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Help! Just now starting a writing program in 7th


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#1 MamaHill

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 09:18 PM

Hi there!

 

My oldest son is 12yo and in 7th grade.  While he has completed most of the writing assignments in Rod and Staff through the years, he has only completed 1 writing program (IEW's SWI-A) and that was a year and a half ago.

 

We have 5 children (the baby is 4 months), and I work part-time so writing is that one thing that always got pushed to the back burner.

 

But THIS is the year of writing for my 7th and 5th graders!!

 

I feel like I've squandered a lot of time with him in terms of his writing capabilities and my goal is to fix that in a big way this year.  I have read through the entire TWTM 4th edition, see my many mistakes and failures as my children's teacher, and want to start fresh.

 

So - if your 7th grader had never completed a formal writing program, where would you start?

 

Just as background, my rising 7th grader is a bright boy who catches on quickly.  This kid has an amazingly creative brain and his creative writing is nothing short of fabulous.    He has an excellent grasp of English, grammar, and spelling, and enjoys working with words.  He also isn't much of a self-starter and lacks motivation.  I have to prod...a lot. ;)

After many long hours of research here on the WTM forum, I'm leaning towards WWS Level 1.  Would this be a good starting point?  I also am intrigued with the idea of CAP's W&R and especially Lost Tools of Writing.  Yes, I realize these programs are all different birds, so to speak.  I'm open to any and all suggestions!

 

 



#2 stlily

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Posted 08 July 2017 - 10:33 PM

First of all, I want to encourage you, you have not failed your child(ren). The fear that we're failing our children plagues us all from time to time.  It's comes with the territory when we choose to home school. After all, there's no one else to blame, right?  The truth is that children are resilient and they are little sponges that absorb so many things even when we're not actively teaching them.  So take courage. It sounds like your son is very bright and a great writer already.

 

I also want to encourage you by sharing that in the 3rd edition of TWTM, Susan Wise Bauer says, "If you choose to use Rod & Staff, the composition exercises provided can fulfill the middle-grade student's need for a writing program."  You mentioned that he completed most of the writing assignments in Rod & Staff which means, he's in a great place.  

 

Finally, I recommend you listen to SWB's talks called "A Plan for Teaching Writing: Focus On the Middle Grades" as well as "What Is Literary Analysis: When, Why, and How Should I Teach It?"  You can find both audio workshops here https://welltrainedm...shops-seminars/   The MP3's are only $3.99 each and you can download and listen to them right away.

 

In the talk on writing in the middle grades she distinguishes writing in the grammar stage as "writing with ease" because students do copywork, narrations, and dictation.  They don't have to worry about coming up with original content.  

 

She describes the middle grades as "writing with skill" because the student is still not trying to come up with original content but rather focusing on developing the skills he'll need for writing original compositions later: narrative summaries, outlining, writing from an outline, short literary essays, sentence diagramming, and spelling.

 

We use Writing With Skill but we've taken our time with it because some of the assignments  require more than a day to complete,  You should know, since you mentioned your son is a  natural creative writer, that she says creative writers sometimes behave like reluctant writers when they try to work through WWS. WWS teaches expository writing not creative writing.  It is, SWB's opinion that all students need to learn expository writing but not all need to learn creative writing.  I recommend you listen to her talk and decide for yourself what is best for your son.

 

My daughter, who will be going into the 8th grade, is a creative writer.  She has done very well with WWS and, even though she hasn't loved it, she is now glad she's worked through it. I'm also having her work, very slowly, through the Creative Writer.

 

I hope this encouraged you and helped a little.  I'm sure you're going to have a great year.

