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Is anyone else frustrated with writing programs that teach students to use a lot of adverbs? Anyone who is serious about writing ends up trying to cut out as many adverbs as possible. And really, how many good writers use "yelled", or "cried" instead of just simple "said"?

 

I would love a program that taught kids how to edit out all the junk that creeps in and emphasized the use of active verbs. Is there such a thing as a writing program that teaches great writing?

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I have a BA in English studies, and these were the reasons I avoided IEW for a long time. We used WWE and WWS. But my ds12 struggled with WWS last year, so we finally swapped to IEW just to check it out .... and we've had amazing success.

 

I was going to do with program with him while explaining there is nothing wrong with using "said" as long as your character actually says something interesting. But now I finally realise why IEW use the technique of banned words. It's because the child has a much smaller vocabulary and narrower expressive skills. It is just a temporary exercise in getting the child to branch out of their comfort zone to new words and ways of expression.

 

After mastering the art, you would definitely return to "said" etc .... IMHO :)

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How do you teach them to return? I spent a long time convincing my oldest that he could use the same word twice in a paragraph after using one writing program. Is it in how you talk to them during the process? I just used the program and didn't know that I needed to tell him that these requirements were just exercises and not permanent ways to write. And is there a way to accomplish the new words and ways of expression without requiring things you will then tell them not to do? I haven't gone far enough in WWS but I think it may accomplish the same thing. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm being argumentative. These are questions that I've struggled with and would love to see a discussion about them.

 

Thoughts?

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I have a BA in English studies, and these were the reasons I avoided IEW for a long time. We used WWE and WWS. But my ds12 struggled with WWS last year, so we finally swapped to IEW just to check it out .... and we've had amazing success.

 

I was going to do with program with him while explaining there is nothing wrong with using "said" as long as your character actually says something interesting. But now I finally realise why IEW use the technique of banned words. It's because the child has a much smaller vocabulary and narrower expressive skills. It is just a temporary exercise in getting the child to branch out of their comfort zone to new words and ways of expression.

 

After mastering the art, you would definitely return to "said" etc .... IMHO :)

 

 

Does IEW wean kids away from these exercises through their high school programs? I would think that if you're repeatedly told that saying "said" is bad and that you must find all kinds of other creative and wonderful ways to say it that it would probably take some explicit teaching to turn that around.

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I don't know the answers to your questions, but find the questions interesting. I think perhaps what works well depends a lot on the particular child. I also think that some programs may be better at getting to a point of competent writing, or past reluctant writing, rather than to superb writing. Excellent writing, often, among other things, takes careful attention to writing by others that is excellent--but a young child cannot be expected to match a professional, so one has to start somewhere.

 

 

 

I found the Middle School book of Ruth Cullham (?) on 6 Trait writing interesting for helping look more at what is good at a child level, rather than a formula. There is a Great Courses program on writing that I was only able to watch the first disk of because there was something wrong with others (it belonged to library), but seemed good at looking at what makes writing good, and seemed to be within what my 11 year old could understand.

 

 

Perhaps you could yourself not say "'said' is bad" but just that "we are going to look for metaphors for 'said'"--or some such approach that would better fit your child if you wanted to work in IEW style. I think so long as you were not in an outside class you can set the rules, and you could also require a certain number of other words in place of 'said,' but not no 'saids' at all.

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I don't know the answers to your questions, but find the questions interesting. I think perhaps what works well depends a lot on the particular child. I also think that some programs may be better at getting to a point of competent writing, or past reluctant writing, rather than to superb writing. Excellent writing, often, among other things, takes careful attention to writing by others that is excellent--but a young child cannot be expected to match a professional, so one has to start somewhere.

 

 

 

I found the Middle School book of Ruth Cullham (?) on 6 Trait writing interesting for helping look more at what is good at a child level, rather than a formula. There is a Great Courses program on writing that I was only able to watch the first disk of because there was something wrong with others (it belonged to library), but seemed good at looking at what makes writing good, and seemed to be within what my 11 year old could understand.

 

 

Perhaps you could yourself not say "'said' is bad" but just that "we are going to look for metaphors for 'said'"--or some such approach that would better fit your child if you wanted to work in IEW style. I think so long as you were not in an outside class you can set the rules, and you could also require a certain number of other words in place of 'said,' but not no 'saids' at all.

 

 

I just cringe at the idea of teaching kids that good writing includes adding all kinds of adverbs. Or teaching them that it's excellent writing to avoid "said" at all costs. I teach writing in a co-op class and I try to get my kids to use active verbs, clear description, and avoid lazy writing. I think that saying, "He walked across the room angrily," is a lot lazier than saying, "He crossed the room in quick strides and glared through the open doorway." When we brainstorm in class we talk about how different feelings look. If a character is nervous - what does that mean? What does the character do with her hands? What do her eyes do? What kind of speech patterns might show that she's nervous? I don't want them telling me that she's nervous, or that she's doing something "nervously", I want them to show it to me with dialogue or action.

 

I've taught this way to grade 7's and this year I'm doing the same with grade 5's. I've had some IEW students who I've had to pry away from the idea that good writing includes a check-list of stylistic techniques.

 

I need to take a better look at The Creative Writer and see if they teach differently. The author of the program is actually a writer (if I remember right).

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Sarah, I think you should create a writing curriculum and then sell it to me!

 

I have been basically making up writing - just trying different kinds (narrative, persuasive, etc.) and telling them all I know. I do try to emphasize showing rather than telling. I'd love to find a writing program that was really great. So far I have enjoyed Scholastic's "The Most Wonderful Writing Lessons Ever" which was available at a $1 sale, but is supposed to be for grades 2-4.

