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WWS--7th grader having a tough time of it


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Anyone else's dc have trouble with WWS? My dd12 is bright and picks up most things easily. I feel she is a strong creative writer, but she is having such a hard time with WWS. We have hit several bumps along the way, but starting at around Week 29 (taking notes and writing from them) she is really having difficulty. Honestly, I'm having difficulty teaching it to her. I'm not sure if we should continue (we're almost finished with week 31) although it looks like it gets easier next week, or if we should jump ship. She absolutely hates it for one, and WWS2 won't be out til fall, so I'd have to find something to use in between anyway. I think it's a good program, but I think it's just too advanced for my kids. Anyone else have a problem? Is there any program that teaches a similar scope and sequence, but in a more gentle manner?

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My 7th grader is also. He is only at the end of Week 20, but he even had a hard time at the beginning. He would see WRITE 200 WORDS and go into shock. Actually Weeks 19 and 20 went quite well and he sat down and wrote without fuss.

 

I've been wondering if my ds was the only older child having a hard time using this book but have been afraid to ask seeing that it was written for children as young as 5th grade. My guys would not have done well at all with this at that age.

 

This ds is not new to writing either. He did two of the IEW theme-based writing courses plus the assignments in the Rod and Staff books. I think part of the problem is that now I expect him to sit down and get it done right away. I gave him a week for most of the IEW assignments.

 

I also used to think of this ds as a creative writer, but we had to drop "The Creative Writer" because it just overwhelmed him. I liked the book, but he needs more writing stamina before doing it.

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We got through it last year, but there were tough parts. It was the one book I actually saw DS throw across a room, lol. He made it though, and actually said he liked it when it was all over. We both learned a whole lot.

 

What is it that she is finding difficult? For my son it was learning to follow the directions. I would go through the week and highlight parts of the instructions to make sure he didn't skip steps. I often made him read the instructions out loud to me and then tell me in his own words what he was going to do next.

 

We are beta users of WWS2 and this year hasn't been anywhere near the struggle. I think it is just that he is older. I look at last year as growing pains. He had to stretch and grow a lot to meet the challenges, but it was obviously worth it for him. You are the expert on your daughter so you know best if that is what is happening for her.

 

I remember well the panic over 200 hundred words. Well, last week he had to hit 500 and he said it was 'easy'. I kid you not! He said that.

 

And yes to leaning on the Teacher's Manuel. A bunch of times he got stuck and the help we needed was there. You will notice the first bit of help is to always make the student read the directions out loud. That was always the problem for my son. He had to learn his lesson the hard way (about 50 times) but now it is much better.

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My dd did WWS 1 last year when she was in grade 7 and hated it, but she still did it. We were Beta testing WWS 2, but she refrused to do it; too much multiple note taking she said. It was just too tedious. I think WWS 2 has way more for the student to do per day than WWS 1 did, and my dd balked at that too. So we switched to some lit discussion (no writing at all) for awhile and now she is doing Essentials in Writing grade 8 without a fuss.

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Ds did WWS last year, but it was a major headache for us. I honestly think it is for much older kids, ie at least 14 years old. An advanced 11 or 12 year old could possibly still do the program, but I don't think they would gain as much from it. If they waited a few more years they would find it much easier to understand and learn a lot more from it.

 

In fact, I was looking in our local university bookshop and I found a writing manual there, that was geared for 18 year olds, and it was easier than WWS!

 

We switched to IEW-B and what a breeze! Ds is so much happier and I have less headaches.

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Yes, we had trouble as well. DS 13 started it last year in 7th grade and we ended up splitting it up into two years. This has worked out well for him. Is making pretty good progress and doesn't feel overwhelmed. DS12 is started it this year, also in grade 7, and he seems fine with it. It is just harder for some...

Now, I will say that older ds actually learns more from WWS than younger ds because he has to truly struggle with the assignments. All in all, it's good for him.

 

Yes, we do use the Instructor Manual from time to time.

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DS 12 started the year with a very negative writing attitude. Bad experiences with a writing instructor started the downward spiral that drove him out of ps last year. I therefore started WWS expecting storms. I read both the Instructor Manual before each lesson and use its tips *before* he gets too stuck, to try to keep the positive feelings flowing. As of Week 11, only two essays have been crumpled up and thrown across the room, a much lower casualty rate than pre-WWS.

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I am doing WWS with a 7th grade reluctant writer, and so far it is going well, although we are still in the first third of the book. My son really likes the style of WWS, but we don't do it every day. In fact, sometimes we'll work on it steadily for a couple of weeks, then take a break. Or maybe only do half of a week's worth of lessons in a week. I think this helps a lot. I think if I actually tried to stay with the recommended schedule, he would probably rebel and hate it.

 

I agree with those who said to use the teacher's manual. I have found it invaluable. Sometimes I'll read through SWB's suggestions with my son. Sometimes he'll argue with me about things, but then I show him what SWB says. He'll still argue, LOL, but he backs off a bit.

 

I agree that WWS can be used well with kids older than the target age range. Personally, I think a kid would have to be fairly advanced to use it in 5th grade without being overwhelmed. And I think there are plenty of high school kids who could benefit from SWB's instructions.

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There are several things I would try before jumping ship.

 

You could have her slow down to half pace.

 

If you're not already, you could do the lessons with her from start to finish until she gets it.

 

You could add lessons of your own making that mimic those in the book to make sure she gets it before you move on.

 

You could model how to do things yourself and then have her follow your lead.

 

If you're having trouble teaching her, I suggest that you do the lessons yourself before having her do them. This can really help you understand where the lesson is going and where the trouble spots might be.

 

WWS is such a good program that I would be very hesitant to move to something else before trying everything possible to help her through.

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Not with a 7th grader, but weeks 29 and 30 were hard ones here. And that's not implying we actually got them done in two weeks!

 

I think it really is a lot to take all those notes in one day when you are still just learning how to do that. And then ds is typing them, and he's still not quick with typing and Word. Frankly, it's making me a little nervous about WWS2. That has always been my concern with starting when we did, because I figured it would be a jump to the next level.

 

I think that it's a great program and the skills are useful, though, so if we hit a roadblock, we can slow down and work through it, or take a pause. Since it's about skill building, it's okay if it takes a little longer. I don't think it's out of the fifth or sixth grade league at all; there's clearly an age range of several years that can use and benefit from it,

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There are several things I would try before jumping ship.

 

You could have her slow down to half pace.

 

If you're not already, you could do the lessons with her from start to finish until she gets it.

 

You could add lessons of your own making that mimic those in the book to make sure she gets it before you move on.

 

You could model how to do things yourself and then have her follow your lead.

 

If you're having trouble teaching her, I suggest that you do the lesson(s) yourself before having her do them. This can really help you understand where the lesson is going and where the trouble spots might be.

 

WWS is such a good program that I would be very hesitant to move to something else before trying everything possible to help her through.

 

Well, I guess you all have convinced me to stick with it :)

 

Just as an FYI, we have already done some of the things listed above...slowing the pace as well as doing the lesson alongside her.

 

I'm looking forward to the literary analysis weeks coming up, but nervous about the final project. I'm wondering if we should try to do some additional, smaller compositions before attempting that lesson. Not sure how comfortable I feel leading that on my own...

 

I am going to need something between WWS1 and the release of WWS2. Or maybe I should just use that time to focus on her writing more from her science and history readings. Thoughts/suggestions?

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My dd is on the young end of the WWS spectrum. She has been using it very successfully, from my POV. Her writing has improved by leaps and bounds, she doesn't complain much, and while she needs some help figuring out exactly what the assignment is asking her to do in the case of some of the longer topos exercises, she's always been able to do it successfully. We break up the longer Topos exercises over two days, and I have felt that it was going really well. She's just finishing up Week 22, and I have also been looking forward to the Literary Analysis sections starting next week.

 

So yesterday, she tells me she really dreads WWS and is not enjoying it at all. I ask for more details, and at first she can't articulate it, and eventually says that it is sometimes hard to understand the directions and figure out what she is supposed to do. She's just generally dreading it and not enjoying it. After giving her the lecture on how important writing is, how learning to write well is non-negotiable, and how some things are just hard, I did ease up and say that we can take a break - do some other writing across the curriculum for awhile - and not just plow through for the sake of finishing. We can take how long it takes, particularly since we started so early. So, I'm still figuring out what that will look like, but next week we're going to do something completely different. I think she will really like the literary analysis section, but when we get to Research, I'm thinking we might need to do a week on/week off thing.

 

Anyway, this thread has helped a lot, very timely, so I appreciate it, and I agree that I want to keep doing the program, because the results have been fantastic, but I guess I need to listen to my kid and ease up a little bit. It ain't a race, right?

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I think WWS is billed for way too young a market. My dd could not have done it at age 12, and I'm secure enough in myself to say that. (I know her IQ, and she's NOT dumb!) She's doing it now at 13, 8th grade, and it's going swimmingly. She hates it, but she doesn't faint and does the tasks without blinking. So awesome for your dd that you've gotten this far! I think you could do a couple things. One, you could finish it out, say good job, and take a break for a year before coming back. Two, you could leave the rest of the book till fall and finish it then.

 

If you take a year off, you might do something radically different like the One Year Adventure Novel.

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I think WWS is billed for way too young a market. My dd could not have done it at age 12, and I'm secure enough in myself to say that. (I know her IQ, and she's NOT dumb!) She's doing it now at 13, 8th grade, and it's going swimmingly. She hates it, but she doesn't faint and does the tasks without blinking. So awesome for your dd that you've gotten this far! I think you could do a couple things. One, you could finish it out, say good job, and take a break for a year before coming back. Two, you could leave the rest of the book till fall and finish it then.

 

If you take a year off, you might do something radically different like the One Year Adventure Novel.

 

 

:iagree:

 

Dd did WWS in 7th and Elizabeth's description fits how it went pretty well. I signed up for the beta program with WWS2, but dd begged and pleaded until I changed programs. Dd is a good natural writer. I think the problem we had was that jumping into Classical Writing at 12, just made no sense to her. She knew how to outline, take notes, write a paragraph and an essay, but words like topos make her :scared:. I guess classical writing just isn't for us, although her writing did benefit from the time spent doing WWS.

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This thread has been helpful to me. My 7th grader is using WWS. He began it over the summer and is slowly continuing with it in between assignments from his outsourced IEW class. I have seen great improvements in his writing with WWS, but it is not an easy program. My 5th grade dd did Writing Tales 1 and 2 in 3rd and 4th grade and loved it. She has absolutely no problem with writing and picks things up very easily, but I knew I would just kill her love of writing if I used WWS this year because it would be hard. I also felt she would get so much more out of it if she was a little older. I had originally thought I would wait until 6th grade to begin WWS with her, but now I'm beginning to think 7th might be better. I wish I could have a look at WWS 2 before making a decision.

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Just an update - we decided to do the two easier of the 4 remaining sections (literary analysis & poetry) this year, with other writing assignments in between, and/or writing about books she's reading. Next week's assignment is a paper on horses! Her very favorite thing on earth, so she is pretty excited. We will do the Research and the Final Project section next fall, when we start up again after a summer break, and then move into WWS2, but with planned breaks to do writing across the curriculum. We both feel very relieved and happy with the compromise: I get her commitment to continue with the program, and all the benefits she's getting from it, and she gets a break and the chance to write about things she is interested in! Yay!

