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High School Writing...I'm failing my son miserably on this one...help...


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Hi all. I haven't posted in ages, but have lurked.

 

I am down to my last student, ds15, 10th grade. We have been moving right along with most subjects...well, Lial's Introductory Algebra has taken almost 2 years to get through, but that's another thread better saved for another day.

 

EXCEPT writing...

 

I have tried (or thought about trying) just about every program/method...IEW, EIW, Writing Strands, Wordsmith, WriteShop, CM Methods, Brave Writer, and probably others I can't even remember anymore. My brain is so cluttered with WHAT I need to do that I can't think straight.

 

We have finally settled on doing...absolutely nothing...I am paralyzed...I can't even get myself together enough to just have him write something...no copywork, no dictation, no narrations, no paragraphs or simple essays...nada...

 

I want to cry. I want to quit. I want to scream.

 

I just want him to write...an essay on a history topic or about what he's reading or about something that interests him. But, I can't even get my mind clear enough to guide him through the various types of writing---expository, persuasive, descriptive, etc. OR to come up with some sort of an assignment. That's the real issue; I don't know what to have him write about. I don't know how to come up with a writing topic or assignment or how to phrase it. It's as if that part of my brain has gone dormant.

 

The most recent writing curriculum was supposed to be "the one"...Essentials in Writing...not so. We find it orderly, but, mind-numbingly dull...as are most writing curricula, imo. The author has brief lectures (ds zones out), assignments/prompts, planning forms, and rubrics. We've done quite a few lessons and ds writing is getting less interesting, less organized and just "less" overall. The topics don't pertain to his subjects, so he finds them pointless.

 

I want him to write for a reason. Either for his subjects (History, Chemistry, Lit, whatever...) or because he has something of interest to research and write about.

 

I'm sorry for this sad display.

 

I just need to know how we can get back all the writing time we've lost, recover from boring writing assignments and get back on track. I don't think using a curriculum is the answer for us considering our history with those. (My dd told me those never did a thing for her either...just writing for her subjects was the best practice.)

 

Thanks for sticking with me this long...

Robin

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So what if you just tell him he has to write ONE thing each week, about a topic of HIS choice?

Can be history, or science, or politics- just something.

Maybe when you see the essay draft in front of you, you will be able to hep him improve it.

 

I don't give many writing assignments, and we have never used any formal program. We pretty much unschool English, and it does work rather well.

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Teaching writing has always been the most difficult subject for me... I'm a "natural" writer - didn't really need to learn. I picked up style, grammar, and spelling through reading. So - teaching this to someone else the way I learned is impossible. DS is NOT a natural writer and hates to write. Anyway - I feel ya' there. I think stepping back and deciding how your DS writes best/learns best might help. Does he need to have very formal, step by step instructions? Does he want free reign in a first draft and then feedback for a final draft? Does he struggle with simple writing, or just now that high school writing has gotten more intense? If he needs reinforcement of the basics or if he is the type who needs strong structure, I think you may want to go back to IEW (or something similar) even though you didn't like it.... Also - decide WHY he needs to write. Will he be writing more in history? Lab reports? Higher level English/Lit classes? What type of writing does he want/need to become most efficient in? My son will most certainly go into a math or science field of some sort, and so I am trying not to focus on the flowery stuff, lol. Style, yes, but not overly so. I want him to be able to express his ideas clearly and logically. If we at some point can add flowery - I'll celebrate :)

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What is he studying in science and history? One thing you could do is get a writing handbook like Writer's Inc and go through each type of assignment but use their prompt to come up with one of your own. Instead of "describe your room" describe the inside of a cell, describe a character. Compare and Contrast two diseases that come from a genetic mutation, 2 characters in a book, 2 poems. Research a person he studying or a scientific discovery. Instead of picking whatever issue they suggest for a persuasive essay have him write a persuasive essay following the form from a history topic eg "Puritan values led to the Revolutionary war."Maybe what you need (or need to find in what you have) is a curricula to help you/him come up with thesis statements to write about each week.

 

I'm sure if you post what he's studying and what types of writing you want to cover folks will help.

 

But he still may not enjoy it.

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I don't see WriteGuide mentioned - it is not a curriculum, nor is it a course. It is a tutor; they assign one to your son. You can offload the whole thing to them, or you can tell them what you want him to write, and they will work with him. He submits something daily, and gets feedback daily. At $70/month it's way cheaper than a private tutor and even cheaper than many courses, and it's 1 on 1. Saved writing here.

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If you're willing to invest in a class, we really like Write at Home. They have 8-week long workshops, so you can try one and see how it goes. We've done an essay and research paper workshop. Totally hands off for a parent. It's also a low-stress program for kids IMO. WaH's approach is gentle, effective, and efficient. The year-long classes are discounted right now if you sign up ahead of time for fall.

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I have found that there aren't a lot of real life opportunities to do academic writing skills. In real life, few people write much at all. As much as I avoided a curriculum because I wanted more organic learning, I decided to use this one because it was clearly designed to prepare kids for college type writing assignments. My kids still write for their subjects, but this covered a very long specific set of academic writing skills in 36 weeks and demanded little of me.

