"When we sharpen a pencil, we get to the point by subtracting. When we write, we get to the point by adding. The modifier is the essential part of any sentence."
Career English teacher, retired
Director of Write for College for 25 years, a summer writing program reaching over 1000 high school students
Author and editor
Frequent presenter at writing conferences, including National Council of Teachers of English and the Assembly for the Teaching of English Grammar
Dr. Francis Christensen
I must admit that I cannot take credit for figuring all this out. That honor goes to Dr. Francis Christensen, who was a professor at the University of Southern California. In 1967 he published his masterpiece, The Christensen Rhetoric Program, which unveiled this entirely new approach that consistently resulted in immediate and dramatic improvement in student writing.
In 1988 I acquired the copyright to the works of Dr. Christensen, and since then I have revised his original text and written an additional pair of workbooks, resulting in a three-book series, published as The Stewart English Program (below), which spans grades seven through twelve. I have also reprinted Christensen's collected essays, called Notes Toward A New Rhetoric: Nine Essays For Teachers. Most recently, I have been teaching the program to adults, as they need to improve their writing skills for success in their jobs, their continuing academic pursuits, or their personal writing needs.
A Final Word
Please take a look at this simple graphic. In three words, this illustration summarizes the way writing should be taught. When the class is reading To Kill a Mockingbird, the teacher should take time to point out the great sentences—their structure, their detail, their variety. And she should not hesitate to use grammar terms to do it, especially phrases and clauses.
After finishing the book, she should assign a creative paper in which the students select three of those wonderful sentences, empty out Harper Lee's words, and pour in their own. Teacher and students will find that all the other sentences will rise, inspired by the quality of Lee's writing, and they will be the best stories those students have ever written.
That's the way Writing Whatever teaches writing. We study real sentences, real paragraphs, real essays, and use the real grammar vocabulary. All the elements must always be connected.
I want the world to know about this method. I did not invent it, but I have taught it to thousands of students for decades. It works.
All of these books are available on Amazon, or from the publisher, BookLocker.com, in quantity.