Once a week I try to review some book related to college in order to lend some guidance to a field that has become completely overrun. So many people are writing test guides and college guides that it is easy to buy a book that is not useful and that will be occupying space on your shelf for years unused.
This week’s “book” review is not actually reviewing a book; Advanced Communication Series by Andrew Pudewa is a DVD set. This engaging series is presented in three lessons: Persuasive Writing & Speaking, Advanced Note Taking, and Power Tips for Planning & Writing a College Level Paper. Of course, with such a broad topic Mr. Pudewa cannot cover each subject completely, but he does lay a strong foundation. This DVD set is especially useful to students needing to write essays for scholarships or the SAT.
In addition to the DVD lessons, this course includes a booklet containing all the models, exercises, and samples from each of the lessons. The contents of this booklet are nearly the same as the diagrams and notes that he writes on the whiteboard. Using this booklet makes it easy to quickly review the main points of the Advanced Communication Series.
Unlike many teachers, Andrew Pudewa actually makes learning enjoyable. In many ways, I am a visual learner. Therefore, I was pleased to find that Mr. Pudewa builds diagrams and models on the whiteboard while he speaks. In addition, throughout his presentation Mr. Pudewa inserts little jewels of writing wisdom. For example, in the last lesson he categorizes all essays into four different types and then proceeds to explain each. (To find out what those essays types are you will have to get the series.) During his presentation, Mr. Pudewa does not speak at you; he speaks with you. By using questions, this teacher makes his listeners feel almost like they are talking with him.
Mr. Pudewa engages his reader by comparing two ideas. For example, Mr. Pudewa compares the differences of the clincher sentence and the concluding sentence. The clincher sentence, he declares, sounds like a combination of the words “pincher” and “clinch” and is, therefore, highly descriptive. The concluding sentence, on the other hand, he finds to be vague. After all, the last sentence is always the concluding sentence, right?
In another instance, he compares multiple choice questions to essay questions. He determines that multiple choice questions reveal what you do not know; while essay questions test what you do know. Therefore, he decides that essay questions are better and ought to be used more often. Although he has a point, I still like multiple choice questions a lot better than essay questions because it is easier to use canceling to find the right answer.
Mr. Pudewa’s sense of humor is both entertaining and engaging. For example, at one point Mr. Pudewa is discussing proper placement of indentations. In newspapers, he explains, indentations and paragraph breaks are often used incorrectly. He continues, “A lot of us read newspapers. I try not to because I avoid fiction whenever possible.” He pauses, and after a moment the class realizes the joke and bursts into laughter. His humor keeps the whole atmosphere upbeat and pleasant. I highly recommend this course to all students who want to improve their essay writing skills.