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Cultivate Thoughtful & Articulate Writers

Currently offering three levels, The Lost Tools of Writing is an ideal composition curriculum for students in seventh through twelfth grade who already have a relatively solid understanding of grammar and sentence structure and who have at least a rudimentary amount of writing experience – and, most importantly, who are ready to think for themselves.

LTW Level 1

Skills Taught

WRITING: Basic Essay Writing • Schemes • Tropes • Editing • Exordium • Division • Narratio • Thesis • Proofs • Arguments • Refutation • Conclusion • Amplification
THINKING: Material Logic: Common Topics • Definition • Comparison • Circumstance • Testimony • Relationship • Formal Logic: Sorting

Lost Tools of Writing Level 1

Recommended for Age 12+

The Lost Tools of Writing, Level I is a one or two-year program (depending on the age of the student and the pace at which you wish to go), that covers primarily the persuasive essay.

To learn more about why we focus on the persuasive essay click here.

Featuring eight essays and a review lesson, LTW I teaches a half dozen schemes and tropes as well as numerous skills and techniques for coming up with ideas.


LTW II Book Cover

Skills Taught

WRITING: Additional schemes & Tropes • Compound & Complex Sentences • Further Amplification • New Exordia
THINKING: Material Logic: Special Topics: Justice • An Sit • Quid Sit • Quale Sit

Lost Tools of Writing Level 2

Recommended for anyone who has completed Level I.

In LTW II, you will continue your study of classical rhetoric by studying the judicial address, which refines the persuasive essay taught in LTW I. So just as the elements of LTW I build upon one another, so LTW II builds upon LTW I.

Through the eight lessons/addresses in LTW II, your students will work within the framework of the three canons, but each will be aimed at this new kind of address. This familiarity will empower you as a teacher and will provide confidence for your students.


LTW Level 3

Skills Taught

WRITING: Additional Schemes & Tropes • Coherent & Cohesive Paragraphs
THINKING: Argument Evaluation • Formal & Material Logic: • Honor • Advantage • Sorites • Enthymeme • Epicheirema

Lost Tools of Writing Level 3

Recommended for anyone who has completed Level II.

The next stage on your journey to mastery of thought and communication is Level III, where you’ll solidify the foundations that you laid in LTW I and II, develop advanced writing skills, master additional forms of persuasive address, and even begin to practice tools you’ll use for the arts of verse and storytelling.

The heart of Level III is the deliberative address, the immediate purpose of which is to determine whether an action should be taken. The bigger purpose is to grow in wisdom and prudence by practicing making difficult decisions from which you can learn principles and habits of decision making for your own life and community.

When you write your deliberative address, you practice thinking imaginatively and strategically.

Through the eight lessons/addresses in LTW II, your students will work within the framework of the three canons, but each will be aimed at this new kind of address. This familiarity will empower you as a teacher and will provide confidence for your students.


LTW Comparison Essays

Skills Taught

WRITING: In Arrangement: new instruction for Narratio, plus thesis, proofs, exordium, amplification. In Elocution: metaphor, advanced metaphor, and extended metaphor
THINKING: Material logic: the topic of comparison in greater depth

Comparison Essays

Recommended for anyone who has completed Level I.

This semester-long program provides a way for students to gain more practice in foundational thinking skills plus practice in writing a different kind of essay. Through LTW: Comparison Essay, students will solidify the foundations laid in LTW I, develop deeper thinking skills, master an additional form of essay-writing, and delve more deeply into analogical thinking with different kinds of metaphor-writing.

The skills students gain through LTW: Comparison Essay extend beyond academics to life in the world, cultivating more refined and careful thinking about people, things, ideas, and their own decisions.


Handbook of Types

Supplemental Resource for Level I

Offering dozens of additional examples of the content taught in The Lost Tools of Writing Level I, this handbook enables deeper understanding and richer contemplation of the three canons of classical rhetoric. Whether you are looking to enrich your own teaching or to empower your students, this book will help you take The Lost Tools of Writing to the next level in your classroom or homeschool.

Using three different stories, the Handbook of Types provides:

• Three types for every invention worksheet
• Three types for every arrangement worksheet
• Three student examples of every outline
• Examples from the stories for every scheme and trope
• Three examples for every elocution worksheet
• Three examples for every essay

My daughter has struggled with writing her whole life. YEARS of struggle for mother and child. She wrote two essays today, one by choice. I have never seen her put that many words on paper at once before. And never, ever, ever did I think I would see the day she would choose to write an essay over making a list! It feels like a miracle. LTW has my undying affection!”

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Watch the Introductory Lesson Video

Check out our Three Amigos series all about the Lost Tools of Writing!

The Three Amigos is our series hosted by Andrea Lipinski, Camille Hunt, and April Langan where they try to answer all of your doubts, inquiries, and questions about the Lost Tools of Writing. The Three Amigos will release Thursdays on our YouTube Channel!

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Why the Persuasive Essay?

When you start teaching The Lost Tools of Writing you notice early that almost all of level one is devoted to teaching the persuasive essay. You might think this rather odd—even boring. After all, aren’t students much more interested in writing stories and exploring their own ideas than they are in writing about irrelevant things like whether the Roman senate should have assassinated Julius Caesar or whether Scout should have crawled under her neighbor’s fence?

Well, maybe. But writing isn’t that simple. When you teach a child to write, you aren’t trying to get him excited; you are trying to help him write well. Excitement follows. Writing is a skill, and a stunningly complex skill at that. Nobody has yet plumbed the depths of what makes a person a good writer or even a good teacher of writing.

But we have discovered one thing over the centuries: many students are intimidated by writing, and those that aren’t should be. Both groups, the fearful and the fearless, need to learn something fundamental about writing: when you write, what matters first is the point you are trying to make, not how you or your audience feel about it.

In fact, the ultimate point of writing is the same as the first: when you write, what matters first and last is the idea you are trying to reveal.

In the Christian classical tradition, we call this idea the logos, which is Greek for “word” or “idea” or “message.” Thus we read in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Logos” and in Revelation 1:17, we read, “I am the first and the last.”

When you write, you, the Image of God the Creator, have a logos to reveal.

When you write more sophisticated things (like a poem or a novel) you drop hints about your logos so the reader has to search it out, which makes reading novels and poems an adventure.

But when you begin to learn how to write, more basic skills need your attention. First of all, you need to learn how to identify and express your logos clearly and vividly. In a persua­sive essay, it sits on stage, so to speak, dressed in the black and white garments of a simple proposition. You call it the thesis statement.

Thus by writing the persuasive essay, not only will your student practice writing the basic document that he will need to succeed in college or to make his point at work. Not only will he develop habits that will help him make decisions, read hard books, and communicate with friends and foes. Not only will he learn skills that transfer to debate, public speaking, law, medicine, or ministry.

More primary than all of these (and laying the foundation for them), he develops the habit of identifying clearly what his point is.

Imagine what that could do for dinner table conversations!