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lewelma

My evaluation of numerous writing curricula

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Since you plan to use WWS, my suggestion is somewhat different. I would go through WWE 4, and when you are finished with that, run through as much of CC Fable as you need. All of the lssons in CC Fable focus on outlining and retelling narratives from three points in time; i.e beginning, middle, and end, and it also teaches figures of description. When we used CC Fable, I went through the lessons and chose lessons that covered all the types of narrative retellings and the figures of description. I think we only did 4 or 5 lessons before moving on to CC Narrative. In addition, since the target audience for CC Fable is 4th and 5th grade and the source pieces; i.e. Aesop's fables are short, the daily work goes quickly. In fact, the copia day is probably the longest day of the week. After WWE 3 and 4, you can probably get what you want from CC Fable in five or six weeks at the end of the school year. Another option would be to start your year with CC Fable, and plan to do something else.

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oraetstudia-

 

This is exactly what I did with my dc and it worked out well. In fact we are now using CC Narrative alongside WWS. WWS is our primary, but we manage to sneak in weeks of CC here and there for added descriptive writing practice.

 

Good to hear! I've been very happy with WWE and WWS, but I think CC sounds like a good middle step for a kid who needs more help and work.

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Since you plan to use WWS, my suggestion is somewhat different. I would go through WWE 4, and when you are finished with that, run through as much of CC Fable as you need. All of the lssons in CC Fable focus on outlining and retelling narratives from three points in time; i.e beginning, middle, and end, and it also teaches figures of description. When we used CC Fable, I went through the lessons and chose lessons that covered all the types of narrative retellings and the figures of description. I think we only did 4 or 5 lessons before moving on to CC Narrative. In addition, since the target audience for CC Fable is 4th and 5th grade and the source pieces; i.e. Aesop's fables are short, the daily work goes quickly. In fact, the copia day is probably the longest day of the week. After WWE 3 and 4, you can probably get what you want from CC Fable in five or six weeks at the end of the school year. Another option would be to start your year with CC Fable, and plan to do something else.

 

Interesting. This would be for my rising fifth grader, so she would be the right age for CC Fable.

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If you decide to use CC Fable, I would initially buy just the teacher book from the author's website and decide if you need to work through the entire level. The teacher book includes the student materials, so you can make copies of selected narratives if you decide to only use a few of them.

Edited by 1Togo

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Out of curiosity, would it be crazy to go from WWE3 to CC-Fable to WWS? My son is doing well with WWS having done no WWE, but he has always been a decent writer. My daughter does okay with WWE, but I see some things in CC-Fable I would like her to have before WWS, I think, that I don't think she will get from another year of WWE.

 

I think this would work. I am speeding my 11yo through CC Fable and then CC Narrative this year. We'll finish the year with CW Homer Accelerated, so he'll be ready to start 7th grade in Diogenes. He started the year with 12 weeks of WWS.

 

I agree with the other posters that skipping WWE 4 is fine, assuming your child is doing well with writing summaries and taking dictation. SWB said you could skip WWE 4 and go on to WWS, so adding any amount of CC will only help. WWE 4 is really just more of the same as what's in WWE 3.

 

My 9yo son who is currently doing WWE 3 will probably do CC Fable and CC Narrative next year. For 5th grade, I think he'll be well-prepared to go into either WWS or CW Homer.

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OP, thank you for taking the time to write this wonderful review. This thread has given me a lot to ponder. I will definitely be reading Corbett's book this summer.

 

Ideally, I would use the same progression you are planning (WWS>LToW>Rhetoric with SWB's recommendations). However, my dd is already in 7th grade and I can't help but believe she will be behind if she is just completing WWS in 10th grade. WWS isn't particulary difficult for her (she has experience with two and three level outlines already), yet her writing still seems immature compared to other samples I've seen.

 

She is dyslexic and, although she does well with her grammar exercises in a workbook, applying those rules to her writing is still very difficult. She doesn't even catch the errors when re-reading her work.

 

What would you recommend to prepare her for LToW in the next year to year and a half? I have MCT's Essay Voyage, Killgalon's Sentence Composing, and The Lively Art of Writing on my shelf; however, I will consider anything. We are on week 18 of WWS and I am not sure if I want to continue with it. I really do like it, but I need to get her up to speed quicker than WWS will allow.

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However, my dd is already in 7th grade and I can't help but believe she will be behind if she is just completing WWS in 10th grade. WWS isn't particulary difficult for her (she has experience with two and three level outlines already), yet her writing still seems immature compared to other samples I've seen.

 

Well, I am certainly no expert so hopefully you will get some others to give you suggestions too.

 

1) The first issue I think is how to compact what she needs to know into 1 year (ETA this is dependent on the answer to issue #2 below). Well, there are many types of writing for your dd to master before high school -- outlines, summaries, reports, narratives, descriptions, and possibly intro research papers and intro lit analysis. It sounds like you would like to compact the above material into 1 year (8th grade) so you can move into persuasive writing and research papers and rhetoric in high school.

