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Pattern-Based Writing - has anyone used this?


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I saw this mentioned in the Writing thread. I went to the website, and I am intrigued. Why haven't I heard of this before? :tongue_smilie: It sounded like most of the people who mentioned it are planning to use it next year, but aren't yet. Where did you hear of it? Is anyone actually using it already, and how do you like it? Are you seeing lots of progress?

 

I've been frustrated with writing programs because it seems like either they're imitative (which does help one see patterns, but they are not made explicit) and spend years getting to original work, or formulaic (IEW), or expecting a kid to already know the scaffolding and giving them higher level info to improve it (MCT), which is lovely but not if the scaffolding's not in place yet. I like pattern-based things - we've done pattern-based spelling (Sequential Spelling), and Killgallon is also pattern-based but at the sentence level.

 

I feel like I need something that gives my kids a concrete way to build that scaffolding without being formulaic. Something like IEW strikes me more as a formula (add x number of dress-ups and y number of -ly words) than a pattern - is Pattern-Based Writing different?. Can anyone who's seen both comment on the difference?

 

Also, is it just available in the E-book format? And what does it mean by a two-family license?? Am I supposed to find a friend to split the cost with?

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I am using Pattern Based Writing. 1TOGO is the one that turned me on to it. You can try PMing her. We are only in the beginning stages. Yes, the two family license means you can split the cost w/ a friend. Then you both will give the updates. One person buys and then email the author w/ your friend's name and she will be added to the list. My friend then emailed me her download. I think it is only available as a download.

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I am using Pattern Based Writing. 1TOGO is the one that turned me on to it. You can try PMing her. We are only in the beginning stages. Yes, the two family license means you can split the cost w/ a friend. Then you both will give the updates. One person buys and then email the author w/ your friend's name and she will be added to the list. My friend then emailed me her download. I think it is only available as a download.

 

So... I know you've used a lot of the same writing materials I have. How does this compare to any of those (MCT, Killgallon, IEW - okay, I have IEW but I've never used it - WWE or WWS), or to LToW, which I've never seen but I know you have. :D Where does this fit into the puzzle - what's it's value added, and what's missing that one of the other programs fleshes out?

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I have only read, not used, the first 18 pages. The first pattern that is covered is what the author calls "The A, B, C Sentence:"

 

Would you rather go tho the beach, the park, or the movies?

 

You then practice 60 of these sentences filling in the blanks.

 

The second pattern is the "Secret A, B, C Sentence:"

 

The treasure chest was full of a world of long lost sparkle. (p.14)

 

In pattern 2, the A,B, C items are kept "secret."

 

I understand what the author is proposing, but so far I cannot get past his personal writing style. After MCT and Brian Backman, I am spoiled.

 

I look forward to hearing other responses.

 

Bleh. That doesn't sound promising. Does it get any better once it gets to the patterns of whole-essay writing? I feel like we've got sentence patterns covered with the Killgallon. It's the whole-paper patterns I was wondering more about...

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Bleh. That doesn't sound promising. Does it get any better once it gets to the patterns of whole-essay writing? I feel like we've got sentence patterns covered with the Killgallon. It's the whole-paper patterns I was wondering more about...

 

I'm using this right now with my son. He is only on Pattern 4.

Eventually they are outlining and writing five paragraph essays. First the child learns to write a five sentence paragraph using the 'secret' ABC pattern as the topic. The detailed ABC patterns are the supporting sentences, lastly repeat or connect the topic sentence to wrap up the paragraph.

Eventually they move onto writing outlines, writing the five paragraph essays following the patterns.

The student workbook is 125 pages and speaks to the reader.

Sorry, I'm not very good with explaining things :ack2: but if you go to their website Pattern Based Writing and scroll down to The System Outlined it might give you a better idea.

