What exactly is rhetoric? Silverdale Press LLC defines it as "skillful and artistic communication that aims to persuade an audience." Geared toward high school students, Persuasive Writing & Classical Rhetoric: Practicing the Habits of Great Writers, aims to teach the skills necessary to be a proficient persuasive writer through introduction to great writers and rhetoricians of the past.
The 36-week curriculum is broken into five segments: introduction, invention, arrangement, style, and conclusion. Each section focuses on a different aspect needed for a well written persuasive essay.
For the parent, this is pretty much a hands-off curriculum. They do provide a grading rubric for the essays that are due each week and an answer key to the workbook pages, but it is laid out so that the student can work independently.
For the student, there are three books: the lesson book, the workbook, and the reader. In the lesson book, at the beginning of each lesson is listed the learning outcomes, the schedule for the week, and the rhetorician profile.
The workbook also includes the schedule for the week along with review questions, exercises, and that weeks writing prompt.
The reader contains a short essay by whichever writer is being profiled that week, or on rare occasions, directions as to where to find it online.
The profiles in the lessons also add interest and give some background to the articles in the reader. Raena appreciated that none of the articles appeared "long-winded." Most were between 2-8 columns in length, and while not long, some of the articles may require more than one read-through.
The area Raena struggled with was the 500 word essay that was due each week. The prompt is intentionally designed to "give students a good deal of leeway in directing their own writing" because they want students to think about and write on their own interests and what is important to them. Since she is used to a more structured writing curriculum, she felt a little lost and would spend most of her time anguishing over what she thought they wanted her to write as opposed to what she wanted to write. However, I feel that as she continues to write and gets a better feel for the curriculum that will improve.
From start to finish, students are learning key elements to writing a persuasive essay. I found the layout of the lessons progressed nicely from topic to topic and felt that by the end of the lessons a student's skills and knowledge would have increased. I really liked that the last lessons talk about how to pitch your writing to publishers and that they encourage the students to do so. After studying in depth the art of writing a persuasive essay, pitching the final essay to a publisher, regardless of outcome, would be an exciting culmination to the class.