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So disappointed in Writing Strands...


DivaMommy
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This is my first year to homeschool, and my son is in 7th and also has Asperger's (high functioning autism). He doesn't like writing (does most of it on his laptop when he does it..he's a great typist!), and so I was worried about getting a writing curriculum for him that would be fun and not too difficult. So, on the advice of WTM, I purchased a Writing Strands book (started with Book 3 since he is behind in writing). Boy, did he hate it, and so do I now. Our problem? The directions are confusing, the little sarcastic jokes don't work for a kid who doesn't get them, and the whole book seems very low on actual work/practice involved. I am so disappointed, and am now trying to find something else instead.

 

We use Saxon Math (which we both love), so I'm thinking of getting the Saxon Grammar/Writing. Does anyone here have opinions on this curriculum? I'm sure Writing Strands works for some families, but it totally did not for us.

 

Thanks in advance for any opinions on Saxon Grammar/Writing,

 

Andrea

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I would strongly encourage you to consider IEW. IEW was written exactly for reluctant learners. Mr. Pudewa is fun and engaging on the videos, and each step is broken down so clearly that you know exactly what to do and so does your student. I am in the throes of learning this curriculum to teach two co-op classes this fall, and I am very impressed.

 

I don't know anything about Saxon Grammar/Writing, but I bet it would be a more "institutional" approach. IEW was written for homeschoolers and co-ops, specifically. It breaks the writing down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to accomplish one at a time.

 

I'm sorry about your experience with Writing Strands. I tried it three different times and loathed it : (. I use Classical Writing with my own family, but I do like the IEW approach for those without the background to do Classical Writing.

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I agree with Cassandra....IEW is a very 'gentle' approach to several types of writers...you do not have to 'create' your own writing, your first 10 or so lessons are simply outlining and rewriting in your own words using fun to create key word outlines...it takes the pressure off and it becomes more of a mechanical process (similar to mathematic equations and Saxon) you take a skill and build up on it...

 

don't be discouraged..there are wonderful options out there! The right one will find you! :)

 

Tara

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Another vote for IEW

 

It can be very formulaic. Which is both good and bad. It can teach reluctant writers the EXACT steps they need to succeed. That is good for my boys. I am able to say "good job" when they do what is asked of them in the assignment and not worry about ALL the other glaring errors. It helps me let go of making them work on every skill all at once.

 

IEW is not so great, though, because it is very formulaic. There are EXACT things that need to be included in every paragraph in order for it to be right. And I don't agree with all of the "dress ups." I don't necessarily think that good writing includes all the things Mr. Pudewa pushes.

 

But, as a TOOL to learn to write, it's great. And I think that is what it is meant to be--a lesson in how to work with words. We're using it for the second year for my 4th and 6th graders.

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One caution about IEW for a child with Asperger's. I used it (SWI-A) with my son when he was 10. The key word outlines totally went over his head. It wanted him to pick the 3 most important words in the sentence. He had no idea how to pick important words since he struggles with comprehension. He would pick words like "the", "of", "can". It was a nightmare. Perhaps for a child with AS who doesn't struggle so much with comprehension it would be a better choice.

 

On the flip side, he has such a good rote memory, that when we finally got passed the key word problem, he would simply repeat the sentence verbatim. Because he remembered it. And he couldn't think of anything but the sentence he had read/heard.

 

I can't say I've found anything better... but this year we're going to try Wordsmith and see if we make any progress at all. He's an 8th grader now and we have to get beyond 3 sentence written narrations. :(

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We've been using WS for four days now (not in a row...we use it twice per week). I agree with whoever said it's confusing...it IS!! The last time ds used it, I asked him, "Were you supposed to write something?":lol:. I'm kind of embarrassed to admit that, lol.

 

We'll keep going with it though and see if it get's better. My ds hasn't complained at all. Just me that's confused;)!

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Writing Strands was a waste of time here. Ds could follow the directions perfectly and still produce terrible work. I considered IEW, but knew I'd never sit and watch the DVDs.

 

We used Write Shop for 6th-7th-8th. You may read my review here. I liked it because it was extremely detailed which we both needed. Ds is a reluctant writer and his writing improved. I know of no writing program that could be considered "fun".

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Look into Meaningful Composition, its the "style" of IEW broke into bite sized chunks, workbook format.

 

I like that! Thank you!

 

We are doing WS and I feel like it moves too slow. She doesn't seem to be getting much out of it. I was hoping it's just too early to tell. :glare: Fortunately, I picked the WS book up at a garage sale for really cheap, so nothing but time lost.

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Look into Meaningful Composition, its the "style" of IEW broke into bite sized chunks, workbook format.

 

Thanks for this rec...will look into it.

 

And so glad that I'm not the only one who thinks that WS is confusing and not a good writing program! I guess it might work for some, but it was a total bust here.

 

Andrea

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I haven't found any curriculum that works with my now 14 year old aspie. What did help was insisting he do NaNoWriMo with the family @ 1000 words per day with the absolute promise I would never read anything he wrote last November. The first week was horrible, but eventually he was able to put the words on paper. I have no idea whether they made sense or were grammatical, but it did get us past the freezing at a blank page stage. After that he wrote me a 2 page essay every (other in reality) week that I both let him choose the topic for, and, again, promised not to actually read, just scan from a distance to see words on page that appeared to be formatted into sentences and paragraphs. I did lecture everyone orally on the most basic formulaic technique for writing a five paragraph essay during this process and was always in the room able to see his screen well enough to be sure no cut and paste was occurring.

