Teaching writing doesn’t come naturally to me. I know how to write but it’s harder than you think to pass that skill on! Because of my lack of confidence we’ve tried lots of different programs and methods - some with more success than others. One of our favorites is the Writing & Rhetoric series from Classical Academic Press.
We used the first three books in the series over the past few years but last year I made the mistake of switching to another program. Let’s just say it wasn’t our best year and my daughter begged to go back to Writing & Rhetoric (she loves it that much!).
So, we are back for good!
There are a few reasons this program works so well for us: the discussion and natural interaction that comes from working through the lessons, the variety of exercises, and the systematic building of writing skills.
If you’ve been curious about this series, here’s a peek at the fourth book in the series - Chreia and Proverb.
I received this product for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own. No other compensation was provided.
Writing & Rhetoric from Classical Academic Press
The Writing & Rhetoric series (from Classical Academic Press) is built on the model of the progymnasmata. Now, don’t let that big word scare you (it caused me a bit of anxiety the first time I heard it) - it means ‘preliminary exercises’ and was a system used in ancient times to prepare students for rhetoric (writing and speaking persuasively).
Thankfully, I don’t need to have this whole ‘progym’ thing figured out - Classical Academic Press has done all the hard work for me. Each book in the Writing & Rhetoric series focuses on the specific skills taught using this ancient method.
After learning about fables and narratives in the previous books, students are ready to move on to the next step - chreia and proverb.
An Overview of Writing & Rhetoric Book 4
Writing & Rhetoric book four follows the same format as the previous books - lessons are laid out in much the same format with some similar exercises. The focus shifts from basic narratives to longer essays - with the introduction of the chreia.
A chreia is a short essay about a saying or proverb and the author of that saying, focused on praising the author and showing how the proverb is useful to us today. Classical Academic Press takes an incremental approach to teaching this form of writing so students aren’t overwhelmed by the thought of sitting down with a blank piece of paper and writing six paragraphs. They do a wonderful job of teaching the basic format and providing plenty of opportunities for writing.
There are two books - a student workbook (assignments are completed right in the book) and a teacher’s edition that has many samples and details to guide parents as they are teaching. While I suppose you could just hand the book off to your child and have them complete the assignments, the best part of the program is the insightful discussions prompted by the various proverbs. There is a depth and richness to this program that we haven’t found with other writing programs.
The grade recommendation for Chreia & Proverb is grades 4 & 5 and up. We’re using this book in seventh grade and it’s perfect for my daughter. The requirements are just difficult enough for my daughter but not so difficult that she can’t complete the assignments. With twelve lessons, you can easily complete this book in one semester, even allowing time for additional writing assignments in other subjects.
A week with Writing & Rhetoric: Chreia & Proverb
Each lesson in book four follows the same format:
- Introduction to the proverb and the author
- Narrative about the author (that is related to the saying)
- ‘Tell It Back’ - narration exercises
- ‘Talk About It’ - discussion about the story, the author, and the proverb
- ‘Go Deeper’ - comprehension exercises
- ‘Writing Time’ - dictation, sentence play, copiousness, and chreia exercises and assignments
- ‘Speak It’ - a time for students to practice oral presentation skills
Here’s what a week with Chreia & Proverb looks like for us:
Day One: I read aloud the introduction and story about the historical figure. My daughter narrates the story and we work on the ‘Talk About It’ and ‘Go Deeper’ sections together.
Days Two & Three: We divide the ‘Writing Time’ exercises over a few days (except the chreia). TJ works more independently on these assignments.
Day Four: On day four we focus on the chreia. We started the year working on it together, discussing each paragraph before TJ began writing. After completing about two-thirds of the lessons she was ready to work on the chreia independently.
Day Five: We work on presentation skills with the ‘Speak It’ section.
We’re so happy to be back working through this series (and we’re getting ready to start the next book in the series - Refutation & Confirmation). I have no plans to switch to another writing program - this is the right one for us.
If you want to learn more about the series, take a peek at the other books in the series: