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Formal writing -- when do you start, what's your overall plan by grade?


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DD is in 1st grade this year. She is still a beginning reader, so we are not doing any formal writing. (We had WWE but got rid of it when I realized we couldn't use it -- above her level right now.)


I'm just curious... when did you begin formal writing? And what did you use? And what did you use after that?


I know you've got a long-term plan ...please share! We won't hold you to it if you change your mind! :D


Did you: WWE 1-3, then WWS

Or did you: follow WWW all the way

IEW? Bravewriter? Writing Strands?

Or ????


There are so many writing programs out there; it's hard to know how to fit them all into a long-term plan.


We are currently using R&S Language Arts -- which incorporates writing -- so I may not even need an extra writing curriculum, if we stick with R&S. But I'm still curious. :D

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My plan for DS1 (3rd grade) is currently:


1st: WWE1 (we started halfway through 1st when I pulled him from school)

2nd: WWE2

3rd: IEW SWI-A

4th: IEW TWSS across curriculum (that's the teacher materials)

5th: WWS1 (if he's not ready, we'll continue IEW for another year)

6th: WWS2 (or WWS1 if above)

7th: WWS3 (or WWS2)

8th: WWS4 (or WWS3)

9th-12th: Writing With Style (abbreviation? WWSt? SWB should have thought about abbreviations when naming her programs! :lol:)


Not sure for the next kid... We'll attempt WWE1 in 1st grade, but if he's not ready (he's not reading nearly as well as DS1 was at this age), we might hold off until 2nd grade. I'll probably still use IEW in 3rd or 4th grade and then see where we need to go from there. He's K now, and he's really hard to decipher, so we'll just see what he needs when he gets there. DS1 was/is a typical writing phobic otherwise-accelerated student. The path we've taken has been good for him.


And of course, as I become a better writing teacher, I won't need curriculum as much, so I can easily see my 3rd child being writing curriculum-less, and possibly my 2nd as well. The first child though... I still need hand-holding as I learn writing myself! That's where TWSS is helpful to me, and I'm planning to go through WWS myself ahead of DS1, so I'll know the types of things she's expecting the students to do.

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We're also using R&S English (we're in grades 2 and 4 now) and I don't plan on supplementing the writing at all. I will have them practice what they've learned in R&S writing in other subject areas when needed. I plan on using R&S all the way through 8th grade and I hope it's enough writing!

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Here's my basic LA plan and when I add in formal writing (after handwriting and spelling are somewhat established). This post has some of the curriculum I've used. I really like Essentials in Writing, it's by far been the best fit for us, but I haven't used it all the way through and don't know if I would have, or if I would have alternated other things in there. Hope you find things that work well for you and your family! Merry :-)

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I know you've got a long-term plan ...please share! We won't hold you to it if you change your mind! :D



I spent part of this afternoon evaluating our long-term plan.


My older kids did a copywork, oral narrations, written narrations sequence

from 1-8th grade. 4th-8th grade they worked through Writing Strands. They used Format Writing to help them formulate essays 7-12th. They have solid writing skills.


I assumed that I would use a similar pattern for my younger kids. Of course, there are far more resources available now.


Current 10yo worked through WWE 1,2, and part of 3. I started him using WWE a grade behind ( using WWE 1 for 2nd, etc). Halfway through WWE it was becoming obvious that he was hating writing and becoming

increasing frustrated. Think tears. I tried Writing Strands since it worked well for my olders. Writing was better but not great. There weren't tears

but the potential for tears was present. I borrowed a friends' IEW for a few months, and it was an awesome fit for this kid. This year we are using IEW's Fun and Fascinating and the kid is really enjoying it. "Writing is so cool" is not an unusual comment. Plan is to continue IEW through 8th grade.


Current 7yo is using WWE 1 which is working well. Plan is to continue WWE and progress from there.


My long-term plan is to do whatever works for each particular child.


How is that for simple?


Once we start a sequence ( WWE, WS, IEW, etc.) I plan on using the sequence unless it become obvious that is just isn't working. Tears or frustrations means it isn't working. Boring but effective means we just keep plugging along.