 

Susan Wise Bauer's Writing With Skill Covers academic writing. Each of the 36 weeks has 4 days worth of assignments that mom doesn't have to do any teaching or prep for. If the kid gets stuck the teacher's guide has questions for each part of each assignment for each week that mom asks the kid to get the ball rolling. It also has a rubric for mom to use to decide is the assignment was done correctly. It's basically a teaching textbook so it's fairly hands off for mom. There's a student workbook that has all the instruction, assignments and reading selections in it, so you don't have to get any other books. They're all very high quality selected readings which makes it a sampler of great writing.

 

Skills learned each week include:

 

Basic Skills

1 Original Narration Exercises

2 One Level Outlines

3 Using Thesaurus

 

Building Blocks for Composition

4 Chronological Narrative of a Past Event

5 Chronological narrative of a scientific discovery

6 Chronological narrative of a past event

7 chronological narrative of a scientific discovery

8 Description of a place

9 Description of a Place

10 Description of a Place

11 Combining Chronological narrative of a past event and description of a place

12 Scientific description

13 Scientific description

14 scientific description

15 combining chronological narrative of a scientific discovery and scientific description

 

Sentence Skills

16 description of a person

17 description of a person

18 using metaphor to organize character description

19 biographical sketch

20 biographical sketch

21 sequence: natural process

22 sequence: natural process

 

Beginning Literary Criticism:Prose

23 hero/villain/ antagonist/protagonist

24 hero/villain/antagonist/protagonist

25 supporting characters

26 idea stories

 

Research

27 two level outlining

28 documentation

29 writing from notes: Chronological narrative of a past event, description of a person, description of a place

30 writing from notes: sequence: natural process, scientific description

31 wrtiting from notes: biographical sketch, description of a person

 

Beginning Literary Criticism: Poetry

32 sound

33 meter

34 narrative

 

Final Project

35 finding your research topic

36 writing your final composition

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If you're willing to invest in a class, we really like Write at Home. They have 8-week long workshops, so you can try one and see how it goes. We've done an essay and research paper workshop. Totally hands off for a parent. It's also a low-stress program for kids IMO. WaH's approach is gentle, effective, and efficient. The year-long classes are discounted right now if you sign up ahead of time for fall.

 

I second the Write at Home recommendation. Most writing assignments go through multiple revisions, and the instructor feedback is very detailed, while at the same time encouraging.

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I have not read the other replies yet. But, to offer words of encouragement..... I failed miserably with teaching my 17yos to write as well. Or so I thought.

Last spring I began working with him through a college text (Writer's World )that I had been given. This fall we began IEW Themed Based Economics. It was like an act of congress to pass a law to pull his teeth without anesthesia. At Christmas I told him that since he would not write for me then he could write for a college professor. He is taking Freshman Comp and has a solid B average! Not great, but he can write! He said that working through the Writer's World text was the most helpful.

 

IEW gave him a base to work from and Writer's World gave him short, specific assignments (paragraphs) that required a more creative thought process.

 

You can get a used copy cheap on Amazon. Teacher's Manuals are also available.

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And, maybe you could do it, as well. I find it helps me a lot to do a curriculum with my student if we are having difficulties. Right now I am doing science with my 13yo because he wants to work in a science field. He wanted to get more serious with a formal curriculum but he couldn't do it by himself. So I do everything with him including writing part of his notebook. It has been great for both if us.

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I like The Lost Tools of Writing for the "blank page syndrome." It excels at teaching you how to come up with topics to write about. However, a shortcut is to consider the following question:

 

"Should x have done y?"

 

Should Achilles have pouted in the Iliad?

Should Odysseus have stayed with that mermaid witch lady for umpteen years in the Odyssey?

Should Agamemnon have killed his adulterous wife?

Should the minister have admitted his sin openly in The Scarlet Letter?

 

etc.

 

We have also used writing prompts from Teaching the Classics, WEM, WTM, and Invitation to the Classics.

 

Hope this helps a little!

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Hi. Thanks everyone. You have given me some things to chew on over the weekend. We are doing a light week next week due to all the ps kids in our neighborhood being off for Spring Break so I will be trying to work through this whole problem of MINE.

 

Responses: Regentrude---your suggestion is what I have in mind...just assign a weekly essay related to History, Science or Literature---the only problem I have with this is coming up with an appropriate essay topic. If anyone has suggestions on where to find general essay topics that can be used for a variety of purposes, please let me know.

 

As for WWS---we used to follow SWB suggestions for narration and outlines and whole bunch of other things, but as times have gotten tough economically, I've tried to just use what I can find on the cheap...I guess I'm getting what I paid for. This might be something I'd consider if it's not too expensive. I will have to look at the samples. I have WTM on hold...I sold almost everything we had a while back to help out with our expenses including my copy of WTM...I kick myself daily for letting that go...

 

Someone suggested working WITH ds...I do this already on those particularly tricky subjects, such as Algebra and Spanish. He is self-sufficient when it comes to Science and History and Literature. He doesn't like me hovering when he's writing. He knows what to do...it's me NOT knowing what to assign.

 

He is not interested in an outside class PLUS I can't afford one at this time. This is definitely something we will consider in the future.

 

I've had a college writing workbook in the past that we started but it moved painfully slow. I just don't believe he needs all that instruction. He's done all and parts of other programs in the past. He needs to just apply what he knows. When he does write, he has plenty to say and does a good job of organizing. The problem is more ME. I can't seem to give the assignments and follow through.

 

Thanks again,

Robin

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If you decide to go WWS, add in some of that persuasive writing on the side. Don't do only the writing in WWS. Look at what you're covering in all your subjects and make a clear game plan of x number assignments, where you can just assign it and get it done.

 

Try the library for a copy of WTM.

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You can find WTM in the library.

I would go back to the logic stage writing topics for literature and history and start with those. When he is pretty solid, add a rhetoric stage component, again based on WTM.

WTM is advanced in composition, so I think that this is a safe way to pick up from where you left off and advance from there.

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Please save yourself and outsource this subject. I realized there are many qualified writing coaches out there who can coach my dc in a much more pleasant way than I can. I recommend Bravewriter online courses (advanced ones like Expository and Research Paper). Yes, this will cost you $$ but it is worth it. Sell some of your existing writing programs to raise the funds.

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Please save yourself and outsource this subject. I realized there are many qualified writing coaches out there who can coach my dc in a much more pleasant way than I can. I recommend Bravewriter online courses (advanced ones like Expository and Research Paper). Yes, this will cost you $$ but it is worth it. Sell some of your existing writing programs to raise the funds.

 

 

 

This just isn't possible for us. We do not have the finances to foot this type of expense at this time (I did address this in my previous response). Also, as I stated above, I don't have an resources left---I sold just about everything a while back to help out with our situation.

 

*******

 

I am looking into the free samples of WWS. I am also looking for a cheap used copy of The New Oxford Guide to Writing. We will be applying WTM writing suggestions across subjects.

 

I can do this...

 

Thanks again,

Robin

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A free (aside from postage) way to encourage persuasive writing with a purpose might be to have your Ds write a letter to his member of Congress, write a letter to the editor of the local paper and/or do some advocacy blog/forum posting. Also, it might be worth a websearch for contests (there are so many) that may give him another purpose for writing and experience with a variety of composition types. It really is hard to motivate writing without a purpose, but these types of writing goals remove that. Win or not, he will have undergone the exercise.

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This just isn't possible for us. We do not have the finances to foot this type of expense at this time (I did address this in my previous response). Also, as I stated above, I don't have an resources left---I sold just about everything a while back to help out with our situation.

 

*******

 

I am looking into the free samples of WWS. I am also looking for a cheap used copy of The New Oxford Guide to Writing. We will be applying WTM writing suggestions across subjects.

 

I can do this...

 

Thanks again,

Robin

 

 

Before you spend money on the New Oxford Guide, you might get a hold of it through the library or something and make sure it's going to work for you. Some of the WTM recs for high school are kind of out there and not necessarily practical for all people. I know when you read the boards people just throw the names glibly, but it's just something to check. I've got some of them, and when I look at my dd and the books recommended, I sorta wonder what dc they were teaching. But that's just like WWS being billed for 5th grade and then you find out SWB ran her *9th* grader through it and that the happiest users *tend* to be people using it with older kids... Some of the WTM high school recs for writing and whatnot are college texts or even texts some people used in grad school, which may or may not be practical for the average mom to implement.

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Hi. Thanks everyone. You have given me some things to chew on over the weekend. We are doing a light week next week due to all the ps kids in our neighborhood being off for Spring Break so I will be trying to work through this whole problem of MINE.

 

Responses: Regentrude---your suggestion is what I have in mind...just assign a weekly essay related to History, Science or Literature---the only problem I have with this is coming up with an appropriate essay topic. If anyone has suggestions on where to find general essay topics that can be used for a variety of purposes, please let me know.

 

As for WWS---we used to follow SWB suggestions for narration and outlines and whole bunch of other things, but as times have gotten tough economically, I've tried to just use what I can find on the cheap...I guess I'm getting what I paid for. This might be something I'd consider if it's not too expensive. I will have to look at the samples. I have WTM on hold...I sold almost everything we had a while back to help out with our expenses including my copy of WTM...I kick myself daily for letting that go...

 

Someone suggested working WITH ds...I do this already on those particularly tricky subjects, such as Algebra and Spanish. He is self-sufficient when it comes to Science and History and Literature. He doesn't like me hovering when he's writing. He knows what to do...it's me NOT knowing what to assign.

 

He is not interested in an outside class PLUS I can't afford one at this time. This is definitely something we will consider in the future.

 

I've had a college writing workbook in the past that we started but it moved painfully slow. I just don't believe he needs all that instruction. He's done all and parts of other programs in the past. He needs to just apply what he knows. When he does write, he has plenty to say and does a good job of organizing. The problem is more ME. I can't seem to give the assignments and follow through.

 

Thanks again,

Robin

 

Robin, SWB has some good suggestions on how to formulate writing questions in her download on Writing in the High School Years. Also, for literature questions, you can often find good ones on the Internet by searching for lesson plans for that particular book. What are you reading right now?

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...just assign a weekly essay related to History, Science or Literature---the only problem I have with this is coming up with an appropriate essay topic. If anyone has suggestions on where to find general essay topics that can be used for a variety of purposes, please let me know.

 

I totally hear you about not being able to afford outsourcing/more programs/etc.

 

SWB's writing CDs (either the high school one or the high school section of the lit. one) has just the thing you're looking for. She lists general questions you can ask of whatever reading the student is doing for history/science/literature, and turn a discussion about that into an essay.

 

Also, I wish I could send you a copy of WWS, because it is REALLY good. It takes all the things SWB and the WTM talk about, and fleshes it all out. And it ultimately equips and frees the student to take whatever research he is interested in doing, and research and KNOW how to write about his research. It teaches different topoi skills, that the student can pick and choose from, and create an essay from - applying those skills to his reading. I can't say enough about how helpful it has been here. We finished WWS 1 and are about halfway through beta-testing WWS 2. It's not full of "writing prompts," but it prompts freedom in writing.

 

If you decide to go WWS, add in some of that persuasive writing on the side. Don't do only the writing in WWS.

 

WWS builds a foundation for and introduces persuasive writing, though. I would just stick with WWS (if this is what is chosen) and use the 5th day to make up a writing assignment based on the skills learned so far and the student's current content-area reading. (Alternatively, Robin, you could have him double up on WWS and save the content-area assignments until he is further along in WWS skills) WWS takes up enough writing time for my kids each day - it would clutter their minds and frustrate them to have them doing some other "program" on the side.

 

I am also looking for a cheap used copy of The New Oxford Guide to Writing. We will be applying WTM writing suggestions across subjects.

 

 

I'm going to hunt down a post that Janice in NJ wrote about the NOGW - it was really good. Be back in a few minutes...

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Success!! I found the post, clicked on "multiquote," came back to this thread, clicked "reply," and her post shows up here. Below is Janice's post, from this WWS thread: http://forums.welltr...00#entry3189832

 

May I make a suggestion about Kane?

 

If you pick up a copy and it doesn't immediately resonate with you, don't set it aside without flipping ahead to Part III. (Parts I & II required larger blocks of time that I had available when I first bought the book, so I put it aside and didn't come back to it for years. Big mistake.) Part III covers paragraphs and is much easier to handle with smaller chunks of time. I would recommend that you re-read chapter 24 of TWTM; grab Kane, a spiral notebook, and a pencil; and just begin. If you are teaching middle schoolers and are using traditional materials, chances are your kids are attempting to write expository paragraphs; you can probably put your new knowledge to work immediately. Continue on with the sections on the sentence and diction. Just work through the book on your own. If your experience mirrors mine, this book will help you become a better teacher.

 

Peace,

Janice

 

Enjoy your little people

Enjoy your journey

 

SWB raved about Kane's NOGW somewhere in a WWS thread; being halfway through WWS 2, I'm inclined to believe that she is fleshing out in WWS much of what is briefly taught in Kane's book.

 

Good luck, Robin!!!! I know you've been doing this for a long time!

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Have you tried IEW's themed writing lessons? I hated their TWSS and SWI, but the themed lessons are short and simple. For about $50, you get a teacher's manual, a student manual, and a download for the resource notebook. There are no dull and time-consuming videos to watch.

 

Each lesson is about a week long. On day one of the lesson, crack open the teacher's manual and do what it says to do. Usually there are pages from the resource notebook to look at and/or do. The answers are in the teacher's book. The lesson is usually only a few paragraphs long, and takes 15-20 minutes to do. Then the student does the writing assignment over the week. The student book has all of the directions, and takes them through it step-by-step. As long as they follow the directions and make sure they check everything off in the grading rubric, they'll get an A. The grading rubric makes it easy for you to grade the assignment; no subjected grading needed. The assignments start really simple and work up to a complete essay with library resources, so you can start at the beginning if needed.

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This just isn't possible for us. We do not have the finances to foot this type of expense at this time (I did address this in my previous response). Also, as I stated above, I don't have an resources left---I sold just about everything a while back to help out with our situation.

 

*******

 

I am looking into the free samples of WWS. I am also looking for a cheap used copy of The New Oxford Guide to Writing. We will be applying WTM writing suggestions across subjects.

 

I can do this...

 

Thanks again,

Robin

 

 

You can do this.

 

What if for right now, you focus on one thing like comparison and contrast essays? You can use them across disciplines.

 

The Writing Center at UNC has a very good explanation. There are links at the bottom of the page for more resources. If you have trouble thinking of questions, here are some from the CollegeBoard for AP World History. Be sure to look at the modified questions.

 

Also on AP Central are actual student essays from old tests. They have been scored and explanations are given. We read through them, practice some editing skills and then check for content against the rubric. The beauty is that you don't really need to know the answer to the question to know whether or not the student built a strong thesis, gave supporting evidence for the thesis and then analyzed it.

 

Take a deep breath; you don't have to tackle the process perfectly, but consistently.

 

Numerous Free-Response questions for AP European History

 

Past examples for AP Euro FRQs

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I think the other thing to consider is outsourcing this task. Writing is vague and nebulous which makes it hard to deal with in my opinion. Paying someone who has a good track record to do that might be helpful.

 

Have you tried IEW's themed writing lessons? I hated their TWSS and SWI, but the themed lessons are short and simple. For about $50, you get a teacher's manual, a student manual, and a download for the resource notebook. There are no dull and time-consuming videos to watch.

 

Each lesson is about a week long. On day one of the lesson, crack open the teacher's manual and do what it says to do. Usually there are pages from the resource notebook to look at and/or do. The answers are in the teacher's book. The lesson is usually only a few paragraphs long, and takes 15-20 minutes to do. Then the student does their writing the assignment over the week. The student book has all of the directions, and takes them through it step-by-step. As long as they follow the directions and make sure they check everything off in the grading rubric, they'll get an A. The grading rubric makes it easy for you to grade the assignment; no subjected grading needed. The assignments start really simple and work up to a complete essay with library resources, so you can start at the beginning if needed.

 

 

Both of these are great ideas, but I think Robin stated that neither of them were options right now.

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Responses: Regentrude---your suggestion is what I have in mind...just assign a weekly essay related to History, Science or Literature---the only problem I have with this is coming up with an appropriate essay topic. If anyone has suggestions on where to find general essay topics that can be used for a variety of purposes, please let me know.

 

 

Have your student come up with the topic ;-)

Easy assignments are summaries of a sequence of historical events, a biographical paper of some historic personality, an explanation of a specific natural phenomenon. More advanced assignments would be to compare and contrast or to argue a controversial issue or scientific theory (I just had my son write a paper for astronomy, convincing the reader of the validity of a heliocentric world)

But if the student is engaged with his studies, he should easily find a topic he wants to say something about.

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Both of these are great ideas, but I think Robin stated that neither of them were options right now.

 

 

 

She did mention IEW, but I was trying to differentiate between the video curricula and the themed lessons. The latter are a lot cheaper and easier to implement. In my experience, not everyone is aware of the themed lessons. So I mentioned them.

 

They made it easy for us to combine writing with history, as we were learning early modern and modern history while doing their US History based lessons as the same time. I, too, have trouble coming up with good writing topics; the themed lessons made that easy. I simply did the next writing lesson when we got to the same topic in history.

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Hello All!

 

I am going to spend the upcoming week doing some research and reading through all the great links and suggestions you all have given.

 

Thanks for taking the time to offer suggestions, help and support.

 

I really think we can get through this little bump in our writing road.

 

My dd was just SO easy in this area...

 

Thanks!

Robin

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She did mention IEW, but I was trying to differentiate between the video curricula and the themed lessons. The latter are a lot cheaper and easier to implement. In my experience, not everyone is aware of the themed lessons. So I mentioned them.

 

They made it easy for us to combine writing with history, as we were learning early modern and modern history while doing their US History based lessons as the same time. I, too, have trouble coming up with good writing topics; the themed lessons made that easy. I simply did the next writing lesson when we got to the same topic in history.

 

 

That makes sense. I have used a few of the themed lessons as well, without ever having done the main program.

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I think the other thing to consider is outsourcing this task. Writing is vague and nebulous which makes it hard to deal with in my opinion. Paying someone who has a good track record to do that might be helpful.

 

Both of these are great ideas, but I think Robin stated that neither of them were options right now.

 

 

Okay I missed the tight economics part, but I still thinking outsourcing might be the way to go. Look for someone to swap with or someone who will just take mercy on you and work with your son.

 

I also notice that you are stymied by knowing what to ask for, go back and get all the SAT and Common AP writing prompts and do one a week.

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Disclaimer: Mine is just a 7th grader, not sophomore, but this is something I've been struggling with too.

 

I realize this is an extremely simplistic partial-answer to a complex question, but I recently got the book unJournaling. It's just a collection of writing prompts with a fun or creative bent. It won't teach how to write or grammar or anything particularly vital, but it DOES seem to be opening my 7th grader up to the writing process. It is NOT our writing/grammar program (we use Hake), just an extra something to loosen up the whole thing.

 

Like SailorMom, I have trouble teaching writing because I picked up good writing methods from the books I would devour. My 11 year old daughter, also a bookworm, is also an excellent writer. Her 13 year old older brother, OTOH, has a really difficult time. Reading is difficult and he avoids it whenever possible. So, by extension he has never picked up those natural writing tendencies. It has always been a struggle. He can recite grammar rules and diagram sentences, for example, but when putting it into practice in his writing, there seems to be a complete disconnect.

His spelling is atrocious, he forgets words, he puts punctuation in completely arbitrary locations...It drives me crazy. His sister stands behind him when he's emailing friends so she can make sure he's saying what he thinks he's saying! lol

 

Til now it has always been a fight getting him to write. A natural story-teller, he likes the creative process, but the transfer onto paper is painful.

unJournaling, however, has been fun. Truly.

His journal is in an OO document (since his handwriting is completely illegible). He types his 2-3 paragraph response and then goes off and does something else. Later, we sit down together and read this thing.

I make him read it to me, so he can see how difficult it is to pick through as is. Then we go about fixing everything. I make him leave the original and we just paste another copy directly below it. I want him to be able to see his progress. And because of the brevity and fun topics, he doesn't seem to fight the dissection of his work like his does his English papers. We'll see how long the novelty lasts, though. ;)

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Disclaimer: Mine is just a 7th grader, not sophomore, but this is something I've been struggling with too.

 

I realize this is an extremely simplistic partial-answer to a complex question, but I recently got the book unJournaling. It's just a collection of writing prompts with a fun or creative bent. It won't teach how to write or grammar or anything particularly vital, but it DOES seem to be opening my 7th grader up to the writing process. It is NOT our writing/grammar program (we use Hake), just an extra something to loosen up the whole thing.

 

Like SailorMom, I have trouble teaching writing because I picked up good writing methods from the books I would devour. My 11 year old daughter, also a bookworm, is also an excellent writer. Her 13 year old older brother, OTOH, has a really difficult time. Reading is difficult and he avoids it whenever possible. So, by extension he has never picked up those natural writing tendencies. It has always been a struggle. He can recite grammar rules and diagram sentences, for example, but when putting it into practice in his writing, there seems to be a complete disconnect.

His spelling is atrocious, he forgets words, he puts punctuation in completely arbitrary locations...It drives me crazy. His sister stands behind him when he's emailing friends so she can make sure he's saying what he thinks he's saying! lol

 

Til now it has always been a fight getting him to write. A natural story-teller, he likes the creative process, but the transfer onto paper is painful.

unJournaling, however, has been fun. Truly.

His journal is in an OO document (since his handwriting is completely illegible). He types his 2-3 paragraph response and then goes off and does something else. Later, we sit down together and read this thing.

I make him read it to me, so he can see how difficult it is to pick through as is. Then we go about fixing everything. I make him leave the original and we just paste another copy directly below it. I want him to be able to see his progress. And because of the brevity and fun topics, he doesn't seem to fight the dissection of his work like his does his English papers. We'll see how long the novelty lasts, though. ;)

 

 

We used Unjournaling in middle school and found it to be an excellent resource. If you look carefully at the assignments, you'll notice that they do address traditional writing topics in an nontraditional manner. The student-writer has to think outside the box. My favorite assignment that my youngest did was the one where you needed to describe a particular character by the way the others in the room respond to him. I seem to remember that everyone in the classroom took one look at "Chris" and ran screaming for the window. You couldn't use any adjectives to describe the character himself

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I will keep checking back here for more thoughts, ideas and suggestions. All of you have been most helpful and really appreciate the time you all have taken out of your busy lives to counsel me.

 

Don't stop responding even if you don't hear from me...I will be checking in periodically for more of your wonderful wisdom!

 

Going to get some dinner.

 

Thanks again!

Robin

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I highly recommend SWB's high school writing lecture. You can download it for $3.99 and it is worth every penny.

 

You should also look at The Lively Art of Writing. Short little paperback that I've used with all my kids. It teaches persuasive writing (only) and tell's the reader every step to take... you don't have to make any lesson plans to go with the book! Just work through it.

 

If you're feeling really adventurous, there are lots of writing competitions that offer scholarships. My kids will put forth much more effort for a possible prize than the will for a mommy assignment. Look at some of the contests listed here.

 

My last suggestion is my kids' favorite - current event topics. Have them read the newspaper (or Google News) and pick an article that interests them. Have them write about it - they can summarize but eventually work their way up to a thesis paper and form their own opinion.

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I've not read all the replies, so I could be repeating things here. I had a lot of struggles teaching a couple of my kids writing. I used Jump In for one of them (slightly dyslexic, had difficulty putting thoughts down coherently, never knew how to organize the paper) . It is written for the junior high student or the reluctant high school student. My son did learn to write a basic paper with it, and it was rather pain-free for both of us.

 

The great part? They have a free sample which takes you through the beginning of the book. You can print it off, hand it to your child, and say, "Try it."

 

http://shop.apologia...2-book-set.html

 

This is my only child who tested out of his college 101 English class. Never would have predicted that...

 

:-) Jean

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Have your student come up with the topic ;-)

Easy assignments are summaries of a sequence of historical events, a biographical paper of some historic personality, an explanation of a specific natural phenomenon. More advanced assignments would be to compare and contrast or to argue a controversial issue or scientific theory (I just had my son write a paper for astronomy, convincing the reader of the validity of a heliocentric world)

But if the student is engaged with his studies, he should easily find a topic he wants to say something about.