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I use WWS and IEW. If you have made it that far in WWS I would strongly recommend you stick it out. It is so, so good for them to be stretched. IEW, which I find invaluable for getting reluctant writers to write and to become confident, and is wonderful for getting dc to use stylistic techniques, doesn't come anywhere near WWS in regards to getting dc to think about what they are writing about. There is a big leap from taking key word notes and throwing together a rewrite with fancy techniques, and actually thinking about WHICH notes to take depending on the message you are trying to convey, your audience, your tone... There is just no comparison imo.

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Today my frustration level took on new highs! My nearly 12 yo dd just did day 4 of week 27. Why, why, why do the excerpts have to be so unobvious at this level! I love the concepts, but I seriously had to study the excerpt on the giant redwood trees to figure out how to outline it!! Not the mention the "Death of a Star" excerpt. I have a master's degree in a physical therapy and I struggled with that one! I wish SWB would have taken it down a notch so the young students could really grasp the concepts before having very difficult topics to outline. I will say the literary analysis was enjoyable. I could do a whole book on that! Is there anything else out there that teaches outlining at a more appropriate level?

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Is there anything else out there that teaches outlining at a more appropriate level?

 

Rod and Staff uses very short, simple excerpts to teach outlining.

 

And there is a book recommended in TWTM that just deals with outlining. This one. http://www.amazon.com/Study-Skills-Outlining-Grades-REM134/dp/B000QCBC2M/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1359830754&sr=8-3&keywords=Outlining

 

If you have a children's encyclopedia or even World Book, you could try teaching it yourself using that.

 

I can't say for sure why SWB chose the selections she did, but I expect it partly has to do what she could use freely under copyright. I think it's very good to be able to outline these types of writing, and I think she does start with the simpler and get more complex. I reinforce the skill by having my son outline a page or page and a half of his history or literature reading, once per week. With outlining there isn't always necessarily a right or wrong answer. It's more like most right vs. less right, or even maybe two answers that are just as right, especially with writing that isn't simplified.

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My 10 year old 5th grader is doing it. We have had tears. We took a break after about week 4. We are back at it now. The child just need to learn to follow directions. She's always been a good writer, so it's hard for her to have to receive critique and actually have to change things. It is good for her though. It's really the only part of her curriculum she struggles with.

Her twin sister is not ready for it and probably won't be for a while.

 

After hearing Susan talk, I am all about slowing down and giving help when needed. She really helped me ease up.

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Last night, I re-listened to SWB's talk on writing for the middle grade years. The burning questions I am left with is, "Susan, what changed so much between the time you gave this talk and the time you wrote WWS?"

 

In the talk, she says that 5th graders should be doing the following:

1) 2 x / week: brief narrative summary (1/2 p., 4-5 sentences) of something read for history, science or literature

2) 2x / week: a 1 level outline for ~3 pages read in history or science

3) 1x/week: write about literature - a basic literary analysis of a book read

 

That's it! And yet, in WWS, which is targeted at 5th graders, she is asking for much, much more from the student. So I am wondering what changed between now and then? Do expectations of 5th grade writing really need to be ramped up so high in order for the students to graduate high school and enter college with adequate writing skills?

 

I really like WWS, and I really like what my 5th grader is learning from it. But it is significantly more demanding than the work outlined in the talk. And it doesn't take a long look at the posts here to see that 1) lots of 5th graders really struggle with this level of expectation - AND THEY AREN'T BEHIND. and 2) lots of older kids can benefit greatly from WWS1, and are really ready to benefit from it at an older grade level - AND THEY AREN'T BEHIND.

 

I guess I'm agreeing with OhE, this curriculum seems to be targeting too young of a crowd, by Susan's own explanation. Why worry? Because I think parents of 5th and 6th graders, and their kids, are feeling like failures or that they are behind somehow if they struggle with WWS. And I think parents of older kids - 7th-10th graders - may avoid the program, thinking it's an upper elementary writing program, when their kids could really benefit from it. I just think it's unfortunate.

 

Another thing that struck dd and I while we were listening to the talk last night is that Susan talks about how pointless it is for kids to be forced to write about random, unconnected things they aren't interested in. Yet this is exactly what WWS asks them to do. I realize it is very hard - impossible? to put together a writing curriculum that is as thorough and step-by-step without assigning specific topics, which be definition will be random and disconnected from the student's curriculum. But, when she heard this, my dd's response was "That's ironic - that's exactly what I had to do when I wrote about Daniel Boone or the life cycle of the octopus." And she's right.

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I guess I'm agreeing with OhE, this curriculum seems to be targeting too young of a crowd, by Susan's own explanation. Why worry? Because I think parents of 5th and 6th graders, and their kids, are feeling like failures

 

:iagree: I so felt like a failure. The examples in the Teacher Manual of "acceptable work", compared to my ds12's work, made me want to cry. And ds isn't dumb either! I know that as he was tested by an Ed Psych and he does annual testing in the 3Rs.

 

I regret not leaving it till 8th grade as he would have gained so much more.

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Well, my son has actually enjoyed the topics Susan has picked.

 

It's like WWE. You can find your own things for copywork, narration etc. Or, you can use the workbook. If you use the workbook, a huge time saver for me, then you dependent upon someone's choices.

 

You don't have to use the pieces in the workbook topics in WWS. You could use your own scientific, historical books etc. It wouldn't be difficult to sub it out. If you know the goal then you can use anything you like. I prefer saving the time and just using the workbooks.

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Well, my son has actually enjoyed the topics Susan has picked.

 

It's like WWE. You can find your own things for copywork, narration etc. Or, you can use the workbook. If you use the workbook, a huge time saver for me, then you dependent upon someone's choices.

 

You don't have to use the pieces in the workbook topics in WWS. You could use your own scientific, historical books etc. It wouldn't be difficult to sub it out. If you know the goal then you can use anything you like. I prefer saving the time and just using the workbooks.

 

I agree, and we've done that - in fact, I let dd do her Biographical Sketch on Sacajawea, instead of Daniel Boone - we were studying Lewis & Clark, and she was much more interested. We've also done additional reading/research on topics so that she was writing from her own knowledge base, rather than trying to do it just from Susan's notes. I know a lot of users are finding that helpful. There was even a thread at one point where people were linking resources for the different topics - I'll have to search that out again.

 

I know that for me, as I get more familiar with the program, how it works, its goals and how it reaches them, I will feel more comfortable in assigning her to do a similar type of project on our own content. In fact, that is partly why we've decided to slow down - to take some breaks and do similar writing assignments on topics she's interested in, rather than continuing to plough ahead.

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There is a big leap from taking key word notes and throwing together a rewrite with fancy techniques, and actually thinking about WHICH notes to take depending on the message you are trying to convey, your audience, your tone...

 

I'm so glad you explained this. I haven't used IEW, but I've suspected this to be the case in comparing it to WWS.

 

Last night, I re-listened to SWB's talk on writing for the middle grade years. The burning questions I am left with is, "Susan, what changed so much between the time you gave this talk and the time you wrote WWS?"

 

...So I am wondering what changed between now and then?

 

...But it is significantly more demanding than the work outlined in the talk.

 

When we first began WWS about 1.5 years ago, I wondered this, too. (we're now beta-testing WWS 2) However, I now think that the difference is this (it relates to what I quoted 5Little Monkeys as saying): When she (and the WTM) talked about having 5th graders outline to one level so many times per week, narrate so many times per week; etc. for grades 6, 7, and 8; she was assuming that most parents knew HOW to teach their kids how to think through their reading via these skills. (It seems to me she wrote a post about this somewhere) I followed that schedule with my oldest; I thought it went pretty well. It's true that when he was in Grade 7, he could take a history or science passage and outline each paragraph to four levels, and he could rewrite the passage from that outline. And those are basic skills to have. What WWS does, though, is go into FAR more detail about *how* to outline *different types* of passages, and not necessarily paragraph by paragraph; which I think is far more useful (and interesting). And I had no clue that I should have been doing that, and I surely didn't know how to teach it. It would have taken SWB far longer in an audio teaching to teach us how to do all that - why not write a book instead. Anyway, after WWS teaches how to outline different types of writing, it then takes the skill knowledge the student has gained from any particular outlining exercise, and shows the student now how to write a composition using the same type of writing techniques as the author he/she just analyzed via outlining. Basically, the topoi - did the author write a chrono. narr. of past event? Sci. description? Chrono. narr. of sci. discovery? and on and on - there are so many. And WWS does a wonderful job of explaining each one, teaching the student how to analyze for these techniques and then use them, and then giving the student freedom to choose a topic to write about and choose the topoi he/she thinks fitting to the topic.

 

What 5LittleMonkeys said about WWS is so true. Both of my kids have wanted to throw WWS through our (new) living room picture window many times. But I LOVE what WWS teaches and how it teaches, and so we persevere, slowing down as needed, etc. I loved that each of my kids read the end project for WWS 1 and said (yelled) "There is no WAY I can write 1,000 words, Mom!!!!!" And they can type, so it wasn't a hand fatigue issue - they didn't think they could think of enough to say, without padding like I used to do in high school, lol. And they instinctively know (like I did) that padding is intellectually dishonest. I made sure they followed every direction in every lesson (many times having to go back and reread or read aloud), and lo and behold, each of them was able to do the 1,000 word final project. It took time, it took effort, it took thinking and planning, but they did it, step by small step.

 

I think it's great that WWS is doing this and aiming for middle grades students. It'll mean there is time in high school to learn rhetorical skills - learning to polish these topoi-formed compositions they learned to write in the middle years.

 

On a somewhat related note...because WWS does take quite a bit of time and thinking, and because I also put time into making sure each of my kids does a thorough job with math, grammar, spelling, logic, and Latin grammar/translation; there isn't a ton more time for doing packaged science/history/literature programs (all of which can take up more time during the day). It's part of why I love doing a modified WTM plan for these content areas - there is so much flexibility, and we can focus our history/science/literature efforts on reading and writing about that reading. We don't have to worry about doing a program's vocabulary list, or prescribed writing assignment, or prescribed other work - all of which may be interesting, but I find the WTM plan streamlines yet focuses very well. So anyway, if a parent is convinced that WWS is valuable, these are some other things to think about, in order to gain some time to do it.

 

hth

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Last night, I re-listened to SWB's talk on writing for the middle grade years. The burning questions I am left with is, "Susan, what changed so much between the time you gave this talk and the time you wrote WWS?"

 

In the talk, she says that 5th graders should be doing the following:

1) 2 x / week: brief narrative summary (1/2 p., 4-5 sentences) of something read for history, science or literature

2) 2x / week: a 1 level outline for ~3 pages read in history or science

3) 1x/week: write about literature - a basic literary analysis of a book read

 

That's it! And yet, in WWS, which is targeted at 5th graders, she is asking for much, much more from the student. So I am wondering what changed between now and then? Do expectations of 5th grade writing really need to be ramped up so high in order for the students to graduate high school and enter college with adequate writing skills?

 

I really like WWS, and I really like what my 5th grader is learning from it. But it is significantly more demanding than the work outlined in the talk. And it doesn't take a long look at the posts here to see that 1) lots of 5th graders really struggle with this level of expectation - AND THEY AREN'T BEHIND. and 2) lots of older kids can benefit greatly from WWS1, and are really ready to benefit from it at an older grade level - AND THEY AREN'T BEHIND.

