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WWE when you need to be able to write paragraphs


nicklepede
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Dd8 is 10 weeks into WWE2 (we started WWE1 in 2nd because handwriting was NOT there yet before then) and I've run into a bit of a stumper -- we are in a co-op that has classes that are assuming my child can cobble together paragraphs.

 

Turns out, she really can't yet.

 

So. For those of you who use WWE but need your child to start building paragraphs, how did you go about it? Did you grab a workbook and do it on the side? (Any good recommendations?) Did you start running IEW along the side with WWE? Did you give up and kick WWE to the curb in frustration? Or something else?

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I would have the child dictate to me and I would be his scribe. In third grade, my kid could not write whole paragraphs. Now, as a 7th grader he knocks them out like nothing. But, at that age I did much of his writing for him. My younger son is 7, about to be 8, and I cannot imagine him being able to construct something paragraphs long that would be worth reading or the hassle involved getting it on the paper.

 

After going through all of WWE and now WWS with my middle grades child, I would kick the co-op class to the curb before I gave up on WWE/WWS.

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I said "paragraphs" above, but I meant that meaning among different assignments -- any given assignment is just one paragraph long.

 

And she just didn't have a clue. Not even really what a paragraph *was,* let alone how you'd go about making your own. And it wasn't about anything she had to research -- it was about herself. So the subject matter was at least something she was familiar with.

 

It's a good thing we had two weeks for this assignment, but I'd really like something more to work with than me trying to wing her through it on my own. I'm a math/science geek, so I relish the days we work on the long division algorithm or algebra. But how to construct a paragraph? I need more handholding myself.

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Well, a paragraph doesn't have to be long. It just need to be more than one sentence.

 

And you can still be her scribe. Just ask what her response is to the question and write it down. Have her watch you write it down, point out the punctuation and any difficult words.

 

It really isn't any different than the narrations in WWE. In those, you write down the narration while the child watches. If it is more than one sentence, then it is is a short paragraph.

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Well, I have one in WWE3 (4th grade) and another in WWE2 (2nd grade) and they can both write paragraphs & pages.

 

However, I have the kids doing daily journal entries in addition to WWE. At first, this would often be little more than a sentence with a drawing. (VERY early on, it was just a drawing.) Sometimes I'd get complaints about "I don't know what to write!" and I'd give them a sentence starter, or draw something for them to write about, or a sticker to use as inspiration.

 

I know SWB is critical of the creative writing approach in public education, and how it leaves kids in a lurch when it comes to understanding the mechanics of writing. I absolutely agree. However, I do not think the creative writing approach is completely useless, either. I think writing freely and without restrictions offers something valuable as well, even with very young children.

 

The journal entries have also afforded opportunities tie up loose ends not covered in WWE/FLL, to slowly and gently introduce the critical process, to allow for self-correction (in contrast to WWE where you are standing over them like a hawk and correcting errors as they occur), to allow for creativity and just joy in the writing process, no matter how simple. My older one also does Phonetic Zoo, and her journal entries are where we get her personal spelling words. These are words she is naturally inclined to use but commonly misspells. You can't see those kinds of things in the scripted writing done with WWE.

 

To me these are two sides of a coin. WWE is systematic and teaches mechanics, and journaling is free-form and offers an opportunity for pleasure.

 

I rarely have given guidance for journal time - only occasionally nudging when the journal entries lagged substantially behind their potential based on performance with WWE. Drawing-only was OK for a while, but once WWE1 assignments were being completed proficiently, I nudged the student towards including at least one sentence in their journal. Even if it was just "I like cats." with a picture of cats. We expanded from there.

 

What I have noticed is that as they advance in WWE, what they learn is naturally incorporated into their journal entries.

 

At least in our home, WWE rarely takes more than 15-20 minutes. Journal entries about the same - increasing as they expand their toolbox through WWE. That's 30-45 minutes spent developing writing skills. That's what works for us. :D

Edited by zenjenn
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Around that age, my ds was stuck with this as well. Creative journaling didn't work for us; it caused serious meltdowns. Any sort of self-reflection or story telling did not help him write.

 

When I began teaching paragraph writing, I gave him my simple definitions for a sentence and a paragraph. A sentence expresses a complete thought. A paragraph is a group of complete thoughts related to each other. We then began the writing exercise by listing a series of facts under categories so all the related facts are together.

 

If it was a self-description exercise, I would start with these categories: physical, likes/dislikes, family life.

