak It’ – a time for students to practice oral presentation skills
- ‘Revise It’ – students learn to edit and revise their essays
How we’re using Writing & Rhetoric: Commonplace
I’ve noticed a slight rise in the expected output with book six so we’ve decided to take two weeks to complete some of the lessons (the lessons that contain six-paragraph essay assignments). Even by taking two weeks for some of the lessons we’ll still easily complete this book and the next book in the series during our school year. Since I include writing assignments in other subjects, dividing the lessons over two weeks (four days a week) gives us more time to dig deep and work on the skills presented in the material.
Here’s how that looks for us:
Day 1: I read the introduction and story selections aloud (or we listen to the audio version – I really appreciate it for this level) before we work on assignments in the ‘Tell it Back’ section – narration or outlining, annotation, and finding supporting arguments for thesis statements. We work on this step together because I find the discussion one of the most valuable parts of the program.
Day 2: We discuss the questions in the ‘Talk About It’ segment, add the quotation in the ‘Memoria’ section to our commonplace books and discuss its meaning, and finish the day by working on the ‘Go Deeper’ section. This is another teacher-intensive day for us as we prefer to discuss the material aloud (you’ll have some great discussions with this series!).
Day 3: We begin the ‘Writing Time’ portion of the text (my daughter does most of this section fairly independently) – for the first day we focus on the ‘Sentence Play’ segment of the section.
Day 4: We continue working through the ‘Writing Time’ section – focusing on the ‘Copiousness’ exercises.
Day 5: We work on the Commonplace essay in the ‘Writing Time’ section.
Day 6: After completing her essay, my daughter types the completed essay.
Day 7: We finish the week by working through the ‘Speak It’ and ‘Revise It’ segments of the lesson. Most of our time is spent on revising since it’s a bit harder to do some of the ‘Speak It’ assignments with an only child (it would be great for a group setting, though!).
Day 8: My daughter makes her final revisions and completes her final draft.
I am so impressed with the progress my daughter has made in her writing abilities since using this program. There’s a depth and richness to the assignments that is hard to describe to those who haven’t used the program but, believe me, it’s there!
If you’re looking for a solid, easy to teach writing program, that will give your children the strong writing skills they need, take a look at the Writing & Rhetoric series from Classical Academic Press.
Want to read more about the series? Take a look at these posts:
~ written by Tonia from Happy Homeschool Nest