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8 Fill the Heart and Angela in Ohio and anyone else- question from the writing thread


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8 Fill the heart said this:

"For my older kids, I want them to develop strong presentation w/topics in science, history, and lit w/evidence in MLA format. I want them to be able to not only write persuasive essays but also research papers......"

 

I need help finding this for my rising 8th grader! I like WWS and I will use it with my younger son for 6th-9th... But, for my daughter I need something like the above quote. The publication schedule alone is one reason. I don't like working with the pdfs. She has a lot of additional language arts and writes in history daily.

 

7th:

-She has done 21 lessons in WWS. It takes a lot of time for both of us and I'm not sure it is her level. One level outlining leading to 2 level by the end of the year etc.

-Remedia Outlining 5-8

-Extensive summaries and 3 & 4 level outlining for history notebook. Well done.

-Scott Foresman online writing and grammar grade 6. Just a quick run through to see if she has any gaps

-Sat writing prep and practice

 

I'm thinking:

8th:

Duke Tip SAT essay online class

Lively Art of Writing

Elements of Style with printable workbook

 

9th:

Purdue Owl MLA Formatting and Style Guide

online Debra Bell writing class

 

10th:

Purdue Owl MLA Formatting and Style Guide

another online writing or AP Lang

 

11th:

Ap Lang

 

12th:

Ap Lit

 

I'm looking for help for me as her teacher and programs for her to work through. I can't abide complicated. I was an english major, but most of these classical programs for writing just don't keep it simple enough for me.

 

She needs help with advanced sentence structure. Would Killgallon help?

 

Thanks for any advice.

Edited by LNC
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I can't really help with programs, because I teach it myself. I start with SWB's advice for high school writing (context papers/notes/essays for history/lit, research papers, working through Art of Argument and Strunk & White, etc.) and then add what I know colleges require.

 

This semester, I am teaching an advanced writing (college-prep writing, mostly juniors and seniors) course, and the main focus is on academic response papers, literary analysis, a large MLA research paper, and timed writing situations. We did do one persuasive paper right at the beginning, too, because I find that most teachers teach those to death, and so they are all familiar with that form. It's an easy way to start the class.

 

I like MCT's high school essay concept (I don't use his materials, though) of writing MLA essays/research papers over and over all year. My 10th grader has written over a dozen long research papers in MLA by this point. (ETA: overall, not this year) I require a research paper each year for Latin, one or two for science, and then many for history and literature. She has not, however, written any stories, narratives, or journal entries. :D We have had to avoid many programs, including some popular online options, because I don't want her writing like that. I'm not big on creative writing or expressing feelings in writing (assigning it, I mean). The closest my students get is in their literary response papers, where I allow them to incorporate their feelings and reactions, though I didn't allow my dd to do any of those until she was educated enough to have something of value to say about a story or poem. :D I still expect that personal reaction to be backed up with solid evidence, too.

 

I also don't like most stylistic materials. I teach a laundry list of options: sentence patterns, rhetorical devices, etc. I teach when each is useful, but then I allow my students and dc to choose what "sounds like" them. If you are able, I really think it's best to develop your own storehouse of techniques and then teach them as you teach the various types of writing. Really, though, the way they learn to develop more mature style and sentence structure is just through editing their work, over and over and over, and discussing their sentence and word choices. There's just not a curriculum for that.

 

So, all that to say: I would check out the syllabus of the online courses you are thinking of utilizing to see what the focus is. I signed middle dd up for a course at co-op, after much hype about it being very academic and rigorous, and it amounted to journaling and personal narratives, so I had to yank her quickly. :glare: I would ask a lot of questions about the instructor's approach to high school writing (trying to make authors out of all the students, trying to prepare them for college, etc.) And I would find out how much feedback you get, how many times the papers go back and forth. It's not in the assigning that writing is learned, it's in the editing and correcting. Also, you can't go wrong with Lively Art or Elements or Purdue's OWL. I like the Little, Brown handbook that SWB recommends, as well, and even more, the Scott-Foresman handbook, because they address what the typical college student will be expected to write.

Edited by angela in ohio
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My response is very similar to Angela's. I don't use a writing curriculum per se (even though I have owned more than any one person should!!) I have read all of them, sold most of them, and really just teach my kids whatever I think they need. Their main writing instruction comes from our meeting time where we edit their papers and their re-writing them.

 

The areas where I would deviate from Angela's post would be that I wouldn't mention MCT's high school writing books at all and my kids write a lot of papers at the high school level. Whereas most pre-fab curriculum seem to have kids writing 1 major paper every 8 weeks or so, my kids are doing 1 every 1 to 2 weeks.

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I also don't like most stylistic materials. I teach a laundry list of options: sentence patterns, rhetorical devices, etc. I teach when each is useful, but then I allow my students and dc to choose what "sounds like" them. If you are able, I really think it's best to develop your own storehouse of techniques and then teach them as you teach the various types of writing. Really, though, the way they learn to develop more mature style and sentence structure is just through editing their work, over and over and over, and discussing their sentence and word choices. There's just not a curriculum for that.

 

QUOTE]

 

I so agree with this statement. I wanted to ask a question. What are stylistic materials? I feel like I am on the verge of just giving up using any writing curriculum and just doing my own thing. What you said about just discussing word choices and editing over and over their work is really what I discovered too! I go to an amateur writers' group. I learned how to write going to this group. They teach the exact same way. I wish that I learned how to write this way in middle school and high school. I realize that the more a child writes the better they become. There really is not formula. But, what are stylistic because I want to avoid them too?

 

Angela, I feel as if you have put into words what I have felt all along and it has been for the past two years now.

 

Thank you!

 

Sincerely,

Karen

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My response is very similar to Angela's. I don't use a writing curriculum per se (even though I have owned more than any one person should!!) I have read all of them, sold most of them, and really just teach my kids whatever I think they need. Their main writing instruction comes from our meeting time where we edit their papers and their re-writing them.

