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wwe writing with ease complete writer

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#1 chd3143


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Posted 11 November 2017 - 03:20 PM

My children are 8, 10, and 12. We've been homeschooling for a few years but have been following a more traditional writing curriculum. It drives me crazy because it's clear that an 8 year old isn't ready to write compare/contrast essays and persuasive essays. After doing some research, I cam across WWE and all kinds of bells started going off. My question is about moving them into this kind of curriculum without setting them all behind. I can't, clearly, spend the next three years practicing narration and dictation with my 12 year old. I bought a copy of WWS 1 (which is amazing), but she's not ready for that either (mainly because much of it seems to assume a progression out of WWE). Would anyone care to offer some suggestions about working them into this methodology at these ages (I'm not as much worried about my 8 year old ... but the older kids). Thanks so much!

Edited by chd3143, 11 November 2017 - 03:21 PM.

#2 SusanC


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Posted 11 November 2017 - 04:16 PM

You could give them a run through WWE3. 4 is generally the same, but super long dictations and not infrequently skipped. I would think if you scolded the beginning of the year your older two would catch on within a year.

By scaffolding I mean start by disregarding the instructions and ease them into the whole thing. So with dictation start by repeating as often as they need, maybe breaking it into a couple parts. For at least the first few weeks I would ask comprehension questions as you go. Then read half and ask those questions. That kind of thing. For narration I would say, "I'm going to help you summarize this passage" and then read the questions listed for if your child gets stuck. That will help them understand what you are looking for when you start asking them to do it on their own.
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#3 Kiara.I


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Posted 11 November 2017 - 04:17 PM

Do you have the book that covers all four levels, or the workbooks?

Because if you have the book it's very easy to accelerate through the levels. You could do two or three weeks of copywork and narration (Lvl 1, but longer passages) then switch to two or three weeks (or more, if needed) of narration and some copywork, some dictation, (Lvl 2) then move to narration and dictation with no copywork (Lvl 3).

And then if your older one is handling that well, start to crack open WWS.

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#4 wendyroo


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Posted 11 November 2017 - 04:17 PM

There is clear progression between the WWE levels...


WWE 1 has very simple copywork and no dictation.  The passages are fairly short and intended to be read to the child.  Narrations simply ask the child one interesting thing they remember about the passage.  The main goal of the level is to improve listening comprehension and to get the child responding to comprehension questions and orally narrating in complete sentences.


WWE 2 moves to studied dictation; the student copies a sentence one day and then is asked to write it from dictation the next.  The passages are slightly longer with more complex language, but they are still intended to be read to the child.  Narrations ask the child for more focused, specific information, such as, “Can you describe hobbits to me in three sentences?” or “Can you tell me in two or three sentences what happened in this story?”.  The main goal of the level is to identify the central idea(s) in a passage and orally narrate a summary (without leaving out any main ideas or including too many extraneous details).


WWE 3 moves to dictations.  **This is the level my oldest is currently using, and we skip the dictations.  Many parents feel they are simply too long and difficult for this age.  If you choose to use them, make sure to watch Susan Wise Bauer's YouTube video showing her doing a dictation with her son.** The passages are quite a bit longer with much more complex language, and they are set up for the child to read independently.  Narrations are longer and begin to look more like complete paragraphs: "Try to tell me, in one sentence, how Gareth behaved in front of the king—and why.”  And then, “Now give me two more sentences with specific details in them about how Jason and the king tried to make Gareth obey, and for each specific detail, tell me how Gareth reacted.”  The main goal of the level is to orally narrate a longer summary with a topic sentence and several supporting sentences.


WWE 4 is now considered optional.  SWB discusses here the pros and cons to using WWE 4 and other suggested curricula.  From what I have heard, the dictations in WWE 4 are brutal.  Looking at the sample, I have to agree; some of those dictations would leave me close to tears.  The narrations look very similar to WWE 3.  I have decided to skip WWE for my kiddos and use the Killgallon books as a bridge between WWE and WWS.


In your shoes, I might buy WWE 2 and 3 in pdf form so you can use them for all the kids.  For the 8 year old, I would modify the first couple weeks if necessary by only doing copywork and by simplifying the narrations by just asking for one interesting thing from the passage.   I expect that after a bit of practice, he/she will be ready to use WWE 2 as written.  For the older two, I would start with WWE 2, but condense and skip as you see fit to move them on to WWE 3.  I have found all the levels easy to condense; we always do two "day's" worth of work in one sitting.  At the end of WWE 3, you can decide if they need WWE 4, or if they are ready to move on.


Hope that helps.


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#5 forty-two


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Posted 11 November 2017 - 04:24 PM

With your 12yo, you could go through the WWE Instructor Guide, which has an example week for each "difficulty step" in WWE, and use those examples as a placement test.  (It's what I did when I started my 9yo.)  Start at a section you're pretty sure she can handle, and keep going till she runs into difficulty.  I think a lot of libraries have it - mine does - but if not, it's not too bad used.  When you figure out where she needs to start, then you could either use the instructor guide to make up your own lessons or get whichever WWE level she places into.


As far as WWS goes, my dd11 just started it (on week 5).  We'd started WWE late (WWE2 in 4th) and were partway through WWE3 at the beginning of 6th (modified so that she was writing full narrations from notes I took when she gave her oral narration) when I decided she seemed to have the necessary summary skills and writing stamina to start WWS here in 6th.  So far it's going fairly well - the outlining is going well, but she runs hot/cold on whether summaries (which I had thought she'd mastered) are easy or pulling teeth.  It may be she's got some holes that the rest of WWE3 would have filled.  (And if things get worse instead of better, I'll probably pause WWS, pull out the WWE instructor guide and do some targeted practice.)  But by and large, as far as I can tell, the main prereq for WWS is the ability to write a 3-5 sentence summary from a 2-3 page narrative without help (plus a certain level of writing stamina and maturity) - I'd expect that an average 12yo would probably not need to go through the whole WWE progression to get there.


WIth my middle, we're doing WWE1 at double speed (doing a week's worth of work in two days) in 3rd, and planning to start WWE2 sometime in January.  My goal is to get through WWE3 by the end of 5th, so we're doing fine on that.  My 3rd grader is an eager writer (unlike my oldest, who was very reluctant), and could probably do WWE2 right now, but the lit selections are so good that I'm finishing up WWE1 anyway.

Edited by forty-two, 11 November 2017 - 04:26 PM.

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#6 Sahamamama2


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Posted 11 November 2017 - 10:31 PM

In our experience, WWE is easy to grasp, implement, and accelerate. If I were in your shoes, I would:


1. Print out the placement evaluations for WWE. Work through them with your children individually, until you have a good sense of where to begin with each student. Here is the link --




2. After you determine which level would work for each student, purchase those levels and set up your notebooks.


3. Start to work on the lessons, about three days per week, per student. Or, you might want to work two days with your youngest two, and three days with your oldest. We do alternate days for composition, because it's somewhat teacher-intensive. Take your time. Be willing to spend time on the task, but don't worry too much about the "levels." There is no rush to laying a good, solid foundation for writing.


4. Having said that, it is easy to accelerate WWE for some students. With your oldest, you might consider doubling up on lessons (e.g., Day 1 & Day 2 on the same day), or you might want to only work through the odd-numbered lessons.


5. Every now and then, you might want to change out a dictation that seems silly for something more meaningful to you. We sometimes substituted Bible verses. I would say, "Choose two verses from this chapter and I'll dictate that." If the dictations are painful for a student, you might want to guide them along differently than what is suggested in WWE. You could at times replace a dictation with typing practice. I sometimes said, "Skip the dictation and do 20 minutes of Typing Instructor."  :party:


6. One thing to keep in mind is that Level 4 is totally "optional." We own it, but we never used it, because my three girls didn't  need that much WWE before they were ready to move slowly into WWS 1. What we did was stretch Levels 1 through 3 over several years. I have been very happy with the results of working at a pleasant pace through these three levels of WWE, but if I was starting with a non-remedial older student (12 and up), I'd probably just work through Level 3.