 

So out of the list I wrote above, I assume your daughter can write summaries because she is using WWS, and clearly she can outline well. If you finish WWS1 then you will have covered descriptive and narrative writing and intro lit analysis and research papers. I personally do not know of any other curriculum that covers all of those in just 1 year. So all your left with is report writing, which I am guessing that she has done before. WWS 2-3 also covers definition, comparison, and cause/effect papers, but so does LToW, so no need to overlap.

 

So depending on issue #2 (below) if I were you, I would finish up WWS1, and then I would spend her 8th grade year reviewing and practicing the above writing types. Do 1 paper per week. Monday plan, Tue and Wed write, Thur edit, Fri copy over and proof read. If you need more guidance, IEW has units on narrative, reports, research reports, and intro lit analysis (critique). And IEW puts a lot of time to style which might help your dd. You don't need a curriculum to practice what you already know, but if you as the teacher are uncertain, you can compact IEW's structure and style into 1 good year. Other curriculum are much harder to compact.

 

2) Now the second issue is how to help her write in a more "mature" fashion. I am not exactly clear about what you mean by "mature." If this is just an issue of style rather than organization and clear thinking, then Killgallon would help as would IEW structure and style. If however, "mature" means that her papers are jumbled and unclear, then she is not as far along the writing journey as you think she is. So WWS might be easy because she is not actually doing the assignments properly. If her writing is jumbled and unclear then I do not think that you can compact 3 years of development into 1 year. You can compact 3 years of writing types into 1 year for a good writer, but an average writer needs time and lots of practice. If you want to post some of her work here, or on the K-8 writing workshop board or even privately, I can look at it and see if I can tell if it is just style (and finding her voice) or if her work is actually jumbled. This distinction to me is the difference between the decorations and the scaffolding.

 

Personally, I don't like MCT's Essay Voyage unless you daughter is a comfortable, confident writer and The Lively Art of Writing is for persuasive writing so that can wait for high school while you shore up the other writing types.

 

She is dyslexic and, although she does well with her grammar exercises in a workbook, applying those rules to her writing is still very difficult. She doesn't even catch the errors when re-reading her work.
Clearly, you need to spend quite a bit of time on this, because it is assumed mastered by the time you hit high school. You dd just might need an extra year (or even 2) before attacking high school level writing. Hard to say without seeing her work.

 

My final point-- you need to meet your daughter where she is and build her skills at a pace appropriate to her. I'm all for shoring up weaknesses, but make sure that you provide a firm foundation and don't feel rushed to meet someone else's time line.

 

HTH,

 

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
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However, my dd is already in 7th grade and I can't help but believe she will be behind if she is just completing WWS in 10th grade.

 

...We are on week 18 of WWS and I am not sure if I want to continue with it. I really do like it, but I need to get her up to speed quicker than WWS will allow.

 

Have a look at this post:

 

http://www.welltrainedmind.com/forums/showpost.php?p=3187803&postcount=138

 

and then SWB's other posts on the topic of older kids using WWS in that same thread.

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She is dyslexic and, although she does well with her grammar exercises in a workbook, applying those rules to her writing is still very difficult. She doesn't even catch the errors when re-reading her work.

 

Choosing curricula for my dyslexic son is a balancing act. On the one hand he needs high level challenge, on the other he needs very explicit skill based practice. Sometimes I find it helpful to separate the two. For example when he writes I don't really harp on spelling errors. I try to keep that separate.

 

Lately I have been trying to figure out how to give him practice with word retrieval. This is a big challenge for him. During his last writing assignment he was using the word "devout" and he really meant "devoted" this small difference made his sentence sound weird. The funny thing was, I couldn't figure out what he was really trying to say until we checked a thesaurus.

 

Anyhow, the point of all of this is I think it's generally a good idea to find what your daughters big challenges are and figure out ways to address these challenges separately.

 

I found WWS to be really helpful for DS because one thing he had a super hard time with was summarizing information. Ideas are all swimming around in his head and he takes a very long time to organize them and get them out. I still haven't decided if he needs WWS2 for next year.

 

I am toying around with Rhetoric level material at this point. On the one hand he isn't ready and on the other hand he has been ready for years. We have a big disconnect with thinking and skills. I am trying to build the bridge in both directions.

 

If your daughter needs editing practice, maybe you can find an editing book. You know one of those books with a prewritten essay with errors that you edit. What other things does she need help with?

 

I found Kilgallon very good. I also have MCT and though it wasn't explicit enough it did help DS with the big picture of essay writing.

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Thank you lewelma, Colleen, and onaclaradeluna for your thoughts.

 

Colleen - I have read those posts before and they are encouraging. However, I have a difficult time planning to be just 'better than 60%'. If there is another path that will get her where she needs to be on time, then that is the path she should follow no matter how much we love WWS.

 

Lewlema- you definitely clarified for me what I need to do to get her ready for LTOW and Rhetoric. I think I will continue with WWS 1 and probably WWS 2 next year. Next year I will also add in one other paper per week on one of her lit, history, or science topics. It's clear to me from your posts that I have not been doing enough direct instruction with WWS. Yes, I've basically been handing it to her, checking her work, and correcting.

 

Organization and structure aren't so much the problem. The issues seem to be 1.) mechanics, 2.) word choice, and 3.) tone/style.

 

Honestly, I think the mechanics and word choice problems are primarily laziness. Spelling and punctuation are not easy for her, so she just uses simple words (when she really has a much larger vocabualry) and does not pay attention basic punctuation. Curiously, she nails the more advanced punctuation (semi-colons, quotes). I have probably excused this too much in the past, but I'm going to start making her re-write until all the errors have been corrected. I'll also require her to use better words where appropriate.

 

As for tone and style, I can't get her past using a very casual, almost conversational tone. She writes the way she speaks minus her better vocabulary. Even in science or history report writing, her writing lacks a formal tone. It is not necessarily bad. In fact, I think her writing would be on par with the local middle school's expectations. That, however, is not my goal. I think 8filltheheart previously mentioned a focus on fiction and personal commentary. Well, she's very good at that. :tongue_smilie:

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Melabella, I think that either Sentence Composing or Image Grammar (maybe both) would be helpful with the style aspect. I have personally found a lot of value in the Figures of Description used within Classical Composition Narrative this year.

 

I would probably just add to the lit, history or science writing assignments that she include 1 appositive, participial phrase, etc. Perhaps have a checklist and have her incorporate a simile in her writing. SC & Image Grammar do this, but having her practice doing it regularly in her own writing is bound to help.

 

We are enjoying WWS this year by the way! Although the writing at times does feel a bit dry and stilted as far as the style aspect goes. I am sort of chalking this up to learning how to walk before talk .. mine just need practice on the mechanics, and getting things in the right order and then I will incorporate more of the other.

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Colleen - I have read those posts before and they are encouraging. However, I have a difficult time planning to be just 'better than 60%'. If there is another path that will get her where she needs to be on time, then that is the path she should follow no matter how much we love WWS.

 

That was the point of SWB's post I linked - that WWS will get you to better-prepared than 60%, AND that you can go further, even at the "late" start of grade 11 (and I think you said Grade 10, so that's even better). The Kane book she mentioned is REALLY helpful - if you learn the material in it, you'll be able to take her further in Grades 10-12 (and do all that writing across the curriculum during those years).

 

Organization and structure aren't so much the problem. The issues seem to be 1.) mechanics, 2.) word choice, and 3.) tone/style.

 

Honestly, I think the mechanics and word choice problems are primarily laziness. ...

 

As for tone and style, I can't get her past using a very casual, almost conversational tone. She writes the way she speaks minus her better vocabulary.

 

For my kids, I find that three things help:

 

- good grammar/mechanic training - those dull R&S exercises are really coming in handy these days for my kids

- correcting EVERY piece of writing (one short piece per day - either from WWS or from a made-by-me assignment applying new writing skills to content reading) I require of them - grammar, spelling, mechanics

- lots of good-quality reading in content areas

 

What about trying diagraming sentences that you feel are too casual in her writing? I wonder if you might find that the problem is actually grammar sometimes. You can use diagraming to "fix" sentences and make them sound better. I find that when there is a grammar error, if I point it out to my kids and ask them how they want to fix it, this forces them to think through not only the error and how to fix it, but also what *exactly* they want to say. It makes them be more precise. It also helps them to say what is on *their* minds (precisely, and influenced by their good-quality reading), which in turn helps them to develop their own style.

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Melabella, I think that either Sentence Composing or Image Grammar (maybe both) would be helpful with the style aspect.

 

:iagree: Kilgallon! It's great for style.

 

Word choice is a common problem with dyslexics. I am on the hunt for resources for this. However your DDs problems could be due to fatigue. I know my son has issues with fatigue when he is writing.

 

You might want to use her work in Kilgallon to get picky about things like word choice and punctuation. If fatigue is really what is going on it will be much easier for her to work on these skills with shorter (ie. sentence length) assignments.

 

Teaching my son to write is like teaching a cheetah in lead boots to sprint. It is so hard and yet it is completely necessary. And I have to be really careful, otherwise he might bite. Most of the time I just feel sorry for him. I am chipping away at the boots and helping him "walk the track" once I get the boots off, he will fly-I know he will.

 

BTW thanks so much for bringing this up. I just popped into "The Lively Art..." This is a win. Love it. It was exactly what I needed today.

 

I love Colleen's advice about grammar and diagramming.

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What about trying diagraming sentences that you feel are too casual in her writing?

 

Colleen, thanks for the reminder. I have listened to SWB's audio lectures several times and this is one thing I always take away, but always fail to implement. I really need a way to remind myself to do this!

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Word choice is a common problem with dyslexics. I am on the hunt for resources for this.

 

Teaching my son to write is like teaching a cheetah in lead boots to sprint. It is so hard and yet it is completely necessary. And I have to be really careful, otherwise he might bite.

 

If you find any resources, let me know. Like I said, though, I really think it is a case of laziness. She has always had an advanced vocabulary, but she chooses the simple words when writing because they are easier to spell.

 

I like your cheetah in lead boots analogy. Reading, spelling, and now writing have all been this way for us. Ugh!

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I really need a way to remind myself to do this!