 

I guess I'm agreeing with OhE, this curriculum seems to be targeting too young of a crowd, by Susan's own explanation. Why worry? Because I think parents of 5th and 6th graders, and their kids, are feeling like failures or that they are behind somehow if they struggle with WWS. And I think parents of older kids - 7th-10th graders - may avoid the program, thinking it's an upper elementary writing program, when their kids could really benefit from it. I just think it's unfortunate.

 

Another thing that struck dd and I while we were listening to the talk last night is that Susan talks about how pointless it is for kids to be forced to write about random, unconnected things they aren't interested in. Yet this is exactly what WWS asks them to do. I realize it is very hard - impossible? to put together a writing curriculum that is as thorough and step-by-step without assigning specific topics, which be definition will be random and disconnected from the student's curriculum. But, when she heard this, my dd's response was "That's ironic - that's exactly what I had to do when I wrote about Daniel Boone or the life cycle of the octopus." And she's right.

 

I've wondered about this disconnect as well, but then I think back to WWE and the first time I saw some of the dictation passages in WWE 4. To me, some of those passages were absolutely ridiculous. I certainly couldn't remember them after having my husband reading them to me 2 or 3 times. I knew how much that would frustrate my kids. Then, I watched Susan doing WWE with her son in her Youtube video and she does it nothing like how it sounds in the book. She repeated the passage as many times as he needed and in much smaller quantities and helped him a LOT. That made me realize that what she says in the book may be the highest ideal but not everyone is going to be able to meet that and that's okay.

 

So, with WWS, even though it has been challenging at times, I have given my son as much time as he needs to get a lesson completed and I've helped him more than the book suggests. The book really emphasizes having the student read all the instructions on their own. I threw that out the window pretty quickly. Writing is such a struggle for my ds, I felt that reading the instructions together and discussing them was one way to make things more manageable for him. I did not want him repeating assignments that were difficult to begin with just because he was unclear on how to do them. I agree there is a lesson to be learned in reading the instructions carefully, but we're not there yet with this particular subject. If we read the outlining passages together rather than just having him do it on his own, it is so much easier for him. And if he can't figure one out, I use the notes SWB has given to help the student figure out the answer. I love those notes.

 

I also comfort myself with the fact that SWB says that if we get our kids through the WWS series, they will be ready for college writing. That, in itself, tells me I don't need to do this program with my 5th grader. Great for people who want to or can, but it does take the pressure off and reminds me that my 7th grader is doing just fine. It also makes me feel very good about the decision I made to hold off for my dd, who is actually a pretty strong writer because if I had started this program with her in 5th grade, I think she would have begun to hate writing whereas right now, she loves it.

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It does seem that there is an age range it's effective for, but I think I disagree that it's way above fifth grade level. I can see why some people say an older child may get more out of it, but it's not like they learn the skills and never use them again; they are skills that will be practiced every year and hopefully through life as maturity grows. And as Colleen said, rhetoric in high school is the hope.

 

I think for a child that has been doing solid written narrations and dictation for several years, it's a natural progression. The actual writing and outlining is a lot Iike what I did in fifth and sixth grade in a private school (My mom kept some of my old work so this is not just from memory, even the longer report with several sources at the end of the year).

 

I think what makes it more advanced is not the actual skills taught: one-level outlining and a few different types of paragraphs, plus very beginning literary and poetic analysis. It's the difficulty of the passages, and the difficulty younger students may have in reading and following such detailed instructions, The instructions are very good, but most 10 year olds aren't used to doing this, plus add the skill work, and some are overwhelmed. If you think about a fifth grader bringing this type of work home after being taught in a classroom, the level of expectation really isn't that out of the norm for the age IMO.

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:lurk5: I am listening in. I have a 10 year old doing WWS and have often thought he would get more out of it if he were older. We are still plugging along because he seems to be hanging in there and I am not sure what else to do. Fwiw, he likes calling it Topos, lol. Thinks it sounds grown up.

 

Enjoying everyone's thoughts!

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Pastel, sometimes we get so caught up in doing something "right" or "wrong" (correctly or incorrectly) that we forget that we are TEACHING here and that our adaptions PROBABLY reflect that we're trying to TEACH our kids. You don't have to doubt that inner spark of fire and inspiration. :)

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See, I think this is so helpful! People sharing how they are adapting the program, and what their dc are getting from it, and how it fits in to the overall trajectory of learning about writing that culminates, hopefully, in a student who is prepared for college-level writing. Thank you all so much for sharing!

 

Colleen, especially what you were saying about WWS teaching us about what we need to be teaching our dc about writing - this is so huge, and I agree completely. I admire people who know how to break it all down, and to teach writing to this level of detail on their own, but I definitely need SWB's words of wisdom to figure out how to do that. What I think I am gaining from the program is the confidence that I can read the lessons, figure out what is being taught, and then adapt that lesson to different content - and that my dd is learning skills that will apply to all the writing she does, for the rest of her life. As with everything, the curriculum is a tool, and a great one at that.

 

This has been such a great, timely discussion and has really helped me think through where my dd is at, and where we go from here.

 

:cheers2:

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I use WWS and IEW. If you have made it that far in WWS I would strongly recommend you stick it out. It is so, so good for them to be stretched. IEW, which I find invaluable for getting reluctant writers to write and to become confident, and is wonderful for getting dc to use stylistic techniques, doesn't come anywhere near WWS in regards to getting dc to think about what they are writing about. There is a big leap from taking key word notes and throwing together a rewrite with fancy techniques, and actually thinking about WHICH notes to take depending on the message you are trying to convey, your audience, your tone... There is just no comparison imo.

 

 

Reading this post, I feel validated and relieved to be using IEW as a bridge to WWS. It was just happenstance that led us to IEW, but I am so grateful to have found it. I began using it because of Andrew Pudewa's lovely talk about teaching boys, then appreciated the opportunity to build skills slowly while writing across the curriculum (an option I loved about WWE and loathe the absence of with WWS). TWSS being multi-level is also incredibly helpful, as it allows me to keep my kids together for writing lessons. I can do this until DS10 and DD are both ready for WWS and keep them together for instruction, since DD is a strong writer. Anyway, I do not consider IEW a replacement for WWS, as I think the two programs have vastly different strengths.

 

Frankly, there is a gigantic jump between WWE3 or 4 (now that Susan says 4 is optional for those who have got it down...definitely my DS). Huge! And I don't even have a reluctant writer! When a college prof is saying that WWS, a program for grades 5-8 (again, with the 4th year being optional!) will prepare kids for college writing, I think what's the rush? Why do I need a 7th grade child prepared for college writing? And at what cost to the child's enjoyment or affection for the subject?

 

I think for kids ready to make a giant leap, WWS is a great challenge. But for kids who need baby steps through the writing process, I think that WWE is inadequate preparation for WWS. IEW can provide those baby steps. I mean if, as you say about IEW vs WWS, "There is a big leap from taking key word notes and throwing together a rewrite with fancy techniques, and actually thinking about WHICH notes to take depending on the message you are trying to convey, your audience, your tone..." just think about the leap from WWE to WWS!

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I agree that it for us it is part of a natural progression. My kid has done FLL and WWE 1-4, and SOTW 1-4. I own all the writing lectures and have tried to put them to good use.

 

In 4th grade, he was doing the outlining and writing from the outline in SOTW AG 4. In 5th grade he was finishing WWE4 and outlining his history and writing weekly narrations. By 6th grade, he was ready to take it up a level. I was already worried in 5th grade that he wasn't going to want to spend 4 years outlining in ever increasing detail and writing longer and longer 'narrations'. Blech. WWS has allowed him to apply many of those skills. It challenges him and keeps him interested. It also challenges him to produce content. He liked the different topics for writing in WWS1. In WWS2 he has freedom to pick out his own topic within specific guidelines. Add in beginning level literary analysis and it is one powerhouse of a writing program.

 

When I see what his ps peers are being required to produce in our local schools I am feeling assured about WWS. His peers have been required to produce more content but left to figure out much of the process themselves. They have all had lots of outlining instruction in 4th and 5th but no idea how to apply it. I feel like his is producing at the level required of them but with more support and explanation of what is happening. He doesn't hate writing like many of them do. Thanks to FLL 1-4 (and R&S) he has an understanding of grammar so he can focus on the actual writing. Thanks to years of WWE and SOTW he has an understanding of how writing should flow, and he can pick out the important content in his sources.

 

I don't think WWS is geared toward the 'wrong' age level at all. I see it as introducing new skills that will be worked on, honed and mastered in years to come. I also see it as working on just the right skills for middle schoolers. So often I hear people say in this particular forum "the middle school years are not about content, they are about using content to teach process." Well, that is what WWS does. It is using provided content to teach the process of writing.

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Reading this post, I feel validated and relieved to be using IEW as a bridge to WWS. It was just happenstance that led us to IEW, but I am so grateful to have found it. I began using it because of Andrew Pudewa's lovely talk about teaching boys, then appreciated the opportunity to build skills slowly while writing across the curriculum (an option I loved about WWE and loathe the absence of with WWS). TWSS being multi-level is also incredibly helpful, as it allows me to keep my kids together for writing lessons. I can do this until DS10 and DD are both ready for WWS and keep them together for instruction, since DD is a strong writer. Anyway, I do not consider IEW a replacement for WWS, as I think the two programs have vastly different strengths.

 

Frankly, there is a gigantic jump between WWE3 or 4 (now that Susan says 4 is optional for those who have got it down...definitely my DS). Huge! And I don't even have a reluctant writer! When a college prof is saying that WWS, a program for grades 5-8 (again, with the 4th year being optional!) will prepare kids for college writing, I think what's the rush? Why do I need a 7th grade child prepared for college writing? And at what cost to the child's enjoyment or affection for the subject?

 

I think for kids ready to make a giant leap, WWS is a great challenge. But for kids who need baby steps through the writing process, I think that WWE is inadequate preparation for WWS. IEW can provide those baby steps. I mean if, as you say, "There is a big leap from taking key word notes and throwing together a rewrite with fancy techniques, and actually thinking about WHICH notes to take depending on the message you are trying to convey, your audience, your tone...", just think about the leap from WWE to WWS!

 

I agree that the transition from WWE to WWS is not smooth. The first lesson of WWS defines paragraphs and topic sentences, them wham! you suddenly are supposed to be writing them! This was the hardest part at the beginning for us - dd's narration skills were rock solid, and she had no trouble picking up outlining, but figuring out how, when, and where to include paragraph breaks and transition from one-paragraph summaries and reports to multi-paragraph reports was not at all obvious. We were doing MCT's Paragraph Town concurrently, and it helped immensely with this, being focused on how to construct paragraphs explicitly. With my second dd, I'm thinking we'll do Paragraph Town between WWE & WWS.

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I have made quite a few adaptations to WWS, and it has made all the difference for us.

 

For example:

 

I don't like excerpts, and neither does DS. I am substituting SWB's examples with our other readings wherever possible. It is time consuming but not that difficult to do this.

 

We made a bit of a slow committment to WWS this year, and are "only" on Week 13. I found it disheartening to to see that creating a "Works Cited" page was sooooo far into our future. So I went ahead and taught DS how to create a "Works Cited" page during Week 12. After all, when he was in 4th grade in a private school he had to make a Bibliography page. And then it snowballed a bit, and I ended up teaching him lots more about the MLA handbook and how to set up an MLA paper. From this point forward, I will have him choose his composition topic from what we are studying in history or science. And I will require standard MLA format. But I will use the framework and rubrics from WWS.

