I read WTM and added encyclopedia outlining. I was expecting too much from my children, as well as, finding encyclopedias hard to outline. I find they're written so briefly that many points are brought up in every paragraph -- too hard to narrow down. We also tend to narrate much more than one idea, so maybe its just how we learn. Anyways, it was a total disaster. We all hated it, so I dropped it.
Fast forward, I suddenly had a 5th, 6th and 7th grader who couldn't really outline all that well, hardly, in fact, so here's what I did. I told them I screwed up. I told them in learning about home schooling and trying to put all the pieces together, I neglected to teach them outlining and we needed to have a little boot camp. If they could give me a couple of weeks of hard work, I could show them how easily they could acquire this skill.
I pulled out a one page essay they had written on a history topic and applied their knowledge of grammar and writing in reverse. I taught them to write a paragraph using a sandwich analogy a couple years earlier. Slices of bread for intro and closing and lots of yummy stuff inside. A good sandwich has meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato, etc. Each edible should be a detail in the paragraph, otherwise, it's just boring meat and bread. Reminding them of their sandwich, I asked for the topic sentence from the first paragraph of the essay and when they told me, I wrote it down on the board as
I. Topic Sentence (I wrote the actual sentence, although looking at this post, writing the Subject Titles may work nicely alongside the sentences)
I asked for the first supporting detail and did the same, then the second, and finally the third. I wrote them down, too. Finally, I placed the closing next to the Topic Sentence
I. Topic Sentence/Closing Sentence
- A. Supporting detail sentence.
- B. Supporting detail sentence.
- C. Supporting detail sentence. (Sorry about the bullets, its the only way they'll stay over enough to look correct)
I pointed out the structure of the outline and how everything lines up by simply writing a straight line over the words, using a different colored marker.
On that day, we practiced this together for the entire essay, five paragraphs.
We took each of the sentences and pulled out the main phrase or idea of each sentence and re-created our outline, maintaining structure and substance, but taking out complete sentences and leaving phrases.
We did this for all 5 paragraphs...now Roman Numerals.
See if you can break down phrases even further to single words.
Practice this routine together with as many paragraphs, from any writing or book or subject material until they're comfy. It won't take long for them to understand how, then you put it into practice by assigning outlines for their core/spine reading regularly.
At some point, when they are comfy, consistent, and not finding outlines work (work and not liking are not the same thing, i.e. "It's easy I just don't like it" attitude) you show them that in the same way you tore down their paragraphs in order to learn outlining, you'll now build paragraphs up, coming from the outline.
You can show them single word or phrase outlines are great for note-taking during lectures.
Anyways, I hope this makes sense. It's as easy as assigning an outline, once your kids get a couple practice lessons under their belts. Really, it won't be that hard for any of you. Over time, and it took me a while to learn, there are some things that I can teach much quicker than waiting on a program or starting in tiny chunks and staying there for a while. Sometimes, just teaching the whole to an older kid is just as easy as incremental or progressive steps throughout grammar school...some things, not all
FWIW, I introduced outlining using Phonics Road 2 this year. Some days, we use it instead of narration or coypwork, It makes for a nice rotation of activities and has completely taken any drudgery or fear out of outlining. This go round, I'm using it in parts to whole, instead of whole to parts Trying to grow where I'm planted, ya' know!