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Please Critique for 2nd Grader / Age 7


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#1 vonbon

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Posted 03 July 2016 - 07:41 PM

Would you be willing to critique this?  Written by my DD who will be 8yo / in 3rd grade for 2016/17.  

 

I am wondering if this looks about right for a 7-year-old?  If it needs improvement, where would we go from here?  This was just a "please write about a topic of your choice on your own and we'll edit it later" kind of assignment.  I did help her brainstorm some ideas beforehand and wrote her ideas on notepaper for her (like Who? What? Where?, etc. questions).

 

She is reading at a 5th-7th grade level and loves language.  Her penmanship is very clear and looks like an adult's writing.  But as for actually writing any original content, it's like pulling teeth.  She claims Writing is her "worst subject."  It's really hard to get her to write and she'll only do it if she has to for homeschool.  She is a perfectionist, which I try to acknowledge and gently downplay a lot, because it seems to get in her way of writing easily.  She is highly-creative, but unwilling to take risks in writing her thoughts out.  

 

***

 

gymnastics is fun!  I see my friends.  It makes me healthy.  I learn new things.  Mom takes me.  I go on wednesdays.  I go for exercise!

 

***

 

Just typing it out, I see how stiff and cardboard-like this is.  This is a kid who was making up stories that would go on for 2-3 single-spaced, typed pages when she was 4 (I typed while she told the stories.)  In Kindergarten, she thought she would like to write a novel series and I indulged her in writing out her stories for her.  She's never been at a loss for imagination...  But now it seems like she's gotten a little older and is very self-conscious about herself and her writing.  

 

I tried to start a Mom-and-Me journal just for enjoyable writing but it fizzled after a few entries.  Sometimes she'll come up with a great idea and I'll encourage her to write about it; it never goes anywhere.  I don't know if somehow I've "scarred" her in regards to writing.  She wants to be instantly good at things, but the writing process is still somewhat arduous at this point; maybe that puts her off?  

 

I'm considering using Bravewriter this coming year because of all I've heard about it but the $$ would be a consideration for us.  I have a couple of workbooks for writing and she'll do them if required, but it never seems to translate into any desire or willingness to write creatively.  I think workbooks can be dull, so that's not a surprise.  I just use them because I don't know how to teach this subject well.  

 

I have a "mom hunch" that someday she will truly enjoy writing and be good at it, but I am completely lost on how to get there.  I don't want to make things worse by pushing, as she doesn't thrive with that.  

 

Any thoughts on resources that would really make this subject FUN?  I don't think everything for school has to be fun, but we could use some lightheartedness around this subject to break through this impasse. 

 

Thanks if you've made it this far and thanks in advance for your wisdom/experience.


Edited by vonbon, 03 July 2016 - 07:44 PM.


#2 OhElizabeth

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 07:12 AM

She just doesn't have anything she wants to say.  Can she type yet?  I would do that, definitely.  

 

Honestly, I freaked out about my dd's writing for YEARS.  She was always super ahead with reading, as you say, and while I knew *in theory* it would build a language base, I wasn't *sure* it would all work out.  Now she's taking college classes and writing papers, and let's just say it worked out.   :lol:

 

I wouldn't even do Bravewriter with her.  I'm just being straight here.  Your dd doesn't have a writing problem or even a structure/organization problem.  She just doesn't have anything to say there. Also, don't edit her writing!  Surest way to shut her down is to edit what she wrote, mercy.  

 

I liked Writing Tales with my dd at that age.  Have you looked at it?  You're going to need to go several grades up on things.  I think my dd did WT2 at age 7.  Check it out.  And don't do it strictly as it says.  We did the co-op lessons, because I was teaching a little group.  They're nice because you meet weekly and assign the rest as homework.  She may do well going directly to her creative draft.  If not, she can do a straight retelling (short draft) and go to her fun draft.  Let her have crazy fun with it and DON'T EDIT!  Or, if must, then pick just one or two sentences to play with.  Writing Tales will give her a reason to write, some inspiration.  Put the stories into a book at the end and illustrate.  Go more out there with the changes, letting her make way more complex changes than the tm suggests.  I had kids changing time periods, characters, blah blah.  You could BOTH write and then compare!   :)

 

Another fun thing for that age is Listography.  It's inexpensive on amazon.  We did writing prompts that my dd enjoyed.  

 

I would do editing with her, because really understanding grammar and punctuation UNLOCKS her gift.  You can't decide when it unlocks or how, but you can let the tools and joy be in place for when it does.  She IS going to be a good writer!  You've got to believe that, believe that it's inside, and let it come out in its own time and way, when she has something to say.

 

Does she have an email account?  My dd's writing took off when she discovered fan fiction.  She's going to have to have an audience, a reason.  Ever considered poetry contests?  But don't edit her, mercy.  Just go hey I found these, would any of these interest you...  You could show her a bunch of options (Listography, WT, writing contests, email account, etc.) and then say hey what 2 would YOU pick...  My dd did lots of recipe writing when she was that age.  It was a really important thing to her, and it was writing!  She LOVED history, actually still does, so she would gladly do writing that flowed from something she was thinking about in history.  (history log, burn the pages, sew the binding...)

 

I'm rereading and seeing that she was narrating a lot and that it bottled up when you started trying curriculum.  That's how my dd was.  It's going to be ok!  Just don't use writing curriculum.  Stop trying.  You're trying to force something that she has naturally inside, so she's clamming up.  Guaranteed you back off and it will come out again.  Make sure she has the tools.  Teach her to type, do editing.  Beyond that, just let it happen naturally, in fun ways, when it's ready to come out.


Edited by OhElizabeth, 05 July 2016 - 07:25 AM.

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#3 OhElizabeth

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 07:23 AM

Punctuation Puzzlers, Level B Book 1 Commas and More

 

this is a series we did at that age along with WT2.

 

Listography Journal: Your Life in Lists

 

Unjournaling: Daily Writing Exercises That Are Not Personal, Not Introspective, Not Boring!

 

Ok, here's my logic on writing prompts.  You have structure and you have being able to get something on paper.  With a writing prompt, when it's fun and intriguing, we're working on the get it on paper component.  It is NOT a sin to do this.  I know WTM is like oh, don't force kids to be creative, but that doesn't mean DEPRIVE kids of the chance to be creative and intrigued!  Some kids really open up when they're engaged.  And it's ok that your dd is doing shorter narrations now.  My dd went into hyper-short writing any time she wasn't engaged.  Sometimes that was good though, because she was opening herself up to the discipline of dagger writing, short writing, get it done writing.  That was when she was 10/12/14, NOT when she was 7.  I was ok with it then.  We did WWS, which is really not a favorite program of many people.  I'm not a terribly strong apologist for it.  We used it our way and it served its purpose.  We had to do a lot of thinking ok, who is the audience here, WHY are we writing this.  Many kids are not ROBOTS who just crank out papers simply because told to.  

 

I'm gonna leave that comment right there, because it's really important!  We look at our kids, who bring this really inter-connected thinking, who make connections and who want to LEAP ahead, and get all frustrated because they aren't doing this lower level robot writing.  I guarantee you if you tried to put her in a lit curriculum she's probably multiple grades ahead.  It was when I finally realized that *even high school material wasn't solving it* that I finally realized ok, it's not just that she decodes at that level, but she's actually THINKING at that level and analyzing and making connections.  She just has this super interconnected, observant brain!  

 

The best thing I've done for my dd's writing at this stage is to have her continue to read very advanced things.  She spent the last 3 years reading essay collections like 

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2015

and her writing LOOKS like it.  Her brain took all that in, and she writes like what she's been reading.  BLOWS MY MIND.  

 

So then laugh.  Do a google search of the boards with my username and pencil phobic, hates writing, blah blah, and see that's where my dd was.  Better yet, search "drops of blood" and my user name.  I kid you not.  That's what writing was like at age 7/8/9.  She needed audience, reason, and she needed to type.  It all came together with time, when there was a REASON for her to crank out the type of stuff her brain had inside.  

