Lost Tools of Writing with American Literature

This 30-week class helps students learn the fundamentals of writing a persuasive essay and of reading well. The method is taken from The Lost Tools of Writing published by the Circe Institute.

Students will learn to use the classical Canons of rhetoric. They will learn how to decide what to say, how to order their thoughts, and how to express those ideas. They will become familiar with the standard form of a five-paragraph essay and learn how to use literary tools to enhance their writing. They will also learn the basics of literary criticism by reading and analyzing great works of literature. Discussions on virtue and literary themes will help the student develop a taste for well-written prose.

Students will complete a five-paragraph essay every three weeks with intervening weeks spent on analysis and outlining. For each essay, the student will be required to read a new novel. Class meetings will revolve around discussing the novels, generating ideas, and practicing the tools for crafting an essay. We will occasionally spend a week on a short story or poem. Those assignments will be completed in one week rather than three as most of the work will be done as a class. These condensed lessons serve as “intensives” where students will see the whole process in action.

Some of the novels we will read this year include:

  • Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • The Murders in the Rue Morgue by Edgar Allan Poe
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • Other novels chosen by the tutor (and students!)

Reading selections may change depending on the interests and proficiency of the students.

Required Materials

  • The Lost Tools of Writing Level One – Student Workbook
    • https://www.circeinstitute.org/store/book/level-1-5th-ed-students-workbook
  • Internet access, computer, printer. (Assignments must be typed.)

Class Homework Requirements: An assignment is due each week. These assignments rotate every three weeks between essay plans, outlines, and the essays themselves.


Time: 12:55-2:25
Grades: 9-10
Class Fee: $350
Supply Fee: $60
Tutor: Donna Enoch

COVID-19 Contingency Plan:

In the event that the COVID-19 pandemic affects our ability to meet in person in a classroom for the 2021-22 school year, I will make the following adjustments to this class. Tutor and students will meet at the scheduled class time via a video chat service. Assignments can be submitted electronically, and feedback will be provided electronically. Our goal is to meet in person as soon as it is feasible. We may begin classroom meetings at any point during the school year as the COVID-19 situation resolves.