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Adapting Lost Tools of Writing to an individual student


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For those of you who use/used Lost Tools of Writing have you taught it to only one student? Is it difficult to adapt since it appears to be written for teaching in the classroom or co-op setting? For example, in the Teacher's Guide on page 50 for the Introductory Lesson, it's suggested that you start the class with introductions where students name a favorite book, movie, etc., and one thing they dislike about writing.

 

Now I know I can adapt this to my 7th grade son and only student by taking an even more active part in the conversation and obviously prompting him to come up with more than one problem in the process of writing. What I am concerned about is how much will he miss in benefits in being the solo student and as I work my way through the Teacher's Guide will I find that I need to do a considerable amount of adapting?

 

Any tips you can offer in adapting LTW for the solitary student would be appreciated.

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My son would tell you that the problem with being the only student in situations like this is that sometimes you draw a blank, there's no one to help out--and he always enjoyed co-op discussions. What you propose doing is similar to what we did and it worked well even though it wasn't feasible to use LT as part of a group. Having interesting topics to develop will help keep your son's interest engaged, and if you incorporate examples from his writing projects (especially in the logic and rhetoric stages of the module guides) you will have the advantage of being able to put the entire focus of the discussion on his own projects. So, while you may lose out with regard to variety of topics for discussion, you gain in being able to focus on only one student's needs.

 

The best tip I can offer is to thoroughly review the module guides ahead of time, and make a short list of suggestions to pull out of your pocket if the discussion bogs down, but don't worry too much about making sure you cover every.single.point.exactly.as.written.:D Just have a general idea of where you're going, how you intend to get there and then enjoy the time spent together. I purposely kept discussions informal; sometimes our discussions went a bit off course, and I had make a special effort to turn the discussion back to applications to the writing assignment. As I recall, there are usually pretty clear instructions at the end of each guide for how to do that.

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My son would tell you that the problem with being the only student in situations like this is that sometimes you draw a blank, there's no one to help out--and he always enjoyed co-op discussions. What you propose doing is similar to what we did and it worked well even though it wasn't feasible to use LT as part of a group. Having interesting topics to develop will help keep your son's interest engaged, and if you incorporate examples from his writing projects (especially in the logic and rhetoric stages of the module guides) you will have the advantage of being able to put the entire focus of the discussion on his own projects. So, while you may lose out with regard to variety of topics for discussion, you gain in being able to focus on only one student's needs.

 

The best tip I can offer is to thoroughly review the module guides ahead of time, and make a short list of suggestions to pull out of your pocket if the discussion bogs down, but don't worry too much about making sure you cover every.single.point.exactly.as.written.:D Just have a general idea of where you're going, how you intend to get there and then enjoy the time spent together. I purposely kept discussions informal; sometimes our discussions went a bit off course, and I had make a special effort to turn the discussion back to applications to the writing assignment. As I recall, there are usually pretty clear instructions at the end of each guide for how to do that.

 

Martha, thank you. Your input is really helpful. I am burned out and discouraged regarding writing programs and this is my last resort. We love MCT's writing materials but I need a bit more hand-holding. If I can just ask you a couple more questions. Were the LTW essays the only writing your son did in the course of the year? Did you tie the topics across his subjects? Did you "meet" for the two formal lessons or did you just work each day? Actually, I probably have more than a few questions but the next round of chauffeuring begins shortly.:D

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I'll pull my materials off the shelf and have a look later this afternoon at some of the details of our scheduling. But, my short answer is that we were chronically short on time for a whole slew of reasons, so I assigned topics that counted for both composition plus history, literature, or economics. I did let ds choose and develop some of the topics because he was almost finished with high school at that point but he was definitely in favor of writing "double duty" essays.

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The material is broken down into daily chunks, right? I'm afraid the steps might be too hard for ME to do (the thinking up ideas and brainstorming parts), let alone make my children do...

 

Also, if it takes all year to complete this -- that would be the composition part of English 9, right? And I would have to add the Literature and Vocabulary on top of that to just get one credit? Seems like my dd would be taking over 2 hours/day just for English...and, would Windows to the World complement LTOW? WTTW would be just a semester, and LTOW would be for the whole year?

 

I'm obviously floundering right now trying to design a 9th grade English credit. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

Martha

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I found it easiest to continue our familiar routine from Classical Writing; instruction/discussion in the morning, work on assignments in the afternoon, and I did evaluations sometime before the next day's instruction time. I didn't try to fit each LT lesson into any specific time frame, but did try to make sure that we worked at least 4 days per week and allowed time on day 5 or over the weekend for catching up. IMO, it's better to cover the material well than to hurry through even if that means you take longer than planned to get through all the lessons. So long as you keep plugging away and don't let discouragement keep you from actually doing the work you have plenty of time.

 

I didn't find a lot of need to adapt the material in the teacher's guide. In fact, reading the guide and the module frames usually prompted me to think about similar ideas that I knew would interest my son, and once we got a feel for the rhythm of the lessons he often made connections on his own without my prompting him. We listened to the cd's together before starting the lessons, and I think that helped both of us get a feel for how the curriculum works.

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The material is broken down into daily chunks, right? I'm afraid the steps might be too hard for ME to do (the thinking up ideas and brainstorming parts), let alone make my children do...

 

Also, if it takes all year to complete this -- that would be the composition part of English 9, right? And I would have to add the Literature and Vocabulary on top of that to just get one credit? Seems like my dd would be taking over 2 hours/day just for English...and, would Windows to the World complement LTOW? WTTW would be just a semester, and LTOW would be for the whole year?

 

I'm obviously floundering right now trying to design a 9th grade English credit. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

 

Martha

 

 

 

It seemed to me that LT had plenty of hand-holding, and as I said in another reply, the cd's are a great help in giving you an idea of how the process works. The material is broken down into manageable chunks. I was able to get help from the people at CIRCE when I hit a wall a couple of times. You might want to find out if the LT Yahoo group is still active because I don't think there's been much activity at the CIRCE message boards recently.

 

A lot depends on your circumstances, but a high school student might well be able to complete a level of LT in a semester. I took a full year with my son because we paused for a week between lessons to allow him to write extra essays for literature, history, and economics and also to allow me to work ahead on my own prep--life was especially difficult that year and I didn't have as much time to prepare as I would have liked.

 

We were doing LT as extra work because my son needed some help with invention. If I had used it as part of what I called "Grammar, Composition and Literature" on the transcript, I'd have done LT in the fall semester, and focused on literature (with more essays) in the spring. I'd also have done grammar/syntax throughout in small daily doses. We did our formal vocabulary study through Latin and Greek.

 

I'm not familiar with WTTW, but what you might do is look at their writing assignments and tweak or substitute occasionally in order to practice LT skills. Have you read The Well Educated Mind? I read it primarily for self education, but the questions at each level of inquiry are excellent tools for evaluating your literature program. I also used selected questions from TWEM as substitute writing assignments for an Abeka literature text. We were running out of time, ds was not (and is not) fond of most of the contemporary American lit included in many textbooks, and I was afraid he'd graduate home school lacking even the basics. So, we did a semester using the Abeka text plus TWEM questions and LT writing assignments. It wasn't leisurely or as deep as I would have liked, but it did give ds the big picture, allowed him a chance to appreciate some modern writers better, and prepared him for college writing.

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