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Looking for Writing Program advice....


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Hi there,

 

My name is Kristina, and I am new to this forum. I have a dd going into 6th grade and a dd going into 4th grade. To date, I have used R&S for their language arts (no additional writing program). I am very pleased with R&S in general, but I know we need to devote more effort to writing skills. I would add that my 4th grade dd is an AVID writer...She has started a plethora of stories and writes every day - she wants to BE a writer when she grows up....but she needs LOTS (and I mean LOTS) of work in all areas except enthusiasm and imagination. ;)

 

I know people who use and love IEW. It seems expensive and complicated to me. We can't afford a program that costs hundreds of dollars, but I do love the idea of having writing assignments that can correlate with our history work (next year we are doing creation to the greeks).

 

I have heard negatives about writing strands (disrespectful tone?), though I love the price.

 

I am also aware of Write Shop and Writing Apprentice (?).

 

I would love your thoughts on any of these or other programs you endorse. Thank you so much for your time and assistance! I look forward to getting to know you all. :)

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I don't know that there is an absolute need to add to R&S at the grade 4 level. I would probably add one in by grade 6 or so, but for your grade 4 student I think I would continue to build on the skills that are taught within R&S by assigning similar writing projects across the curriculum.

 

For your older child I would consider using something like Write Shop (probably by grade 7). I also really like Jump In (published by Apologia) and it can be used in 6th grade. It's a two year program.

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Well I'd suggest Writing Tales 2 for your 4th grader and something that teaches structured writing (Wordsmith, IEW, whatever) for your 6th grader. Your 4th grader will enjoy the creativity in WT2 and she'll learn elements (sentence openings, etc.) that will carry over into a structured/non-fiction writing program the next year. The content of WT2 is good, but if you want to do it with your 6th grader (I assume you're wondering that, lol), you'd need to add non-fiction writing during the year. I'd say it's more suited to a struggling or remedial 6th grader, not one who's been doing the writing assignments in R&S consistently. I think IEW or something like that would fit an older dc better. WT2 would be AWESOME for your 4th grader, so definitely check that out.

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I don't know that there is an absolute need to add to R&S at the grade 4 level.

 

I quite agree that it is not an absolute need, but writing really does seem to be her *passion*. At her year-end testing last week, our evaluator strongly encouraged me to find a writing program for her.

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Keeping in mind that your driving motivation is to nurture that passion then I would probably focus on cross-curricular writing. Have her write historical fiction for history, have her make cards for family birthdays and write personalized poems in them, have her write mock-newspaper articles for history or for science. There are some great places online that facilitate "storybooking" and will print out your child's story in a book format: http://www.makebooksonline.com/ for a very professional look. These would make great Christmas gifts for the grandparents. One of the homeschooling moms in our area volunteered to lead a "writer's club" at our local library. It was very, very low-key. Kids of all ages would come each week and read their stories to the group. Some of the kids who were very passionate about writing ended up doing very long stories over the course of the year - each week they would bring a new chapter to read.

 

I think that skill-wise, R&S covers a lot for that age and that you can do a lot to nurture a passion of writing by gearing your assignments in other areas towards the written word.

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Do you know anyone that owns the TWSS by IEW? Their history lesson plans are rather cheap. I'm doing the Ancient History ($25) next year. If you could borrow the TWSS to watch yourself, it is easy enough to implement the lesson plans on your own. Some people have even done it without watching the TWSS.

Janis in DE

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I am very pleased with R&S in general, but I know we need to devote more effort to writing skills.

 

Have you read the WTM book? It has fantastic direction for teaching writing skills in the first 6 - 8 grades. It suggests doing copywork-->dictation and narration of history, science, and literature, until the child is comfortable with writing a few grammatically and mechanically correct sentences on his own, about a book or passage he just read. I have heard that there are not other writing programs out there that specifically teach these skills in the elementary grades. The WTM author (Susan Wise Bauer) is publishing a book (this month I think!) called Writing With Ease, and it specifically teaches these skills (copywork/dictation and narration), if a person feels s/he needs help in teaching them. Here are a few of links to the first few chapters of the book, from the Peace Hill Press website:

 

http://www.peacehillpress.com/

 

http://www.peacehillpress.com/samplepdfs/03-why-writing-fails.pdf

 

http://www.peacehillpress.com/samplepdfs/04-three-stages.pdf

 

After a child is comfortable with getting those sentences on paper, he can move into outlining a history or science passage/book. Again, there is direction in WTM for this, as well as on SWB's Writing Without Fear CD (Peace Hill Press, too). Between the WTM and the $5 writing CD, I was able to get a bigger picture of writing skills for all 12 grades - it gave me direction where I had none.

 

If you like R&S, then I'd suggest sticking with it, for the grammar and the writing exercises, and just adding in the copywork (or dictation, whichever they are ready for) and narration. When the kids are comfy with that (or if they already are!), start teaching outlining and USE these skills in history and science reading. I use R&S and these skills from WTM and the CD, and it's sure cheaper than the other programs out there, which is what I like! :) Thorough, too.

