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Writing Competency Practice, Third Edition Review by Camilla Anderson

By Andrea Levinson Kane, M.S., and Barbara Martorana, Ed.D.
Educational Activities, Inc.
PO Box 87
Baldwin, NY 11510

This 128-page workbook is a book of writing exercises for the 9th-12th grade student. Designed to develop solid, practical skills, the writing exercises cover business letters, reports, narratives, and several types of essays, including opinion, persuasive, and descriptive. The workbook includes an 8-page Teacher's Guide (four stapled pages inserted in the workbook). The workbook is designed for classroom use in that many of the suggested supplemental activities are structured for multiple students. However, this workbook is 100 percent useable for the homeschooled student.

My oldest (son, age 15), although an excellent reader and an excellent student, has always been a struggling writer. Writing is very tedious for him. I have looked at many supplemental writing activity books, hoping to find one that would give him enough practice to be able to quickly write basic essays and narratives in order to prepare him for college. I had not been successful--until now! All I can say regarding this workbook is, "Finally! At last, I have found the workbook that is working." It is the "bridge" we needed to prepare my son for college.

Most of the writing practice workbooks I have reviewed were very tedious and did not engage my son in a practical way. This book is definitely different. The exercises are simple, to-the-point, and practical. The instructions and examples are clear and concise. My son is able to work through the exercises independently, learn useful skills quickly and easily (such as categorizing by main ideas, arranging ideas, sequencing, and more), and complete his writing sample quickly. Each type of writing covered in this book is prefaced by several basic exercises that build up to the "whole." Once the student writes his assignment using the skills learned, then several more quick, simple practice assignments are given to reinforce the skill.

For example, the first section of the workbook covers business letters. The first few exercises cover headings, inside addresses (including post office recommendations and state abbreviations), greetings/salutations, and closings. Other activities include arranging a letter from given information, reviewing samples, and correcting written samples. (All of these exercises are concise and take 5-10 minutes.) Finally, the student is asked to write business letters for specific situations (ordering a product, stating a complaint, making an exchange, resolving an order problem). Each exercise provides a scenario (company, product, problem) and asks the student to write a quick letter to resolve the problem. There are 30 such exercises. When those are completed, the student will have written 30 business letters, all formed correctly and stated clearly. Practical!

For the report writing section, the student begins with quick exercises in arranging ideas, ordering ideas by importance, chronology, and space (mapping/directions/location). Then there are several quick exercises in categorizing ideas. The next activity breaks report-writing down into a step-by-step process (two simple pages of clear, concise directions). After this first report is successfully written, the student moves on to several shorter report-writing exercises. Each exercise provides a scenario, notes and information, and quick instructions for the assigned report.

When the student has finished this section, he will have independently written 16 different reports that are clear, concise, and effective. How do I know this? Because my son, the struggling writer, has done it! I am amazed. This workbook works. It is not tedious. It is effective. It is an answer to prayer. After my son finishes this workbook, he will be completely ready for a college-prep writing course (one designed to prepare students specifically for college writing). This book will finally help us get "over the hump" and complete my son's writing skill set at a high school level. If you have a struggling writer that needs to prepare for college writing, this book will give you a quantum leap forward in practical writing skills. It was an absolute treasure of a find for us! At $11 retail, this book is by far the best value in writing I have used in my homeschool. I will use it for my daughter (who writes at an 8th-grade level) as soon as my son is finished with it, and I plan to use it for every child thereafter.

Product review by Camilla Anderson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2009