5th grade has been full of fun, adventure, and many new experiences. We’ve had big changes, different programs, and more independence. One of our new mainstays is Writing & Rhetoric from Classical Academic Press. We used the first book, Writing & Rhetoric: Fable, last year and we added books 2 & 3 to our 5th grade plans.
The series is based on the progymnasmata (a method of writing developed during ancient times) with each step divided between 12 books geared towards students in grades 3-9. Young students begin with the simplest part of the progym – fables, narratives, and proverbs, before moving on to future levels. Each book takes on semester to complete.
Currently, the first 4 books in the series are available, with plans to release more levels each year.
Writing with Classical Academic Press
In creating this program, Classical Academic Press has departed from modern methods that focus on creativity and personal expression. Instead, the focus is on instruction and effective communication skills, which form the foundation for future creativity. They use a variety of tools- in the early books that includes fables and myths – to teach and develop those important skills.
A look at Narrative 1
This second book in the Writing & Rhetoric series focuses on narrative story forms – parables, myths, and legends. It is for students in grades 3-4 (I’m using it with a 5th grade student and find it a very good fit). Students cover a variety of writing topics in this book:
- narration, copywork & dictation
- the use of language and sentence patterns
- discussion about a variety of story elements
There are 2 books – one for the student and one for the teacher (teacher’s editions have the student content as well as extra teaching information and answers) as well as an audio file (audio versions of each story – handy if you’re not sure about how to pronounce some of those Greek names!).
A Writing & Rhetoric lesson in action
We cover one lesson every other week. Between writing assignments in history, science,and other subjects, it’s sufficient for my 5th grade student. The assignments in Narrative I are manageable and not overwhelming but they are packed full of great content. Let’s look at week 6 as an example:
We began our week by reading the lesson introduction and discussing the main points – the definition of dialogue and monologue and the use of description to make a story more interesting. (We especially enjoyed the description of Captain Hook from Peter Pan, one of our favorite family read alouds.)
Then we had a brief chat about looms and the root word for spider, thanks to the teacher helps. I read the story aloud (you could also play the MP3 audio for the lesson) before having TJ narrate the story back to me. (This is a necessary step for us. It’s a good opportunity for TJ to practice speaking aloud.)
She then put the events in the story in proper order and wrote a few of her own sentences that detailed what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.
We finished the lesson by discussing the questions in the ‘Talk About It’ and ‘Go Deeper’ sections.
The next day I had TJ read aloud the myth before we worked on writing with the copywork and dictation assignments. We moved on to the sentence play section, reworking a sentence from the story by changing the verbs and coming up with new sentences.
Then she marked the nouns and verbs from another sentence taken from the story and used that base sentence to work on adding synonyms and adjectives.
We finished the day by highlighting the dialogue between the two main characters.
On our final day TJ added a description of Athena to the myth (working on the skill of amplification with description). The lesson also included a research assignment in the ‘Speak It’ section.
I really enjoy using this program. It’s has interesting assignments and covers a variety of writing elements. Each week follows the same basic format so it’s easy to fall into a basic routine each week. But the work is varied enough to stay interesting.
Writing & Rhetoric Narrative I is $37.95 for the complete set. If you are looking for a series that tackles writing in a creative way, then you’ll want to take a look at this series from Classical Academic Press.