 

The areas where I would deviate from Angela's post would be that I wouldn't mention MCT's high school writing books at all and my kids write a lot of papers at the high school level. Whereas most pre-fab curriculum seem to have kids writing 1 major paper every 8 weeks or so, my kids are doing 1 every 1 to 2 weeks.

 

What do you mean by major papers? Research paper with citations in MLA format or essays?

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My response is very similar to Angela's. I don't use a writing curriculum per se (even though I have owned more than any one person should!!) I have read all of them, sold most of them, and really just teach my kids whatever I think they need. Their main writing instruction comes from our meeting time where we edit their papers and their re-writing them.

 

The areas where I would deviate from Angela's post would be that I wouldn't mention MCT's high school writing books at all and my kids write a lot of papers at the high school level. Whereas most pre-fab curriculum seem to have kids writing 1 major paper every 8 weeks or so, my kids are doing 1 every 1 to 2 weeks.

 

Can you share a list of writing resources/curricula you find most useful for guiding you to teach writing ?

 

Thanks.

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Karen,

 

Many writer's groups use principles from Writer's Workshop method which is similiar to what Angela and 8Fill describe; i.e. teach a type of writing, usually in the form of a mini-lesson, teach techniques and style, and provide as-needed, editing input. If you are interested in this type of teaching, take a look at Bravewriter, Steve Peha, Ralph Fletcher, Nancie Atwell, Peter Elbow, Kelly Gallagher, etc. All of them teach style as part of their lessons. Heinemann Publications has many books on various aspects of writing including editing, research, and style.

 

Here is a list of books:

 

Be a Writer - Steve Peha (used to have a website with extensive free materials)

 

Poetry Matters, A Writer's Notebook, Poetry Matters, Live Writing, How Writers Work - Ralph Fletcher (for the younger crowd, but also has materials for teaching older students)

 

Writing with Power and Writing without Teachers - Peter Elbow

 

Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott

 

Any Child can Write - Harvey S. Wiener (an oldie for the elementary years)

 

Bravewriter - Julie Bogart (based on the work of Peter Elbow, but more acessible for homeschooling mothers)

 

Btw, in our early years of homeschooling, our curriculum used this for writing:

 

1) First, the student did copywork until he could neatly copy one-half of a page from a source and correct his copywork.

 

2) When the student was able to do #1, he wrote a paper every day. The paper could be on anything he wanted and use any form he wanted; i.e. story, personal narrative, essay, etc. However, the paper had to be at least one page long. That paper was given to the parent to edit and returned to the student to correct. Even if a paper was not returned immediately, the student kept writing a one-page paper every day. Instruction was limited to editing input, and no forms or techniques were taught by the parent. The parent provided extensive editing input. The student did this type of work until he was ready to begin studying for AP English and literature tests.

 

3) Then, the student used materials for the College Board website as well as readily available ACT/SAT guides to teach themselves the type of writing required for AP English and literature courses.

Edited by 1Togo
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What do you mean by major papers? Research paper with citations in MLA format or essays?

 

At the high school level, my kids don't turn in any papers not in MLA format. :confused: Research papers are not exclusive in requiring documentation. Every essay they write must be "proved" and cited.

 

They write a 3-5 pg paper every 1-2 weeks. The exception to this this yr was ds wrote an extensive research paper on a physics topic and he worked on it closer to 3 weeks.

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Can you share a list of writing resources/curricula you find most useful for guiding you to teach writing ?

 

Thanks.

 

Hmmmm, I'm honestly not sure. Lively Art of Writing and Horner's Rhetoric in the Classical Tradition are both good (but they do not cover MLA format at all.) Ithink that Put that in Writing has some great tips and helps students learn how to edit their work (but the writing assignments and about 1/2 the book are useless). I just can't think of a great list. I'll ponder the question for a couple of days and see if I can think of any I really like. (the list of the ones I don't is much simpler and they are many that others absolutely love, so part of it is all in individual preference.)

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8 Fill,

 

In the past, you sent me a wonderful write-up about the way you teach writing. Could you post that? Or, is it posted somewhere on the forum?

 

Angela,

 

For mothers who need help with teaching writing, could you post your "laundry list of options?"

 

Even with the abundance of available writing curriculum, not everyone has found a fit for their children, and some mothers don't know how to begin teaching without a curriculum. Both of you have had success without curriculum, and your input is appreciated.

Edited by 1Togo
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At the high school level, my kids don't turn in any papers not in MLA format. :confused: Research papers are not exclusive in requiring documentation. Every essay they write must be "proved" and cited.

 

They write a 3-5 pg paper every 1-2 weeks. The exception to this this yr was ds wrote an extensive research paper on a physics topic and he worked on it closer to 3 weeks.

 

I see what you mean. We have been writing many SAT persuasive essays - just free response with no citations. Thanks for your help!

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I so agree with this statement. I wanted to ask a question. What are stylistic materials? I feel like I am on the verge of just giving up using any writing curriculum and just doing my own thing. What you said about just discussing word choices and editing over and over their work is really what I discovered too! I go to an amateur writers' group. I learned how to write going to this group. They teach the exact same way. I wish that I learned how to write this way in middle school and high school. I realize that the more a child writes the better they become. There really is not formula. But, what are stylistic because I want to avoid them too?

 

Angela, I feel as if you have put into words what I have felt all along and it has been for the past two years now.

 

Thank you!

