Saturday, June 21, 2014

Writing with Sharon Watson

Writing with Sharon Watson
The Power in Your Hands
Student Book: $39.98
Teacher's Guide: $14.98
Grades: 9-12

You know that song, "I've Got the Power" ?  Well that is going through my head right now (and most likely yours too!) as I am thinking about this tool for writing.  Writing has been the ONE THING that I have had quite a few issues teaching our children (well...and Math...oh yeah...and Science...).   Where do you start?  How do you teach it? How do you evaluate if it is good or not...and on and on.  Well, we have a new tool in out toolbox.  Writing with Sharon Watson.  I have only worked with "The Power in Your Hands", but already, I can tell...I WILL be buying the other two sets.

From the website: With The Power in Your Hands: Writing Nonfiction in High School, they’ll learn what they need to know for high school and will be prepared for college writing. First, they’ll write five different persuasive essays, including an SAT essay. Next, they’ll navigate a comparison-and-contrast essay, a biography, a literary analysis, a research paper with MLA documentation, and much, much more. In addition, students will master description and narration essays.

And let me tell you...this is just the TIP of the iceberg!  What this doesn't say is that she walks  you through BABY STEP BY BABY STEP through how to write.  She begins with short assignments to get the students applying the lessons they are learning, without the ESSAY looming large over them and the pressure of writing something serious while they are learning.  I LOVED this aspect.  Throughout the Before You Write chapters,for example, the student keeps revisiting the question of , "Should Teens Have Credit Cards?" until at the end, they have written an essay giving three points with their opinion on that question.
Some of the lessons covered in The Power in Your Hands are:

          SAT Essay

          Position Paper
A Devotional
 Newspaper Writing
Literary Analysis
Personal Testimony
There are over 100 daily lessons to work through in this writing program...and here is the best part...It is written in a conversational tone, so  your student could work through this on their own.  Don't check out completely though...they will need some feedback on their writing to improve. This is designed to be a two year program, but there are tips on extending it to three. I really cannot say enough good is a sample for you to get a feel for the program.

The Teacher's guide has a LOT of tools to guide you through "teaching" this class.  The guide begins with about 60 pages of content for your grading toolbox.  Things like How to earn an A, B, C, D or F, Proofreading Marks, Practical Helps for Reluctant or Unskilled Writers, pages that cover the Student's toolbox and so much more.
One of my favorite parts of the Teacher's Guide are the 14 minute Power Surges.  The 14 Minute Power Surges help students get those juices flowing and just write.  These are categorized by month and give 4 suggestions for each week for each are just a few to whet your whistle: You are in a job interview.  Describe yourself to the interviewer.  Define a beautiful person. Tell any portion of the Christmas story without using the letter t.  What's the most important thing you know? Write the five minute script for a children's TV show segment that teaches them to wash their hands.Write a sermon on peace. Theorize why reality shows are so popular.  These are really fun topics and can be a writing curriculum on it's own.  They are intended to be used daily for four days, without any corrections and then one is selected by the students to complete.  These are NOT supposed to be used when you are working through the student book.  I LOVED doing these.  We worked through a few of these.  It was hard for my children to write for 14 minutes at first, but as they progressed a little more through them, it became easier. Teacher's Guide Sample

The back portion of the Teacher's Guide has answers for the student guide.

I began using The Power in Your Hands with both my 16 year old son and my 12 year old daughter.  I quickly found out that it was beyond my daughter's abilities at this time.  I think this is DEFINITELY a high school program. I plan on getting Jump In for her to work through in the fall.  I think that will be a good fit for her! Jump In Student Sample

Well, to sum up, we REALLY LOVED The Power in Your Hands.  I thought it was well written.  I appreciate that it is mostly for the student to work through alone.  Although we have not gone too far into the book yet, I have already seen some positive progress in my son's writing.  I look forward into digging in this fall.  
If you have a student who LOVES writing fiction, then Writing Fiction might be a great fit for you! Student Fiction Sample

Check out what others have to say about Writing with Sharon Watson

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Zonderkidz Let's Go Explore Series

I received these books as a member of Zonderkidz ZBlogSquad in exchange for my review.  All opinions are my own, no other compensation has been received.

