Essentials in Writing & Essentials in Literature Level 10 Mid-Year Update

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Dr. Melissa Felkins gives a mid-year update on how Essentials in Writing and Essentials in Literature Level 10 are working for her homeschool high school.

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We are halfway through our first year of using Essentials in Writing and Essentials in Literature Level 10 in our homeschool high school, so it’s time for an update!

Both Essentials in Writing and Essentials in Literature are still working well for my senior and my freshman. We have tweaked things a bit to fit our needs, but the framework that is provided in the programs is really solid.

As I mentioned in our First Impressions post and videos, we have chosen to modify our schedule from the one that was suggested in the Essentials in Writing book. My kids do a unit of writing then a unit of literature.  

This is just a personal preference for us. You’ll have to decide what works best for your students.

Essentials in Writing Level 10

Essentials in Writing Level 10 covers

  • Sentence Structure
  • Paragraph Structure
  • Essays
  • Research Papers
homeschool curriculum
Essentials in Writing Level 10

We have worked through the sentence and paragraph structure sections, and we’re currently doing essays. Watch this video to see how the sentence and paragraph sections worked for us!

Essay Writing

Mr. Stephens carries the paragraph structure that he teaches over into the essays very nicely. The essay structure is really just an expansion of the paragraph structure.

He continues to deliver small chunks of information at a time, but he’s very thorough. He gives examples of each part of the essay, showing quality vs. ineffective writing samples.

Then, he walks through the editing process with the students, so they can understand how to present their best work.


Grading Essentials in Writing


The two checklists that are provided for the students to use as they write each essay are really helpful! The first one is a simple paragraph checklist to make sure they’ve included all the elements for each paragraph.

The second one is a longer essay checklist. It prompts the student to look for specific elements, not only in the paragraphs but also for the overall document to make sure they’ve covered everything well.

Essentials in Writing
Essentials in Writing checklists help homeschool high school students include all necessary elements in their writing.

For us, this is the biggest part of “grading”, if you want to call it that. We tend to go for a mastery approach, which means we keep working on something until we’ve got it.

With the checklists, my homeschool high school students are able to make sure they’ve done everything they can to write a great essay before they bring their final copy to me for feedback.


If you’re not familiar with rubrics, they are a great tool for objectively grading written assignments (and other projects). They provide a framework by which you can award points based on how well the student executed different elements of the written work.

Here’s an example of the rubric for the “Compare and Contrast Essay” in Essentials in Writing Level 10: