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  1. Is the prominence of essay-writing in younger and younger grades (6th, 7th, etc.) because of a spiraling, keep trying so sooner or later they figure it out, kind of thing? Or is it because there's actually VALUE to doing it? That's really hard for me to sort out. For instance someone on the hs board was discussing needing her students to do weekly 5 paragraph essays to do Omnibus 1 (curriculum aimed at 7th+). So if we WAIT, under Karen's premise that not all children are ready at such and such age, do we do harm or good? Mercy, I'm not trying to destabilize Karen. I'm saying I had so BOUGHT INTO the level of assignments (me and my "do a good job" goal) that it had never occurred to me that it wouldn't matter a flying fig if she does them now or later. So what say you? What are the potential holes in that logic? I could see both sides. It seems to me WTM has a delayed approach to longer essay writing and stays at the paragraph level a long time. I need to go read those sections for the higher grades and see. I know I didn't have much worth saying at certain grades. In fact, I think the most kids would be doing is parroting what they have been told. (We discussed this in class, you decided what you think based on the spin I gave you through the discussion and the way I steered things, now go write an essay on your oh-so-informed opinion.) Yes, I guess that's cynical. But seriously, what are the things to consider here? If you do something like the upper level CW stuff or get into a rhetoric study, yes you're doing some thinking and analysis. But really, after watching lots and lots of posts on the boards over the last how many years, I'm not sure how many people do that. I'm not sure that *most* people ever do more than basically trying to get their dc to write a logical multi-paragraph essay with an outline and clear thesis. If they get that far, they praise the saints. At least that's how it looks to me, just watching things. So if that's the case, then maybe Karen's assertion is accurate? In fact, there was a noble voice on the boards years ago (Kpzzz) who maintained that discussion was the foundation for writing and would cover a host of ills. Very interesting, as it seems to flow from the same point. Then I bring this full-circle to the out of the box thread. (And my apologies for making this long!) If the imperative need is for discussion and thought, NOT extreme or detailed writing tasks, then I think people might feel more comfortable getting out of the box. So there, clear as mud? Anyone have any thoughts?
  2. I dredged up this thread http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?t=205490 (why our 7th and 8th graders SHOULD be building up to literary analysis essays) and then http://slowreads.com/how-i-screw-up-the-literary-analysis-essay/ (why our kids are harmed by too much drudgery through formulaic literary analysis essays) and am trying to figure out where my child falls in this. I also came across a few more links that seemed to have provocative questions: http://www.stjoanofarc.org/school/grade8/8theng/bookrep.pdf (I liked the questions for thought here.) http://www.schoolofengineeringandsciences.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/monthly_book_report_guide_seventh_grade.pdf (I liked the vocab ideas of this one) http://www.schoolofengineeringandsciences.org/sites/main/files/file-attachments/monthly_book_report_guide_eigth_grade.pdf (next level up, same idea) http://www.trenton.k12.nj.us/read/srEighth_Grade.htm (more out of the box ideas still involving writing) http://www.middleweb.com/mw/workshop/williams_altbkrpts.pdf (This list is trying to appeal to multiple intelligences, but I'm not sure it has enough analysis or just plain thought required. The projects are also a bit young. I'd have to ask my dd. I give it for contrast with the previous.) See all this is coming up because, in my nice neat little mind, I thought it would be straightforward to have a notebook with a certain number of pages (one for each type of writing for each week of the school year), meaning when the notebook is FULL she's done! Good