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TWTM recommeded writing plan versus public school writing plan

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I am sorry if this has been posted previously or if this is like a recent thread I have read. I am still fairly new to the forum. (Sorry for the long post.)


To the parents who have homeschooled more than 6-7 years: have any of you followed what SWB/JW recommend in their book the TWTM and seen your children flourish in their writing when they are in the rhetoric stage? I mean in using the recommendations of WTM at each level and then see your rhetoric or higher level logic students writing really well and with ease? (Sorry for the redundant question. I just want my question to be clearly understood.)


The way SWB explains how to teach writing in her book TWTM and especially on her lecture audios is very different to the way public school teaches it. I really do trust her in her recommendations as it makes complete sense to teach a child in the grammar stage how to take an idea, orally turn it into a complete sentence, and then write it on paper. It makes sense not to require compositions in the grammar stage, but in the logic or especially in the rhetoric stages. It is clear to me to gradually increase/change their writing assignments according to stages and skill development and so on. But can anyone share with me their successful results with doing it this way? Or have you done things differently and still achieved great results?


I have endured a 4 year period of teaching writing with my ds that was a complete struggle, but he is doing very, very well in his 5th year of homeschooling. After listening to SWB writing audios, I now see areas where I pushed him unnecessarily because I followed the public school way of teaching writing which is to start critical thinking and composition writing in grades 1-4. Unfortunately, due to this, we had no time for dictation and narration.


I am presently thinking of cutting back on some composition writing and returning to the basics of building up the weak areas of dictation and writing in order to give all my children a better foundation in writing for the future higher grade work as SWB so strongly suggests in her book and audios.


I was also wondering:


How do you know if your child is writing well/with excellence and at their age level or if their writing is advanced/below their age/developmental level especially if writing is not your strong subject as a parent? Is there a book one can use to evaluate writing? Do you have any guidelines? What resources do you use to know if they are writing a book report, a research paper , or any expository writing correctly and well?


Susan Wise Bauer, could you please answer my questions if you are able? I would greatly appreciate your input.





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I don't know if I can answer all of your questions, but yes---I would say that following writing via TWTM greatly assisted my girls.


First of all, we homeschooled for seven years; my oldest is in college, and my middle daughter is now a junior in high school, and the youngest is in 8th grade.


We started homeschooling when the oldest was in 4th grade and the middle daughter was in 2nd grade. This is what we did:


In the first year of homeschooling, we alternated days of having them take dictation (from me) and doing copywork, which also counted as penmanship. That may have been a little slow for the 4th grader, in terms of what she was capable. The next year we did more dictation and simple narrations. We read a selection from a book, or read the selections from the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia or the science books we used, and had them take dictation or do simple narrations---in other words, simply summarizing what they had learned.


I think in 6th grade (thus 4th grade for the middle girl) we did more narrations and started to do outlining. We'd read a passage in Kingfisher together, and on the whiteboard we'd come up with the main points in the section. I also started doing Classical Writing-Aesop the year before. We also worked our way through CW-Homer and some of CW-Poetry. I admit that I got a little lost in CW-Diogenes, which we started more around 8th grade.


Basically, I had them do shorter essays. For grammar, we used Abeka grammar. I really disliked the writing assignments for Abeka--especially the creative writing assignments. I did have them do some of the report writing for Abeka. Abeka teaches a good process for report writing, IMO, but introduces thesis writing too early, I believe--around 7th grade. For my girls, this was too young to understand how to write a thesis, plus the Abeka writing process simply did not give enough time for reading and thinking and "digesting" the material which has been read. Students simply don't always know enough right away what they think, so the material needs to be read, discussed, evaluated, and thought about for a while before they can begin to formulate a thesis statement. The process was somewhat clumsy, but we somehow stumbled through it.


By the time they were in 9th and 7th grades (I had the youngest following the same process the older two did when they were her age), I enrolled them in Cindy Marsch's progymnasmata writing tutorials. We did several of these, plus I had Cindy evaluate their writing for shorter essays which we did for Omnibus II.


Also, for the final two summers that we homeschooled, the girls did a lot of writing on their own. They would write stories and evaluate other works. They read a lot about writing---a variety of sources. By the time we enrolled them in school, which was when the oldest was in 11th grade and the middle daughter was in 9th grade, I would say (hopefully not too pridefully) that they were some of the best writers in their class. When the oldest started college, she placed out of College Comp. I and II and directly into a literature class. My middle daughter is also a very strong writer and is taking College Comp. I now as a junior.


Yes, I would say that TWTM suggestions for writing are excellent. I think schools push creative writing and report writing too young. For our family, the slower process of copywork, dictation, and narrations worked well for those early years.

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This is our 7th year. Ds is in 8th grade and so we will be completing our transition to the rhetoric stage next year. Ds is struggling a bit with having to back things up from the text he has read. Most recently he was asked to compare two characters and use quotes to defend what he said about them. It took a couple of revisions but he got it.


