WRITERS' WORKSHOP


"The essential structure of the ordinary [English] sentence... is a noble thing"
Winston Churchill, My Early Life

Click on the following links for Writing Resources
     Grammar Glossary
    Parts of Speech Chart
    The Power of Words: Quotations
    Six Ways to Start a Sentence
    Ten Sentence Patterns
    Ten Ways to Start a Sentence
    Tricky Words: Use Analysis
Twenty Sentence Patterns

Course Schedule                           
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Course Description

There are two principal ways to teach writing: “by rules” and “by imitation.”  The first emphasizes the memorization of rules; the second emphasizes the imitation of patterns.  This course blends the two approaches.  The first semester focuses upon grammar and sentences.  Students are required to memorize the basic parts of speech and rules of grammar and use them in writing sentences.  They are also given patterns for writing sentences and famous quotations for inspiration.  A major resource for the first semester is Understanding English Grammar  (5th Ed., Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1998). In this classic text, authors Martha Kolln and Robert Funk demonstrate that: “Ten sentence patterns account for the underlying skeletal structure of almost all the possible grammatical sentences in English.”  Students are introduced to those ten patterns and several similar resources for imitation.  In the second semester students are required to write paragraphs which are then built into essays.  Once again, they are given patterns to follow, focusing upon mastery of the structure and elements of the five paragraph essay.  A major resource for the second semester is The Elements of Style (2nd Ed., New York: Macmillan, 1972), by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White.
To write an effective essay, one must first be able to write an effective paragraph. To write an effective paragraph, one must first write an effective sentence. In order to write an effective sentence, one must first master the parts of speech. It all comes down to the grammar. This tutorial therefore begins by reviewing the basic parts of speech and English grammar. Building upon a mastery of grammar, the assignments will then gradually develop from the writing of sentences, to paragraphs, and then to essays. Topics and techniques will include the writing of "hooks," "thesis statements," and "transitions," as well as the major types of essays: "argumentative," "descriptive," "expository," "narrative," and "persuasive." The goal of the course is to master the five paragraph essay and to become familiar with the major types of essays.  The class is intended for students with little or no background in writing, as well as those who want to sharpen their writing skills.

Required Textbooks

There are no required textbooks at this time.  Throughout the year the tutor will be highlighting a series of famous writing manuals, and also sharing principles and ideas from those classic texts.

                                           Course Requirements

Weekly Homework Assignments

As indicated in the course schedule above, there are specific homework assignments for each class.  The assignments are to be completed before the class session indicated on the schedule.

Weekly Homework Quizzes

Students should also be prepared for a short quiz which will cover that week’s assignment. The quiz will usually consist of about ten Multiple Choice questions which the tutor will post on the Chat Screen, one at a time. The quiz will be given in a "game show" format, with the instructor keeping track of the students who are first to type in the correct answers.   Students are requested to select the best answer (A, B, C, D) and to send it back to the tutor, via Private Chat. The tutor keeps track of the results, and will usually announce each week’s top three winners ("Gold, Silver, Bronze"). The quiz results will not be included in the student’s final grade. However, the quiz is important the two reasons: 1) to alert the tutor to each student’s comprehension and progress; and 2) to keep students motivated and accountable for their weekly reading assignments. In addition, the competitive "game format" adds a dimension of excitement and camaraderie.

Weekly SAT and AP Quizzes

In addition to the weekly reading quizzes students should also be prepared for a weekly quiz over each week’s SAT vocabulary and AP literary terms. All literature students (C. S. Lewis, GBT 1, GBT 2, GBT 3, J. R. R. Tolkien), as well as the Logic and Rhetoric students, are expected to keep track of the assigned SAT vocabulary and AP literacy (terms and authors). Students should have received copies of these lists via email from the tutor. The SAT vocabulary and AP literary terms are also posted on the website in the AP/SAT Atrium: http://www.oxfordtutorials.com/APSATAtrium.htm
  As with the weekly reading quizzes, the results will not be including in the grades. However, these quizzes are important for two reasons: 1) to assist students in expanding their vocabularies for their own enrichment and understanding; 2) to prepare students for the SAT exam (typically the single most important factor in college admissions).

Major Assignments: First & Second Semester

Beginning with the second week, students are required to write ten original sentences each week of the first semester.  The original sentences are to incorporate the parts of speech which are introduced in each week's assignment.  The major writing assignments in the Writers' Workshop are scheduled during the second semester.  Please see the "Course Schedule" listed above for a listing of those assignments.  In addition to the writing assignments, students should also prepare for at least two exams:

1. Midterm Exam: This exam will be scheduled in the middle of the first semester. It will focus upon the AP literary terms A-G (definitions).  There may also be some questions related to the parts of speech which have been covered thus far (definitions & examples).

2. Semester Exam: This exam will be scheduled at the end of the first semester. It will involve the same components as the midterm, but it will cover all of the AP literary terms (A-Z).  There may also be some questions related to the parts of speech which will have been covered during the first semester (definitions & examples).