idea, right? Dd, in typical fashion, blanched and told me it was too open-ended. But she's got way too much ability to observe and have interesting analysis or comments to be limited by some formulaic, junk structure. The trouble is, pulling that out of her is an adventure in crocodile dentistry. I need to go back and review what WTM says. I know last year I had photocopied and put into a page protector a list of questions to guide the dialectic stage student in thinking through the books. (That was per a post by LoriD.) That seems to be the right direction for us, something that gets her thinking and creates some structure and direction without confining her to a regurgitation of plot or some other such formula. And if that makes any sense and anyone has any suggestions on how they're getting there, I'm all ears. And lest I sound mean, I should say that my ONLY goal with this is expressive language, the ability to read something, have a thought about it, and get it down. I don't care a flying fig at this stage if it's a literary analysis essay or not and was frankly surprised someone else did. (More power to them!) But you do need to think about an aspect of something you've been reading and practice getting those thoughts down on paper comfortably, coherently, logically, and maybe even persuasively. I've always taken that to be the point of those WTM-specified book writings. Anyone wanna talk about this? :)
  3. 8FillTheHeart, I've followed your posts about using living books for K-8 science, as well as your posts about writing. I also noticed your post to SaDonna about choosing history writing assignments for her 10 yo and 8 yo. I have been so negligent about having my children write. They will all write pages of their own stories, but I haven't been consistent about doing anything formal. I am planning to have them use WWS this coming year, but I'm also thinking that they could probably also start working on at least paragraphs about what they read in history/science. If you have a moment, I was hoping you might be able to post examples of what you might assign a 10-11 year old (6th grader) and an 8-9 yo (3rd/4th grader)? I know we might not be there yet, but it would really help to know what I'm aiming for. Thank you so much! yvonne
  4. My kids are finishing up an essay for an essay contest and seem to be more invested in this writing goal than many of the other writing tasks that I've given them in the last couple of years. My mil is part of the DAR, which has an annual essay contest. She mentioned that there was only one submission to their chapter (which therefore earned the prize for the chapter) and that this essay was the only submission to the state level from their entire section of the state. So I'm thinking that some more frequent essay contest writing might be a good thing for my kids to work with. It gives them a little bit of a break from their other writing and requires them to communicate something on a controlled topic (which seems a good prep for high school, college and testing writing requirements). The VFW has a Patriots Pen Essay Writing contest. I found a list of 10 varied contests at about.com DAR essay contest info from 2010-11 contest. Check your local chapters for info on this year's contest. It looks like this runs in the fall. German Information Center USA (an extension of the German embassy in the US) essay contest (Again this is last year's announcement. They tend to announce in late March and have a deadline in mid April, so it is short fused. This contest is open to a wider range with groupings for 3-12 grade.) I'm sure this is just scratching the surface of the contests out there and that there are even more if you consider state and local contests or contests related to industries or commemorations. Please add to this list if you know of others.
  5. I'm looking for a writing curriculum for junior high that does NOT include grammar or spelling of any kind. We don't need it & I really don't want to waste time on it. Any suggestions? If it matters she isn't a reluctant writer. She loves to write. And it really needs to be mostly independent because my son's teaching requires a lot of my time.
  6. I've had it up to here (picture me with my hand 3 feet above my head) with writing programs. I have researched, read, looked at samples, listened to lectures, until I'm blue in the face, trying to come across that magic program that will walk my dc through the process of writing without giving them writing prompts that make my skin crawl, writing in a forced artificial way, or making the process so long and drawn out that it becomes pure torture. My older dc may or may not be behind in writing based on what standard your comparing them to. They aren't where I would like them to be, and I know it is all due to my indecision on what method\philosophy to stick with. I've bounced around so much this year I'm surprised they learned how to write a cohesive paragraph. Writing for school is not pleasant in our house right now. They do write for themselves willingly; mostly poetry and creative writing. The younger one has written reports on topics she finds interesting. Now, their pieces are not polished at all, they are a bit disorganized and the grammar and punctuation are all over the place. I don't mess with those though because they are theirs for their own enjoyment. It would be like making them correct the writing in their diary. :tongue_smilie: I myself love to write. In school I could whip out a one page essay in about 15 minutes. I don't know how I did it, but it just flowed. I think because of the way my brain works, it was just naturally organized. I know how to organize a paper though and I know how to organize and construct a research paper...so why can't I light on a writing program and implement it? Every program I've tried has something I don't like about it or has something that I think is missing. WHY am I so picky? Doing one I don't like 100% would be better than doing none at all. I am completely embarrassed that I am trying to implement so many writing programs right now. I like the philosophy of one but it is sooo convoluted to implement, one is step by step but I can't stand the writing prompts, I like the simplicity of another but it is too repetitive, and the logical sequence of skills of another is perfect, but I get panicked because it puts off essays until high school. Then there is the other one that I just printed out placement tests for....:lol::banghead::lol: I know there are others out there who have been using the same writing curriculum for years and use it with all their dc; they never waiver. What is it they know that I don't. Is it experience in knowing that writing programs are like math programs, and if you stick with one long enough you will eventually have filled all the gaps and covered all of the skills? Is that it? If so how do you get past the things you don't like about the program? What's your secret? To those out there like me...and I know you exist...why do you think we do this? Are you happy with juggling writing programs? Do you use more than one because you love more than one program or because you feel like you are trying to compensate for holes in skills or methods? Do you feel it has made your student a better writer or do you feel that their skills have been delayed because of it? I thought I was okay with using all these different programs but realized in just the last couple of days that it is getting out of hand. Every time someone mentions a writing program they are having success with I immediately start looking at it wondering if I can implement some part of it.(where is the smiley with the straight jacket) I also started to wonder if it is even necessary or wise. Just give me your insight if you don't mind.
  7. We will be traveling, house guests, holiday activities, etc., throughout Dec and I'd like to start Jan 2, but I want them to have their feedback in a timely manner. I figured other people might be having issues due to their holiday schedule. How are you handling it? Would starting first thing in Jan be too late? Is anyone else starting in Jan? I just emailed them, but thought I'd ck what others are doing about this. (Xpost)
  8. What is academic writing? Help me out here people because I'm confused. Keep in mind, I am a scientist, not a writer. I've looked high and low for really good sample 5 paragraph essays. Everything I find is along the lines of journalistic writing, blog-type writing. Even expository essays are explaining personal opinions. Even the more academic papers are prefaced with personal anecdotes, or addresses the reader directly. For example, a paper about a wild animal, starts off with a story about an encounter with that animal. I don't know....it's all just very chatty. I see few examples of what I would expect based on reading WTM, classical education websites/books. Maybe this is what MCT means when he says academic writing is not taught anymore. It seems like writing is "all about me." Perhaps it would help me if you more experienced folk could tell me what your children are writing about in the so-called standard 5-paragraph essay. Capt Uhura
  9. Hi all, I am working on plans for the fall. My ds will be in 8th grade. We have used IEW for the last 2 years and it is going ok..... But I am looking for something different for this upcoming school year. His writing skills are what I would consider average. I am considering Write Shop, Brave Writer, or possibly sticking with IEW. But I am wondering what else is out there for me to consider. I really want to work on helping him develop solid paragraphs and essay writing skills. Any help would be so appreciated. Thanks
  10. I want to help dd put together a mini-office for composition. I think it would help her to have things right in front of her to reference when writing. I was thinking I could include a list of good transition words, a punctuation chart, a proofreading markings chart, a general rubric and maybe some ideas for organizational charts. What else could I include?
  11. OK, so I was re-reading my SWB middle grades mp3 notes. Then I read the WTM (2009 ed.) logic stage writing section. I was left confused by this: "This dictation, along with narration, the writing of summaries, and the outlining recommended in the history and science chapters all work to build the student's writing ability. However, a formal writing program is also an important element of good writing instruction." This is contradicted in her audio lecture where she specifies that doing the afore mentioned re: narration, summaries, outlining, and (I assume) beginning literary analysis, would be too much in combination with a writing program. I understand that the WTM recs are the "creme de la creme" suggestions, but to which recs does one adhere?
  12. I was reading some political commentary this morning and thinking that there were interesting examples of style that I wanted to point out to my kids, since they'd just spent two weeks writing an essay for a contest. It occured to me that while my kids read a lot, they probably don't get a lot of persuassive essay reading. Even the big chunks of non-fiction they get is probably mostly narrative. So I'm wondering if I need to start directing them to more essays to read so they better understand the style. Do your kids read much in the styles that you're teaching them to write? What are some good sources for well written essays?
  13. I've read every thread on the logic board about writing. I've printed off copious notes from many wonderful posters who have been kind enough to journal what they've done and how it worked. I've read every thread on the high school board about writing. I've looked at many programs and many philosophies about writing. I've created a forest in my mind and I've lost sight of the path. I won't begin to list the number of samples I've looked at, printed, read reviews from every google source. etc, ad infinity and beyond. So with the end goal in sight (the end goal being my son can communicate well on paper and handle a college writing load) - ugh, that's not even a sentence. I'm not changing it, I have a sinus thing and thinking literally hurts. I'd like to say those skills will transfer to some appeal to write in real life but as of today his outlook on writing is "why do I have to?" He's a smart kid, but had some writing delays, stemming from reading delays, so he is not quite "typical" in the writing department. As I read these philosophies I find portions that resonate with me and portions that will help ds progress through the path, if I can find it again. I'm summing up what I think is the path. Please let me know if this is the basics. Am I missing anything? I know I'm way overthinking today (who am I kidding it's not just today). Learn good grammar, what it is how to use it. Learn to write a quality sentence and how to change it around if necessary. Learn to write a succinct paragraph. Learn to write essays. (expository, persuasive, comparison, ??) Learn to write a literary analysis. Learn how to cite resources . Learn how read and use a textbook (Nan had a great post on this) Learn how to write a proper science report. I need to do some backward thinking on this and think (:lol:) if I start with what we need to complete I can figure out our best path to get there.
  14. I gave dd12 (6th grade) her first writing assignment based on SWB's logic stage writing. I need help evaluating what she produced. :tongue_smilie: Literature: Eagle of the Ninth I told her to answer these three questions: 1) Who is the main character? 2) What does the main char. want? 3) What/who keeps main char. from getting it? Here's her paragraph: Marcus Flavius Aquilla was a centurion in the Roman army. Those days are over. Now, with an injury in his leg that will pain him for life, he sets off with his companion, Esca, a former slave, into the wild country on a quest that might end in death. He will stop at nothing to bring the eagle of the ninth league back to Rome and restore his family's honor. When he finally finds the eagle, however, it's in the hands of a foreign tribe, who will also stop at almost nothing to get it back. Pursued by angry tribesmen and held up by his leg, he and Esca run into many obstacles and narrow escapes, but against all odds they make it home. I fixed her spelling errors (which were many, but that's another thread). It seems a bit wordy to me, but she's a prolific creative writer and tends to embellish everything. Maybe I'm overly critical. Thoughts? I'm trying to figure out if we're on the right track here. Thanks SO much!
  15. Well, I got NO answers for this on the K-8 board and thought I'd try here for some BTDT advice I'm looking ahead to (planning) the next third of the year. We will get into the writing from the outline in addition to completing the outline in the SOTW 4 AG. My dd9 is in 4th grade and gets (not likes, but gets) the complete the outline part just fine. Her sister dd7 will finish going through this whole year doing 2nd grade level narrations (2 things). Who has done this successfully and do you have any tips on how to explain to the student exactly what they will be doing? Yes I do realize I will have to help her with this for a while, but I still want to explain it well, so I don't frustrate her. Thanks in advance! :bigear::bigear::bigear::bigear::bigear:
  16. Does any one have any guesses as to when this might be released? I know it is being Beta tested by many of you, but I was wondering when the rest of us might get our hands on it. Thanks. Danielle
  17. Do they need how to write a report, an essay? (Is a report an essay?) Do they need experience with compare/contrast, descriptive, etc? OR more generally-How are the types of writing classified, and in what order are they generally taught? Obviously they should write a good sentence, then a solid paragraph-that's the start. What next? Would it be ok to teach how to do a five-paragraph essay and then they can use that format for all their academic writing-compare/contrast, literature analysis, etc.? I am having trouble coming up with a big picture plan for logic stage writing because I don't know what needs to be taught over that period of time! (I have the SWB lectures and I think that's a good start, but I think there needs to be more creative writing, and more genres of writing than that.) Sorry, I have been having a ton of questions lately, trying to get our big picture for logic stage, but I'm hoping my questions and everyone's gracious and informative answers are helping others too!