 

Sincerely,

Karen

 

I think stylistic was the wrong word to use. I do teach stylistic techniques in the smaller sense: word choice, sentence structures, etc. What I skip are the materials that focus on personal expression and creativity. Ironically, many of the things 1Togo posted are what I mean. :D I eschew the things they are using in public schools, the way that novelists are encouraged, and the things that my dc write in their free time, when it comes to writing instruction for academic reasons. I think that every child, whether they have a gift for writing or not, deserves to learn to write competently for educational and real-life purposes. I think that's what's missing in most programs. I hate to use the word formulaic, because I do teach them to make choices that reflect the way they speak and thing, but I teach them effective patterns for various writing needs. Then we practice them over and over to automaticity.

 

For example, I teach patterns of organization. There are certain ways that you organize information so that it is universally understood: chronological, deductive, inductive, most familiar to least, spatial, topical, etc. Then I also teach the various methods of introduction and conclusion (quotation, anecdote, etc.,) the various ways to defend a point (examples, quotation, statistics, etc.,) the various stylistic techniques (word choice, sentence structure, literary devices, etc.,) and the various forms of writing (research paper, essay, literary analysis, academic response, etc.) Then it's just a matter of teaching the student to choose this tool and that and fit it to the topic and need at hand and the way they want to say it. Then I edit and correct and help them see how well they chose and what they need to change. They are learning formulas, but not just one large one.

 

They are like a car swerving down the road, and I help them stay in the lane a little bit more each time I work through a paper with them, bumping them a bit from this side and that back to the right path. The instruction shows them where the lane is, but then I have to help them stay in it. I think many writing materials would say that the highest goal in writing is to make sure that the car can swerves as much as it wants and that you don't get in the way of the path it wants to take. That's great when you are writing for pleasure, but at some point, your college professor or boss are going to expect that you know how to drive straight in the lane they want. And the good news is that it's not hard! Dc are relieved to know that, yes, there are right answers in writing class. It's not some nebulous art that only that one girl in the front row who loves to write a lot can achieve.

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8 Fill,

 

In the past, you sent me a wonderful write-up about the way you teach writing. Could you post that? Or, is it posted somewhere on the forum?

 

Angela,

 

For mothers who need help with teaching writing, could you post your "laundry list of options?"

 

Even with the abundance of available writing curriculum, not everyone has found a fit for their children, and some mothers don't know how to begin teaching without a curriculum. Both of you have had success without curriculum, and your input is appreciated.

 

They won't make much sense just listed out, and I'm not sure I could list them all out easily in every category without writing a whole book, so I'll tell you where I got most of them from and then give an example. My main sources are:

IEW TWSS unit III,

Lively Art of Writing,

The Art of Styling Sentences, and

The Elements of Style

A student won't work through the last three until they are older, but you can digest the information yourself and then teach it as you go when they are younger.

 

I'll use transitions as an example. From IEW's Elegant Essay (which I don't usually recommend, but did use once for a class,) I picked up the idea of transitions as road signs, showing whether to turn, stop, continue on, etc. Then in Lively Art, she discusses the various categories of transitions: word, phrase, hooks from within one paragraph to another, etc. I used Yahoo search set to only return .edu addresses and found a few sites from college professors (since I'm purposefully using older materials, I try to search the internet for the current thought/terminology just to be aware) that dealt with transitions. I also had some materials someone posted on the IEW Yahoo group. From all of that, plus some browsing through the various writing handbooks we have, I distilled everything and I came up with my material on transitions. I have those notes and knowledge now whenever I teach it, and also whenever I correct a paper. I have repeated the process for every other topic we've needed: word choice, sentence structures, phrases, parallel constructions, etc.

 

Honestly, it would be easier to choose a writing curriculum or an online course. But if you have several dc coming up, you are interested in writing, and you don't mind doing a lot of "homework," this works so well.

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Thank you! That was very helpful. Which Scott Foresman handbook are you referring to? This?

http://www.amazon.com/Scott-Foresman-Handbook-Writers-9th/dp/0205751989/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

 

That's the newer one, I actually have this one. It looks like the newer one is 200 pages shorter, and I got the old one for a penny, and it's only from 2004. :001_smile: I don't use the MLA in it (I teach my dc only to use MLA info from the current guide anyway,) though, because it's older.

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I require citations for most work, not just research papers. My 10th grader's writing load looks like this:

 

Great Books study (other than book notes):

context paper - usually 2 pages with 2-3 citations

essays - usually 4-5 pages with 0-5 citations, depending on the essay topic/type, sometimes it's a research paper, sometimes lit analysis, sometimes just an essay

We get through a book every 2-3 weeks, so she writes one or the other almost every week. I also assign a longer formal research paper once a year, which she writes over the course of a month or two on top of the regular papers. This year it will be 8-10 pages with 10+ sources, and she will start it in the next week or two.

 

English class:

She is taking my class, and the assignments for the year include a persuasive essay, an expository essay, a literary analysis (I let her double up with a Great books paper - I think it was Dante,) two response papers, a research paper (I let her double up with her Latin paper,) some essay test and timed writing work, an encyclopedia article, and a format paper (compare/contrast, etc. - student's choice.)

 

Science (other than lab reports):

One major reseach paper each year. This year it will be on a chemisty topic, but we won't get to it until May and June.

 

Latin:

One major paper each year, per LaFleur's Latin college syllabus. It's research based, but not really a research paper with an original thesis or anything. Last year, she wrote a comparison of music in ancient Rome and the Classical period; I think it was about 6 pages. She is just finishing 8-10 pages about the influence of Virgil for this year.

 

So she has a paper a week, plus three longer papers and the English class work. They are all in MLA format (with my own particulars - Times New Roman, no page # on first page, etc.,) though we really study it more in depth when we do the actual research papers.

 

The hardest part is actually the editing and revising. There are a lot of papers going back and forth.

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Angela,

 

Could you offer some information about the context paper? I read about it in WTM and have been looking for a model, but haven't been able to find one. Excellence in Literature has an example of an Historical Approach paper, but it only addresses a single event in a time period. I asked about it on another thread, but did not get a response.