 

I used to get caught up in thoughts such as, "Oh, this sentence kind of trailed off into blather....hmmm....how can it be fixed...OK, he just needs to put in thus-n-such over here....'ds, come here and put this word in...' blah blah blah." And then he would get frustrated as I tried to explain what was wrong or missing or whatever, because *I* was the one doing the thinking for him.

 

I had to keep reminding myself to simply say, "Ds, come diagram this sentence. It doesn't make sense." I'd help him with the actual diagraming if he needed help, but he had to do it. I'd help with suggestions for fixing, but he had to make the final decision, as long as it was grammatically correct. Simpler for everyone.

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I used to get caught up in thoughts such as, "Oh, this sentence kind of trailed off into blather....hmmm....how can it be fixed...OK, he just needs to put in thus-n-such over here....'ds, come here and put this word in...' blah blah blah." And then he would get frustrated as I tried to explain what was wrong or missing or whatever, because *I* was the one doing the thinking for him.

 

 

Yes, this is me exactly (lowering head in shame). I know better.

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Melabella,

 

I've been thinking about the maturity issue some more. I'm curious how long it takes your dd to do the "practicing the Topos" assignments (day 4 for weeks 1-15 and day 3 for weeks 16+). I ask this because my ds requires much more than 1 day to plan, write, and edit his paper. We are currently on week 20, and he took 1.5 hours to read the day 4 material (quite a lot to read), choose a theme, and outline what he plans to write tomorrow. I expect tomorrow it will take him 1.5 hours to write the Shakespeare paper because it will be long (400 words?). Then on Friday, we will work together for 1 hour to edit. We will work on transitions, intro/concluding sentences, diagramming poor sentences, punctuation, word choice, etc. Then on Monday and Tuesday he will type it up. So if you are looking at my ds's samples on the WWS samples thread, please be aware that it takes him more than an hour to write each assignment.

 

I am sure that different families use the WWS materials in different ways, and I know that many students do not take so long to write up the assignments. I suppose it depends on what your child needs. We are using WWS as the MAJOR writing he does for the week; others use it just to supplement writing across the curriculum or just to expose their dc to different writing genres or in conjunction with an additional writing curriculum.

 

Perhaps, if you want to work on maturity, spending more time on editing might help. I also check his outline before he writes and get him to orally compose at least the first paragraph to give me an idea for how he will write it up. This technique saves time in the editing process as I can head off major problems before it is on paper.

 

Ruth

Edited by lewelma

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Thank you, Ruth! :D

 

Of course, now I really want to get Herodotus for myself, nevermind using it with my children!

 

Thank you again for such a well presented review.

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This thread has been extremely wonderful and helpful to me so much so that I was able to write a rough draft for my dc writing curriculums during the late middle school to high school years. I even bit the bullet and purchased D'Angelo's book,Classical rhetoric and The Lively Art of Writing. Corbett's book I will get later as I can borrow it from the library when needed.

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The only problem with this thread...now I am accumulating writing curriculum to make my own decision, lots and lots of writing curriculum. :lol:

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I haven't read this whole thread (I should; it's great!) but since I'm using CW (so far Aesop through Diogenes), I thought I'd add some comments for further illumination! :)

 

There were a couple of comments with regards to Homer that linked it to creative writing, which perhaps may not be entirely accurate. I believe the purpose of both Aesop and Homer is to expose the student to good writing (both structurally and morally) assuming that if good writing is what they are learning from, when they come to produce writing independently, their writing will be similar to the models. I did not feel there was any emphasis on creative writing and certainly any structure the student is exposed to (ie. outline) is in an essay-type format.

 

I also noticed another comment about CW not including "modern" writing. We have just begun Diogenes (Love it!) so we haven't covered much of the essay writing yet, but when my dd had to set up her binder, she was instructed to have a section for "Modern Essay," so from that I can only suppose they teach it. In any case, I don't feel that how she is learning to write now is "un-modern". Even with learning to praise maxims, she can apply what she has learned to anything that deserves praise.

 

With CW, doing all of it can be over-kill, so you have to be involved enough to adjust it where needed, to make it work for you. For example, we just skipped the last half of Homer B because it dealt with clarity, concision and credibility and I felt that my dd was reasonably proficient (at this level) in all these areas to move on.

 

Many writing programs do a good job of teaching the student the structure and form of writing but CW, IMO, goes a step further and really works on teaching the student to write well, working from words, to sentences to paragraphs, etc.

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Adding and agreeing with Cleopatra.

 

I would like to add a few, general comments about CW and also CC. Since I've used both of them, I can say they are similiar in that each level focuses primarily on a specific level of the progymnasta, and the student really learns the types of writing needed for that level because the focus is narrow. However, the skills are universal. CW teaches many copia skills at the word, sentence and paragraph level, and it also includes modern writing, although I would agree with Cleopatra that the maxim writing isn't "un-modern." CC teaches less copia than CW and focuses strictly on the progym forms.

 

Diogenes Maxim has five units, and the last unit covers modern essays. Only one unit covers modern essays because the first four units teach the parts of modern essays through the ancient maxim essay. After the student works through the first four units, he is taught to see the connections between the maxim essay and a modern essay. For example, in maxim essays, the student learns to write cause, opposite, analogy, example, and testimony paragraphs. The body paragaphs in modern essays are essentially the same and learning a variety of ways to support a thesis is a plus. I also did not see an emphasis in CW Homer on creative writing. In my opinion, the focus was internalizing narrative order, outlining, retelling narratives from various points in time, and extensive copia development at the word, sentence and paragraph level. In adddition, Homer provides systematic instruction on writing narrative summaries and a precis. The process used to take a five-page narrative and reduce it to a two-sentence precis was easier than anything we had used previously.

 

Posts on this thread have also mentioned CC Fable and Narrative as a creative writing curriculum, and while both of them include instruction in various figures of description, the real focus is teaching narrative order through outlining, retelling narratives from various points in time, and developing copia skills at the word and sentence level.

Edited by 1Togo

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I like the looks of WWS, but we're currently using the IEW Student Intensive B. My daughter was in ps and even though we started homeschooling this year (6th grade) she could not write papers. Reading comprehension is great- answering questions- great- but meltdowns with writing reports. PS really let us down with teaching writing (both organization, summarizing, outlining, etc.)

 

I'm looking at WWS for next yr (7th) in addition to lots of great literature for her, but also wondered how IEW's programs like Classical Rhetoric through Structure and Style: Writing Lessons Based on the Progymnasmata, Teaching the Classics, or Windows to the World stack up compared to WWS and CC programs? Anybody used these that can weigh in? Would it be too much to combine, use pieces from both?

 

Thanks!

Paula

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I would not use Windows to the World until early high school with a weak writer. I doubt that I will use it before high school even with a strong writer.

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I agree that I wouldn't use Windows to the World with a weak writer before high school. Teaching the Classics is not a composition curriculum, but it is a fun way to begin literature analysis,and the work can be done orally if you need to focus on writing with a composition curriculum. I would not use anything with Classical Writing. It is complete. As I mentioned, we are using CW Maxim and have completed CW Aesop/Homer. I didn't need to add anything, and the lessons keep us busy. Likewise, WWS. Why would you need to use anything else? It's supposed to be a complete curriculum.

Edited by 1Togo

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I like the looks of WWS, but we're currently using the IEW Student Intensive B. My daughter was in ps and even though we started homeschooling this year (6th grade) she could not write papers. Reading comprehension is great- answering questions- great- but meltdowns with writing reports. PS really let us down with teaching writing (both organization, summarizing, outlining, etc.)

 

I'm looking at WWS for next yr (7th) in addition to lots of great literature for her, but also wondered how IEW's programs like Classical Rhetoric through Structure and Style: Writing Lessons Based on the Progymnasmata, Teaching the Classics, or Windows to the World stack up compared to WWS and CC programs? Anybody used these that can weigh in? Would it be too much to combine, use pieces from both?

 

Thanks!

Paula

 

For me, I like CW best but you have to be willing to put the time in to learn how it works. You don't need to add anything to it. I do not like IEW. I find it too formulaic and the writing produced from it often sounds contrived. I haven't looked at Classical Rhetoric through Structure & Style lately but all the other levels I've seen, including Elegant Essay and I was not impressed.

 

Honestly, since you have a dd coming out of ps, if you want something straightforward and a solid program to give you a start, I would try WWS. I've used the first part of it and I really like it. Later, if you want to add a program that goes more in depth and works with the student's actual writing style, I'd go with either CW or CC. Sometimes the progymnasmata looks overwhelming for students who struggle with writing, but they break down the stages very logically and I know a number of struggling writers who have done very well using classical programs.

 

HTH a little!:001_smile:

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I think CW & CC use 'fictional' writing as the basis of their early programs, and CC definitely creates a more creative writer with regards to sentence structure & all the figures of description that are taught, so perhaps calling them 'creative writing' curriculums is indeed incorrect, but when compared to the writing taught in WWS they are fictional vs nonfiction.

 

Which is sort of what I have a question about. If a person chooses to use CW or CC with their children, do they get practice in writing about history, science, biographies of a person, etc? I know that sounds like a silly question, but all I really have to look at is the early years of CC & CW and they are fictional writing, and having used WWS I am reluctant to go back to a completely fictional approach to writing. What topics are being written about when you are in Diogenes? Would the topics themselves be of a more modern style or are we solely taught to copy and write about ancient works?

 

I apologize if I am way off base, but that is why I am asking the question. I just want to understand the topics. I don't think the structure or formatting of the essays within CW would be the issue for me, it would be the topics we have to write about. I think that is what I have enjoyed about WWS so much. We jumped right in working on modern topics and things that the kids were learning about in science & history, so it is easily applied across the curriculum even after one year of WWS.

 

However, with WWS possibly not coming out until Summer of 2013, I have to think about what to do for the coming year. I can continue practicing the styles we learned in WWS, I can finish going through CW (even though I would rather at this point they be writing about topics they are studying in science & history), or I can move towards more persuasive writing with LToW. It appears that much of WWS2 will have to do with comparing topics .. so when does that begin with LToW or CW or CC or ??? lol. Lots more questions everyone!!

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Sadonna,

 

 

We're using CW Maxim, and the work is not based on narrative retellings, which is the primary composition work in CW Aesop and Homer. I think of fiction writing as story writing and that wasn't our focus in Aesop/Homer. In addition to the skills I mentioned in a previous post, we worked on narrative analysis, precis writing, and summaries. DD is using the skills she learned in Aseop/Homer with Maxim, which teaches a variety of paragraphs. Maxim also includes essay analysis, copia and grammar work, and in the last unit, it covers modern essays, which include all of the paragraph types learned in the maxim essay. Although they are not long essays, dd writes daily with her history and Bible curriculum and applies the skills she has learned with her progym work. Recently, she has been able to use events and characters from Bible, history and literature in her maxim essays. The CW lessons take a fair amount of time, so I don't assign much additional writing.

 

 

However, from the description of the WWS work you enjoy, I don't think CW would be a good fit for you. It's a blessing you have found a writing curriculum that works for your children, and I suggest you stay the course with it. Since your children are only 9 and 10, you have lots of options for reviewing WWS I skills, especially if you work on mastery. That should keep them busy until you can be part of the beta-testing for WWS 2.

 

 

LToW I, which we have used and love, teaches the comparison essay in the last lesson of the course, although the persusasive essay lessons include invention work that involves comparison. LToW I is suggested for 7th grade and above. CW Herodotus includes comparison in its lessons, and it is definitely high school level.

 

 

1togo

Edited by 1Togo

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This is an amazing resource of information; I wish such informative posts as this could be pinned so as not to get lost :)

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Adding this. If you are considering a writing curriculum, input from mothers who have used the curriculum for a few years might help you understand how that curriculum worked for them and their children. There are mothers on this board who have worked through the first level of WWS. Others have worked through a few levels of Classical Writing, IEW, etc. There is a wealth of experience on the boards.

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I know this thread is older, but I am bumping it up for those who are doing marathon-planning sessions for next year:-). Really, really useful discussion on a topic that gets lots of questions around here. :-)

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Glad the discussion was useful! Last month, I wrote up a more detailed comparison between LToW and WWS after having beta tested WWS2, and I think it would be useful to have it in this thread. WWS2 was not written when I did my initial comparison last year.

 

x-post

 

As some of you might know, I have been reading lots of writing curricula and writing books as a way to prepare for teaching high school writing. And now I have somehow fallen into being an English tutor for a friend's boy who is in 11th grade! Yes, I know this is nuts. But there it is. So, I have been busy reading and thinking and understanding how different methods lead to the same endpoint.

 

I would like to compare WWS and LToW because they are very different in their approaches, and I hope that my thoughts might give parents a framework to review all the other curriculum that are out there. WWS is not completely written yet, but my ds and I have worked through level 1 and are beta testing level 2; and with the scope and sequence, it is all becoming clear. I have not used LToW, but have read it twice. I'm sure that users can add to my comments from their personal experience.

 

THE BIG PICTURE

 

The end goal is to be able to write like Rachel Carson or MLK. Their work is showcased in Corbett's Classical Rhetoric for the Modern Student – the top book recommended by SWB in the WTM for advanced 12th graders. I have read Corbett and Horner (Rhetoric in the Classical Tradition which was recommended by 8filltheheart). These essays are long, well researched, and well reasoned using a variety of arguments. The language is beautiful and carefully chosen, and the ideas are organized carefully for the greatest effect. This is our goal.

 

There seem to be 2 main ways of approaching this goal – whole-to-parts and parts-to-whole. LToW uses whole-to-parts and WWS uses parts-to-whole.

 

LToW teaches the student to write a persuasive essay on the first day – it starts with the whole. The first essay is simple in ideas, structure, and elocution – it is really boring to read as is clearly stated in the program. But it is still a full essay – a thesis with 3 arguments. The idea is to give the student the entire picture first and then over the period of years to improve upon it by teaching the student to 1) construct better arguments by thinking about the topic more clearly, 2) arrange ideas better by drawing the reader in with good introductions and conclusions, 3) write with more beauty both by avoiding vague words and by including advanced language constructions. This is an iterative process. The student always writes a full essay but then improve upon it over and over again.

 

WWS teaches the student to write one piece at a time, but to write that piece in an advanced manner. Each month SWB introduces the student to another piece of a good essay and has the student write that one piece in an outstanding way. There is never a boring, annoying, full essay written on purpose like in LToW, but then again the student only writes small pieces. Her goal is to have the student rock solid in writing descriptions, narratives, definitions, comparisons, and cause/effects, and then and only then to write a large persuasive essay using all these pieces. This essay will be saved for high school level writing (I am assuming this will be the focus of her Writing with Style high school program). SWB has stated numerous times that she regularly sees students who can write essays but have nothing to say; they have nothing to say because they have never been taught deep, meaningful thinking and how to translate it into good, solid, effective writing. This is what WWS teaches. Each piece is developed in minute detail – the questions to ask yourself, the examples to read, the subtle differences in thinking required for different topics. But the student using WWS only writes 1 or maybe 2 pieces at a time. The full essay is delayed until the student masters the pieces, which would require 3 or 4 years. These pieces are required for advanced essays like Rachel Carson/ MLK, but are rarely seen in High school because of the "5 paragraph essay," which is simple in invention and arrangement. SWB has a larger goal in mind -- university-level writing.