 

 

Lily


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#3 chiefcookandbottlewasher

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 01:46 PM

Oh yes, I was in a sort of similar position this last school year as you find yourself in now. My DS came home for 7th grade after 3 years in school and NO quality training in writing. Really educational malpractice in my humble opinion : (.  My DS has great voice and an excellent vocabulary, but he had absolutely no sense of organization or coherence in his writing. Everything basically was just "thrown" at the page. When he was home in 3rd grade I had started IEW All Things Fun and Fascinating with him, and that was helpful especially with organization and structure, but we had only done it lightly. As my DS was now older, I decided to use Writing with Style Level One with him and also Killgallon for sentence composing and style exercises. This has been a fairly successful plan (we are still doing it through the summer). I say "fairly" only because my son struggles with completing anything school oriented (he is one who would rather be playing with forts all day). However, even being so unmotivated, my DS tells me quite often how much he likes WWS, how "fun" it is (!!) and how interesting (he also likes the variety Kilgallon introduces) . Now, it helps that my DS loves history, and to a lesser extent science, because of the amount of time spent in WWS I with historical and scientific topics. It sounds like your DS would do very well given his talents and maybe the topics would interest and motivate him as they have interested my son. I can say that WWS I and Kilgallon definitely have improved my DS's writing!

 

We plan to finish WWS I this summer and next year (8th) he will be doing IEW SWI B online and continuing with Kilgallon offline. The online class is to provide my DS some accountability that is outside of our home which I think we both need : ). For 9th grade, the plan is for me to teach him Lost Tools of Writing Level I combined with WWS Level II. 


Edited by chiefcookandbottlewasher, 09 July 2017 - 01:54 PM.


#4 MamaHill

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 02:47 PM

Lily, you are just an enormous encouragement!  Thank you!  I've just purchased SWB's writing talks for grammar and for logic.  (I have a 5th grader to determine writing placement and also a 3rd and 1st.)  I can't wait to listen to them!

 

About R&S - yes, I feel like my children have had some degree of formal writing training since that is sprinkled throughout R&S.  So all is not hopeless! :)  I just looked back through his English from R&S 6, and it has a decent amount of outlining, which gave me some relief.  I just wrote out the yearly plans for R&S 7 and there's actually quite a bit of outlining, paragraph writing, etc.  While this is great, I want a more intentional, concentrated learning time.

 

"You should know, since you mentioned your son is a  natural creative writer, that she says creative writers sometimes behave like reluctant writers when they try to work through WWS. "

 

Interesting!  I will definitely keep that in mind.

 

Thank you again for your gentle, helpful reply!

 

---------------------------------------

 

ChiefCook - I'm sorry you were in the same boat with your 7th grader!  My son can organize his thoughts fairly well, considering.  It's my 5th grader that's the "throw words at the page" child. ;)

 

I am planning to do WWS Level 1 and Killgallon's Sentence Composing.  Did you use the Middle school level for Killgallon?  I only have the Elementary (yellow) book, but can buy the Middle School if you think that would be better.  I thought I read somewhere that Killgallon was quite advanced and one should use the Middle school level in high school.  Did I dream that??  Possibly.

 

How did you do WWS 1 with Killgallon on a weekly basis?  Did you do a loop schedule for them?  Or complete one WWS assignment, then a Killgallon assignment?

 

 

 

 

Thank you both so much for your help!!

 

-Lauren

 

 

 

 

 

 



#5 regentrude

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 03:33 PM

Both of my kids never did formal writing program (until DS took a college composition class in 12th grade. DD never had any writing course at all.)

I give the writing assignments, they write a draft, we edit together, they rewrite, until they have mastered the aspects that we focused on with the particular paper.

Rinse and repeat.

I also encouraged them to do creative writing on their own that they did not have to show anybody. They both learned a lot about writing simply by reading and writing.

 


Edited by regentrude, 09 July 2017 - 03:36 PM.

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#6 MamaHill

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 05:37 PM

Both of my kids never did formal writing program (until DS took a college composition class in 12th grade. DD never had any writing course at all.)

I give the writing assignments, they write a draft, we edit together, they rewrite, until they have mastered the aspects that we focused on with the particular paper.

Rinse and repeat.

I also encouraged them to do creative writing on their own that they did not have to show anybody. They both learned a lot about writing simply by reading and writing.

 

I wish I could use this type of approach, however, I need massive amounts of hand-holding with teaching writing. ;)



#7 chiefcookandbottlewasher

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 06:33 PM

I mostly used the Elementary (yellow) book and I also used Kilgallon's Paragraphs for Elementary School. I found these to definitely be challenging enough for 7th grade! I actually don't know who advised the Kilgallons about the "levels" of their books—the middle level books could be used with an advanced middle schooler but for a "typical" middle school aged student (starting in 6th grade) hmmm, not so much in my opinion.