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This program was designed initially, if I recall correctly, to remediate 3rd graders. The beginning portion I think speaks to that. He does say in the beginning that the A,B,C and Secret A,B,C sentence is just a topic sentence and the A,B,Cs are the details but doesn't continue to use those terms. I used those terms from the beginning. I just went through Paragraph Writing Made Easy (PWME) and had DS10 tell me if the topic sentences were A,B,C sentences or Secret A,B,C sentences. I think someone mentioned, either in this thread or another, needing something explicit to teach paragraph construction. I think this is about as explicit as it gets. We went through the first patterns very quickly. I'm going to have my 2nd grader just practice writing paragraphs about various topics for the rest of the year until he can fluently write a paragraph. I know it goes against Bravewriter philosophy I believe, but I feel like once the scaffolding is in place, DS will be better able to build any kind of house he wants using it. KWIM? Instead of using the prompts given, I"m going to come up with my own as well as have the boys come up with their own.

 

These types of programs always sound so contrived to me but maybe it's a necessary step? I don't know. I think the issue is that with young kids, they don't have much to say. For example: Secret A,B,C is Italian Food. THe details given are spaghetti, lasagna, and linguini. So what is he going to write about this? Maybe...

 

"There are many types of Italian Food. My favorite is spaghetti with meatballs. I do not like it when my dad cooks vegetarian lasagna. When my mom books shrimp scampi over linguini, I'm first at the table. What kind of Italian food do you like?

 

Ok, I'll put it out there lol. Here's what DS10 wrote for the Secrete A,B,C topic: our solar system. The details are planets, asteroids, and comets.

 

Here's his first draft:

Our solar system has many objects. There are planets like Earth, asteroids like the one that might have killed the dinosaurs, and comets which are big ice balls. These are a few of the many objects in our solar system.

 

Here's his rewrite:

Our solar system has many objects. There are planets like Earth, Jupiter, Mercury and Mars. There are also asteroids like the one that might have killed the dinosaurs. Comets, which are big ice balls that fly through space are other objects in our solar system. These are a few of the many objects in our solar system.

 

Basically, it's like writing from an outline. THe topic is given and single word details. It then moves the student to topic only given and the student supplies the details.

 

I do like how the different types of paragraphs are explained. We've been able to analyze other paragraphs given the graphics used in PBW. I got this program when my teacher friend said that 5th graders needed to be able to write a 5 paragraph essay by the end of 5th grade with topic sentences, 3 details and a closing sentence for the paragraphs. I thought this would be a quick way to get to a rudimentary paragraph. We were thinking of DS going back to PS for middle next year but he really doesn't want to go so looks like we'll be HSing another year. It's been a tough year. :glare:

 

Also, the author gives several ways to close a paragraph....starting w/ just repeating the topic sentence and states that while it's ok for students to do this a few times, they should move away from it b/c it's boring to read. In this, it's similar to the beginning of Lost Tools of Writing. In LToW, you start w/ a boring paragraph and keep editing and expanding.

 

Once mastering the paragraph and a few lessons on generating ideas, you begin writing essays. This program teaches timed-writing as well...something they will have to be able to do. It also coaches students on how to read assignments to see how much needs to be written.

 

I liked the visual pages on how different essays are organized. 5-paragraph vs narrative essay vs compare and contrast essay (compare all similarities then all differences, vs compare/contrast, compare/contrast, compare contrast0, vs process essay.

 

I must add here, I"m reading "The Lively Art of Writing" and many of the "essays" listed in PBW are not essays since it's not an opinion being defended as defined in The Lively Art of Writing. So PBW has informational essay, descriptive essay, explanation essay, narrative essay as well as the persuasive essay, argumentative essay. But even though these have a different purpose, they have similar patterns. IT's the patterns that are the focus.

 

I must admit this has caused me great confusion and I'm finally starting to wrap my head around it. I would see folks or books or curricula talking about essays and giving examples but I felt those were only narratives.

 

I think this program can be used in a short period of time to get a kid the bare bones. If you want love, this ain't it...pick up MCT. If you want, give me a workbook, give me an outline of what to do, this is it. I'm using PBW as my stepping stone to MCT Paragraph Town so we get more out of PT and then move onto LToW and Essay Voyage. I figure if the kids have a skeleton to start with, they can build a nicer body onto it w/ MCT and LToW.

 

Those are my thoughts....probably worth about a fourth of a cent....I'm learning as I go......

 

Summer will find me reading through The Writer's Jungle again. In another year, DS will be age-eligible for Bravewriter's Intermediate Writing class! In the meantime, we'll just finish PWME next week or so. Start outlining from history and science. Continue writing literary response papers each week ala WTM. We've completed WWS beta test and look forward to the rest of WWS when it hopefully comes out in September.

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Well, it isn't so much different types of paragraphs. There are diagrams of a standard paragraph, then one where there is an additional detail about the three main details, one where the topic sentence is not the first sentence, one w/ more than 3 details. For the essays, it does the same thing. Like I said, it's just very explicit and for some kids, that is probably a good thing.

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This program was designed ...

 

Thank you for the very detailed review of PBW. The lack of samples and reviews on PBW is very frustrating.

 

I'm looking for a writing program that teaches how to organize paragraphs and 5 paragraph essays the way I was taugh. I look at the points I want to make and pick a "shape" for my paragraphs.

 

- least important to most important (a triangle)

- most important point to least important (an inverted triangle)

- cause / effect (an arrow)

- compare / contrast (diverging arrows)

- point of view / twist / opposing point of view (an hourglass shape)

- general / specific / general (an hourglass shape)

- sequential (first, second, third ...)

- spacial (top to bottom, left to right, inside to outside, etc.)

- wide focus to narrow focus (an inverted triangle)

- narrow focus to wide focus (a triangle)

- etc.

 

Do these "shapes" match up with the patterns in PBW? Or are the patterns in PBW something totally different?

Edited by Kuovonne
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Hi Everyone,

 

Roxy Roller suggested I come on and answer some questions. Please feel free to ask any questions about PBW, as well as any other questions you may have regarding teaching writing and where PBW fits in. I’ve spent a lot of time these last few days getting an overview of the struggles and frustrations parents are experiencing when teaching writing. Hope I can help.

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Paul,

 

Thanks for showing up. Your writing program has generated a lot of interest recently!

 

Here's my questions.

 

Can you provide sample pages from your book?

 

You say that your program can be used as young as 2nd grade. What is your experience like teaching 2nd graders? Do you include guidelines on how to adapt the lessons to different ages? What skills does a 2nd grader need before starting your program? How far into the program could a 2nd grader realistically get? (I have a hard time picturing a 2nd grader writing a full 5 paragraph essay in 30 minutes, so what is realistic?)

 

Is the program written to the teacher or to the student? Is the book "open-and-go," or does it require teacher preparation?

 

Where are students to get the ideas for their writing assignments? Do the writing assignments provide topics, or do the teachers or students have to come up with topics to write about? If you provide the topics, do the topics draw from everyday life that kids are familiar with? Do you provide passages of background information as source material? Do parents or kids have to research to find content?

 

How many of the patterns are devoted to sentences, vs. paragraphs, vs. whole essays?

 

Could you please look at my questions in this post, earlier in this thread: http://welltrainedmind.com/forums/showpost.php?p=2490612&postcount=12

 

It sounds like most of your program is focused on first drafts. Do you address revising?

 

Thanks!

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One should understand my perspective. As a school teacher, I just have one year to achieve my goals. My experience is that if I don’t get students writing well, it might not happen. If I knew I was in control of many years of their education, I would likely have a paradigm shift. It would be different. In my situation, I want to get a certain kind of writing fast, and then build on it and refine it. The program is a result of this kind of thinking.

 

As many people know, including several on WTM, I am happy to communicate. I want to know that you are using the program, how you are using the program, and I want to know if you experience any difficulties. Over the last few days I have written pages and pages of notes on all the question I have read over here at WTM in regards to PBW and teaching writing. First off:

 

Age Appropriate - When people have written to me asking about using it with 2nd graders, I reply, “When you read the website, is that really what you want for your 2nd grader?”

 

Illustrating this point is one homeschool parent wrote me saying that she had purchased the program a while back but had stopped using it because her children weren't quite ready developmentally. She then wrote, “I am seeing a lot of progress already after starting again. I was wondering if it would be possible to purchase the last section you've added called Purpose for Writing.” She thinks PBW will tie in very nicely with the Lindamood Bell Visualizing and verbalizing program she is doing with them now.

 

Compare that to this 7th grade teacher:

 

 

I was describing it to a colleague a little while ago as, "the basics made clearer." I have taught many of these ideas but not as an organized structure. 5 paragraph essays just make sense, but I had no formal way of getting that idea to be part of their natural writing process.

In the 7th grade example, the important part is "their natural writing process.”

 

In one sense we all have to decide what we want for our students and what we think is the best way to get them there. Here is a free resource I think everyone should have. I think it will bring more clarity than 101 writing programs. A teacher in Oregon recently sent me links to these student writing samples that contain the scoring. I did a blog post on it because downloading them can be a bit of a chore. The directions on the blog make it simple. It shows great examples of student writing from grade 3 through high school. I’m not saying these should be your goals, but I think they will bring clarity.

 

I very much liked what I saw here:

4th grade - http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showthread.php?t=252571

 

I think the high scoring results in the samples, as well as the excellent 4th grade example are easily achievable and appropriate.

 

However, I want to add a little more perspective. My mom taught K-3 for 34 years. She told me how they had first graders writing amazing paragraphs using the power paragraph. “I don’t know why we stopped using it.” Here is a link to it. It seems they had 1st graders writing amazing 8-10 sentence paragraphs. I love the ordered thinking, but there are good reasons why it fell out of fashion. I wouldn’t want to use it at any grade as much as I personally love the thinking behind it. That doesn’t mean the teacher can’t find value in it and find ways to use it.

 

This “power paragraph” shows there is a right way and a wrong way to get the results you want. In teaching writing, “a person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.”

 

I will answer some of the other questions tomorrow, but I thought that this was important so that you can get an idea of what I think can be achieved with the program across different grades. I think people need clarity, and when I answer the other questions it will give a little perspective.

 

P.S. There are 380 Google searches every month for “1st grade essay.” 380 people every month want to teach first graders essays! Do I think that is appropriate? Probably not.

Edited by PBW
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However, I want to add a little more perspective. My mom taught K-3 for 34 years. She told me how they had first graders writing amazing paragraphs using the power paragraph. “I don’t know why we stopped using it.†Here is a link to it. It seems they had 1st graders writing amazing 8-10 sentence paragraphs. I love the ordered thinking, but there are good reasons why it fell out of fashion. I wouldn’t want to use it at any grade as much as I personally love the thinking behind it. That doesn’t mean the teacher can’t find value in it and find ways to use it.

 

Hello Paul,

 

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on writing with us! As you can see, it's one area which causes much angst. There seems to be so many different philosophies and paths to the same end goal. I'm curious to know more about why the power paragraph fell out of fashion and why you wouldn't use it.

 

Capt Uhura

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PBW -- thank you for replying. I look forward to hearing more from you. I like several of the ideas you post on your blog.

 

Age Appropriate - When people have written to me asking about using it with 2nd graders, I reply, “When you read the website, is that really what you want for your 2nd grader?”

 

...

 

P.S. There are 380 Google searches every month for “1st grade essay.” 380 people every month want to teach first graders essays! Do I think that is appropriate? Probably not.

 

*Your* web site says that your program works with 2nd graders. So, I wanted to know what a 2nd grader could realistically get out of it. Are you saying that your program doesn't really apply to 2nd graders? (My appologies for asking about 2nd grade on the Logic Stage sub-forum, but this thread seemed the best place to ask.)

 

Just to make it clear, I *don't* want or expect my 2nd grader to write 5 paragraph essays. On the other hand, she eventually needs to know how to do so, and I am researching how I can eventually get her there. My DD thrives on structure, and I want to teach her the concept of organization from the beginning. I thought your program might help do that.

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Yes, I too liked the looks of the power paragraph. ;-) The samples seemed like very thoughtful paragraphs and the whole number system actually made good sense to me. Then I started wondering what exactly was wrong with the whole method in the first place, and why wasn't it more apparent to me looking at it today?

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I'm curious to know more about why the power paragraph fell out of fashion and why you wouldn't use it.

 

Yes, I too liked the looks of the power paragraph. ;-) The samples seemed like very thoughtful paragraphs and the whole number system actually made good sense to me. Then I started wondering what exactly was wrong with the whole method in the first place, and why wasn't it more apparent to me looking at it today?

 

I'm guessing that Paul answered your questions in his original post.

 

This “power paragraph†shows there is a right way and a wrong way to get the results you want. In teaching writing, “a person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still.â€

 

I bet the 1st graders could follow the formula, but didn't really understand why it worked and couldn't apply and adapt it outside the specific assignments they were given.

