The Meaningful Composition curriculum was designed to help homeschools, co-ops, and Christian schools teach a variety of composition types. The series has two books per level for Levels 2 through 12. This sequencing would suggest Grades 2 through 12. However, in talking with a customer service representative from Training for Triumph, I learned that the levels do not necessarily correspond to grade levels. The upper levels can actually be used out of sequence in focusing on different composition styles and types.
The books can be used as a stand-alone English curriculum; the suggested pace is one book per semester. The author does suggest that the student already have mastery in spelling and vocabulary and a fundamental knowledge of grammar. It is emphasized that this is not a grammar curriculum and that students may need a grammar handbook available to review grammar concepts as they develop their writing through the curriculum. Our family had the opportunity to review the first semester books for Levels 6 and 8.
This curriculum identifies two aspects of writing: (1) mechanics and (2) the generation of creative ideas. Much time is spent on the mechanics of writing. Students are presented with a written essay and guided through the process of developing a Key Word Outline (KWO) for that essay. Once the KWO is constructed, the student is then walked through the process of rewriting the essay in their own words, utilizing many strategies for making it a stronger piece of writing. The strategies are presented in the form of checklists with very objective tasks to complete. For instance, one checklist requires the student to circle each verb in their essay and then to change one "boring" verb in each paragraph to a "strong" verb. A list of boring verbs and stronger alternatives are provided to stimulate the student's thinking.
The later part of each book focuses on the student's own creative writing. These projects are wonderful exercises in utilizing the techniques and checklists used in the first half of the book. Many of the assignments are based on Christian topics, ranging from a personal testimony to a biographical report on a person from the Bible to a compare/contrast essay on animal training and child training.
The curriculum is written with the student as the reader. There are no teacher manuals or resource materials. Close monitoring of your student's work is essential in making sure that the steps are completed sequentially, accurately, and thoroughly. The revisions and checklists that the students complete are the truly critical steps to learning in Meaningful Composition.
Lesson plans are included in the back of each book to help students pace themselves for completion in the desired timeframe--either a semester or a year. There are also suggestions for using the curriculum in a small group or co-op setting. An addition to the curriculum that we would suggest would be poorly, moderately, and well written examples of each of the writing assignments. These would be an excellent point of reference for the student. Another helpful addition would be some type of standard of age-appropriate writing to use as a comparison at each level. Even though I enjoy writing myself, I always feel challenged in trying to assess my children's writing.
In closing, our family likes to stick with a curriculum series, if at all possible, when we find something that works. I believe this to be a common sentiment in most families. Currently, both Meaningful Composition books are available for Levels 4, 5, and 9. Only the first semester books are available for Levels 6, 8, and 12. As you can see, there are many "holes." I contacted the company and asked when the rest of the series would be released. The answer I received was somewhat surprising--there seems to be no established schedule for release of the remaining books. The company states that completing the series is not on the top of their priority list. It is hard for this homeschool mom to switch to this writing curriculum when there is no projection for the remaining books to be available.