 

I would do a short Kilgallon assignment most days before getting into the WWS I lesson. Some of the WWS I lessons are longer and some are shorter. If we had a "longer" lesson, I would skip Kiilgallon. I also broke up concepts into smaller chunks than the books show. We would discuss concepts from a book and look at examples but I would retype sentences from a book (with working space beneath each sentence) so DS typically had no more than 3-5 sentences for practice per Killgallon lesson. This kept his interest up, as well, without tiring him. My DS benefits from a tight, repetitive spiral but you may have different needs. I think KiIlgallon complements WWS  nicely since it's mainly about voice, word choice and sentence fluency (to borrow from "six trait" jargon) which are covered in WWS I but later on in the book. Kilgallon also helps to reinforce grammar (it's functional grammar) which my DS sorely needed because grammar was deemed too "old fashioned" to be taught by my "modern" school system. The last time my DS had probably heard about verbs, adjectives, etc., was when he was at home in 3rd grade. I prefer my child has a working knowledge of grammar before attempting foreign languages but that's just me  : ).


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#8 nansk

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 09:05 PM

I mostly used the Elementary (yellow) book ...found these to definitely be challenging enough for 7th grade!

:iagree: I am using this book with my seventh grader. The concepts taught in the elementary Killgallon book are the same as those in the middle school Killgallon book. Just that the sample sentences are taken from books written for elementary age - books that are good quality/award-winning lit (Sounder, Harry Potter, E B White books, etc.)


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#9 MamaHill

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 09:07 PM

I mostly used the Elementary (yellow) book and I also used Kilgallon's Paragraphs for Elementary School. I found these to definitely be challenging enough for 7th grade! I actually don't know who advised the Kilgallons about the "levels" of their books—the middle level books could be used with an advanced middle schooler but for a "typical" middle school aged student (starting in 6th grade) hmmm, not so much in my opinion.

 

I would do a short Kilgallon assignment most days before getting into the WWS I lesson. Some of the WWS I lessons are longer and some are shorter. If we had a "longer" lesson, I would skip Kiilgallon. I also broke up concepts into smaller chunks than the books show. We would discuss concepts from a book and look at examples but I would retype sentences from a book (with working space beneath each sentence) so DS typically had no more than 3-5 sentences for practice per Killgallon lesson. This kept his interest up, as well, without tiring him. My DS benefits from a tight, repetitive spiral but you may have different needs. I think KiIlgallon complements WWS  nicely since it's mainly about voice, word choice and sentence fluency (to borrow from "six trait" jargon) which are covered in WWS I but later on in the book. Kilgallon also helps to reinforce grammar (it's functional grammar) which my DS sorely needed because grammar was deemed too "old fashioned" to be taught by my "modern" school system. The last time my DS had probably heard about verbs, adjectives, etc., was when he was at home in 3rd grade. I prefer my child has a working knowledge of grammar before attempting foreign languages but that's just me  : ).

 

I really appreciate you taking the time to type out these details.  It's incredibly helpful to me!  I'll move on with the Killgallon yellow then.  I really like your idea of retyping the sentences with working space beneath them.  Smart.



#10 MamaHill

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 09:09 PM

:iagree: I am using this book with my seventh grader. The concepts taught in the elementary Killgallon book are the same as those in the middle school Killgallon book. Just that the sample sentences are taken from books written for elementary age - books that are good quality/award-winning lit (Sounder, Harry Potter, E B White books, etc.)

 

Even though I've researched the Killgallon books, I didn't realize that was the only difference.  Thank you!  Very helpful.



#11 2_girls_mommy

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Posted 09 July 2017 - 09:13 PM

In 7th grade neither of mine had done a formal writing program except Rod and Staff. I mean we did WTM style stuff all along: copywork, narrations, dictation, pen pal letters, outlining, and I taught them the 5 para outline for a speech class they took. Oh yeah, they write for outside classes at co-op, but for assignments. They didn't get any special training there. No lessons or curriculum. Just if the class was state history they got assignments to write on different topics or give a speech, etc. 

