Frequently Asked Questions



You have questions, we have answers. We hope the selection of frequently asked questions found on this page answers the majority of your inquiries and concerns. If not, please send us an email and we'll get back to within 24 hours. 

This page is always evolving as we post new questions and answers, so check back in soon for additional help. 
 


FIFTH EDITION FAQS



I purchased the complete set of the fifth edition but can't figure out where to watch the videos that come with it. Help? 
The new instructional videos that come with the fifth edition complete set can be found here. To access you will need the password that came in the email you received when you purchased. Once you have entered that password once you shouldn't have to do it again unless you switch browsers or computers or empty your cache. The same goes for customers who purchased just a subscription to the videos. 



Can I continue to use the 4th edition workbook? 
Individual families can continue to use their 4th edition sets on their own without problems.  We believe that the 5th edition is an improvement and worthwhile investment, so we recommend it, but you can continue using the 4th edition knowing that the ideas of the LTW remain unchanged.



Can I continue to use the 4th edition workbook with a class in a school or co-op?
That will be confusing for students as worksheets have changed.  If you try to work through pages as a group, there are enough changes to the workbook that this is not recommended.

I believe I found an error in the 5th edition workbook or guide, what do I do?
There are errors in both the Student Workbook and the Teacher's Guide. For a complete list of those errors, please refer to the LTW Level One Errata Sheet. If you find that your error is not listed, please email our customer service.


GENERAL FAQs



What are the prerequisites for beginning this curriculum?
Students need to be comfortable with the basics of grammar and spelling, including parts of speech and sentence construction. They need to be able to find and correct basic mistakes.  A student who can write a paragraph, independently and from scratch, is ready to begin writing persuasive essays.



What are the parts of The Lost Tools of Writing?
The Level One curriculum, when purchased as a complete set, includes a Teacher's Guide with complete Lesson Guides, a Student's Workbook, and a set of instructional CDs. The Level Two curriculum, when purchased as a complete set, includes a Teacher's Guide and a Student's Workbook. Additionally, we offer a DVD set for level one that contains more than one hour of modeled instruction per lesson.
Each part can be purchased individually as well.


Who is the curriculum for?
We typically recommend LTW Level 1 for students 7th grade and up. Students younger than that typically are not prepared for the deeper level of thinking towards which LTW guides them. Students, regardless of age, should NOT begin level 2 until they have completed level 1 for it lays the key foundations upon which all other writing is built. Middle school students who have experienced basic writing exercises and who know the elements of grammar are prepared for this program. The practiced teacher can use the ideas contained in this curriculum for children at any age level, and The Lost Tools of Writing™ has been used as early as third grade. If you have older students (juniors and seniors) who are experienced writers you could easily tailor it to them and go through it at a faster pace.



How does this curriculum fit in with the rest of my students' subjects?
This curriculum provides an integrating tool for the teacher who wishes to incorporate all of the student’s studies and experiences into his scholarly reflections, thus reintegrating not only the school’s curriculum but also the student’s life. You will be pleased to discover that the two hours per week of class time devoted to the Lost Tools of Writing™ will not all be added to an already busy schedule. Instead, it will enable you to integrate the parts of the curriculum in a way that makes all your teaching more efficient.



How do I use this curriculum with younger students?
“Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.” (Shakespeare, Romeo & Juliet) Consider taking a full two years to complete Level 1. Emphasize structure and the discipline of following the process. Though the curriculum is geared to the student with a little writing background, middle school students who have experienced basic writing exercises and who know the elements of grammar are prepared for this program. The practiced teacher can use the ideas contained in this curriculum for children at any age level, and The Lost Tools of Writing™ has been used as early as third grade.



Is this curriculum only for classical schools?
If you desire to instill virtues of truth, goodness, and beauty while teaching children according to their natures, using a curriculum designed to promote skills in thinking and decision making, then LTW is for you.



I'm not a writing teacher; I'm just a homeschool mom. Am I qualified to teach this?
LTW builds better writers and teachers. We’ve built this program in such a way that all you have to do is follow the process along with your child. Homeschool moms are among our most satisfied customers.



