Jensen's Format Writing, Revised

High School English at The Young's Home:

During two of my children's high school years, I used Jensen's Format Writing as the leading book for English. Jensen's Format Writing is a writing class, no grammar included, and that is good in our case because that left me free to assign the grammar classes that my students actually needed.

When I graded my children's work from Jensen's Format Writing, I was able to see where they needed extra grammar instruction. I mainly used BJUP English Handbook for Christian Schools for the grammar lessons. I also assigned reading selections from Elements of Style by Stunk & White. I used a third book, Hodges Harbrace Handbook 14th Edition, but mostly for my reference.

Pictured [upper-left] is my daughter's English class notebook that held her checklists, schedules, class requirements, and completed assignments for grammar, composition, and literature. Read more about the notebook in English Class Notebook

casual reviewJensen's Format Writing, A Brief Review

Outside of this website, I have recommended Jensen's Format Writing for several years, but I have never said anything about the book at this website and it is about time that I did. Jensen's Format Writing teaches expository writing in a systematic way. If you read wikipedia's page on expository writing, you will see that expository writing is a type of writing that exposes information. According to the wikipedia, colleges and universities commonly require expository writing, and this is true. My son had to turn in a research paper during the first two weeks of his freshman year at a university. That was the first paper of many papers and he would agree that colleges and universities commonly require expository writing.

Jensen's Format Writing, Revised by Frode Jensen is for students in the 8th grade and higher. It's 160 pages and my book, purchased in 2003 or '04, has the copyright year of 2002.

The Content

Jensen's Format Writing is in seven parts: paragraphs, the elements of five-paragraph essays, the five-paragraph essay formats, book reports, business letters, condensation, and finally the major report. I have the table of contents online where you can see all of the topics of the class. The material is presented in a concise and orderly manner. Examples of paragraphs and essays are included along with clear instructions that are in a list format. The author directs the student to think in order.

Teacher's Helps

Helps: The included teacher helps are grading check sheets, assessment forms, and a sample schedule. I found the checklists to be very helpful because, as you might already know or will soon discover, grading essays can be difficult. Be certain to read the first part of the book, "To the Teacher" where you will find instructions, information, and suggestions from Frode Jensen.

Schedule: When you make lesson plans for Jensen's Format Writing, you will need to decide how many paragraphs and essays to assign each week and you will need to decide on which days of the week will be the due dates. In deciding the due dates, be certain that you allow yourself enough time to grade the work and get back to your student. Read more about a daily lesson plan for Jensen's Format Writing here: Jensen's Format Writing -Daily Schedule and see a sample syllabus here: Jensen's Format Writing -Syllabus for Sections 1-4


Comments that I made several years ago when I used Jensen's Format Writing.

Donna, Aug 9 2004,11:21 AM

Last Thursday, my son turned in his first essay of the new school year. After grading it, I see that he needs to review comma usage. He made 7 comma errors (8 really, but one is debatable.) He made errors in style -- he overused "most" and actually started his first sentence with the weak phrase: "One of the most." Several of his sentences used the passive voice and he used contractions. He also made two errors on the usage of "it's."

I will add to his schedule grammar/usage/style assignments as follows: review commas, if passive voice should be used, review it's and its, if contractions should be used, review weak expressions such as "One of the most." He will use a grammar handbook and The Elements of Style to review. We will have some discussions as well.

Donna, Aug 26 2004, 10:49 PM

Grading the essays is difficult. Jensen's Format Writing includes check sheets for all of the different kinds of writing assignments and that helps me a great deal. I am currently grading 2 essays. He improves with each essay, but he still has some problems with sentence construction in terms of presenting the material using strong sentences. I have to communicate to my son why I do not like a sentence, telling him it is lame does not work. He writes in the passive voice too often, he does not always use strong verbs. It sometimes makes for wimpy writing. He is trying though, but I have to find the weak areas and point them out and explain....

Simple example:
Wimpy/lame version.. "I think HrDVD's were introduced last year by Sony"
Strong version "Sony introduced HrDVD's last year."

He's learning a lot this year.

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