Levels A and B get students ready for real writing. Level C concentrates on narrative writing. Level D focuses on expository writing. Levels D through F are no walk in the park, even for higher performing kids. In fact, I'll go so far to say that most people are never taught and never learn the skills taught in the latter levels of RW.
Most people are simply unable to critically example text or a presentation of information and construct a coherent argument based thereon. Reading blogs and the comments section makes this fact abundantly clear. And the demographic that engages in such activities is highly skewed at the top of the cognitive curve.
What I like about RW is that it teaches grammar and logic in the context of writing. As students learn grammar they immediately incorporate what they learn into their writing assignments. Every lesson has a writing assignment.
For example, by level C, lesson 89, students are learning how to properly use pronouns in writing (jack and Jill = they), how to punctuate a series of nouns (bat, ball and glove), and how to construct paragraphs with multiple people speaking (a paragraph per speaker). The writing assignment for this lesson is based on the following series of pictures.
The assignment is for the students to draft a multiple paragraph narrative based on the sequence of events that take place in pictures 1, 2, and 4, including what must have happened in missing picture 3.
The students start off by setting the scene by writing where the people were, what they were doing, and what was happening in the background in the first picture.
Ann, Maria, and Tony were sitting on a bench at a bus stop. A house was burning behind them and smoke poured out of the window. Tony said, "I smell smoke."
Next, the students write about what happened in the second picture.
They stood up and faced the building. Ann pointed to the window and said, "It's coming from over there."
Tony said, "There's a dog in that window."
Finally, the students write about what must have happened in the missing third picture and what happened in the last picture. The students have learned to identify the differences between the second and fourth picture to determine what must have happened in the missing third picture. In this example some differences are the location of the children, what they were doing, and the presence of Mrs. Wilson.
They went over to the window. Ann climbed onto Tony's shoulders, reached into the window, and grabbed the dog. Ann held the dog in her arms. Mrs. Wilson arrived home holding a bag of groceries. She said, "You saved King."
As she ran to a telephone booth, Maria said, "I'll call the fire department."
After the students complete the writing exercise, the class discusses some examples from the students' writing. The teacher notes some areas that the students should have included in their writing and some common errors. The students fix-up their writing and turn it i tothe teacher for review. The teacher reviews the writing by the next lesson and reviews the previous assignment in the beginning of the next lesson.
By the end of level C (lesson 110), students will be able to construct simple multi-paragraph narratives based on a sequence of events like this example.
As you can hopefully see, this lesson has far more instructional value that the typical journaling exercises elementary school students typically engage in.
And, yes, I wrote those paragraphs all by myself. The question is will my second grader do a better job than me when he does this exercise tonight.
Update: Here's what the boy wrote for this lesson. I only corrected a few spelling errors.
Ann, Maria and Tony were sitting on a bench at a bus stop. There was a house on fire behind them. "I smell smoke," said Tony.
Maria, Ann, and Tony stood up and looked behind them and saw a house on fire. "It's coming from over there", said Ann.
"There's a dog in that window," said Tony.
They ran to the house and Ann got on Tony's shoulders. Then Ann grabbed King while old lady Wilson came with groceries saying, "You saved King."
Maria ran to the telephone booth saying, "I'll call the fire department."