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Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Power in Your Hands Review

The Power in Your Hands Writing Nonfiction in High School by Sharon Watson is a God send in our home. I am notoriously bad at teaching writing so having something walk me through the process is great. We have tried several programs and they were fine they just didn't stick.

So when this review came up I was a little hesitant. But I decided to go ahead and try. It couldn't hurt, right?

I am happy to say that it didn't hurt at all. It was quite enjoyable in fact.

Here is a little about the program first.

Written by the same author who wrote Apologia Educational Ministries' popular middle school writing curriculum JUMP IN, this course is the natural next step for those who value college-preparatory material presented in incremental steps with a conversational tone.

Sharon Watson has the knack of teaching students with no prior writing experience in the same class with advanced writers. She knows when to introduce new material and how to keep it interesting. Both reluctant and eager writers will benefit from the way she reveals exactly how the "magic trick" of writing is done!

With over 100 daily lessons and complete instructions for 22 essays and reports, this is an engaging course students will enjoy--or not dread. And, more good news: the course almost teaches itself. Really.

Because writers come in all varieties, this course begins with basic writing skills so that inexperienced writers can catch up quickly on fundamentals, and then it smoothly merges them with their age-mates. More advanced writers will enjoy the Digging Deeper lessons designed specifically for them. No matter their writing level or their attitude toward writing, students will learn essay structures, vital writing tools, proofreading skills, and a confidence that comes from success.

Prerequisites: None.

Grammar not included.

Recommended as a companion volume: THE POWER IN YOUR HANDS: WRITING NONFICTION IN HIGH SCHOOL, TEACHER'S GUIDE. This teacher's guide includes all assignments and checklists, answers to chapter work, a year of engaging writing prompts, and a helpful grading guide.


The Student and Teachers books are all you need for this program. Yes, you will need the Teacher Book. It is full of teaching helps, ideas, evaluation forms, and so much more. I am not kidding, this book is going to take you some time to digest the wealth of information in it. It is invaluable. I have found myself re-reading sections several times. Unfortunately I never learned most of this when I was in school so it is pretty great to be teaching it to my kids now. Learning along side them is just about the greatest thing, isn't it?

The Student book is written in a conversational style with black and white pages. It is great for kids that get distractted by all the 'noise' on a page in other books. It is straight forward and to the point. Yet, there is humor written into it as well. It isn't dry, boring material that the student will quicikly tire of; it is engaging and divided into sections to make it digestable.

Something we have really enjoyed with this program are the 14 Minute Power Surges. These have taken the pressure off of writing and really made the girls think on the spot and get something on paper. The 14 Minute Power Surges are just what they sound like. The student is given a topic and they write about it for 14 minutes. It isn't graded; it is just written. Now, I think the farther you get into the program you end up using some of them and expanding on them for papers; we just haven't gotten that far yet. As soon as I said that they weren't going to be graded on spelling, grammar, etc. they felt freer to write. They started filling full pages in those 14 minutes and have a blast doing it. The prompts are given to the teacher in the Teacher book and are divided by month.


I also appreciate the lesson plans. They are divided by sections within the chapters and extra items for the teacher are written italics. I definitely felt like I had everything I needed to teach writing with this program. We will keep going with it and I can't wait to see the improvement in their writing later in the year. They are already more willing to write after just a short time using this than they have ever been. That's a win already!

The Power in Your Hands is available HERE and sells for $39.98 for the Student Book and $14.98 for the Teacher Book. The Power in Your Hands is written for grades 9-12.

Writing with Sharon Watson has many options for your student. Jump In, Writing with Fiction (High School), and The Power in Your Hands. Each one is found HERE. Check out the website for more ideas, FAQ's, and their blog.