 


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#4 OhElizabeth

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Posted 05 July 2016 - 07:42 AM

I took my own advice and did a google search to go down memory lane.  :)  

 

The Don't Forget to Write books came highly recommended to me by someone, and they are AWESOME.  Don't do Bravewriter (bleh, yick), do this.

 

Don't Forget to Write for the Elementary Grades: 50 Enthralling and Effective Writing Lessons (Ages 5 to 12)

 

I got this to try with ds and haven't tried it yet.  He has ASD and is sort of on his own timetable.

 

Rip the Page!: Adventures in Creative Writing

 

You can kinda tell from my post count, but I'm pretty old school.  I go back to WTM 1st edition and was on the old old boards before the boards that preceded these boards.  There are plenty of people like that.  I just think it's possible to do a good job with writing AND have a slightly different, more flexible interpretation of how to use the *concepts* of WTM.  I look for the concepts, things like focusing on basics, like having the ability to get your thoughts out, like seeing there is structure to writing.  But there are MORE ways to do this!  You can do those things CREATIVELY!

 

We used to outline magazine articles from (the name slips my mind).  It was from the people who publish Cricket and stuff.  They have little magazines of quirky, well-written articles.  Do you REALLY think your dd is going to jump for joy over outlining a history encyclopedia?  Really???   :lol:   And is that a fight that even needs to happen?  Nope.  ANY well-written source with structure would do.  We used magazine articles, and last year we did some analysis of articles we found online with the NYT, etc.  She needed to see more complex arguments, because her thought process was more complex.  We did WWS much later than the average bear, and we did it really FAST.  My goal was to let her wrap her brain around the toolbox idea of writing, so she could look at ANYTHING complex and see the structure in it.  

 

It's not reasonable to take complex, bright kids and say nope, linear outlines are the ONLY way of thinking.  It just doesn't work.  That's why you get that cardboard output.  When all this comes together, she's going to have some really SOPHISTICATED language *and* connection making coming together.  That's going to take time!  It's ok to have it happen later.  I personally think people who rush that too early get cardboard.  So then you're doing programs to fix cardboard, when the solution was to spend more time thinking, more time talking.  Oral work leads to clear thinking which leads to clear writing.  Don't be afraid of this or doubt it.  :)

 

You might love the Don't Forget to Write  books.  And don't be really stiff about it.  Like you could do writing camp for just a while and then not even do writing at all for a couple months.  Just let those skills mull and see if they come out other ways while you work on typing.  I used to do May Term with my dd, and we would pick something we hadn't been getting to and do it exclusively for a month.  With my ds I've done "camp" themes, picking something (reading, photography, etc.) and doing it several hours a day for a week.  You can shake things up like that, doing it intensely, and then backing off to let it percolate and develop in her.


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#5 chocolate-chip chooky

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Posted 06 July 2016 - 05:53 PM

This all sounds so familiar.

My daughter (now 10) always really needed any writing task to have a real reason and a real audience. If not, it just didn't seem to have a purpose and her output was way lower than her ability. She's also a perfectionist.

 

A couple of things I did:

 

- played writing games eg Balderdash. And these are excellent: http://www.navigatin...kids-will-love/

 

- made up my own writing games with image cards

 

- kept all the stuff like spelling, grammar and punctuation separate. I had to bite my tongue and sit on my hands, but I tried really hard not to correct mistakes during all writing games/activities. My goal was to get her to LIKE writing and that was not going to happen if I kept pointing out errors.

 

- set up 'writing challenges' on the computer as a Word document. These are things I make up myself, such as 'Write a short scene that includes a storm and a sad goodbye' Or 'Write a poem that includes the words peril, foul and closure.' My daughter is way better when she types - she's also a perfectionist and erasing typing is much quicker and cleaner than rubbing out handwriting. She'll definitely take more risks at a keyboard.

 

- competitions - while we're not competitive people, competitions provide a real purpose and an audience that isn't just Mum.

 

- kept reading out loud using high quality materials.

I keep the input level high and when my daughter is truly engaged, her output level boosts way up and I breathe a sigh of relief.

 

Good luck!