 

Thank you.

Edited by 1Togo
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Angela,

 

Could you offer some information about the context paper? I read about it in WTM and have been looking for a model, but haven't been able to find one. Excellence in Literature has an example of an Historical Approach paper, but it only addresses a single event in a time period. I asked about it on another thread, but did not get a response.

 

Thank you.

 

Sure! WTM says to

1.) find the birth and death date of the author, and the date of the book’s composition,

2.) research the time period of the book and author, inclduding a span before and after, and

3.) write a summary of information about the author and the time period.

 

SWB gives a list of things to look for and to include in the papers. Those are the guidelines we follow at home. My dd usually writes two pages now, though I think WTM says one page. Some authors are more interesting, some time periods more eventful, and some older or less popular works more difficult to research, so the length can vary.

 

I have my World Lit students write them, too, though I ask them to tighten in to just the main influences because our focus is not on history. So far the influences have been pretty easy to see: death in Tolstoy's life and the religious and political movements of the time for Ivan Ilych, the eve of apartheid and the effects of war, colonialism, and urbanization for Cry, the Beloved Country, etc. I really have to research first myself, and then I can guide them and give hints. It's a different model than SWB's guidelines, though it's based on them.

 

I think either way works well, depending on whether you want to focus on the history, or on the literary aspects.

 

I know there were some threads a few years back on the HS board that were helpful to me, including some posts of actual papers. If you search just that board with the word "context" you might get some hits. I'll ask dd if I can post one of hers here, too.

 

I noticed when I went to convention that the author of Excellence in Literature basically outlined the writing assigned in WTM during her talk, though she didn't mention WTM as the source (:001_huh:.)

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This thread has been amazingly helpful. Thank you so much everyone!

 

I spent several hours at Panera this morning, 6-9am! I went through the first half of WWS with a fine tooth comb. And read ahead. I am listening to the SWB mp3s on writing today and taking notes. I haven't listened to them in more than a year. I think we need the handholding of WWS for my 7th grader still, even though she won't be done with WWS until 10th grade. I think WWS can get her where most 10th grades need to be. I have many resources to assign MLA format papers for history topics. TQ reading suits a lot of writing topics to fill up our history notebooks.

 

So, in summary, I have been very inspired by how you teach writing without a curriculum. And I want to grow in that. BUT, I don't think I should throw out the WWS baby with the bathwater anymore either. Just because the one level outlining is too "young" for her - the program really offers a step by step approach that I think we will both greatly benefit from. Knowing that my WWS intructor's guide is SWB's brain is great too.

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7th:

-She has done 21 lessons in WWS. It takes a lot of time for both of us and I'm not sure it is her level. One level outlining leading to 2 level by the end of the year etc.

 

Just because the one level outlining is too "young" for her - ...

 

Here is one small opportunity to try "do it yourself." Find a copy of WTM 3rd edition, open it up to the logic stage history section, and look for the instructions on how to teach outlining to the 3rd (and maybe 4th) levels. They are the BEST. And you can apply them to any well-written non-fiction reading.

 

Sure, WWS goes into even deeper detail about outlining (at the first level so far, as you know), but if your daughter is bored with it, use these advanced instructions in WTM 3rd. They are MUCH better than the 2nd ed. of WTM outlining instructions. And they can provide your daughter with some advanced skill that she could use elsewhere in her studies, such as outlining some history or science each week. My son started using these instructions when he was 11, and he quickly caught on how to outline each level as I introduced how. Then, he used those skills throughout 6th and 7th grade. Now he is doing WWS for the *other* skills (plus getting a little more knowledge about outlining history vs. outlining science), but for history and science study, he outlines with his skills acquired from WTM 3rd ed.

 

I think it's a perfect, but small and doable, supplement to your dd's WWS work at her age, given what you've told us about her.

Edited by Colleen in NS
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I posted last week, on the high school board, about not knowing where to go with ds14 at this point for writing. I received TONS of great suggestions. I had settled on using my free weeks of WWS, but have realized rather quickly that he doesn't need to go through so much of what WWS covers. He has done most of those exercises over the past several years as we have used TWTM rec's for narration, outlining, etc. PLUS, I CANNOT purchase another full-fledged writing curriculum...just can't do it!

 

So, this weekend, I ventured out to the local used bookstore (Half Price Books---great source for homeschoolers). I went to the reference section. They had shelves upon shelves of writing reference books, college freshman writing books (I bought 2 of these) and a wide variety of "language arts" books.

 

I must say...the college freshman writing (composition 1) books are incredible. They include all the writing instruction any student would need. One that I picked up was written by professors at OSU specifically for their classes. It's small, concise, and has sample essays. The other is a standard college softcover text with exercises ranging from the absurdly simple (but really good) to the more complex essay formats. They also include MLA information. The standard text also integrates grammar topics and literary devices rather than separating them into different sections like many of the books. Overall, I think these books have more of what I have been searching than anything else I've found.

 

One other little booklet I have (from older dd's Keystone classes) is a writing guide they send with their courses. It is brief, but does cover all the specifics for what's expected for essays. It includes MLA information as well. This one is great to give to the student after they have some writing experience and need a quick guide to get them started.

 

One particular thing I noticed about both of the books from HPB...they include MANY things that Julie Bogart has in her Writer's Jungle book. I love this book, but have trouble implementing it. The college books will allow me to implement what she talks about but in a more structured format.

 

My son likes that they are college books :tongue_smilie:. We have used the college math books for several years now and like them, so why not try them for other subjects???

 

Added bonus: you can get these types of books for peanuts at HPB!

 

***8Fills...printed out your writing methods AGAIN...I always find this so doable.

 

I've also come to the realization that my ds actually writes pretty well and I am stressing for no reason. I always freak out when these writing threads come up.

 

Thanks everyone for all this information!

Robin

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Thank you for this thread! I would love to be a student in your homeschools!

 

8fill, did you do anything different when you taught writing to your ASD guy? Love my guy but boy, teaching writing to him is like trying to get him to color outside of the lines. :banghead:

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the college freshman writing (composition 1) books are incredible. They include all the writing instruction any student would need. One that I picked up was written by professors at OSU specifically for their classes. It's small, concise, and has sample essays. The other is a standard college softcover text with exercises ranging from the absurdly simple (but really good) to the more complex essay formats. They also include MLA information. The standard text also integrates grammar topics and literary devices rather than separating them into different sections like many of the books. Overall, I think these books have more of what I have been searching than anything else I've found.

 

One other little booklet I have (from older dd's Keystone classes) is a writing guide they send with their courses. It is brief, but does cover all the specifics for what's expected for essays. It includes MLA information as well. This one is great to give to the student after they have some writing experience and need a quick guide to get them started.

 

Would you please tell me these titles. I would love this kind of book but don't have access to brick and mortar book shops here with any reference books (the big book stores have all closed :001_huh:)

 

Ruth in NZ

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here are the books I found...

 

The Freshman Writer - Finding, Organizing and Supporting Ideas by Dee Frassetto, Roger H. Lestina, and Paul Varner, published by Harcourt Brace, College Publishers with a copyright of 1996.

 

There was a previous version called The Freshman Writer: Asserting Opinions and Organizing Evidence by Frassetto and Lestina with a copyright of 1994...I guess they felt it needed revising???

 

This is the more precise book. The lessons are clear, clear, clear. There are a couple of examples in lessons and essay examples that I probably would not use for my 14 year old, but other than those things, it seems quite thorough. I figure these people teach freshman composition at OSU. Surely, they know what students need to be able to accomplish in terms of writing a decent paper.

 

The other one is called Writing First with Readings - Practice in Context, 4th edition by Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell, copyright 2009. It's from Bedford/St. Martin's Press. These authors have an even more basic text called Foundations First: Sentences and Paragraphs.

 

Writing First has full-fledged exercises and assignments. This would be a complete composition and grammar course. I will probably us this one next year and focus on the other book for the remainder of this year...that, and just having ds write across the curriculum.

 

hth,

Robin

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Angela and 8filltheheart,

 

I am interested in the research aspect of essay writing. Both of you have your students write an essay every week or two with 6-8 sources or so. What do they use for sources? It seems to me that it would take quite some time to go to the library every 2 weeks and look through a bunch of books for book chapters on your topic and then READ them all. I think that most academic journals would be too difficult (or unavailable without subscription) but that every-day magazines might be not very academic. Do they use a lot of web sources? If so how do you have them evaluate them? It seems to me that finding the material you need to write on a topic could take days, reading it would take days, and then organizing your ideas and writing it with citations would take days too. And these would be full 8 hour days, at least they would be for me. I have done this kind of research in my day but never on a reduced scale of 1 to 2 weeks instead of months or years. I would love to hear more about how you can get the entire process done in 2 weeks and how long you need to set aside every day.

 

Ruth in NZ

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Angela and 8filltheheart,

 

I am interested in the research aspect of essay writing. Both of you have your students write an essay every week or two with 6-8 sources or so. What do they use for sources? It seems to me that it would take quite some time to go to the library every 2 weeks and look through a bunch of books for book chapters on your topic and then READ them all. I think that most academic journals would be too difficult (or unavailable without subscription) but that every-day magazines might be not very academic. Do they use a lot of web sources? If so how do you have them evaluate them? It seems to me that finding the material you need to write on a topic could take days, reading it would take days, and then organizing your ideas and writing it with citations would take days too. And these would be full 8 hour days, at least they would be for me. I have done this kind of research in my day but never on a reduced scale of 1 to 2 weeks instead of months or years. I would love to hear more about how you can get the entire process done in 2 weeks and how long you need to set aside every day.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

 

 

For the context papers, the majority of the sources are the same ones over and over: the timeline book of history, Invitation to the Classics, some history books, etc., as well as the introduction in the work at times. For her essays after she reads the books, she sometimes has no sources other than the book, and sometimes she does a lot of research, depending on what she is writing. For the longer research papers and the English class assignments she does have to do a lot of research, but the good news is that once you have done it a few times and had someone really, truly teach you the process, it becomes easy. It did take quite a bit of time in the beginning, but not anymore. I actually gave her an essay contest link the other day, and she researched and wrote an article on engineering the formation of ice crystals in ice cream manufacturing in just a few days in the midst of all of her other work. :lol: Anyway, it's combination of being taught the skills and practicing them over and over until they are easy, just like anything else.

 

We are at the library weekly, and she has access to two public library systems and a university library online at home. She does search journal articles, and she does fine with them. She has been reading classic literature for many years now :D; a journal article is easy in comparison, especially when you take Latin and have a great vocabulary. She also looks for research guides from university libraries and uses subject guides. I discourage (limit to 1 or 2 per paper) the use of general internet sites, though she does much of her research using the computer.

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Thanks for all this info. Sounds like I need to see what journals we have access to at our public library. Also, I had not thought about having a few good reference books here at home that could be good old stand bys. Need to think about what those might be.

 

If you don't mind, I have another question. How do you pick topics to have your dd write about? Being a science person, my thoughts are on controversial topics like cloning, genetic engineering, etc. I just cannot think of a single thing to write about in history or literature besides the obvious. How do you come up with assignments? Is there a good website with essay topics on different historical topics?

 

Luckily my ds is in 6th grade so I have time to figure this out!

 

Ruth in NZ

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Angela and 8filltheheart,

 

I am interested in the research aspect of essay writing. Both of you have your students write an essay every week or two with 6-8 sources or so. What do they use for sources? It seems to me that it would take quite some time to go to the library every 2 weeks and look through a bunch of books for book chapters on your topic and then READ them all. I think that most academic journals would be too difficult (or unavailable without subscription) but that every-day magazines might be not very academic. Do they use a lot of web sources? If so how do you have them evaluate them? It seems to me that finding the material you need to write on a topic could take days, reading it would take days, and then organizing your ideas and writing it with citations would take days too. And these would be full 8 hour days, at least they would be for me. I have done this kind of research in my day but never on a reduced scale of 1 to 2 weeks instead of months or years. I would love to hear more about how you can get the entire process done in 2 weeks and how long you need to set aside every day.

 

Ruth in NZ

 

Ruth,

 

:confused: I don't expect 6-8 sources for their weekly essays. Their typical weekly essays are approx 3 pgs in length (avg here between late middle and high school.....younger tend to be shorter) Anyway, sometimes the only source being cited might be the piece of literature they are discussing. For history, they might cite a Teaching Co lecture, a history text, a primary source, etc.

 

FWIW, when it comes to researching info, we do almost everything online. Here public libraries have online access to online data bases/journals and all you have to do is log in w/your library card.

 

Thanks for all this info. Sounds like I need to see what journals we have access to at our public library. Also, I had not thought about having a few good reference books here at home that could be good old stand bys. Need to think about what those might be.

 

If you don't mind, I have another question. How do you pick topics to have your dd write about? Being a science person, my thoughts are on controversial topics like cloning, genetic engineering, etc. I just cannot think of a single thing to write about in history or literature besides the obvious. How do you come up with assignments? Is there a good website with essay topics on different historical topics?

 

Luckily my ds is in 6th grade so I have time to figure this out!

 

Ruth in NZ

 

THe quote above and this one make me think you are not quite clear about what I am suggesting my kids do. Their weekly essays come from what they are studying. For example, we have been studying Shakespeare in-depth and will be attending a performance of Much Ado About Nothing this weekend. Next week, she will write an essay of her choosing on the play (I won't be surprised if it has something to do with the role of Dogberry. ;))

 

For history, an essay might be on the recusant Catholics during the Elizabethan era.

 

These are very different from larger papers with extensive research. Ds just wrote one for physics and the role of CERN studies on particle physics. My older dd wrote one a couple of yrs ago on the impact of xenoestrogens in the water supply on fertility. These types of papers are not a weekly assignment. They require at minimum 3-4 weeks precisely b/c of what you describe: the need for time devoted strictly to research.

 

THe major difference is that their weekly assignments simply spin off from what they are already studying. They may need to research for an afternoon in order to pull their thoughts together. However, the material is not something they are only vaguely informed on. For example, my older dd had only heard a brief mention of the Austrian dr who invented the birth control pill regretting that invention b/c (amg other things) water supplies have become contaminated w/estrogens which negatively impact male fertility. That lead her to read an article of male fish developing eggs. Those prompted her desire to do a larger research project.

 

FWIW, my 7th grader will not spend weeks on a single research project this yr. She is still working on forming her essay skills. She has a long way to go in improving her basic writing skills before I would consider her writing to research paper length worthy.

 

HTH

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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Ruth,

 

:confused: I don't expect 6-8 sources for their weekly essays.

 

Well, I am glad to hear that.:001_smile:

 

THe quote above and this one make me think you are not quite clear about what I am suggesting my kids do.
I am absolutely sure I don't. But I am trying :001_smile:.

 

Their weekly essays come from what they are studying. For example, we have been studying Shakespeare in-depth and will be attending a performance of Much Ado About Nothing this weekend. Next week, she will write an essay of her choosing on the play (I won't be surprised if it has something to do with the role of Dogberry. ;)) For history, an essay might be on the recusant Catholics during the Elizabethan era.
The problem is that I just don't think this way. I think in one really huge project with lots and lots of input required, and I just cannot scale it down. My son is currently reading about oceanography and the movement of waves. I'm great with science, easy topic is the impact of jetties on shorelines (although I envision this as a 1 month project, otherwise he is just regurgitating the textbook :tongue_smilie:). Even lit, I could do pretty well. He is reading The White Company and he could compare it to Ivanhoe or discuss character development (and I would be fine with no additional sources). But for history, I really really really need a list of standard questions to get me started thinking in the right direction. My husband is reading about the Samurai to the boys. So topics: .... I draw a blank. (perhaps this is why I got a 2 on the history AP in school) There must be some list of standard questions out there - the top 10 types of questions. Compare and contrast and "what would have happened if the battle had been lost" are about the only standard questions that I can think of. I just do NOT think this way, which is why I keep asking for question ideas for history.

 

THe major difference is that their weekly assignments simply spin off from what they are already studying. They may need to research for an afternoon in order to pull their thoughts together. However, the material is not something they are only vaguely informed on.
I also think that I need to move away from surveying a field into more in-depth studies. I think that my son has only a vague understanding of Samurai. But obviously this is only my opinion. He has watched 2 documentaries, read 2 short books, and watched one early Japanese film. But this seems like so little to work with. It would be for me. I would have a hard time writing well about a topic that I was only somewhat familiar with. It seems to me that most of my writing for my entire writing career has been about topics that I was VERY familiar with (like 3 months or 3 years of research). So once again I am having trouble scaling it down to a weekly paper for high school without it being simple regurgitation.

 

FWIW, my 7th grader will not spend weeks on a single research project this yr. She is still working on forming her essay skills. She has a long way to go in improving her basic writing skills before I would consider her writing to research paper length worthy.
We will continue with WWS for 7th, so I am in no huge hurry. But I am finding that it is taking me more time than I expected to feel confident in my ability to lead him through high school. The more I read, the better I get it.