  18. As I was writing and posting (got bumped off on the first go), I see that someone else started a thread on the audio lectures, but since my post is geared for different grade levels, I am starting a new thread. The hive must be busy with the lectures this week. For those of you who have listened to the audio lectures and read WTM, is the following correct for 7th and 8th grade writing? 1. Write a 1-3 page outline of 1-3 pages of non-fiction writing 2 times per week and then write from that outline 1 to 2 times per week. The student is not outlining the history spine. She is outlining from books on the topics she chooses. 2. The student should also be writing a "lit" essay 1 time per week using the questions from the lists on the audio lectures. 3. All writing should be connected to history including the lit writing; i.e novels and biographies. This would work out to a schedule something like this; i.e. Monday - outline, Tuesday, write from outline, Wednesday - editing if necessary, Thursday - write lit essay, Friday - edit lit essay. For these grades, the student is no longer writing narrations because the outlining and writing from the outline has replaced that. Is this correct? Also, WTM mentions that the student should choose two or three topics; i.e. great men and women, wars/conflicts/politics, inventions/technology, religion, daily life, etc. from their history studies for writing. The history writing is done through outlining and then writing from that outline. Is this correct? In addition to the history/science/lit writing (outlining and writing from the outline), the student should be working through Vocabulary from Classical Roots, completing the grammar exercises in R&S and working on writing using Writing Strands, IEW or other resource. Writing Strands teaches simple stories, reports and eventually the essay. IEW (Units 1-9) teaches story summaries, research reports, and the basic essay. SWB doesn't mention it, but I am assuming the student could add other writing genres to their history/science/lit writing as introduced by the writing source. So, the late logic-stage student will have a history sequence that includes writing from outlines on a variety of history topics (listed on page 275 in the new WTM edition). A English sequence that includes grammar, vocabulary and composition lessons. I realize there are miscellaneous writing assignments such as reports for science, oral history for history and response to primary sources, but I want to make sure that I understand the English and history writing for 8th grade. If you have made it this far, thanks for reading. I would appreciate your input.
  19. I listened to SWB writing lecture for middle grades, and felt a burden being lifted off in regards to writing. Then I read 2nd edition WTM (don't have the new one yet) and she recommended doing the same thing as in the lecture but adding in Writing Strands or IEW in addition to writing across the curriculum. Am I understanding correctly that she now says that writing across the curriculum in history, science, and literature is enough without an additional writing program? I plan to have my dc do MFW's high school and was looking at some of the writing assignments for 9th grade. They assign a persuasive essay the first week. MFW also recommends Writing Strands and says that the students need to have completed WS 4 (but preferrably 5 or 6) before high school. Will my dc be prepared for this if I follow SWB's recs for middle school? I really want to as I greatly respect her opinions on writing.