7. IMO, all of WWS 1 in one school year is too much for a 5th grader, unless you take it very slowly, really work along with the student, and sometimes break up a "day" into two or three shorter assignments. Also, we took the time to type, print, and occasionally review the reference charts -- outlines, sentence variety, topoi, time/sequence words, space/distance words, and so on. Reviewing the reference charts was helpful for both my student and for me! :) It helped us to see the Big Picture of WWS -- sort of like reviewing all the tools in the toolbox up to that point and how to use them.


8. WWS 1 could probably be stretched out over 5th grade (if at all then), 6th grade, and 7th grade. With my oldest student, we completed "only" the first 12 weeks of WWS 1 in 5th and the final 24 weeks of WWS 1 in 6th. However, it was plenty, and I'm probably not going to get my twins (5th graders) through more than 10 weeks of WWS 1 this year. They are fine with it, but it's just that there are two of them and one of me. I'm nearly certain we will then split the remaining WWS 1 lessons over 6th and 7th grades. It is truly "enough," especially if they are doing other writing assignments (which my girls are). No rush. 


9. Having now taught once all the way through WWS 1, I think that part of the student's (and parent's) "readiness" for this level is having the emotional maturity and executive functioning to cope with multi-step, multi-day, student-directed, complex, layered assignments. It's like the difference between your child making a grilled cheese sandwich and heating up a can of clam chowder (WWE) on the one hand, or your child making cheese souffle and bouillabaisse from scratch (WWS) on the other. The skill level really is higher. The student has to keep so much more "in mind" for WWS. So... it's okay to hold off on it until the student has some tenacity, confidence, organizational skills, and fortitude.


Seriously, I am so glad that we stretched out WWE and then took WWS very, very slowly. Otherwise, there would have been more than the two meltdowns that I clearly remember having.  :svengo:  :svengo: Volcanoes! Marie Antoinette! Just kill me now....


(I'm kidding)

Edited by Sahamamama2, 11 November 2017 - 10:46 PM.

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#7 egao_gakari


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Posted 13 November 2017 - 02:28 PM

I agree with what others are saying here--WWE 1 through 4 don't need to be fully completed. I started with DD when she was 9 (beginning 4th grade). I had her do the level 2 placement test from the Instructor Text, and that was about right for her. I picked and chose assignments from the Instructor text from level 2, 3, and 4 based on her strengths and weaknesses. By the end of 4th grade, she was able to do most of the work from level 4 pretty easily, but I judged that she wasn't ready for WWS. So we are doing Sentence Composing for Middle School by Killgallon this year. She hates it because it's dry and demands a lot of copywork, so her hand hurts, but she's learning well from it. I'm hoping we'll have time to get to Paragraphs for Middle School before WWS, because I'm a completist by instinct, but she'll probably be mature enough for WWS by next year even if we don't finish Paragraphs.



#8 Dust


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Posted 13 November 2017 - 09:55 PM

I agree with the suggestion to get the instructor's text (Strong Fundamentals) and start at level 1, but go through the lessons at your student's pace. Don't be afraid to skip lessons if the student seems to be proficient. 


The instructors guide is good at separating out the different scaffolds/levels/steps within each level. 


After you look through Strong Fundamentals, if you feel that you need more than just the instructor's text, which tells you how to find passages and how to ask the comprehension questions, maybe just look for a used copy of level 1 to start with. Used is probably cheaper than PDF, and my experience has been that the student pages are not really necessary. I usually just have my DS use a notebook to write his work.

Edited by Dust, 13 November 2017 - 09:56 PM.

#9 blondeviolin


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Posted 15 November 2017 - 01:50 AM

I'd start the 12yo in WWE 3 and work through the text double time. 10yo I'd stick in level 3 but not double pace. And the 8yo I'd start with level 2. You could also invest in SWB's audio lectures on writing which are awesome and good listens.

#10 Rose M

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 03:59 PM

I've been in your situation. I took years to get my bearings with homeschooling, especially writing. When my ds was ten he could barely put together a tolerable paragraph. He's doing MUCH better now.


Call me crazy, but I had my, at the time, 12yos do just a few narrations ahead of time and then started them into WWS1. They definitely needed some help with the narrations at first but they were mature enough to get the idea pretty quickly. WWS is rigourous and will take them quite far. I really think that if they manage to finish WWS3 by the end of highschool you will have served them well.

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