Zonderkidz Let's Go Explore:
$6.99 each

All four of these books have similar features and I have linked them individually above.  For review purposes, I will focus on the Jerusalem book.

Let's Go Explore...what child does not LOVE to hear those words.  These books are filled, and I mean JAM PACKED filled with wonderful pictures, maps, drawings and information about such Biblical and historically significant places that most of us will never get to visit. Let me take you on a guided tour of Jerusalem.

As you open the book, you come to a map...showing where in the world Jerusalem is and a map of the city.  I have looked at MANY maps of this Holy City, but THIS is a wonderful map for all.  Nice and large with famous sites clearly marked.  The next 12 pages or so take you site by site through all the things you would want to see if in Jerusalem.  This is not the same as being there, for sure, but certainly a nice substitute. As you walk through the book, site by site, you get just a snippet of information.  Just enough for little ones, but that spark interest.  I love how there are comments that children might be able to relate to...such as, "Disneyland is a little bigger than present-day Jerusalem" and sharing about a stone that weighs "roughly the same as 12 humpback whales".  While it might be difficult to grasp the full immensity of that size, I think most children will understand, WOW, that is BIG!

After browsing through the places to go, you have the sights to see section.  Here you will see the Upper Room, The Garden of Gethsemane, the Garden Tomb, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and so much more.  As we continue on through the book, we get a feel for the culture within the city and the people who live there.  Did you know that 1/3 of all the people who move to Jerusalem are from the United States?  I sure didn't!  Besides getting a feel for who lives in Jerusalem now, you will learn a little bit about some people you need to know.
Our final stop in this books lets us take a peek at some curiosities.  The Dead Sea Scrolls, The Ark of the Covenant, Holy Relics (nails, crown of thorns, Shroud of Turin)and animals in the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo.  Fun things to look at over and over again.
I think it would have been fun to have a couple of recipes to try at home included in the book, but as it it VERY easy to find some online, it is not something that is missed much.
While I have only detailed ONE book, all of the books are similar in layout, equally jam packed with information and amazing pictures and just as interesting as this one.  As you are reading through the book, Scripture is sprinkled throughout the pages as relevant.  I LOVED THIS!  You may have been able to tell, but I HIGHLY recommend these books. We had a great time reading through these and the children looked through the pictures several times already.  I think you will enjoy them too!

Zondervan NIV Sequin Bible

Zondervan provided me with a free copy of this book for reviewing purposed.  All opinions are my own.  No other compensation was received.
NIV Sequin Bible

From Zondervan's Website:
What girl doesn’t like a little sparkle and shine? With a trendy design embellished with sequins and sparkle, the Sequin Bible helps you express your style wherever you go---home, church, school, and everywhere in between! 

        Features include: 
Bestselling New International Version (NIV) 
Words of Christ in red 
Handy size less than one inch thick

This is a beautiful Bible.  All sparkly and shiny.  The cover says it is a flex cover and looks like a stiffened fabric with glitter all over it.  I know it is hard to see in the pictures, but it does sparkle.  I imagine that the glitter will wear off over time, but it is a bling girl's Bible.  There is also a sequin flower on the cover that really makes this Bible stand out.  It really is beautiful.  Both my daughter and I LOVE the look of this Bible.

Inside, this is DEFINITELY a younger person's Bible...smaller print, no notes, no maps...Just the word.  There is definitely a time and a place for that, but I really enjoy the little extras, so I may be a little unduly biased there.  The words of Jesus are in red, which some people do enjoy...I don't have an opinion on that one way or the other.  I am also used to a larger Bible, so it is hard to turn 5 pages and to have passed by 6 books of the Bible...I am exaggerating a bit, but you know what I mean...a smaller Bible is just harder for me to work worth...personal preference.

The gift box the Bible came in makes it the perfect Bible to give as a gift.  It says on the box that it lays flat...I was not able to get this Bible to lay flat.  I did not like that at all.

The Sequin Bible is not for me, but it would be PERFECT for a young who loves some bling, maybe between a younger Bible and a study Bible.  It would make a beautiful gift.