It would have been very, very difficult if he hadn't had the solid WTM foundation in writing.


Ps tends to focus on creative writing and that would not have prepared him to write this essay.


He does do creative writing, and even started NaNoWriMo yesterday, but I stay out of that. His creative writing is not school work and I never see most of it. His bio mom is a fiction writer and she goes over those things with him if he chooses to show them to anyone.


I know that he writes well because I have seen examples of student writing. There are websites that post student essays, Evaluating Writing was helpful to me as well as some essay rubrics I found online.

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Michelle and Christina,


Thankyou soo much for your answers to my questions. It gives me more confidence that we are on the right road for writing.






"There are websites that post student essays, Evaluating Writing was helpful to me as well as some essay rubrics I found online."


Would you be able to refer me to the specific website for "evaluating writing?"




I welcome any other responses to this post.



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Hi Charmayne,


Welcome, from another Canadian.


Before I forget - there is a poster here called Strawberry Queen, who uses SWB's writing methods and lives in Alberta. I don't know how often she checks in here, but you might want to send her a private message to chat about the Alberta board requirements vs. teaching writing with SWB's methods. I think her oldest is around grade 5, too.


My oldest is in grade 7, and we've been using the WTM writing methods since grade 1 (narration, copywork/dictation, and now in the thick of outlining and about to embark on rewriting from outlines). The first four years were hard, because I didn't really know how much or how little to give him to do. I briefly tried the "rough draft/revision" bit when he was in grade 1 and it was a disaster. WWE came out when he was starting grade 5, and I bought the teacher edition, examined what exactly was being taught in each section, and filled in ds' gaps. I also realized that I had been having him to do waaaaaayyyyy too much in the way of narration and dictation lengths. WWE was very helpful in letting me see the smaller goals along the way, that I've been able to use with dd since she was 7 (she's 10 now). It gave samples of good (short but concise) narrations, and it told how to give dictation, including length and grammar concept recommendations to include.


I was able to attend those writing lectures when my oldest was at the end of grade 5, and when I took all that info. and started applying it after "shoring up" ds' abilities with WWE previously, things started going a lot more smoothly. Yes, it has definitely worked out really well. Letting him learn to type in grade 5 was immensely helpful. I gave up the pencil-to-paper battle, although I still have him handwrite his history "list of facts" every week (and of course math and grammar exercises, so he gets handwriting practice still - just not associated with composition requirements). Because of learning how to think through a narration with WWE (and because of dictation practice), he has a much easier time now when I say, "Go read this chapter and then write a 5-7 sentence paragraph either summarizing the storyline or the important details." WWE taught him very carefully how to do all that. WWE is really more about thinking skills. And after that, so is outlining. Because of his narration thinking skills, he was able to transition fairly smoothly over to learning how to outline (2009 WTM ed. has *excellent* and easy to use teaching instructions for this). He is up to being able to do three-level outlines, and will soon learn to rewrite from those - I think because of his narration experience and parallel study of grammar, he will be able to transition to this fairly easily, too.


It's amazing to me, because like you, I did not learn how to write, EVER. Now I know that there are actual tools out there that you use to get up to being able to structure your own outlines and write your own essays from those.


Evaluating - I tend to use the guidelines in WWE and in the lectures, and not compare my children's work to other children or other books, because I fear if I were to compare to another 7th grader, for example, I'd be comparing to someone who may have been coached sentence-for-sentence, paragraph-for-paragraph to produce a "good" piece, or someone who has a "knack" for writing multi-paragraph pieces easily, without having to go through the thinking/outlining stage first. Mine can't do that, and I'd rather take him through these careful steps first anyway, so he learns to think his way through his reading and what he wants to write, before he writes expository pieces. It just makes more sense to me.


I think at the WWE (grammar stage) level, you'd find useful evaluation info. in WWE. If you continue narration into logic stage while teaching outlining, just use the WWE guidelines still. Some of those things can be used to evaluate outlines, too ("Is it a complete sentence?" "Are punctuation and grammar used correctly in the outline?" "Is the outline laid out in a logical order?" - the 2009 WTM can help with this). When we start rewriting from outlines, I plan to just continue to use the WWE/WTM outlining instructions to help me evaluate his rewrites - basic grammar, spelling, punctuation, logical presentation, variety in sentence structure (and other thing learned so far in grammar instruction). I think, from what I've seen so far in the rhetoric stage study methods and books, the books recommended have plenty of help for not only teaching different types of writing, but evaluating them, too.



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Would you be able to refer me to the specific website for "evaluating writing?"





Can you share the links to these? I'd be curious to see the writing of DS' publicly schooled counterparts.


Evaluating Writing is written by the Writing Strands people. It is written to go along with their writing program but I found it helpful for all of our writing.


Floridamom, It has been years since I looked at those but I will do a little digging......




These are not the ones I read years ago but these sites are similar and I bet you can find more.








I like the first one the best because it shows examples of various levels of work within one grade so you can see what is expected and the grade it would get.

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