 

Thanks for your help,

 

Ruth

Edited by lewelma
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Well, I am glad to hear that.:001_smile:

 

I am absolutely sure I don't. But I am trying :001_smile:.

 

The problem is that I just don't think this way. I think in one really huge project with lots and lots of input required, and I just cannot scale it down. My son is currently reading about oceanography and the movement of waves. I'm great with science, easy topic is the impact of jetties on shorelines (although I envision this as a 1 month project, otherwise he is just regurgitating the textbook :tongue_smilie:). Even lit, I could do pretty well. He is reading The White Company and he could compare it to Ivanhoe or discuss character development (and I would be fine with no additional sources). But for history, I really really really need a list of standard questions to get me started thinking in the right direction. My husband is reading about the Samurai to the boys. So topics: .... I draw a blank. (perhaps this is why I got a 2 on the history AP in school) There must be some list of standard questions out there - the top 10 types of questions. Compare and contrast and "what would have happened if the battle had been lost" are about the only standard questions that I can think of. I just do NOT think this way, which is why I keep asking for question ideas for history.

 

I also think that I need to move away from surveying a field into more in-depth studies. I think that my son has only a vague understanding of Samurai. But obviously this is only my opinion. He has watched 2 documentaries, read 2 short books, and watched one early Japanese film. But this seems like so little to work with. It would be for me. I would have a hard time writing well about a topic that I was only somewhat familiar with. It seems to me that most of my writing for my entire writing career has been about topics that I was VERY familiar with (like 3 months or 3 years of research). So once again I am having trouble scaling it down to a weekly paper for high school without it being simple regurgitation.

 

 

 

Ruth

 

Ok, I know next to nothing about the Samurai. (my knowledge is pretty much limited to a fictionalized Tom Cruise version :tongue_smilie: ) So, take these suggestions for what they are worth (not much). But simply to give you a gist of a typical weekly essay, topics might be

 

* What cultural/political forces influenced the abolishment of the Samurai?

* What values did the Samurai exemplify and do their legends influence modern Japanese culture?

 

(I honestly have no idea about what I am writing about, but those **might** be high school level topics.)

 

For a 6th grader, topics might be more along the lines of

 

**What code were the Samurai expected to live by?

**How did the Samurai training prepare young men for their role?

 

I have no idea if that helps at all or not. FWIW, my opinion is that the entire pt of their writing essays is to learn how to impart "small nuggets" of information they have studied and exemplify how they have processed what they have learned.

 

ETA: Glad to hear about the online access. I can't imagine having to physically go to the library.

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I'm great with science, easy topic is the impact of jetties on shorelines .... Even lit, I could do pretty well. .... But for history, I really really really need a list of standard questions to get me started thinking in the right direction.

 

I know you said science and lit. are easy for you and you need help with history questions, but I'll just throw all three out there: SWB's high school writing audio (at least I assume so; I learned what I'm about to tell you from the actual session I attended, and I think it's the still same one as on the audio) has these generic questions you could ask, to find topics to write about in these three content areas. Samples of history topic prompts (listen to the audio to get the whole list): (1) question the motivations of historical actors, (2) argue that place and/or weather affected the outcome of an event. There are more within the history section, and then questions to dig topics out of science and lit., too.

 

When she listed all these questions to us, I thought, "Oh, wow, this will make it easy! I won't have to depend on finding specific questions pertaining to the book!" I likened it in my mind to when she also told us how to help our kids outline paragraphs, and then the further detail about this in WTM 3rd ed.. Generic questions, applied to universal texts (well, many texts anyway, lol).

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Thank you so much!

 

1Togo: that is exactly the book I need. And the price is right!

 

8fill: Your distinction between middle school and high school level questions is excellent, and helps more than you might realize.

 

Colleen: I have listened to the audios, but more than a year ago, so I completely forgot that they included a list of questions. Off to listen again with a pen in hand.

 

Thanks again,

 

Ruth

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  • 1 month later...

For example, I teach patterns of organization. There are certain ways that you organize information so that it is universally understood: chronological, deductive, inductive, most familiar to least, spatial, topical, etc. Then I also teach the various methods of introduction and conclusion (quotation, anecdote, etc.,) the various ways to defend a point (examples, quotation, statistics, etc.,) the various stylistic techniques (word choice, sentence structure, literary devices, etc.,) and the various forms of writing (research paper, essay, literary analysis, academic response, etc.) Then it's just a matter of teaching the student to choose this tool and that and fit it to the topic and need at hand and the way they want to say it. Then I edit and correct and help them see how well they chose and what they need to change. They are learning formulas, but not just one large one.

/QUOTE]

 

Angela, from the sounds of it the above are things you just inately know how to teach now, but for someone just starting out, do you have any suggestions aboutg teaching the 'barious methos of introduction and conclusion' and the others? My dc are currently using WWS (Week 30 right now) and we plan to keep going, but I would like to be reading more over the summer so I have a better grasp of my expectations for their writing and the direction that I want to point them in.

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Lewelma - here are some possible types of history essay topics. I've given some examples based on my skim reading of the Wikipedia article on Samurai. As I'm unfamiliar with the subject, you can probably think of better topics to fit the generic patterns.

 

Describe x.

e.g.

"What was the role of the monasteries in 16th century Japan?"

 

Why did x happen? What were the causes of x?

E.g.

"What were the causes of the rise of the samurai?"

"Why did the imperial side win the Boshin war?"

 

What were the consequences of x?

e.g.

"What effect did the introduction of the arquebus have on the samurai?"

 

Compare two things.

e.g.

"Compare the role of the samurai in the Ashikaga and Tokugawa shogunates."

 

To what extent is x true? / "x" Discuss. Where x is some potentially controversial statement.

e.g.

"'Samurai were loyal and noble warriors' - Discuss.".

 

How do we know about x and how reliable are those sources?

e.g.