 

For example, our Week 13 will look like this:

 

1) Summarize the Norwegian Folktale. I will keep this one as is. It is not an excerpt, and we live in Scandinavia:) It is a keeper!

2) Outlining: I will have him outline something from his science reading instead.

3) We will discuss POV in scientific description. We may or may not use the passages in WWS. I will have him do Step 3 (Add to the pattern of the topos) as written.

4) During Week 12, DS wrote about atoms instead of volcanoes. I will have him rewrite that composition from the alternative POV.

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I wrote this up last year on this thread http://forums.welltr...ting-curricula/ and thought I would copy it here as I think it might be useful. There are quite a few other posts on how people use WWS on that thread, in addition to a bunch of other curricula.

 

We are on Week 16, which is where WWS switches from Narrative writing to more descriptive writing (this is a simplification). The first assignment is to write a description of someone you know.

 

Well, my son has always done non-fiction report writing -- not a story to be seen, so I knew he would be completely flummoxed by this assignment. After he had outlined the example and then read SWB's description of the type of writing, we had our conversation.

 

First, he did not actually understand the list that she had given: physical appearance, sound of voice, what others think, portrayals, character qualities, challenges and difficulties, accomplishments, habits, behavior, expressions of face and body, mind/intellectual capabilities, talents and abilities, self disciplines, religious beliefs, clothing, dress, economic status, fame/notoriety/prestige, family traditions. Specifically "expressions of face and body" took him a while to see body language as falling in the category. And what exactly is the difference between habits and character qualities? or mind/intellectual vs talents/abilities? So we discussed these and others.

 

Next, I started with the overarching idea that a description has a purpose. You don't just write down random bits about something. I told him about a writing class I took in University where I had written a 12 page description of a place I knew and loved. I had to read it to the small group for critique, and when I was done there was a discussion. They told me that they knew there was something wrong the whole way through the reading, but could not pinpoint it until I got to the description of the dock, which I described as 8 ft by 6ft, and then they KNEW the problem. I was putting in detail that did not move my description forward. I was trying to write a nastalgic piece that also expressed my enthusiasm and awe of the area, and I was measuring the size of the dock. It just didn't fit, and that type of description riddled the piece. My ds then said "you should have said it was 'large enough to lay down and luxuriate in the sun.'" Yep, I should have. And he got it, just like that.

 

Now, we discussed a good example of description in literature that we had both read. Phileas Fogg in Around the World in 80 days. The description of this character is critical to the entire story, so it seemed like a good choice. We went through the entire list and tried to think about how Phileas was described, recognizing that not all categories were used, and critically, how was each description putting forward the overarching idea that Phileas had to "have his own way" in all things and was completely rigid. Certain aspects of the list are unimportant to this focus, so we noted that. We did the whole list, but here are just a few examples:

 

physical appearance: he is dressed "just so", shiny shoes, perfectly groomed,

sound of voice: unimportant

what others think: people thought he was odd

portrayals: unimportant

character qualities: fastidious, punctual, tidy, careful, routine driven

challenges and difficulties: handling anything that disrupted his routine

accomplishments: unimportant

habits: lots here. always stepped out with left foot, etc.... had a lot here

 

We discussed how this description was critical to the story line.

 

Ok, next we did our own description together for practice. He decided to do his father. So *what* aspect of his father was he going to describe? His father is a very different man in a business meeting vs playing a game with his boys. I stressed that doing a single aspect of his life would make the person 1 dimensional, and to rectify this you would need a longer description, but that today we were doing a short description. He decided to do his father in an office setting. So once again we use SWB's list:

 

physical appearance: suit, fancy watch, short hair, etc. I stress that things like wearing a suit are only added if they add an important detail to the description. Is he the *only* person wearing a suit? (yes, he is a civilian working at defense). Does he wear the same suit as everyone else or different style (conformity), etc. Don't add it, if it does not matter.

sound of voice: discussed that the sound of a radio announcers voice would be very important, but no so for an author. Decided that his father's tone was unimportant, but his use of stress and pauses is critically important to keeping people interested in a meeting.

what others think: hummm. Important? depends on your purpose. I gave the example that my husband told once that someone came to him for advice because he was recommended by a third party. On the phone, the person clearly did not think highly of dh, so right before the meeting, dh purposely removed his suit coat, looked a bit slovenly, shuffled his steps, slouched in the chair when he sat down etc. All this to augment the person's initial opinion. THEN, when the conversation began, he leans forward, makes eye contact, and blows the guy away. This description is important to the narrative. In other writing situations, the opinions of others would not matter. It is all about making the description RELEVANT.

 

Ok, so we go through the rest of the list.

 

This takes an hour.

 

On the next day, we begin to work on his description of his brother to write up. (This also takes an hour :tongue_smilie:) He had typed up the list on the day before, and we print it at a table and use it as an outline. He decides he will describe his brother from the point of view of being an outdoor kid. I remind him that he is not telling a narrative. That all of the details about being outside must go to describing his brother's traits. I reiterate this every 5 minutes during out hour-long discussion, and then again numerous times on the next day when he writes it up (I'm guessing he will forget). We do have a discussion about the arrangement of the piece: does he want to describe each character quality in a separate paragraph (e.g.,determination) and give many outdoor examples within the paragraph. Or does he want to do each outdoor activity as a paragraph and put the character qualities within it. We discuss the implication of each. He goes for the second thinking it will be easier (and I think it will be).

