I really like Excellence in Writing and how it builds writing skills a step at a time. Starting with a given source text, students learn to create a keyword outline and write from their outline. At first, the student's writing is almost identical to the simple source texts supplied. Over time, the students are lead through adding elements of their own: adjectives, adverbs, strong verbs, different kinds of clauses, and different kinds of sentence openers. Eventually, they are pulling from multiple source texts and creating a fussed outline from all of them.
My kids' writing assignment this week featured a three paragraph source text about the Mayflower. (We are using the US History-Based Writing Lessons to augment our history studies.) It was basic and boring. The requirements included adding an adjective, adverb, strong verb, vocabulary word, and who/which clause to each paragraph. They were also required to add three different sentences: a very short sentence, a sentence that starts with a prepositional clause, and a sentence beginning with an adverb.
Here's my son's final draft:
Not too bad for an 8 year old boy.
The Perilous JourneyIn 1620, a group of brave English people, who wanted to worship God freely, decided to sail to America. They are now known as Pilgrims. Happily, they boarded on a big boat called the Mayflower. During the trip, there was a loud, perilous storm. Because they were afraid, they stayed below in the gun deck. It was crowded, and salty ocean water came through the cracks. They were scared.One day, John Howland, who was seriously tired of being cooped up, foolishly resolved to climb to the upper deck. Suddenly, without warning, the boat shifted, and he fell into the ocean. After he fell, he grabbed onto a rough hanging rope. He was terrified.Luckily, the sailors witnessed the scene. The sailors, who were greatly puzzled, were able to reach him with a boat hook. Thankfully, he was saved. Howland was relieved and grateful to be back on board. He thanked the sailors for saving his life. The pilgrims were glad that he was safe. Because it was stormy, they knew that this journey was going to be long and perilous.