 

If you want to read more about the Writing With Ease book, check out the thread about it on the curriculum board - I think it's always at the top. Lots of questions in there, and answers from SWB. She explains things so clearly!

 

Welcome to the boards, by the way!

 

hth

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and I believe it CAN be used without the TWSS. I suggest you join the IEW yahoo group and go to files then product samples to look at the IEW Ancient Writing Lessons. Also look at all the other writing helps in the groups files.

 

Thank you! I will check that out!:)

 

After having homeschooled for 7 years, knowing myself (great intentions and lofty ideas, but requiring spoon-feeding in the form of books and workbooks I can break down piece-meal for me and my children) I really think we need a formal "program". I have read WTM and I love the ideas, but implementing them on my own is overwhelming to me. I need to be able to open a book and "go", if you know what I mean.

 

Still would love to hear others' experiences with formal writing programs and what they might recommend for a 4th/5th grader and a 6th/7th grader (to be more accurate, they are already in 4th and 6th and will finish by the new year or soon thereafter).

 

Thanks!

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The WTM author (Susan Wise Bauer) is publishing a book (this month I think!) called Writing With Ease, and it specifically teaches these skills (copywork/dictation and narration), if a person feels s/he needs help in teaching them. Here are a few of links to the first few chapters of the book, from the Peace Hill Press website:

 

http://www.peacehillpress.com/

 

http://www.peacehillpress.com/samplepdfs/03-why-writing-fails.pdf

 

http://www.peacehillpress.com/samplepdfs/04-three-stages.pdf

 

After a child is comfortable with getting those sentences on paper, he can move into outlining a history or science passage/book. Again, there is direction in WTM for this, as well as on SWB's Writing Without Fear CD (Peace Hill Press, too). Between the WTM and the $5 writing CD, I was able to get a bigger picture of writing skills for all 12 grades - it gave me direction where I had none.

 

If you like R&S, then I'd suggest sticking with it, for the grammar and the writing exercises, and just adding in the copywork (or dictation, whichever they are ready for) and narration. When the kids are comfy with that (or if they already are!), start teaching outlining and USE these skills in history and science reading. I use R&S and these skills from WTM and the CD, and it's sure cheaper than the other programs out there, which is what I like! :) Thorough, too.

 

If you want to read more about the Writing With Ease book, check out the thread about it on the curriculum board - I think it's always at the top. Lots of questions in there, and answers from SWB. She explains things so clearly!

 

Welcome to the boards, by the way!

 

hth

 

Thanks a bunch, Colleen! I thought SWB's new book was for younger students and that the more advanced books would not be available for 1-2-3 more years. Maybe I misunderstood - I will check it out!

 

Thanks for the welcome! I see you are from NS! My great-grandparetns were born there (Digby). Have a great day!

 

Kristina

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It is the best approach I have seen to establishing a literature rich environment and teaching writing around your interests and passions. It is written to the parent, and it is not a curriculum exactly; more like a detailed, effective approach. You would continue to use RS for grammar, but use this for writing. It is the only approach available that teaches writing the way that adult-level writers' workshops do.

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I have purchased a bunch of programs that didn't work. It would have been cheaper in the long run to just purchase IEW.

 

We are finishing up our first year and my daughter's writing has improved in leaps and bounds. I would suggest you buy the Teaching Writing Structure and Style DVD's and watch it. It is a recording of seminar given by Andrew Pudewa directed towards adults who would like to teach their kids to write. You could easily sell it when you were done for nearly the price you bought it for - the program is that popular.

 

I did the Student Writing Intensive level B with my dd this year. As I said, I'm very happy with the results. I plan on using US History based writing lessons next year. I picked it up used for a big discount.

 

There are many IEW support boards on Yahoo! I belong to the Families board and the Sale&Swap board.

 

I know it seems expensive, but it is cheaper than purchasing a bunch of medicore programs that don't work well.

 

Judy

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Thanks a bunch, Colleen! I thought SWB's new book was for younger students and that the more advanced books would not be available for 1-2-3 more years. Maybe I misunderstood - I will check it out!

 

Thanks for the welcome! I see you are from NS! My great-grandparetns were born there (Digby). Have a great day!

 

Kristina

 

You thought correctly. :) This book is the first in the series, and it's for grades 1-4 - other levels to be published later. It covers the skills of copywork/dictation and narration, I think, though, so that's why I mentioned it, in case your kids needed that foundation. The links to the chapters in the book, though, have information on teaching writing for all 12 years, in case you wanted an overview.

 

Hope you find something that works!

 

Yep, I live in Nova Scotia! Beautiful place....

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Since your 4th grade loves writing, I would leave her alone with it for a few years. I had to learn to try to not correct certain things in order for my children to go on and continue to learn and love from it.

 

For your 6th grade, I would do with WriteShop or IEW. I picked WriteShop because it was already all laid out for me.

 

I agree with what you said about Writing Strands. I tossed out two level 3 books barely used because the tone was so bad.

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I want to add though that I do not have personal experience. I am just telling you what I picked based on what I saw. So, take my opinion with a grain of salt. Sounds like the other people who replied have more experience in this area than me. But I definitely think you should let the natural writer 4th grader go for a while longer.

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