Alexandra Swann has written Writing for Today specifically for independent study students. It is suitable for junior and senior high school students of varying abilities. Students with weak language arts skills should start in Unit One which reviews grammar basics such as nouns, verbs, adjectives, types of sentences, sentence patterns, and punctuation as well as how to write topic sentences. Students who have already mastered grammar and have learned to write paragraphs with topic sentences might begin with Unit Two on descriptive writing. While grammar, usage, and punctuation exercises are intermixed throughout the lessons, the emphasis in Units Two and beyond shifts toward composition skills. Unit Three teaches narrative writing while Units Four and Five cover various types of essays. Unit Six ranges over a number of topics: writing with quotations, writing business letters, writing emails and other online forms of communication, writing personal essays, writing argumentative essays, writing book reports, effective titles, comma usage, numbers and abbreviations, subject/verb agreement, and common usage problems.
Writing for Today is not intended to cover all types of writing. Poetry and research papers are noticeable topics not covered. Instead, the course is intended to be foundational and practical, covering the basics that students need to master for real-life and that they need before they will really be able to proceed on to the more challenging forms of writing.
The lessons are each concise and to the point. Sample writing, with some samples taken from well-known literature, are included when appropriate.
Some lessons teach students creative writing, but this course is itself more straightforward and direct than courses designed for interactive situations that often have creative learning activities. Since this course is designed for independent study, lessons are thoroughly explained and easy-to-follow. Examples and practice exercises are included within each lesson, and there are also periodic Self-Check Tests and Unit Tests. As students tackle lessons on writing skills, they are assigned numerous writing projects. An answer key at the back has answers for exercises and tests when those answers are predictable. A guide to spelling rules and a list of common, but challenging spelling words are also found at the back of the book.
Author Alexandra Swann is a homeschool graduate with experience teaching at the college level. As a Christian who is familiar with the homeschool world, she has been mindful of her audience in selecting and writing the course content, so you should be able to entrust this course to your student for independent work without having to screen lessons for content problems.
I think that busy homeschooling parents might well appreciate a course such as this. The only weak point for parents is the lack of rubrics or guidelines for evaluating the writing assignments. Nevertheless, this is a very practical solution for covering composition skills along with elements of grammar that often pose problems in writing.