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Writing Superstars: How to Score More Than Ever Before (Florida Edition) Review by Kathy Gelzer

By Melissa Forney
Buttery Moon Multimedia, Inc.
147 N. Industrial Drive
Orange City, FL 32763

Writing Superstars is a big, colorful, glossy-paged writing book for 4th graders. It is specifically written for Florida students who are preparing for the Florida Writes and FCAT Writes+ exams. There are 70 progressive lessons with a particular focus. Some lessons may take more than one day to master. My copy included a CD containing 25 printouts. According to the note to teachers inside the book, this is usually ordered separately.

The book begins with some introductory material for the teacher (how to use the book) and the student (about the state tests). Written to the student, the tone is informal, light, and child-friendly. The idea is to eliminate the fear of writing.

Plenty of student writing samples are included, and these are in purple text. These examples are admittedly imperfect, but they illustrate specific points. I think it might be a good idea for the parent or teacher to evaluate these samples with the student, discussing both the plusses and the minuses. Toward the end of the book, examples of various levels of writing essays are given with an explanation of what could be improved. The text also has plenty of great writing prompts, which are in green boxes, while important information is in "red" (pink) text.

Writing Superstars covers working with a partner, knowing your audience, preparing to write, brainstorming, writing expository and narrative essays, writing introductions and conclusions, writing concisely, taking notes, rewriting, editing, evaluating your writing with a rubric, and more. Various style techniques are also covered, such as figures of speech, word choice, and the use of dialogue in your writing. Grammar and mechanics are also discussed: subject/verb agreement, punctuation, tense, complete sentences. You will also find a list of frequently misspelled words.

Games, activities, and graphic organizers are strewn throughout the lessons, adding an extra element of fun. Answer keys are included, and pages may be copied for single classroom use. The back of the book has eight "piggy-back" songs: songs about writing written to popular melodies. Five one-act plays are also included. A bibliography and index wrap up the book.

I was also sent a copy of Pizzazz! Songs for the Writing Classroom. There are 24 tracks on this CD: music, poetry, and reader's theatre plays.

Although this book is definitely geared to the classroom, and the Florida one at that, homeschoolers can certainly take advantage of this resource. It would be great for children who are not keen on or have trouble with the writing process, and I think homeschoolers could also use it with younger and older children to some extent. One word of warning is that with its colorful text and graphics, Writing Superstars may be distracting to students who have trouble focusing and staying on track.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2010