 

My two won 1st and 2nd place in an essay writing contest in 6th and 8th grades. No program didn't hurt. I put my oldest through WWS for 9th grade. I plan to do the same for my upcoming 8th grader, probably in 9th grade. 

 

She does creative writing in a journal often along with Rod and Staff for 7th/8th alongside outlines, summaries, etc. 


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#12 MamaHill

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Posted 10 July 2017 - 08:59 AM

In 7th grade neither of mine had done a formal writing program except Rod and Staff. I mean we did WTM style stuff all along: copywork, narrations, dictation, pen pal letters, outlining, and I taught them the 5 para outline for a speech class they took. Oh yeah, they write for outside classes at co-op, but for assignments. They didn't get any special training there. No lessons or curriculum. Just if the class was state history they got assignments to write on different topics or give a speech, etc. 

 

My two won 1st and 2nd place in an essay writing contest in 6th and 8th grades. No program didn't hurt. I put my oldest through WWS for 9th grade. I plan to do the same for my upcoming 8th grader, probably in 9th grade. 

 

She does creative writing in a journal often along with Rod and Staff for 7th/8th alongside outlines, summaries, etc. 

 

Thank you, 2_girls!  It sounds like R&S along with the WTM way was very successful for your kiddos.  That's encouraging! 


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#13 Tumbatoo

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Posted 12 July 2017 - 08:26 PM

Mine are going into 5th and 8th and have only marginally done any writing - a paragraph here and there. I signed my oldest up for an online writing class for fall. I'm just not going to make it happen on my own!
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#14 Heather in OK

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Posted 16 July 2017 - 07:22 PM

We are going to use Writing and Rhetoric this year along with Fix It!. 


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#15 Emma

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 09:33 PM

My 7th grader has done very little writing. It's my fault, I've just dropped the ball. This year I sprung for a year subscription to Write at Home, Middle School level 2. I know it will get accomplished now.

#16 Ellie

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Posted 17 July 2017 - 11:48 PM

Hi there!

 

My oldest son is 12yo and in 7th grade.  While he has completed most of the writing assignments in Rod and Staff through the years, he has only completed 1 writing program (IEW's SWI-A) and that was a year and a half ago.

 

We have 5 children (the baby is 4 months), and I work part-time so writing is that one thing that always got pushed to the back burner.

 

But THIS is the year of writing for my 7th and 5th graders!!

 

I feel like I've squandered a lot of time with him in terms of his writing capabilities and my goal is to fix that in a big way this year.  I have read through the entire TWTM 4th edition, see my many mistakes and failures as my children's teacher, and want to start fresh.

 

So - if your 7th grader had never completed a formal writing program, where would you start?

 

Just as background, my rising 7th grader is a bright boy who catches on quickly.  This kid has an amazingly creative brain and his creative writing is nothing short of fabulous.    He has an excellent grasp of English, grammar, and spelling, and enjoys working with words.  He also isn't much of a self-starter and lacks motivation.  I have to prod...a lot. ;)

After many long hours of research here on the WTM forum, I'm leaning towards WWS Level 1.  Would this be a good starting point?  I also am intrigued with the idea of CAP's W&R and especially Lost Tools of Writing.  Yes, I realize these programs are all different birds, so to speak.  I'm open to any and all suggestions!

 

If he has been doing Rod and Staff English, then he has had significant writing instruction. So I understand that you want to try something new, but don't dismiss the years of R&S as writing having been "pushed to the back burner." :-)
 


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#17 Paradox5

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Posted 19 July 2017 - 10:03 PM

I appreciate all the encouragment everyone has given about R&S being "enough" on its own for writing as I am about to start it with my younger 3.


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#18 Ellie

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Posted 26 July 2017 - 10:49 PM

I appreciate all the encouragment everyone has given about R&S being "enough" on its own for writing as I am about to start it with my younger 3.

 

It is especially enough if you have your children do all the activities in writing, on actual paper, instead of orally, even for activities which are not designated as "writing.". :-)


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#19 ByGrace3

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Posted 31 July 2017 - 03:12 PM

I think years of R&S is nothing to turn your nose up. Great job mama! For a Writng intensive year I would do WWS 1 for your 7th grader and Treasured Conversations for your 5th grader.
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