Thursday, October 6, 2016

Handbook for Writers - A Homeschool Crew Review

In late August I learned I had been chosen to be on the review of products by Everyday Education, LLC.
The Crew members reviewed one of three products -- I was part of the group reviewing Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers (for high school into college).

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

I had asked to be permitted to review this product. My son, an 11th grader, is taking courses at our local community college through the Dual Enrollment Program. This semester he is taking English 102: Critical Reading, Writing and Research, and History 114: History of the 20th Century. I find my student is already overwhelmed this semester (he is also taking Geometry at home), so rather than assign him more reading I had another plan.

To maximize our (his) benefit from Handbook for Writers, I have been reading, filtering, and then passing along to my student sections of information most helpful at any point in time. So, at a quick glance, here is how our review period went.

Week 1: I received Handbook for Writers and saved it on my computer as a PDF, as well as iBooks on my iPad. I began reading at the very beginning. Paragraph after paragraph, as I read, I thought to myself, "I wish I could get him to red this!" So much good content.

Then I got to page 32 and found a place where six lines were overlaid one over another and I couldn't read it. I contacted the vendor/author, and she sent me a new file. Fast customer service. Apparently other crew members also found the same thing on their copies, so somehow the first download had gotten corrupted.

Week 2: My son came to me this week and asked me to proof an English paper. It was a paper that had required him to do a little internet research and then cite his sources. First issue came up where I was unfamiliar with format and thought what my son had done did not look correct. It was something like, "This is the content of the quote" (Lock). What? Then I remembered to look it up in the Handbook. I was so thankful to have it! I was able to proofread formats that were beyond my previous education!

This was when I quickly had to learn how to find what I was looking for.  In the extensive, well written Table of Contents I located where to look for "punctuating citations":

I went to the indicated page 361, and it referred me to a web page. So, in addition to this being a 420-page book, it also includes links to additional materials! So researching I found my son had done it correctly!

The second place I needed the Handbook was to check my son's formatting of the citation credits at the end of the paper. Once again I searched the pages until I found where to go in the book, went there, and checked my son's work. He saw what I was doing and said, "It's in MLA format, Mom." I didn't yet know what "MLA format" was, but already knew my son's paper was in MLA format from looking at the Handbook. My son had made some mistakes, and using the Handbook I was able to show him the correct format.

Week 3: This week my son was working on a different type of paper. He needed to create five pages of content and was coming up short. Using the ideas I had gotten from the first chapter of the Handbook, I explained to him the concept of beginning the paper by defining your terms. I also talked about paragraph 1 being an introductory paragraph that the rest of the paper builds off of.

This was a new concept for both of us. I always thought paragraph 1 starts with a thesis statement followed by three supporting statements that you expound upon in the rest of the paper, followed by a summarizing wrap-up paragraph. While some papers follow this format, not all do.

Week 4: This week multiple writing assignments were coming from both subjects. History has a paper due in a few days about The Great War, with another due shortly thereafter on Immigration. English has an essay due, with another coming up on its heels. This is writing assignments for mid-terms. What would we do without the Handbook?

In the days to come there will be a research paper due in English and a book summary of The Communist Manisfesto due in History, with many additional assignments leading up to these. Again, the Handbook will be in constant use. 

Next year my son will be taking English 201: Introduction to World Literature. My current copy of the Handbook is a digital copy, but I'm planning to purchase a paper copy soon because I think I can get my son to use a paper copy on his own. He's not much the e-book kind of guy.  

So, this product is Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers (for high school into college). You can see from my experiences with my college-attending high school student how valuable a resource this is in college! The beauty of starting with this book in high school is developing student familiarity with the book, as well as preparing the high school student for college writing classes.

Initially I thought of this resource as valuable since my son is in a college English class. Now I realize this book will be helpful in many of my son's college classes. Maybe he won't need this Handbook for Math, Art, Music, foreign language or Phys Ed classes, but there is potential value for his other classes in Sciences, Humanities, and English classes. I expect he might use the Handbook next semester even in Astronomy. In my own college years, I wrote many, many essays and term papers. I would have found this Handbook helpful.

This review period has come to an end, but my (our) use of the Handbook for Writers 
will continue for years to come. This is a rich resource at a very affordable price. 
So if you have a middle or high school (or college) student, please consider this Handbook for Writers for your student. It is a valuable resource.

Other members of the Homeschool Review Crew reviewed this and other products for Everyday Education, LLC. To read more reviews, please click on the button below.

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}

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