 

I got around this problem by having my students come up with their own topics. I would remind them when they first started reading to keep this in mind and look for something to write aobut as they read. I found writing very hard to get around to doing until we began doing this. If they say they can't think of anything, you can start making outrageous suggestions. Or you can tell them to think of the question words - who what where when why and how. Or you can tell them they have to sit still in front of the keyboard (or a blank piece of paper) until they do.

 

If you are using a textbook, sometimes they have a section at the beginning of the chapter of "questions to think about as you read" or something similar. Those make good essay topics, usually.

 

Nan

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I've had a revelation...I can't see past everything I think we need to accomplish to actually start working on it.

 

This is why writing programs fail in our house. We start out just fine, but after a few lessons the novelty wears off, the assignments seem pointless and produce really lousy writing...boring writing.

 

I do have more questions for anyone who wants to answer...

 

~What is the best essay type with which to start? Would you just have student read up on whichever essay type he's working on at the time rather than cover all the essay types and then have him write?

 

~What do you think of a daily journal for freewriting, musing and listing about/on topics from subjects, life, interests, current events, whatever?

 

~Have any of you used Brave Writer's Help for High School? I only ask because I bought this ages ago and it's been sitting on the shelf. If you used it, was it helpful?

 

~Does anyone have a website for current events that is appropriate for a 15 year old?

 

~How many compositions should I have him do for each type? I don't find some essay types particularly useful especially for academic purposes.

 

~Would anyone suggest skipping WWS1 and beginning with WWS2? Or, are there too many foundational things we'd miss? Ds did narrations and outlining for years. Only since high school have we stopped...I guess because things like Algebra and Biology and Chemistry take up so much time...

 

~Do any of you continue to do copywork and dictation in high school? Narrations?

 

Also, I want to thank everyone AGAIN...

 

I have at least been working through some possible ideas for how to do this since starting this thread. That's a start...yes?

 

Robin

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My two cents. I have been in your place with two of our children, and I would suggest the following.

 

Work through Bravewriter's Help for High School. It is written to the student. It is not boring. It will teach your son to write persuasive essays with documentation. He will know how to develop his own thesis, so you won't need to think up topics. After he has finished Help for High School, he should write more persuasive essays using what he has learned. After he has finished Help for High School, which will take about one semester, I would suggest Julie Bogart's Timed Essay class, and either Windows to the World or Bravewriter's high school literature course. Your son will need to practice and master what he has learned with these materials. On the skill side, I would teach notetaking from a textbook and from lectures. We use Cornell notetaking, and it has worked well with everyone. If he gets through all of that, you can try other writing formats using something like Writer's Inc. or The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing. Use one program at a time, get through that, and master the concepts it teaches by practicing.

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My two cents. I have been in your place with two of our children, and I would suggest the following.

 

Work through Bravewriter's Help for High School. It is written to the student. It is not boring. It will teach your son to write persuasive essays with documentation. He will know how to develop his own thesis, so you won't need to think up topics. After he has finished Help for High School, he should write more persuasive essays using what he has learned. After he has finished Help for High School, which will take about one semester, I would suggest Julie Bogart's Timed Essay class, and either Windows to the World or Bravewriter's high school literature course. Your son will need to practice and master what he has learned with these materials. On the skill side, I would teach notetaking from a textbook and from lectures. We use Cornell notetaking, and it has worked well with everyone. If he gets through all of that, you can try other writing formats using something like Writer's Inc. or The Allyn & Bacon Guide to Writing. Use one program at a time, get through that, and master the concepts it teaches by practicing.

 

Did you/do you follow the suggestions in the Writer's Jungle? Julie Bogart suggests a lot of things that my ds IS NOT going to have any part of...honestly, some seem more geared to younger kids who are just beginning their writing journey. I like the Brave Writer "idea", but I have trouble implementing it. I think freewriting could be great, but every time we try it, he loses interest after a few times. Narration---we did this forever while using SOTW. He is proficient with spelling and grammar, so I don't see the need for copywork or dictation. We address these whenever he happens to write something...not often...

 

I over think everything and panic which has led to us not finishing any writing program. My dd (now in college) has told me many times that no writing program I ever had her work through really did much for her...she got the most from writing for her subjects...essays for Literature and History...she just DID them. The process of working it through was the best teaching method, not doing some sterile exercises.

 

For whatever reason, I can't get ME to just do it...I have many ideas about it, but I can't DO them...I have trouble following through. I also think I over grade his writing. My dd told me I was much tougher on her writing than any of her college instructors have been. I am a bit OCD...perfectionist tendencies...my ds is like this as well...

 

I think what I need is a schedule of some sort...Monday...do this type of writing for this subject. Tuesday...do a different type of writing for a different subject...etc. The problem with me AGAIN is I want to do everything for every subject every day...like I said...OCD...

 

Thanks for your suggestions. I am considering EVERYTHING this week.