Once we finish a sequence, I first look at resources that I own. I would then look at the least expensive option available. Why use a $200 product when the $20 product will ultimately work just as well?


I try to avoid making specific long-term plan that means evaluating every possible resource for a skill subject and picking the "best" or my favorite. In 4 years, there could be different resources for highschool writing, and I will have 4 years of experience helping my 10 yo on his writing skills. It will be easier to evaluate resources for this particular child if I just wait until closer to highschool.



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My long term plan for my tutoring students starts with intensive and explicit cursive handwriting instruction.


1. I believe that it is crippling not to be able to write confidently and quickly.


2. I believe that to be able to quickly write there can be no choosing and deciding happening. I have yet to see sloppy handwriting that is CONSISTENT. I believe it exists. I just haven't seen it.


3. I believe the most efficient way to consistent handwriting is to work toward a precise and specific model. Not perfection, but close to it.


Cursive handwriting is difficult if the student cannot spell in syllables. It requires thinking ahead to decide what joiner you will use, while still working on a preceding letter. If the student is also trying to spell, it's too much. So cursive handwriting cannot be taught ahead of intensive phonics. It's a big investment at the beginning. There are sacrifices that need to made. Sacrifices that might not be worth it, but it's how I'm doing things.


I also plan for junior college first. I don't believe in excluding higher goals, but I also don't believe in ONLY gambling on something that isn't likely to happen, by shooting for the moon without the resources to get there. One of my boys planned a series of low short goals that he met head on, one at a time. My other son shot for one far off and unlikely goal and crash landed on the way, and barely made it to one of the early goals his brother reached, before crashing again.


I believe students need to show me they have some of what it takes to reach a goal before I invest a considerable amount of time, money and effort helping them get there.


Okay, so what does all of that mean. It means I take a slow start with writing, with a primary goal of preparing for junior college freshman English.


I like CGE for composition, used about 2 years behind, and the gap grows as the years pass. I repeat the generic composition lessons multiple times.


I tend to skip the CGE grammar lessons as I prefer to teach as much grammar as possible during phonics/spelling/handwriting. I like to present model sentences and have the student compose similar sentences. I don't think pretty sentences from literature make the best models. I pick boring sentences from writing handbooks and especially from the chapters on diagramming sentences and punctuation.


For handwriting I use the lowercase Spalding cursive hand, and traditional ball-and-stick uppercase. I follow the order of instruction of letters as outlined in How to Tutor.


I also teach handwritten composition, and don't put the student on a computer. If I'm tempted to put a student on a computer, then I know instruction has been shaky somewhere in the basics and I need to plug the hole. I need to remediate not accommodate.


This is my default plan. Not only will it not work for all families, but it will not work for me, with certain students, and I know that. It's MY default plan though.


I also believe students should be employed for a year before taking freshman English. I believe students do not know how to negotiate with overworked and sometimes negligent professors, until they have been forced to negotiate with staff and customers in the workplace. Even junior college is expensive and too many freshman drop classes for lack of negotiating skills, in arranging assistance from the professor, and navigating group projects with older working adults.

Edited by Hunter
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We do Bravewriter.


So far, for K-2, we did phonics and handwriting and started introducing writing with various things - both copywork and invented spelling kinds of things.


Now (3rd grade) through 5th or 6th, I want to focus on basic spelling and mechanics, feeling comfortable writing your own thoughts (narrations or summaries, freewrites, thank you letters, or whatever), and eventually on varied sentence structures and vocabulary.


6th gradeish through 8th or 9th grade, I want to focus on introducing formal writing assignments. I used to teach writing to middle schoolers and I have a pretty good idea of what I want to see.


After that... I think it depends at least somewhat on what our plan for high school is. Definitely I want them to be writing obviously, but whether that's relatively basic and focused on getting through high school, prepping for standardized tests like the SAT and learning to write for life OR if we're going deeper with research papers, creative writing, or other forms will depend somewhat on where they are academically and where their interests lie.

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