 

University-level writing has a thesis to prove, but you don't prove it with 3 points. You introduce the topic with a personal narrative, and then define the difficult words, which leads to comparisons and cause/effects. You describe an important sequence, and end with a powerful conclusion, with pointed questions. All the pieces come together to prove your thesis. This is the goal. Just look at a classic essay and this is what the author has done. The author does not have a formula of: tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them 3 points, and tell them what you told them. This formula does not lead to great writing. A student must advance beyond the formula in university. SWB's WWS avoids the formula and focuses on the pieces so that one day the student will be ready to put them together into a great and powerful persuasive essay (I assume this is the goal of WWSkill). LToW uses the formula as a temporary crutch and hopes that one day the student will move past it.

 

Obviously, which type of program is better for a student depends on the student.

 

THE DETAILS

 

There are some smaller things of note.

 

Writing Examples: LToW does not provide examples, but recommends that you find some to show your students. WWS has LOTS of very well chosen examples.

 

Learning style: LToW uses discussion to teach material. WWS is a self-taught program using a textbook.

 

Type of essay taught: LToW teaches persuasive writing; WWS teaches expository and literary analysis.

 

What students write about: LToW lets students pick what they want to write about. WWS gives topics and resources to the student (except for a few research papers).

 

Invention Topics covered: LToW teaches definition, similarities and differences, circumstance, cause and effect, authority witness/expert. WWS teaches descriptions, narratives, definitions, comparisons, and cause/effects. WWS1 mostly focuses on descriptions and narratives which are not really covered in LToW. WWS2&3 and LToW overlap on many invention topics.

 

Research Skills: LToW focuses on ideas that the student comes up with from their mind. WWS has a *strong*, purposeful focus on research, note-taking, documentation, footnotes, and plagiarism.

 

Thinking skills: LToW is excellent in getting kids to really think about a subject by teaching them to ask questions. WWS also uses questions and is equally excellent, but has even more questions, more detail, and more subtle differences. WWS is more advanced in thinking skills.

 

Arrangement: LToW has formulaic essays. WWS has clear guidelines but not formulas.

 

Elocution: LToW has an excellent (and I mean excellent!) elocution section for each essay. With a focus on vague writing and advanced techniques. WWS has a much more simple approach to elocution than LToW.

 

Well, that is about it. I am happy to answer questions if anyone has any. I have reviewed a bunch of curricula before on this thread, and a LOT of other people contributed. So it is worth your time to have a read if you have not already.

 

MY PERSONAL CHOICES (depending on when WWS3 comes out)

 

IMHO WWS2 is more difficult than LToW. So you could definitely do the sequence WWS1, LToW, WWS2, because WWS1 is mostly focused on descriptions and narratives which are not really included in LToW. But LToW introduces the different invention topics in a simpler manner than WWS2, so you could use it as a slower introduction. The main problem with this is that after doing the elocution in LToW, WWS2 will seem simple, and you will probably want to skip it. I do think that LToW will give you student the big picture, which can at times be lost in the details of WWS. My ds has good elocution skills, so he has found the WWS2 material too simple, and we have skipped most of it. I think he will love LToW elocution.

 

For me, since we will be done with WWS2 this year, we will switch to LToW next year and try to apply our research skills and more advanced questions learned in WWS2, but still use the LToW framework. I personally really dislike the LToW teacher's manual. I mean really, get to the point! But I am sure that I can teach it my way with a bit of effort. Here's to hoping the SWB works her little fanny off to get WWS3 out ASAP!

 

Ruth in NZ

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Now I am even happier I posted this:-). Thanks so much for the detail and insights, especially with regard to WWS2. I have been wondering how the folks testing that have been doing!

 

 

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lewelma,

 

I know this thread has been here for a long time...it is most instructive! I am wondering if you have had a chance to look at CW Plutarch (which is now available). Just wondering how it fits in to the scope of your evaluation. It seems that Herodotus impressed you and pulled CW into being an even better and more complete program (once you were able to evaluate a higher level). Does Plutarch continue this trend? Does it address the things you were unsure of for the upper levels in the past because they were not finished yet? Inquiring minds want to know! :-)

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Wow! I am just going crosseyed over this thread. I cut and pasted so I can tak e this to work with me tonight. For now what is CC-fables and so on?? I can't figure this out.

 

Holly

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CC is Classical Composition by Memoria Press. Fable is the first level. Classical Composition follows the progymnasmata exercises in the same was as Classical Writing, but CC only includes composition instruction so is much more compact than CW which includes the whole of language arts. Really depends on what you are looking for.

 

Ruth in NZ

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We have done CW through Herodotus here, one way or another. Interesting, this is the first time I've heard CW get linked to creative writing. I usually find myself explaining how the students of CW can be creative within the writing assignments without the need for creative writing lessons.

 

CW has both fiction and non-fiction models. There are even plenty of weeks where they write across the curriculum and can pick a model from their history, science, current events, etc.