 

Robin

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No, I do not mean "The Writer's Jungle." I am talking about "Help for High School." It is written to the student. You will not be in the equation except to provide input. Your son will read the directions and complete the assignments. After :Help for High School," he will be able to write persuasive essays about topics of his choice.

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No, I do not mean "The Writer's Jungle." I am talking about "Help for High School." It is written to the student. You will not be in the equation except to provide input. Your son will read the directions and complete the assignments. After :Help for High School," he will be able to write persuasive essays about topics of his choice.

 

 

egads...I didn't make myself clear...

 

I meant do you or did you use The Writer's Jungle in addition to or prior to using Help for High School...sorry about that...I understood your original suggestion for HfH...I did not articulate my response very well...oy

 

Thanks again,

Robin

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~Would anyone suggest skipping WWS1 and beginning with WWS2? Or, are there too many foundational things we'd miss? Ds did narrations and outlining for years.

 

Normally I'd say don't skip WWS 1. But, if he is 15 and has been doing narrations and outlining for years, I'd say see if you can borrow a copy of WWS 1 and have a look through it (ILL through your library maybe? or local homeschool network that has younger, non-tired lol, homeschoolers in it). You will probably see things in there that would greatly enhance his narration and outlining experience, and you can add those particular skills to his repertoire, possibly without having to go through the entire level. Then you could move on to WWS 2. But do read through it carefully, so you can see what is being taught. It's all foundational for the next level. Oh, and somewhere, SWB wrote that though she will write four levels of WWS, the core part of WWS will be contained within the first three levels - the fourth will be mainly an "extra year" for a younger student to mature before tackling a rhetoric course. That might be useful and encouraging for you to know. And if you decide to go through the WWS route, stay tuned here to see when SWB calls for beta-testers for WWS 3, and sign up. It's free!

 

~Do any of you continue to do copywork and dictation in high school? Narrations?

 

Haven't so far. But I would if I thought one of my kids needed to revisit one of those skills for a specific reason. In my view, those skills are foundational for being able to do WWS 1 - and then WWS 1 just takes it from there. In WWS 1, "narrations" become longer compositions that encompass all sorts of skills.

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Help for High School can be done without prior experience with The Writer's Jungle and that is what I would do with a high school student. At this point, you want him to learn one widely-used essay form; i.e. the persuasive essay with documentation. Help for High School is excellent for this. There are other resources that are good as well. Then, go from there.

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I used Jensen's Format writing for sd in high school. I liked that it started our with writing paragraphs that focused on like an example paragraph or a cause and effect paragraph. After that it transitions into writing a 5 paragraph essay. The program really prepares kids for whatever type of essay they need to do.

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Consider using the rhetoric textbook The St. Martin's Guide to Writing. You can find cheap used copies at Amazon. The edition doesn't really matter.

 

This book gives VERY detailed instructions and multiple examples of various types of nonfiction writing and research papers. I also like the section about how to properly answer timed essay examinations.

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Good morning.

 

Well, yesterday I decided to just have him do it. I gave him an assignment on a History topic---explain the importance of the Magna Carta---an essay prompt from a History syllabus my dd20 used some years ago. He made an outline of sorts...not traditional, but more as an organizing help. Anyway, I looked over his points last night and he did a great job.

 

We did have a "meeting" yesterday. He told me how he wants to approach writing and I offered him some ways of doing that. He seemed pleased with the dicussion and the reference materials I provided for him...Writer's Inc. Handbook, some handouts from OWL and a brief guide to writing from Keystone National High School that my dd used. It is exactly what he likes...short, to the point, no fluff...just git 'er done...I told him if he needs to refresh his memory, he is responsible for doing so. If he needs help afterwards, I will be available to help...but he needs to read the material first so he knows what he needs to address.

 

I told him I felt we've covered writing organization and types of writing used for various purposes many times over the years. He agreed and said he would just like to get an assignment as it pertains to his studies and work on it. I made him daily task cards...prewriting, drafting, revising, editing, publishing (each one has the specifics for the task on it)...one for Monday through Friday...one task each day...no more, no less. He has a personalized writing folder (multiple folders bound together with a pocket for each phase...it's called a spolder...found it on a writing workshop site). I told him he needed to devote his attention to doing his very best on that one task assigned for the day. He likes the idea...well, actually, it's 8filltheheart's...I dug around and re-found that post of hers about how she does writing with her children---one essay per week going through the phases.

 

I have plenty of essay prompts for each type of academic writing and I am hoping to have him do a short research paper on a topic of his choosing. He has many interests and I'm sure another "meeting" can produce a suitable topic. Of course, I won't suggest this until he has written a few papers for each essay type. As he finishes The Last of the Mohicans, I will introduce the idea of writing a literary analysis paper of some sort. He is using a Progeny Press guide for this book and it has many essay suggestions.

 

He was very proud of his work and left it out on his desk for me to see.

 

He's such a good kid.

 

Have a great day and THANK YOU for all the support and kind words.

Robin

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