"How do we know about the code of the samurai and how reliable are the sources?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

Lewelma, I bought the Historical Essay Questions from Currclick, and I think the questions are great, however I have realized that WWS1 instructs primarily in narratives and biographical sketches so I am confused about how to answer questions of this fashion.

 

Up until this point all of our narratives have been backed up with several resources, and did not have the flavor of a personal opinion paper. At this point in our WWS journey I really don't know how I would approach questions like, "Why do you suppose such a small area of the known world such as Portugal produced such talented navigators and explorers?" or "Why do you think the Spanish nobility were so keen on sponsoring and encouraging exploration in the world? Detail your thoughts."

 

It's not that I lack understanding of the material, or even how I might write the paper myself, but I lack the method of how to teach them to research for questions like this and how to go about organizing an answer to them that doesn't have a lot of "I think that this .. and I also think that" answers. I don't really know what those type of papers LOOK like. lol. I am hoping that WWS2 will tackle this level or perhaps someone can point me in the direction I need to go.

 

As an example dd11 picked Eleanor of Aquitaine to do a biographical sketch on in history. I can use the same methodology taught in WWS to go through it, but it will require that she has several sources read about her besides the little she learned in HO Level 2 Middle Ages resources. It doesn't feel like a paper that can be planned and written in 1 week to me ... so I really don't know how to downsize things either. ;-(

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I am wondering if these types of questions are just 'free writing' exercises that get them to put something down on paper that sounds intelligent and checks that they at least know the material? In that case it would not require much beyond the little they know, and their personal opinion. I just didn't realize that questions like this .. or perhaps others like the one below were the type of writing that SWB would be teaching. I realize you have to be able to form an opinion and back it up, but I just don't understand how to downsize the research part and just write a personal narrative and have them give their thoughts on the matter.

 

(ie. "Many of the French explorers arrived in the new lands and began to assimilate into the Indian cultures already there. They married Indian brides and started families. How do you think the Indians felt about these new "French - Indians"?)

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It's not that I lack understanding of the material, or even how I might write the paper myself, but I lack the method of how to teach them to research for questions like this and how to go about organizing an answer

 

I am in the same situation. I am beginning to think that *I* am going to have to go through the process a few times by myself and pay attention to what I do so that I can teach it. I need to make my implicit knowledge explicit.

 

I too hope that WWS will fill in the gaps of my knowledge. However, I get the impression that it will be 1.5 years between each book, which is going to be a problem for my oldest. sigh.

 

I do think that the more you do the easier it gets. So I plan to just get in there and do a few papers along side my ds. Either we will team write, or we will each work on our own paper but on the same topic, and compare notes/ideas as we are working.

 

Personally, I don't think that I have EVER written a research paper on a historical topic. :001_huh:

 

I am wondering if these types of questions are just 'free writing' exercises that get them to put something down on paper that sounds intelligent and checks that they at least know the material?

Probably for an essay test, but not for a research paper. For a research paper, you have to do research, document it, and extrapolate to the question. This is tough. I think, however, that my ds would prefer to research topics on cloning or genetic engineering.

 

but I just don't understand how to downsize the research part
I completely agree. Where exactly do you get sources that are short and that a middle schooler can read that are on very specific topics? Seems to me that you need to read about a topic for a month before you sit down to write a research paper.

 

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
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I just think there is going to be some fabulous way that SWB teaches with regards to organizing them, and I don't want to mess things up. ;-) I would have NEVER thought to organize scientific or historical narratives like WWS, and so I am just wondering what is coming down the pike.

 

I would LOVE to see sample papers like this to get a feel for how they are organized. Perhaps I could glean how to teach it. Until then I feel like I just want to steer clear of them and keep doing what we have learned this year.

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I just think there is going to be some fabulous way that SWB teaches with regards to organizing them, and I don't want to mess things up. ;-) I would have NEVER thought to organize scientific or historical narratives like WWS, and so I am just wondering what is coming down the pike.

 

I would LOVE to see sample papers like this to get a feel for how they are organized. Perhaps I could glean how to teach it. Until then I feel like I just want to steer clear of them and keep doing what we have learned this year.

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Sadonna,

 

Developing a short essay or answering questions about a topic the student is studying within a limited timeframe is reasonable, depending on the age and maturity of the student. Research papers are another animal. I don't know if you have listened to SWB's high school writing lecture, but for the rhetoric level, she suggests two, one-page persuasive papers per week in history, science or literature. She also has suggestions for research papers.

 

Lewelma's review thread covered classical curriculum options. However, if you aren't interested CC, CW, LToW, etc., the following might help you: The Lively Art of Writing, A Writer's Guide to Powerful Paragraphs, Writer's Inc., Julie Bogart's Help for High School, or The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing. Chapter 2 in The Lively Art... is titled from "Opinion to Thesis." Julie's book and The Allyn & Bacon Guide... both describe the process of working through a question to produce an essay. All of these resources include examples.

 

Hth,

 

1togo

Edited by 1Togo
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Thanks 1 Togo, I definitely think the interest for me is in the direction of CC, LToW, etc. I do have The Lively Art of Writing though!

 

I may be way off base here, but the types of questions that I listed above don't remind me of 'essay' questions per say. I would think essay questions are more specific .. you are writing a declarative sentence & choosing a side and then persuading the reader using examples, arguments, etc. (Well, this is my take anyway .. and honestly it has been a while since I have done this type of thing). The questions that are asking you about your personal opinion, what do YOU think, or 'write a letter to someone and tell them how it might be if you lived on a Viking Ship' .. etc etc don't FEEL like essays to me, which is why I am wondering if I am missing something.

 

Is this a type of writing I am unfamiliar with that will be taught to us as a necessary step before a full on essay? How does one go about using resources and laying out this type of thing? Does CW teach this? CC? LToW?

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