 

I just had my ds take a class that used the Herodotus book. Although I've been looking forward to this book, I wasn't able to be as involved with him as I would have liked. They ended up not using the student guides with it and just going through the book. This is doable but I'd suggest reading the intro pages first so you can understand all the additional work that can go along with it like maintaining a Commonplace book, doing the Traditional Logic I book before the logic chapter in the text, etc. It is also worth noting that the full essay assignments for the whole book are at the end. It's a very straight forward text. My ds seems to be understanding it just fine. I think he learned a great deal from it.

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Thanks for clarifying the CC. Now I am confused. This is regards to my high school NONwriter boy. He is in freshman this year and going through WWS1. It is like pulling teeth with him. He loathes writing. I really wish all four levels of WWS is done lol!! For a boy who is very weak at writing, what would be the logical step after WWS1? I do want to do WWS2 but need to add another program to this but do not want to do double of the same thing, kwim? I have looked at LTOW and now looking at CC? I have read this thread several times trying to sort out differences of opinion in this thread. I literally am crosseyed after reading this again today. LOL....

 

Thanks guys!!

 

Holly

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Holly, when my ds was 11 we did WWS and it was a huge headache. We swapped to IEWB about 3/4 way through WWS, and ds has loved writing ever since. One thing I keep saying is that I think, for the average boy, WWS is too hard under the age of 13.

 

Also I think it depends if your child is 'whole to parts' or 'parts to whole'. After reading some of LLewema's posts I realised my ds was whole to parts inclined. WWS is parts to whole, and IEW and LToW is whole to parts.

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Fabulous evaluation. I am familiar with many of the curricula, and I agree with many of your conclusions. The only thing you might also consider is Biblical Worldview Rhetoric by Shaunna Howat. I think it is an excellent bridge from LToW to Corbett.

 

I fully agree that Corbett is the gold standard. I even have Horner's, which IMHO is kind of a pale imitation of Corbett. I didn't like it nearly as well as I thought it would.

 

Shawunna Howat also has a Rhetoric II, but I think it is not as valuable/necessary as 1. And her examples are excellent, like pieces from the founding fathers of the US and stuff, not ghastly police reports like DeAngelo (blech!).

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Also I think it depends if your child is 'whole to parts' or 'parts to whole'. After reading some of LLewema's posts I realised my ds was whole to parts inclined. WWS is parts to whole, and IEW and LToW is whole to parts.

 

 

Thank you for this observation - very helpful to me!!

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Is it possible to use LOTW with WWS?

 

 

I'm not sure about "with" as in "at the same time," but I'm thinking strongly of using it between WWS1 & WWS2. There is a thread where Ruth compared the two programs, and there was a lot of discussion about how one might do this:

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/455439-my-comparison-of-wws-to-ltow/

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Fabulous evaluation. I am familiar with many of the curricula, and I agree with many of your conclusions. The only thing you might also consider is Biblical Worldview Rhetoric by Shaunna Howat. I think it is an excellent bridge from LToW to Corbett.

 

I fully agree that Corbett is the gold standard. I even have Horner's, which IMHO is kind of a pale imitation of Corbett. I didn't like it nearly as well as I thought it would.

 

Shawunna Howat also has a Rhetoric II, but I think it is not as valuable/necessary as 1. And her examples are excellent, like pieces from the founding fathers of the US and stuff, not ghastly police reports like DeAngelo (blech!).

Thank you for mentioning Biblical Worldview Rhetoric. I've been looking at it, and I like what I see on her blog. For what ages have you used this?

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CC is Classical Composition by Memoria Press. Fable is the first level. Classical Composition follows the progymnasmata exercises in the same was as Classical Writing, but CC only includes composition instruction so is much more compact than CW which includes the whole of language arts. Really depends on what you are looking for.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

Wonderful thread! Truly appreciate the work you put into this.

 

The only piece of information that I am missing is some observation on Religious vs Secular content in the different alternatives. (Might be relevant to both "sides" to some degree. Myself I can live with some religious "presence", but not with bible studies masquerading as a writing program. )

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The only piece of information that I am missing is some observation on Religious vs Secular content in the different alternatives. (Might be relevant to both "sides" to some degree. Myself I can live with some religious "presence", but not with bible studies masquerading as a writing program. )

 

JDoe, I only use secular resources or secular-adaptable resources. Anything I have reviewed, I can use.

 

HTH,

 

Ruth in NZ

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JDoe, I only use secular resources or secular-adaptable resources. Anything I have reviewed, I can use.

 

HTH,

 

Ruth in NZ

 

Thanks Ruth, I'm sold! Now, I have to figure out how to fit the pieces together in my overall puzzle.

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...

Also I think it depends if your child is 'whole to parts' or 'parts to whole'. After reading some of LLewema's posts I realised my ds was whole to parts inclined. WWS is parts to whole, and IEW and LToW is whole to parts.

 

 

That's a good point. Hmm, I think Classical Writing is also parts to whole... I know in the upper levels they teach the specific paragraphs one at a time and if they write a whole essay before they are done learning all the specific paragraphs, they skip those till they have learned how to do those paragraphs. Although they do have them read an example essay with all the parts early on. So they do see the whole picture but they work on it part by part.

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