Frequently Asked Questions
What is the format for Hands-On Essays?
The curriculum consists of a handbook and video lessons that work in conjunction with one another. Every lesson in the handbook follows the same format:
Goal statement: The skill to be covered in the lesson
Key points: The main points for each lesson. These are also covered on the videos.
Writing sample: A written demonstration of what has been covered in the lesson. The majority of these samples were written by students who have taken one of my classes. I also wrote some of the samples.
Hands-On Activities: The writing assignment for the lesson and other activities to reinforce the principles taught in the lesson
How many lessons are included in the handbook?
The course contains 16 lessons.
Lessons are arranged in this way:
1-2: Presentation of the Hands-On Essays model and pre-writing activities
3-8: I walk students step-by-step through the process of writing an expository essay.
9-11: Other types of essays: descriptive, comparing/contrasting, and persuasive.
12-13: Revising and perfecting writing
14-15: Skills specific to the writing portion of the SAT and ACT.
16: Final wrap up
What is the grade or age range for the intended student?
The curriculum is written for students in middle and high school. Students should be able to write strong paragraphs prior to using Hands-On Essays.
How fast does the student move through the curriculum?
Hands-On Essays is a self-paced curriculum. It's designed so the student can repeat it multiple times, using new topics for the assignments, until the essay skills are mastered. It can be covered in a semester or stretched to a year long course, especially if the assignments in Hands-On Essays are used to enhance other subjects being taught. I personally recommend that the course be revisited several times during middle and high school so students are prepared for the SAT, ACT, and college writing.
Since it's written to the student, does the parent or teacher need to be involved in the teaching process?
A parent or teacher can decide how much to participate in the instruction process. A parent or teacher will definitely need to evaluate the writing the student produces for each lesson. A lesson-by-lesson evaluation plan is included in the back of the handbook for this purpose. I'd also recommend that parents and teachers regularly check the Hands-On Essays blog for additional teaching tips and help for the student.
Is the handbook consumable?
No. Every assignment in the curriculum can be completed using a computer or paper. One copy of the handbook can be used by all of the students in a family.
What makes Hands-On Essays unique when compared with other writing curriculum?
-The author is passionate about writing and has many years of experience as a published author, freelance writer, editor, and writing instructor.
-A panel of middle and high school students was involved in every aspect of producing the curriculum. I wanted the curriculum to actually appeal to the student using it and not just to the parent or teacher.
-This isn't simply theory. The lessons in Hands-On Essays have been used repeatedly with students in the home and in the classroom with great success.
-The curriculum is simple and straightforward. It breaks the essay-writing process into bite-sized pieces that are easy to understand.
-Hands-On Essays addresses the needs of the visual, auditory, and hands-on learner.
How does the curriculum address different learning styles?
The videos reach both the auditory and visual learners. The handbook also helps visual learners. By using the hand as an outline, the needs of the kinesthetic learner are addressed. Assignments throughout the curriculum are designed to appeal to all three types of learners.
How does Hands-On Essays help prepare students for the written portion of the SAT or ACT?
Aside from general writing instruction about essays, the curriculum also includes a lesson that teaches students how to read and understand writing prompts similar to those found on standardized tests. Additionally, students are taught how to write an essay within a 25 minute time frame.
Will the curriculum work in a classroom or co-op setting?
Yes. Hands-On Essays was originally taught in a classroom setting and the lessons are set up in such a way as to be easily adaptable to groups.
Will Hands-On Essays work for a student with special needs?
Hands-On Essays was not designed for special needs students. However, the simplicity of the lessons, the bite-sized chunks of learning, and the kinesthetic element may lend themselves to teaching the special needs student. The individual parent or teacher will need to decide whether or not the curriculum is a good fit for a particular student.
Is Hands-On Essays a Christian curriculum?
The purpose of Hands-On Essays is to help students master the essay. The author is a Christian and the curriculum adheres to biblical principles, but does not seek to evangelize.
Will you be publishing any more writing curriculum?
Absolutely! As a matter of fact, I've already published two more courses, Fun Foundations in Writing and Creative Adventures in Writing, and I have several more to be published soon!