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I love the Lord as much as a broken person can; love and loved by my husband; blessed by 5 amazing little people who have helped me to learn much about me; grateful to serve even more as God gives them to me; blessed every day to be a home school teacher; college student; I hope to change the world by loving as many people as possible, because there is nothing greater than loving another.

Friday, March 12, 2010

An early review of WriteShop I

After reading an excellent, vivid, enjoyable piece written by a friends 7th grader, I realized what was missing from our writing - style. We got the structure of writing, so it was time for more. Her blog post led me to write shop.

You will get a variety of opinions on this. Many find it too teacher intensive, and some do not enjoy the step by step b/c they find it overkill or they feel too boxed in.

I am not of that opinion.

We just finished lesson 4, that's 8 weeks into the program. I am very pleased with the results already. The program does assume basic paragraph writing abilities like capitalization, punctuation, topic sentence (in idea if not in good use ) and generally that a dc can write a sentence.

The things I enjoy about WriteShop I:

  • The systematic approach makes sure dc or I do not miss anything in the writing process. It takes the dc through the steps via a daily routine (you choose the pace of the routine as teacher).
  • Very explicit teacher instructions not only give ideas on how to teach, but a great outline of common errors and ways in which to approach their correction. I feel like I'm really getting the benefit of experience from home school moms who have taught a great many students about writing.
  • Word lists to expand the vocabulary, which has blossomed style in my writers.
  • Encourages self-checking, via checklists, to ensure the student is owning his work, improving by recognizing common errors and has a coupled list for the teacher so she can be sure they're following the program.
  • Most of all, I see results. The Elders were solid in basic writing like formatting paragraphs and writing essays, reports, factual sort of stuff. Now, in just 4 lessons, their topic and closing sentences have blossomed, they have eliminated boring verbage and are using a lovely variety of adjectives. I'll say their writing is almost...really close to being pleasant
  • I appreciate the ready made dictation and copy work.
  • I like that each student can have their own notebook and I'm not living in the land of making copies (sometimes convenience matters enough to claim a place in even my frugal budget!)
To be fair, if you use the 2 week/lesson (or 1 year to complete WS1) there will be to days at the beginning of each lesson that will require teaching. Spending time writing a paragraph together, constantly reinforcing the weeks objective and those already learned. How to do this is laid out plainly in a sequenced, well organized Teacher's manual. I think we accomplish this, as a group of 3 students and I, about an hour on the first day and maybe 45 the next. The rest of the week, we have alittle time together for dictation (15 min once per wk.), however I spend about 20 minutes each going over their drafts (2 days of this, or 3 if their final is not really the final, in the 2 week span), following thoroughly the recs from the program. Some would find this time unavailable in their schedules.

I do hear IEW is outstanding, I'm just stopped b/c of $$ this time.

We did not enjoy Writing Strands at all.

I like Writing Aids, but felt like *I* needed a more systematic approach to ensure I was staying on task and not missing any styles or vital elements. I feel like WShop is improving my skills as a writing teacher.

If all this crumbles, I'll let you know...but for now, I'm a happy teacher, momma, college counselor and prospective high school english prof. :)

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