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Kuovonne,

 

As mentioned, my mom taught K-3 for 34 years. We both agreed 2nd grade should be on the website. 2nd grade teachers definitely buy it. However, they very likely have a good amount of experience. They also very likely want “the ideas,†not “the curriculum.†They are going to blend it in and build on what they are already doing. Just a few of the ideas will make a big difference in what they are doing. Furthermore, they are going to test. How do the children respond? If it makes sense to the kids and the kids like it, they will layer on more and more.

 

Over the weekend I will give my take on the power paragraph. It pretty much has to do with the “product vs. process†debate in teaching writing. On my blog, a lot of the posts are “Pros and Cons, Tips and Tricks†because there are always two sides. In one sense, our temperament is always going to guide us no matter what the theories say.

 

Kuovonne

Do these "shapes" match up with the patterns in PBW? Or are the patterns in PBW something totally different?

 

 

As far as the symbols you mentioned, I love those symbols and am quite aware of them. If you Google search “flowchart symbols†they are similar, but flowchart symbols show how the information flows a little differently.

 

Capt Uhura

My best guess is that if PBW continued on, it would include the info you are seeking.

 

In short, it’s pretty explicit writing instruction, and Capt Uhura was correct… it’s kind of in the works.

 

Kuovonne

So, I wanted to know what a 2nd grader could realistically get out of it.

 

Let me get back to you on this, along with some of the other topics.

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Dear WTM Moms,

 

Reading the “Why is it so hard for some of us to pick and stick with a writing program?” thread is quite thought provoking and stirs up a lot of questions and answers for everyone involved. Like many, I have something to say about most every single post, but since I do have a writing program, I think that would be a problem. So if you are interested I will write up a 5-10+ page free PDF report that you can print out and read.

 

I began teaching during a teacher shortage when class sizes were being reduced do to 20 to 1. I had no teaching experience and no knowledge about teaching. However, the only thing that really confused me was why students could not write a paragraph and would not write in paragraph form. Why didn’t anything work when it came to getting my students to write thoughtfully and clearly in their daily work across the curriculum?

 

I am aware of most of the theories, but it is my personal experience that is my guide even more than the theories. These discussions on this board are powerful. I can clearly remember the frustration that is on the other side of each and every post. In one sense, it is part of the learning curve, and it seems like most people know that. However, I would be happy to address most of the issues I have read.

 

If you would like a free 5-10 page (or more) PDF report based around “Why is it so hard for some of us to pick and stick with a writing program?” let me know. It will involve opinion and personal experience and may even go against a lot of theory.

 

If you want to read it, simply post, “I do!” or show some form of excitement. (You can even email me.) If there is some interest, I will write it up. If you are interested, don’t buy any writing curriculum, mine or anyone else’s, until you have read the report. I’ll think you will make a better choice, and it may not be mine. I often try to talk people out of my curriculum if it is not a match. I think I illustrated that in discussing if PBW is right for 2nd grade. I want happy people and to solve problems. I don’t want to add to frustrations, and I am also aware that I cannot solve every single frustration that comes with teaching writing.

 

Thanks,

Paul

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I'd be very interested to read that!

 

Should someone create a new thread letting everyone know of Paul's offer? I'd hate for there to not be enough response on this thread to warrant the time and effort Paul is willing to take.

 

I could do it but not sure how best to title it. It's late now but I will check tomorrow to see if anyone has a suggestion for me, or if someone else wants to do it that would be great too.

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I would say that was a pretty nice response, especially when combining the two threads. Thanks 5LittleMonkeys for creating the new thread!

 

From the very moment the thought about creating the report entered my mind; the writing process was thrown into full swing. Today or tomorrow I am going to post a short report showing the documented results of that single thought entering my mind, and how the writing process played out on the WTM forum.

 

You are going to see something that is a little mindboggling and that I could not have imagined or planned for, because all of you were involved in it. You are going to be amazed, at least I sure was.

 

So keep an eye out for that short report in the next day or two. For the larger report, when I say 10+ pages, I do mean plus. This is something I look forward to writing about, and hope you all will find value in it.

 

:) Paul :)

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