 

List physical characteristics, working from top to bottom. Hair: color, length, straight/curly/wavy. Eyes: big/small, brown/blue/green/yellow. Teeth: missing any? Height.

 

List likes/dislikes. Food, sports, hobbies, school subjects. What do you like about your favorite subject? What do you dislike about your hated food?

 

List family life. Siblings, parents, grandparents. Think of one or two things you like about that person. What are some favorite things you like to do with your family?

 

I would model answers for him, writing down my own responses to each question asked. Occasionally, I would throw out something unrelated. In physical description, I might say I love chocolate. I'd ask him if loving chocolate fit under physical description; if someone took a picture of me, would they be able to tell I love chocolate? Usually, he'll understand the concept of putting facts in the correct category and I would ask him to point out which category liking chocolate would fall under.

 

When he was eight, listing facts was usually a single day's exercise. The next day, I would pull out my series of facts and begin putting together sentences, repeating my definition of a sentence and modeling my responses. Since the facts are already listed in categories, it helped with paragraph grouping. Depending on his writing ability, I would only expect 3-4 sentences. The next day, we would either add to the writing or begin editing.

 

Editing usually involved checking conventions (spelling, capitalization, punctuation) and very basic style grooming. Does every sentence start with the same word? Let's switch it up. Is the sentence order the same (Subject, Verb)? Let's rearrange our words to create more interesting sentences. Are we using the same words over and over? Think of different words to use or break out the thesaurus. As he wrote more and started creating multi-paragraph reports, I would add an unrelated sentence to a paragraph. We'd discuss why the sentence doesn't fit and where it might go in the remaining paragraphs.

 

Explicitly teaching writing concepts is usually very time-intensive on my part. I teach by modeling answers and steering him away from repeating what I'm doing exactly. Often times, it's me asking for a sentence, rephrasing his response, and then encouraging him to write it down. Practice has helped the steps become more natural for him.

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no helpful advice really. i just wanted to say that i think it's strange your co-op assumes an 8 year old can push out paragraphs with ease. my son is 8 1/2 and we use a traditional curriculum (although i did use WWE 1 & 2 with my daughter & liked it!). his writing program works on a paper for a couple of weeks though...it doesn't even assume he can write a paragraph with ease yet. i would talk to the teacher & let them know you follow a different scope and sequence and ask for ways you can adjust. is this an option?

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It's a good thing we had two weeks for this assignment, but I'd really like something more to work with than me trying to wing her through it on my own.

 

oh, i just saw this part. that makes more sense than. in this case, i would use this simple model to help my child (or i would just have them dictate it while i write it). it is intended for special needs kids, but it is what i use first with my kids to introduce a simple & coherent paragraph. i love this approach.

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Or something else?

 

it was about herself. So the subject matter was at least something she was familiar with.

 

It's a good thing we had two weeks for this assignment...

 

If it's a co-op class you care about, I would try WWE-izing (:D) the co-op assignment. Did the co-op teacher give any guidelines for what was to be in the paragraph? Any prompt questions? (If not, maybe others here could give you prompts questions.) If so, try the following:

 

- Sit down with your daughter and ask her some of the questions - have a simple discussion first.

 

- Then ask her, based on her answers to your questions, to narrate (to you) something about herself in two or three sentences.

 

- Listen to her narrate, correcting her grammar along the way and having her repeat the corrected sentence(s) back to you, and write down her narration for her.

 

- Ask her, "Did those sentences all have to do with one topic?" Her: "Yes, me! (or my bike! or my pets! or my hobbies! or my books!)" You: "Congratulations! You just wrote a paragraph, because all the sentences are about one topic!"

 

- The next day (or so), give it to her as copywork or dictate it to her to write down (whatever she is easily capable of doing), so that she can turn in her assignment in her own writing.

 

i would talk to the teacher & let them know you follow a different scope and sequence and ask for ways you can adjust.

 

:iagree:

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So. For those of you who use WWE but need your child to start building paragraphs, how did you go about it? Did you grab a workbook and do it on the side? (Any good recommendations?) Did you start running IEW along the side with WWE? Did you give up and kick WWE to the curb in frustration? Or something else?

 

I use WWW3 w/ dd8 for this purpose. In our state, grade 3 students need to write 3 paragraphs w/ structure (topic sentence, details, ending sentence, transitions, etc). WWE doesn't teach para structure.

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