Why do you sometimes employ strange words in this program? They can be confusing.
LTW is a course in classical rhetoric. Going beyond a simple “how to build a 5 paragraph essay,” we teach tools that will raise writing to a higher level. Students learn that tools like “exordium” and “amplification” have specific purposes and benefits and that to fully understand how to write well one must understand the ideas fully.



What about other kinds of writing besides the essay?
Every kind of writing is contained in the persuasive essay. Students will learn stylistic techniques that can then be applied to reading and writing poetry, students learn narrative structure that can then be applied to writing fiction, and students learn about the concept of authority which can be applied to research. Every essay contains opportunities to practice logic and critical thinking skills as well. Level 1 includes rudimentary instruction on the narrative essay that leads into more thorough instruction on other kinds of narrative writing found in Level 2.



Do I have to use this in conjunction with teaching literature?
This curriculum provides an integrating tool for the teacher who wishes to incorporate all of the student’s studies and experiences into his scholarly reflections, thus reintegrating not only the school’s curriculum but also the student’s life. You will be pleased to discover that the two hours per week of class time devoted to the Lost Tools of Writing™ will not all be added to an already busy schedule. Instead, it will enable you to integrate the parts of the curriculum in a way that makes all your teaching more efficient. Opportunities for topics abound. They are as close as your dining room table and last night’s dinner discussion. Using literature, even a simple fable, can offer the advantage of moving the discussion to a less personal sphere, but you are welcome to choose topics from any area of study. The world is rich with possibilities!



Does this curriculum teach literary analysis?
Analysis is a special kind of writing that depends on the ability to read closely, think clearly, and express effectively. All three of these skills are taught in LTW, preparing any student to move on to more specialized types of writing.  At heart, every author seeks to persuade the reader and those skills need to be mastered first.



Does this curriculum teach my student to write a research paper?
Strictly speaking, no this course doesn't teach them to write a "Research paper". That said, it does introduce them to tools of doing research by teaching them the 5 topics of invention (which help them come up with and organize ideas, often based on the research they are doing). We provide them with questions to ask that will help them dig deeper. In this way, it helps them begin to learn to research with purpose.



How will this curriculum prepare my  child for college?
See the question above. Additionally, anyone who knows how to arrange a paper can carry that skill into any situation: SAT writing, public speaking, research papers, and debate all benefit from a background in classical rhetoric.



How do I grade the work?
Good news! Every part of the writing process is taught with every essay. You will be there to coach your student along the way. Each paper incorporates all the previous skills that have been taught, which makes it easy for you to see if the standards are met.  Papers are either “Incomplete” or “Acceptable.” Stick with your students until they master the current objectives. Specific checklists are included with each lesson.



What if I can only meet with my students one day per week?
This program has been used successfully in many different kinds of classroom and home situations. Think of it this way: You are teaching your students that each step of the writing process is worthy of a week’s worth of thought and effort! If possible, encourage your students to communicate with you via email in order to accomplish incremental steps. Once you and the students are comfortable with the lesson sequence, you’ll find the rhythm that works for you.



How is Level 2 different from Level 1?
Level 2 is different from Level 1 in a few ways. Most simply, Level 1 teaches the persuasive essay and introduces the comparison essay while Level 2 divides the persuasive essay into the judicial (to do with the past tense) and the deliberative essay (to do with the future tense). Level 2 also includes a four lesson unit on story-telling and it develops the comparison essay further. And, finally, it adds a descriptive essay. Level 2 also adds to additional topics of invention: the advantageous and the honorable. It also adds 12 new schemes and tropes.



Can my student(s) begin with Level 2? They are pretty advanced writers.
We don't recommend this usually. Students should begin with Level 1 because the curriculum builds on itself, one skill or idea at a time. In this it is like any program that develops a student's artistic abilities (or even a math class).



Help! I'm confused!
Assistance is only a mouse-click away (or a phone call if you prefer). Join our LTW Mentor email loop for access to fellow teachers, friendly advice, and files of student work. Andrew Kern, CIRCE Apprentices, headmasters, classroom teachers, and homeschool moms all contribute to the lively conversation.

To get in touch with us more directly call 704-794-2227 or email info@circeinstitute.org.