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Writing & Rhetoric Book 5: Refutation & Confirmation Review by Jennifer Smeltser

Paul Kortepeter
Classical Academic Press
Toll Free: (866) 730-0711
Phone: (717) 730-0711
2151 Market Street
Camp Hill, PA 17011

Writing is how we communicate our ideas, promote our opinions, and attempt to persuade in support of both. One needs to understand how to write to achieve those goals and at the same time, understand how to respond when reading the writing of others with the same goals. Having the ability to step back from a piece of writing and “identify the parts of a story that can be attacked or defended,” enables a student to better communicate and promote their ideas and opinions through their writing with sound arguments.

Writing & Rhetoric Book 5: Refutation & Confirmation is the fifth book in the Writing & Rhetoric series from Classical Academic Press (CAP). The writing program has 12 books that take a classical approach to writing for students in third through ninth grades. Each book is written for one semester of study and focuses on a different method in the writing process. Along with reinforcing basic writing skills, the student learns the art of rhetoric, “the art of writing well and speaking persuasively.”

Refutation & Confirmation is geared towards students in fifth grade and up. The focus is refutation and confirmation in ones writing. The student is introduced to both skills in the first six lessons and spends the remaining six lessons refining those skills. Students also learn how to outline and write four-paragraph essays, understand comparison and contrast and use direct quotes to support an argument. The program gives students a full writing experience teaching them how to both write to challenge and write to support what they have read.

The curriculum comes with a Student Edition book ($19.95), Teacher’s Edition book ($22.95) and audio files ($7.95). Even as an experienced writer, I found value in the Teacher’s Edition book. Although the content is a duplicate of the Student Edition book, it also includes the answers to the writing exercises. This may be extremely helpful to the parent who is teaching the program, but not skilled in writing. I found the answer keys, teacher’s notes and explanations helpful in the way I viewed the material and proceeded through the lessons with my daughter. Lily chose to read the lessons rather than use the audio files, which are narrations of the readings. If you have an auditory learner, they may prefer having the audio files available to them. Dr. Christopher Perrin and Writing and Rhetoric series editor, Christine Perrin, present engaging narrations.

Having previously used a Writing & Rhetoric book, there was not much introduction required for us to begin using the material. One change I immediately noticed is a fifth day added to the study week. Lily began her week covering different parts of a lesson, which took no more than 30 minutes a day to complete. On the first day, I read the story where the audio file could have been used. Depending upon the amount of time you have, this is a good opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with your child. She followed with retelling the story from memory to me, “Tell It Back,” and continued with “Talk About It” where we discussed the story in relation to refuting and confirming what we just read. The second and third days had Lily reading the story giving her an opportunity to practice her oratory skills. She followed with the “Go Deeper” and “Writing Time” exercises studying vocabulary and further analyzing the story. The fourth day was a fun one for Lily as she completed the “Speak It” section. Students are encouraged to memorize, recite and bring parts of the story (or poem or other reading) to life through acting, which was a pleasure for her. She used her iPad to record her performances and also took advantage of performing live when she had an audience. The fifth day, “Revise It”, is used for making revisions and editing a writing selection. Lily was also introduced to basic proofreading marks, which she used when editing for revisions.

Writing & Rhetoric Book 5: Refutation & Confirmation continues the thorough and creative manner of instruction I love about the series. It nurtures the avid writer like my daughter, while also drawing out the hidden writer in a child who may not enjoy writing. The curriculum addresses the needs of a student who requires guidance in constructing and formulating ideas to create a well written piece of work. Rather than requiring the student to “pull a rabbit out of his hat,” the student is introduced to good writing forms of already written and published pieces. From those, he learns how to create his own well-crafted writings.

One thing I would like to see improved is for spiral binding to be used on the Student Edition. Even with fewer pages as in the earlier book levels, my daughter had a challenge trying to write while holding the book open. Book 5 has even more pages, so the battle continues when she is completing her work. Once Lily finishes Book 5, she will continue with Book 6. I can see her passion for writing and her skills improving.

If you have a student who loves to write (and even one who does not), the Writing & Rhetoric curriculum is definitely one you should consider.

-Product review by Jennifer Smeltser, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, June, 2016