Writing is a critically important life skill — not just for college, but for any job, career, or personal relationship. The ACE English Curriculum does incorporate writing skills into the PACES for each grade level, and I have some insights that might help you understand the scope and sequence.
Writing assignments are incorporated in each level of English that your teen will work through. Most of the assignments will be short compositions, and the focus will usually be on developing a particular skill (like adding prepositional phrases to make a given paragraph more interesting, writing a “compare or contrast” between two things, etc)
Each level of English has some writing skills development included:
- In level 7 students are given an outline and asked to compose a coherent and interesting paragraph following the outline. They also are required to write original sentences for vocabulary words in Word Building.
- In level 8 the most writing is in PACE 1094 which introduces the four types of paragraphs (narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive) and gives students practice writing them. 1095 does more with letter-writing. 1096 is about creating outlines for paragraphs and writing short compositions from those outlines.
- In level 9 students are delving deeper into creating outlines for essays. In 1097 sample compositions are given, and students must come up with the outline. In 1098 students create their own outline and then write a biographical sketch. I love that student assignments expose them to the lives of great Christians in history.
- Level 10 (1109-1120) focuses significantly on writing. The first PACE (1109) is about the four kinds of paragraphs and gives practice writing each type. The second PACE (1110) has students writing essays. PACES 1113 and 1114 cover bibliographies and techniques for improving sentences by adding adjectives and adverbs. PACE 1116 has students writing essays about their reading of “The Hiding Place.” PACE 1117 has them writing autobiographical compositions. 1119 is about research and making note cards and then using them to write a more lengthy essay with a bibliography. Much of the library content covered in 1119 is out-dated, so we have created a supplement that you can purchase and download to use. PACE 1120 includes letter-writing again and types of writing used in newspapers. I have several teaching videos for this level to explain the assignments.
- Level 11 covers the writing process much more in-depth and culminates in a 10-page research paper. I have video lessons, resources, and a term paper writing guide available to download here.
- Level 12 includes a lot of creative writing and ends with writing another research paper that will be presented as a speech. Level 12 is mainly about literature analysis and building up a college-prep vocabulary, but there are several writing assignments woven throughout the course.
That being said, the strength of ACE is definitely grammar and mechanics over writing and literature. I think the reason is that the answers for grammar and mechanics are more objective and therefore easier for students and teachers to score. Writing and literature analysis is inherently subjective.
Someone who loves writing and literature may want to supplement. If I were homeschooling, I would require a daily journal entry and a weekly composition expanding on one journal entry. I would have monthly book reports. Some parents enroll their younger teens in a writing class, maybe using the Institute for Excellence in Writing curriculum, to learn a very structured way to improve their writing.
In conclusion, I think teens who work through the English PACES will have a variety of opportunities each year to practice and improve their writing skills. A student who is a reluctant writer will look for ways to skip or skimp and get by without really improving much. The level of improvement in writing has a lot more to do with the commitment of the parent or supervisor who is checking the writing assignments! Students do not do what you expect – only what you INSPECT.
May I make a suggestion? If writing is not “your thing” , team up with someone (a grandparent, retired teacher in your church, aunt, college student, etc) who can mark up your teen’s writing assignments and give them good feedback and suggestions for improvement. And figure out a way to get that feedback quickly, not letting all the assignments pile up!
I believe that a student working through just the PACES can be adequately prepared for college writing. However, for the past several years I have paid to have a writing teacher come in for half the year and work with my 11th and 12th graders, doing more college-preparatory writing and giving better feedback for improvement than I, as a math/science teacher, feel qualified to give.
I trust this article will give you some peace of mind as your teen works through the English PACES that he will indeed get training in writing skills! If you have further questions, observations, or insights, please add them in the comments below.