 

This year he submits through My Access, and has to reach a specified holistic score. Then I do read it. I don't comment directly to him on his essays still, however. I just provide specific skill practice based on the two most glaring issues of the previous weeks essay. I am also a mobile, on the spot speller for him, since his spelling remains atrocious no matter what spelling curriculum we use. His essays lack style, but are acceptable five paragraph essays with a decent thesis statement and reasonable supporting points. This is a victory since he was in public school the year before last and they could not get him to write five sentences in a simplistic paragraph in spite of (because of?) intensive special ed help in language arts.

 

My Access has it's faults, and it's not a writing curriculum per se, more of a tool to assist in teaching writing, but it's also entirely unresponsive to puppy dog eyes and crocodile tears. All my kids are miraculously more willing to take it up a notch to reach the score I require them to get from the program. My guess is that that is because they see it as objective, whereas before my comments were (to them) an opinion. It makes writing a little more like math for my concrete, by the numbers kids: it's good enough or it's not in black and white. They even take my comments and suggestions better since discovering that following them improves the scores the program gives them. :glare:

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I have tried to make Writing Strands work twice. I sit down and say, "OK, pay attention, you're going to get it this time!" (this is to me, not my kids) I never do. Both times, I wind up at the first lessons having to tell my kids exactly the words to write down because they look at me like "huh?". Then, pretty soon, I see this is a waste of time and I don't get it anymore and we stop!

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My ds14 is responding fairly well to Write Shop. We've never had a writing program that he liked. WS at least is very detailed and lays out the assignments in small incremental steps which is good for him. Getting past his ideas of stupid assignments is the hardest part. So far he has to describe an object and a pet. This week he's working on describing a person. I'm sitting with him for all writing lessons because he needs help with every idea. But he's doing well with it.

 

Edited to add: I forgot to mention he has Aspergers too. :)

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I'm going to be the dissenter here and stand up for WS! LOL My son really enjoys WS 3; he enjoys the humor and the creativity, and the nice gentle pace....it forces him to really think out what he's writing by chunking things out...so....we're about 1/2 way through it, and for anyone reading this thread I just wanted people to know that it does work for some kids :)

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We tried Writing Strands 3 last year. My oldest dd who doesn't mind writing didn't like it, and my other dd who hates to write didn't like it. I didn't like it. You are not alone!

Edited to add: yes, it is great for some dc...I have a friend whose dc love it!

 

I haven't found any other purchased curriculum yet but I will second Cadam's suggestion to listen to the writing lectures by SWB on PHP. It made a huge difference to me to see the big picture of where we needed to be heading with my dc's writing abilities. I am much more relaxed about it now. That being said, my oldest has requested some different writing assignments other than summarizing so I have found some lesson plans for writing here http://www.readwritethink.org/search/?resource_type=6&learning_objective=31

 

The site should open up to the writing process lesson plans. I have found several different types of writing assignments that my daughter found to be interesting. They also have graphic organizers to print and online graphic organizers that were neat too.

 

Anyway, just thought those might give you some out of the box type writing projects that might help.

Edited by 5LittleMonkeys
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Another suggestion, since you said he's behind in writing, might be Writing With Ease. I have found it to be a great fit for my family. I think it only goes up to 4th grade, but I'm using Level 1 with my 1st and 3rd graders and it has been a good fit for them both. Maybe Level 3 or 4 would work well for him.

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So, on the advice of WTM, I purchased a Writing Strands book (started with Book 3 since he is behind in writing). Boy, did he hate it, and so do I now. Our problem? The directions are confusing, the little sarcastic jokes don't work for a kid who doesn't get them, and the whole book seems very low on actual work/practice involved. I am so disappointed, and am now trying to find something else instead.

 

Andrea

 

Wow, I haven't read the other replies yet, but I'm glad you wrote this. My daughter and I were SO looking forward to WS, and we've tried it for two days, and both times she ends up crying. When I try to help her, I have trouble understand what they're asking for myself.

 

Now I'll read what others suggest ...

 

Jenny

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We tried Writing Strands 3 last year. My oldest dd who doesn't mind writing didn't like it, and my other dd who hates to write didn't like it. I didn't like it. You are not alone!

Edited to add: yes, it is great for some dc...I have a friend whose dc love it!

 

I haven't found any other purchased curriculum yet but I will second Cadam's suggestion to listen to the writing lectures by SWB on PHP. It made a huge difference to me to see the big picture of where we needed to be heading with my dc's writing abilities. I am much more relaxed about it now. That being said, my oldest has requested some different writing assignments other than summarizing so I have found some lesson plans for writing here http://www.readwritethink.org/search/?resource_type=6&learning_objective=31

 

The site should open up to the writing process lesson plans. I have found several different types of writing assignments that my daughter found to be interesting. They also have graphic organizers to print and online graphic organizers that were neat too.

 

Anyway, just thought those might give you some out of the box type writing projects that might help.

 

Thank you for this resource! Can't wait to go check it out in detail.

 

For others who are following this thread, I am circling back to my original idea of getting Saxon Grammar/Writing for him. I really didn't have a grammar program picked out yet, so I'm thinking this might "kill 2 birds with one stone." Plus, I have taught writing before, but just never to an Aspie :). So, I feel pretty comfortable supplementing with resources like the one above, and trying to fit it to his needs. My goals for him (as a 7th grader) are to get him to be able to write good paragraphs (as the basis for good essays in high school), and to give him some tools to use in the writing process. He really likes clear directions and frameworks (he is doing really well with outlining his history chapters based on a template I made for him), so I think we will be okay with something as structured as Saxon.

 

I think I have just learned my first very important lesson in homeschooling, which is nothing works for every kid! Lesson learned...

 

Andrea

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