  20. This is a continuation of my other thread from earlier this week. So first off, let me reassure you all that I am not taking all of these critiques and piling them onto my dd. These critiques were for me. I need to hear them (even the hard to hear ones), because they help me to see where I need to give her better instruction. So, onto my question, can somebody coach me through teaching her how to write a thesis? I need either some instructions or resource suggestions, because I'm not really sure how to go about this. Her next IEW assignment is another 5 paragraph essay. For this one, instead of being given the source material, she gets to choose a subject and find her own source material. She has chosen Pompeii. I would like to focus on teaching her to develop her thesis this time around. Thanks again,
  21. I mean the ones that begin with something like A Plan for Teaching Writing, not the old Writing Without Fear. And the new lit. analysis one. I am wondering what you thought, and how you are implementing any or all of it. Did they help you get a "bigger picture?" Just thought it would be fun to discuss here, and maybe helpful to others. They sure are helpful to me. I've written a lot about them since I attended the conf. last year, but I'd like to hear from others.
  22. I've been giving some thought to the differences between Classical Writing and Writing with Ease. I've just listened to the audio lectures, we use WWE 3 with my ds, I've used the WTM methods with dd, and I tried CW last year. SWB says that both methods end up with the same progymnasmata skills, and I trust her on this. Her method in many ways is more appealing. It's not a separate "program" and is used across the curriculum and builds up gradually. I really liked some parts of CW, mostly the sentence shuffle thing. So much of it (we used Homer A) seemed so laborious and tedious--dividing a narrative into scenes, accidental components--it was our undoing. What concerns me about the WWE approach is the thing I liked best about CW. CW has that working with words thing going on--rewriting the sentence in many different ways, using synonyms, etc. I don't see this in the WWE approach--just lots of outlining and rewriting. When does the child develop "style," is that even the right word for it? Am I missing something here? I'm contemplating putting my dd back in Homer OB next year, online, because there's no way I am going to teach it. She also listened to the lecture and now thinks SWB's way is the way to go. ;) Thoughts, ideas, any help appreciated!
  23. Here are my plans right now for my older 2 boys: Sonlight 6 & 7 (History & Readers) over the next 2 school years, and then into Omnibus 1 when they hit 8th & 7th. We've done some Imitations in Writing this year, and currently they're in a 10 week creative writing class. I've just ordered IEW's SWI A and plan to do that with them once the creative writing class is up. We've also just joined a public speaking organization, and they will have to write 2 speeches a month for that. I've thought I was doing to do Classical Writing with them, but now I'm not 100% sure that's the route I want to take. What other good options are there to prepare them for Omnibus?
  24. Ds is starting grade 5 next summer. I've found immense help in the WTM, and SWB's Writing Without Fear CD for guidance in writing. We plan to continue with R&S for grammar and writing, since they are recommended in WTM. But, now I feel like I need to "own" my reasons for using R&S (or whatever other writing program I might look at - though I don't *want* to look at other programs, for fear of getting confused!! LOL). I feel I need to have a bigger picture of what I am trying to accomplish in teaching writing - what are the goals to reach by the end of logic stage - I am embarrassed to say, I don't really know! I remember a part of WTM that said that in the first four grades, students vary wildly in their skills, but the overall *goal* is to bring them up to 4th grade skills by the *end* of 4th grade. That idea has kept me on course over the past four years. For other subjects like math, I have vague goals - cover basic arithmetic to prepare for algebra, etc.. Or for grammar/spelling/vocab. - master these so that writing is clearer. Latin - so that English is easier to study. History/Science/Lit. are all content areas, and I know we need the skills to study these. No problem. But I guess from reading so many writing posts, and reading about so many writing programs, I'm just confused about just what logic stage writing is all about, and what the end goals are. I understand that outlining is for pulling apart a text and examining it. I understand that longer narrations are for putting those pieces back together. But, how does R&S writing or other writing programs fit into the logic stage picture? What are the goals of using the exercises, and how do you practically implement these exercises into the four years of writing practice? Is the goal simply to learn different types of writing, practice them, then use them in rhetoric stage? I can go back and listen to my writing CD again for things I missed (which I'm sure are many, since I concentrated on grammar stage), but I'd like some input here, too. Or maybe I've been inside in January for too long, LOL!! Thanks for any thoughts.
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