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tell me about Writing Strands


kfeusse
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I am considering this for my 10 year old daughter to use when we finish ETC in less than a month. Out side of her Grammar (GWG) we haven't really done much in the way of formal writing and I felt like we needed to begin. Would this be a good one to try...or would there be a better one??

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I should warn you first that I am not speaking from a great deal of experience because this is only our second year homeschooling.

 

We started using WS level 3 last year when dd was in 4th as it was recommended in our copy of WTM. At first I thought it was great but then after the first section it jumped up to having to write a fairly complex paragraph. It seemed like a huge jump in difficulty and we basically gave up. I should add that we were also doing some writing as recommended by WTM (narration, dictation etc). At the end of the year I looked through the book as I was putting it away and realised that, after that difficult assignment, it was ok again so we have continued on with it this year.

 

It seems OK but I don't really have anything to compare it with. If you do use it just be aware that it does not seem (to me) to increase incrementaly in difficulty, it seems to jump around a bit. My plan is to keep using it this year, along with dictation, outlining and maybe try MCT Paragraph Town next year.

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I only have WS 3 and 4, but here is my input. The upside of WS is that it is written to the student, so he can work independently with editing input. In addition, the author does a wonderful job of teaching writing with different voice, person and tense. However, there is a down side. While WS addresses organization, the curriulum uses listing and other organizational tools. Whether you use IEW-style key word outlines or SWB sentence outlines or LTW and R&S phrase outlines, I believe outlining is a good organizational tool for beginning writers. Of course, you could teach your student to outline and require outlines for all their WS papers/paragraphs. In addition, WS gives a light brush to the concept of main idea. That is one of the strengths of SWB's dictation, narration and outlining sequence. The student is always working with the main idea as their guiding light. Finally, WS 3 and 4 include assignments on story writing without enough instruction on the framework of developing the various components of a story; i.e clear problem, events leading to the problem, solution, etc. With all that in mind, I plan to use the two levels of WS that I own as a reference. If you want a curriculum that teaches paragraph skills, take a look at MCT Town level. That is the focus of the Town level - main idea, support for the main idea and various types of paragraphs. I don't own it, but read Tina's posts on WriteShop. The first level looks like it does an excellent job of teaching paragraph skills as well as writing with a different voice and point of view. It's more structured than MCT which might be a good way to start if you are unsure about teaching writing. WWE can easily be added for dictation and narration skills if you are working with older students.

Edited by 1Togo
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We used WS 3 for several months. I liked it at first and my son did quite well with the early lessons. But, after awhile, it became confusing to both of us. I really wanted to make it work since it is highly recommended by some but I truly could not understand some of the lessons. I know it's supposed to be good but it didn't work for us. I think we may try it again later on, hoping the other books aren't so confusing.

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If I were hsing again, Writing Strands would be my first choice, and I'd try very, very hard to make it work. I *love* the way it teaches writing--no gimmicks, no rules which must be untaught (e.g., every paragraph must have at least three sentences. No, this is absolutely not true for all kinds of writing. Read any good book and you'll see.), no complicated method for deciding what to write (e.g., brainstorming, rough draft, whatever else some methods think should be employed). Just good instruction on how to write well.

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my daughter uses WWE2 and WS2. she's 9 and in grade 3. we like them both. i've read that some people feel WS is tedious, but my daughter needs very specific instruction (i.e. DAY 1: describe the pencil. the pencil is yellow. the pencil is long. the pencil is chewed. DAY 2: combine the sentences. the pencil is yellow, long, and chewed.). she really benefited from this kind of instruction... but some kids really hate it.

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Has anyone used WS above Level 4? If so, when does it teach persuasive essays? Does it teach other type of essays; i.e. definition, comparison, etc?

 

Also, I've never worked with any curriculum that dictates sentence length other than the first two units of IEW, which are meant for 2nd and 3rd graders. What curriculum does that?

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