 

Here are our notes that we put on the outline:

 

Physical appearance: dark hair, dishevelled, snottly nose (he decides not to add this), healthy, dusty, fingernails, pink cheeks, blue eyes, pockets bulging, shovel, dagger, large stick, camouflage, sturdy sandles, grip, tall, slender, wiry muscles.

sound of voice: unimportant

what others think: un

portrayals: un

character qualities: busy, focused, spontaneous, cooperative (there are more but we decide to include them in behaviour category below)

challenges and difficulties: un

accomplishments: un

habits: un

expressions un

mind: un

talents: un

self disciplines: un

religious: un

clothing: put into physical appearance

economic, fame, family: un

behaviour:

1) whacking bushes: vigorously, destruction, energetic, wild swinging motions, doesn't car about native, explosion, leaves flying,

2) Spying: bird calls, stealthy, exciting because secretive, slither, hide, mimic

3) building forts: challenging, difficult, shelter, cooperative, sunny day, drizzle, planning carefully, gatherer, knife

4) climbing trees: challenging, too hard, doesn't know own limitations, falls without complaint, scramble, slips, high up, relax at top

 

At first I ask all the questions to draw out the ideas, then I get him in the second half to ask me the questions. He comes up with 3 he likes: Why (motivation), when (circumstance), how (method). We discuss these questions and make notes about them so he can use them again.

 

That same day, he writes the first paragraph on description

The next day he writes the next 4 paragraphs (this takes him more than an hour, but he works independently)

 

We have not yet edited, but I have included the rough draft in the next post.

 

And then we REST. This was a very difficult assignment for both of us I think, but it went very well. I think I will have him do another description of a person where he makes up the outline himself, *then* we move on to week 17.

 

Well, that got long. Hope that answers your questions, SaDonna. And by the way, this sounds very organized now that I wrote it up, but I just did it on the fly when I realized that he was seriously clueless.

 

Ruth

 

 

 

Here is DS(11) description of his brother. (unedited)

 

My brother, B****, loves to play in the woods. His light brown hair is often dishevelled and black with dirt contrasting greatly with his sanguine cheeks. When he is in the forest, his bright blue eyes sparkle with joy and exhilaration. Sometimes B****'s entire body is covered with dark brown splotches of dirt and he is often dressed in a dusty brown shirt, shorts, and sturdy sandles. Normally, his pockets are bulging with pine cones, twigs, pebbles, and dirt. He likes to carry a home-made dagger and a huge stick for whacking bushes. Altogether, B**** often makes a striking figure.

 

My brother loves to climb trees because climbing them is challenging, and my brother loves a challenge. The trees he climbs are often far too hard for him, and he often falls. However, when he falls, he never complains but continues to climb the same tree. Often, while at the top of a tree, B**** will enjoy the view or chat with a friend.

 

For exercise, my brother likes to destroy bushes with a very large stick. He savours the obliteration of the plants and the explosion of the leaves. B**** attacks the bushes energetically with wild swinging motions. He does not care whether he destroys native or non-native plants, but rather goes for the most succulent because they explode the best.

 

After he obliterates a few bushes, my brother likes to build huts. He builds them for fun and because they are very challenging and difficult to build. All of the forts that he makes are always carefully planned out and constructed to make them stronger. One thing my brother is very proud of is that his forts use all natural materials. For example, instead of string, B**** uses flax strips to tie together sticks.

 

My brother also enjoys spying. The secretiveness, the stealth, and the hiding excite him. He has learnt to imitate nature in many ways. He makes rustling noises while walking like a black bird, never uses the same trails, and mimics bird calls to communicate with his friends.

 

 

 

So the next step is to edit.

 

He clearly needs some sort of ending.

He also needs to work on some more interesting words, and to remove repetitious words.

 

but overall, quite a nice first effort that he wrote himself.

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You all are the greatest! Every one of you have given great insight! We do VP history/Bible and literature, but VP does IEW, so we have not done their writing assignments since we have no clue how to do them! I don't follow the WTM method for my other subjects so basically we are not outlining in those. I was hoping WWS was going to give enough practice. SWB is probably assuming that most are doing that, so my dd might be a little behind here. I think we probably need to drop back and do some other types of outlining for a while and catch up. I do think WWS is a great program and I want to stay tuned for the books that are to come. BTW, has anyone done the Creative Writer? Is it any "lighter?" Since we are going to be ahead of SWB getting her writing books out in the next few years, it might be a good idea to use this one in the mean time.

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I have been on the fence trying to decide whether to start WWS next year with my odd. She is an advanced writer and will turn 10 shortly after the start of the year. I keep looking at it thinking that she is capable of doing it, but I'm not sure she will get as much out of it as she could. Well, this decides it. You have all affirmed my gut feelings that holding off for another year will be the best move. Thank you!

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My 8th grader is having a hard time with it. I'm making her stick with it because I can see that she's learning a lot from the work. Our compromise is that she only has to do it 3 days a week. The other days she's free to do creative writing (I'm ordering this http://www.amazon.co..._pr_product_top) and read books on writing (her new fav http://www.amazon.co...rds=spilled ink).

 

I keep telling myself it's not a race. :)

If it takes a year and a half, or two years to complete book one, so be it-

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My 8th grader is having a hard time too. She's used IEW for many years, but was starting to complain about it so I thought we would try WWS. Initially she liked the change, but now that she's deeper into the book she's starting to complain that it's too hard. As someone else in this thread already mentioned, I think that WWS is forcing her to think, and she doesn't like that because it's hard work. Even though she's not loving it, she's been able to do the assignments and her writing is really improving. In fact, I'm so impressed with her writing that I'm even contemplating having my Grade 10 student do this book as well. So, we are going to stick with it, but change how we work through the book. Instead of having her try to complete each "day" in the book in one school day I'm just going to have her work for a certain amount of time each day. That way she can work through the book at her own pace and won't feel so pressured with those longer assignments.

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