Reviewed by Lori Deese
Wordsmith is a creative writing course for grades 7-9, although slightly younger or older students could benefit from it as well. It is the second part in a three-part series, beginning with Wordsmith Apprentice (for grades 4-6) and ending with Wordsmith Craftsman (for grades 10-12). The Wordsmith set consists of a consumable student workbook with over 80 pages of lessons plus appendices, plus a 43-page teacher’s guide which includes an answer key for the review quizzes. Also within the teacher’s guide are lesson plans to help you use the Wordsmith book over one 36-week school year. The assignments are broken down into 36 weeks, and then further broken down into daily assignments. Most weeks give 4 days’ worth of assignments, but some give fewer and a few give a full 5 days’ worth. The way the teacher’s guide is set up makes it very easy to pick it up and teach with little or no teacher preparation. This material could be covered in a shorter amount of time with an older or highly-motivated student, or easily spread over two school years for a younger student or one with weak writing skills.
The student workbook is divided into three parts. Part One: Word Games teaches about the parts of speech. It is assumed that the student has a basic knowledge of nouns, verbs, and other parts of speech. The exercises in this section give the student an opportunity to put their skills into practice and become more comfortable using a variety of words in their writing. Part Two: Building Stronger Sentences teaches about sentence structure. Students are encouraged to use a wide vocabulary and vary their sentences to make their writing more interesting. They learn about active and passive voice, and they learn to combine sentences into paragraphs so that they flow smoothly. Part Three: Now We’re Writing continues to build on these basic skills. Students have an opportunity to write poetry, to use similes and metaphors in their writing, and to practice descriptive writing through a variety of exercises. They also learn about narrative writing, point of view, dialogue, and have opportunities to practice the correct style and format for each of these.
These books are well-constructed paperbacks that should last through an entire school year unless they are abused. The teacher’s guide is non-consumable so only the student workbook needs to be purchased for additional students within the family. I am looking forward to using this curriculum with my 7th grader next school year.
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