The GreatSource Education Group, a Houghton Mifflin Company, has produced a variety of academically useful and reliable handbooks. Chief among them are the writing handbooks, including Writer’s Inc. and Write for College. Both books are intended for high school students. They present writing in an orderly manner, complete with lots of examples. These two handbooks contain enough writing information for several years’ worth of writing instruction and guidance, making them an excellent choice for a home education library. Choose one and start writing!
Writer’s Inc. officially targets high school students. The nine major sections present the writing process, the basic elements of writing, searching and researching, forms of writing, writing about literature, reading and study skills, speaking and thinking, proofreading, and an almanac. Writer’s Inc. covers the areas of writing beginning with words and progressing from sentences to paragraphs to essays. It discusses how to get ready to write a paper, how to start a paper, continue a paper, review a paper, and publish a paper. It includes explanations of writing forms and details the processes of creating different types of writing. There are lots of examples. It is an extremely useful tool.
Write for College
Write for College is for upper-level high school students. As the name suggests, the goal of this handbook is to prepare students to write in college, and is a level above Writer’s Inc. It provides a comprehensive overview of the writing process, discusses the basic elements of writing, contains a list of level-appropriate writing forms, includes a research center, and various other relevant informational sections. Basically, in one volume your student will find pertinent, well-written advice about a variety of writing forms, including analysis, learn how to research and document in MLA and APA, discover the secret to style, figure out how to proofread, edit, and revise, how to use the library, and how to read a variety of texts. Plus, they can look at examples of everything! It is fabulous.
The Best Part
The best part of both handbooks (in my humble, English-teacher opinion) is the layout used for presenting different types of writing. First, the general type of writing—persuasive or personal, for example—is introduced. Then, guidelines for each particular kind of writing within the general type are presented with a “Quick Guide.” So, in the persuasive category of Write for College there are sections for an editorial, a personal commentary, an essay of argumentation, a position paper, and an explanation of thinking through an argument. In addition to the “Quick Guide” is an example paper for each type.
The handbooks assist students as they delve into different kinds of writing by explaining the differing purposes, audiences, and nuances of each type using language that is accessible. The examples seal the deal, making these handbooks the emerging writer’s best friend.
Of course, they have to open them first.
If your student is anything like the high school students that I work with, they will need a bit of gentle prompting.
Currently, I have all of my students (I teach home educated students one day a week), freshmen through seniors, purchase Write for College. I want them to be able to buy one book that will be useful for all four years of high school; this one nicely carries them through. When I teach middle school students or lower high school students without much writing experience, I use Writer’s Inc.
For my English classes, which are traditional in nature, I use the handbook as a supplement and reference. I periodically choose a writing topic from the handbook, we examine it, look at the examples, and then give it a try. I build the writing concepts naturally and then give my students the opportunity to use them. Writing assignments are also gleaned from the writing handbook, allowing students to read examples and providing step-by-step instructions for preparing, writing, and revising each piece.
It would be easy to use either handbook to develop a writing course for middle or high school students. By breaking the reference pages into lessons a course could discuss the writing process, style, and particular types of writing. The course could be repeated with higher standards for several years.
It is, of course, possible to simply use these books as handbooks. Make them available to your students and remind them to use them when they write. Because they are designed as handbooks, Writer’s Inc. and Write for College are easy to navigate and explore. Gently prod your student in the direction of the bookcase when writing questions and needs arise.
If you have upper-level high school writers, I prefer Write for College for its emphasis on literary analysis and research. It is prepared for a more mature student, but is accessible to less developed students. If your students are middle school or very inexperienced writers, Writer’s Inc. is probably the better choice. I realize that many families will fall in the middle of these two levels. Remember that Write for College is intended to prepare students for college, while Writer’, Inc. is for the emerging high school writer.
In short, both are useful and efficient; each is a good choice.
Writer’s Inc. and Write for College are only two books from the line of writing handbooks offered by GreatSource. The line begins with a first grade handbook and progresses to one intended for college students with many other products in between. It is absolutely not necessary to have all of the handbooks in the series, as they contain much of the same information at slightly varying levels. It is also not necessary to purchase all of the other materials. The handbooks are stand-alone resources.
All of the handbooks are discussed at thewritesource.com and sold at greatsource.com. Used copies abound: check the internet and your local used bookstores. (I should note that if you purchase a used edition of either book, the MLA discussion may not be current. A copy of the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook or a website like Purdue University’s OWL will bring you up to date, though.)
For your middle and high school writers, I recommend Writer’s Inc. and Write for College.
-Most days find Susan on the couch reading to her children, in the floor “playing” math, and generally in the middle of a good-sized mess. A love for the Lord, a love for her little ones, and a love of learning have led Susan and that wonderful man she married to an educational philosophy that is Well-Trained Mind-inspired classical and Charlotte Mason, with a touch of the traditional.