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#6 vonbon

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Posted 11 July 2016 - 05:07 PM

I just wanted to post and say thank you so much for taking the time to respond!  (I read the responses last week but left for a wedding over the weekend...just getting back to the Forum to post.)  

 

There is quite a bit here.  I started writing a response but I think I need a little more time to sit quietly (rare around here) and think about these points as I look ahead and plan next year.  

 

Thank you for your time!!



#7 vonbon

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 07:59 PM

I liked Writing Tales with my dd at that age.  Have you looked at it?  You're going to need to go several grades up on things.  I think my dd did WT2 at age 7.  Check it out.  And don't do it strictly as it says.  We did the co-op lessons, because I was teaching a little group.  They're nice because you meet weekly and assign the rest as homework.  She may do well going directly to her creative draft.  If not, she can do a straight retelling (short draft) and go to her fun draft.  Let her have crazy fun with it and DON'T EDIT!  Or, if must, then pick just one or two sentences to play with.  Writing Tales will give her a reason to write, some inspiration.  Put the stories into a book at the end and illustrate.  Go more out there with the changes, letting her make way more complex changes than the tm suggests.  I had kids changing time periods, characters, blah blah.  You could BOTH write and then compare!   :)

 

 

I made it back to this post and checked out the Writing Tales website and samples.  It looks interesting, but I already have quite a bit of curriculum that overlaps it.  I'm hesitant to add something else now because I'm sure we won't get to it (overwhelmed).

 

Here's my line-up for the writing part of Language Arts this year (not including reading, read-alouds, etc.):

 

Spelling - Spelling Power

 

Grammar - First Language Lessons series

 

Copywork/Penmanship - a Foresman cursive workbook

 

Writing - Writing with Ease

 

My question:  Did you use FLL or WWE?  I like them and DD likes them, but it's taking some faith to continue with the second year in both books.  Faith, meaning, I hope all of this copywork, narration, dictation works out in the long run--  Any experience there?



#8 vonbon

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 08:28 PM

I personally think people who rush that too early get cardboard.  

 

Yes, that's my fear: cardboard. LOL


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#9 vonbon

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Posted 18 July 2016 - 08:32 PM

You might love the Don't Forget to Write  books.  And don't be really stiff about it.  Like you could do writing camp for just a while and then not even do writing at all for a couple months.  Just let those skills mull and see if they come out other ways while you work on typing.  I used to do May Term with my dd, and we would pick something we hadn't been getting to and do it exclusively for a month.  With my ds I've done "camp" themes, picking something (reading, photography, etc.) and doing it several hours a day for a week.  You can shake things up like that, doing it intensely, and then backing off to let it percolate and develop in her.

 

I really like this idea of "May Term" or doing something intense for a week that we're not getting to.  I think I'll apply this to various things this year.  

 

Maybe part of the reason homeschooling has not been enjoyable in some ways is that I'm always on this "track" of trying to get through curriculum.  The cool stuff we really want to do gets pushed to the side.  I like the idea of taking a week--or even a day--to focus on something that we're not getting to.  

 

Thanks!



#10 OhElizabeth

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Posted 12 August 2016 - 06:59 PM

I made it back to this post and checked out the Writing Tales website and samples.  It looks interesting, but I already have quite a bit of curriculum that overlaps it.  I'm hesitant to add something else now because I'm sure we won't get to it (overwhelmed).

 

Here's my line-up for the writing part of Language Arts this year (not including reading, read-alouds, etc.):

 

Spelling - Spelling Power

 

Grammar - First Language Lessons series

 

Copywork/Penmanship - a Foresman cursive workbook

 

Writing - Writing with Ease

 

My question:  Did you use FLL or WWE?  I like them and DD likes them, but it's taking some faith to continue with the second year in both books.  Faith, meaning, I hope all of this copywork, narration, dictation works out in the long run--  Any experience there?

 

I'm not the one to ask on that.  We did FLL1/2 when dd was in K5/1st and WWE wasn't even around in her day.  :D  But I'd say if you're not feeling the joy, move on.  WT is heavy on the joy.  If you're looking at 2nd gr materials, try WT1.  :)