Authors: Lallaway, M. Johns, T and Bennett, M.
Publisher: Insight Publications, 48 pages.
Writing Skills Student Book 1 and 2 are part of the ‘Insights Skills Builders’ series, focusing on developing the basic skills students need to improve their writing. They provide a focus on word, sentence and text level skill development - in various writing genres - in student friendly language. They are organised in stages so students can self-evaluate their progress through the variety of activities offered; therefore, becoming useful homework books allowing students to work independently. In addition, the books provide a checklist which encourages students to monitor their own learning.
They are colourfully presented books using a national curriculum skill focus presenting the content in a style which would not be intimidating for students of various literacy abilities. These books could also be easily used by EAL students. Answers are presented at the back of the book for self-correction including a double page spread of self-assessment sheets. They encourage students to use added description in their writing and revise punctuation use. They are an excellent resource in the teaching of writing genres. Book 2 follows on from the basic skill development tasks introduced in Book 1.
At 48 pages in total, although a little brief given the range of skills covered, these books provide an opportunity to be used as revision for students and a way to identify the gaps students may have. Supplementary activities linked to a website could be a useful addition. I would use these books in the class to direct targeted intervention to individual students who need to develop particular skills in their writing, as well as, set particular activities to the whole class.
I would highly recommend Writing Skills Student Book 1 and 2 for Years 7 and 8 respectively, in the development of student writing. The books lend themselves to both class text use or to be set as a homework book, as the activities can easily be transitioned into from a range of content taught.
Reviewed by Mary Adamou, English-EAL/Literacy Leader, St. Albans Secondary College.