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Well, to be fair, said is just one in a long list of banned words. It is a particular stinky spot because many other verbs sound awkward with quotes, but the idea of banning other banal words like pretty, sad, eat/ate, etc. is extremely effective as a means of getting kids to develop a better vocabulary. I actually do not ban said here, and it does not interfere with our use of IEW in the least. As far as adverbs go, they are just one type of tool being taught. Another is strong verbs. Personally, I think good writing has variety in structure. Some simpler verbs modified by adverbs, some strong verbs left to speak for themselves, some simple verbs without embellishment to allow emphasis on other parts of the sentence... I would no sooner tell my kids to avoid adverbs than I would tell them to avoid any other part of speech. Stylistically, I want them to find their own voice. Their grammar needs to be correct, their message needs to be well thought out, their format needs to be appropriate to the the type of writing assigned, etc., but their style is their style.

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I feel your pain. Lists of adjs, lists of advs, "dress-ups", etc all make me cringe. We start with the base sentence of subject/verb and discuss how verbs change the sentence. Verbs.....it all begins with the verb and precise language.

 

FWIW, I have never found a writing curriculum that I could fully embrace. I use bits and pieces of several, but most I just teach directly.

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I have a BA in English studies, and these were the reasons I avoided IEW for a long time. We used WWE and WWS. But my ds12 struggled with WWS last year, so we finally swapped to IEW just to check it out .... and we've had amazing success.

 

I was going to do with program with him while explaining there is nothing wrong with using "said" as long as your character actually says something interesting. But now I finally realise why IEW use the technique of banned words. It's because the child has a much smaller vocabulary and narrower expressive skills. It is just a temporary exercise in getting the child to branch out of their comfort zone to new words and ways of expression.

 

After mastering the art, you would definitely return to "said" etc .... IMHO :)

 

 

This is why I like IEW for middle school. It expands their repertoire and I found that it REALLY gave my oldest some confidence in her writing. She used it just for 7th grade and went back into ps in 8th. In the future, I think I may use it for 2 years.

 

You're right though, it's not something that I'd want to use long term.

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This is why I like IEW for middle school. It expands their repertoire and I found that it REALLY gave my oldest some confidence in her writing. She used it just for 7th grade and went back into ps in 8th. In the future, I think I may use it for 2 years.

 

You're right though, it's not something that I'd want to use long term.

 

Good point. I am using it as a bridge between WWE and WWS, and it is serving us well that way.

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We only do IEW twice a week and on the other days I'm teaching him the Persuasive essay, as he needs to do this for the SAT. Plus he writes his own stories. So IEW is for the exercise of broadening and exercising his writing expression. My kid is very headstrong and doesn't like being told what to do, so he won't have any trouble using 'said' in the future! Even now, I don't over-emphasise eliminating the banned words, especially if they work well.

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I just cringe at the idea of teaching kids that good writing includes adding all kinds of adverbs. Or teaching them that it's excellent writing to avoid "said" at all costs.

 

Obviously, this seems wrong to me too. It seems to me that if kids have that sense, then something is wrong in how programs like IEW are presenting (or parents are implementing the presentation) of practice exercises such that exercises are getting confused with excellent writing. I see such exercises as being like learning to play scales on a musical instrument. Mastering that can be very helpful in the learning process leading to adeptness in the craft, but not to be confused with having written (or played) a great symphony.

 

 

I teach writing in a co-op class and I try to get my kids to use active verbs, clear description, and avoid lazy writing. I think that saying, "He walked across the room angrily," is a lot lazier than saying, "He crossed the room in quick strides and glared through the open doorway." When we brainstorm in class we talk about how different feelings look. If a character is nervous - what does that mean? What does the character do with her hands? What do her eyes do? What kind of speech patterns might show that she's nervous? I don't want them telling me that she's nervous, or that she's doing something "nervously", I want them to show it to me with dialogue or action.

 

That sounds like an excellent exercise for your students to learn! I like the way you describe your approach, and I would think it would be very valuable for them. OTOH, not all things in good writing are always shown. Sometimes things are "told" not "shown."

 

I've taught this way to grade 7's and this year I'm doing the same with grade 5's. I've had some IEW students who I've had to pry away from the idea that good writing includes a check-list of stylistic techniques.

 

I need to take a better look at The Creative Writer and see if they teach differently. The author of the program is actually a writer (if I remember right).

 

"Walked" seems like a weak verb in the circumstances--a worse problem to my ears than the adverb: I am surprised that it would not be one of the "banned" words from IEW. ???

 

To my ears, "He angrily strode across the room," might, in some circumstances be excellent--perhaps as good as, or perhaps in some cases better than your example sentence to show walking angrily across a room in words. The word in your sentence that suggested anger to me was "glared"--but it leaves me not knowing if the quick strides were already angry or whether something happened after that that caused the glare, so it is not quite the same meaning.

 

What is "good" depends on the situation and the writer, and also on the audience. To me the admonition to "get rid of adverbs" is as much a check-list idea for teaching writing as to needlessly put them in; to ban all adverbs might be a useful exercise just like banning "said"--but in the end, great writers do use adverbs when they are apt, just as they do use 'said" when it is apt. My recollection is that the idea of banning adverbs is based on Strunk and White (my copy is missing so I cannot check that), but that S&W said something like to remove "unnecessary" adverbs, not a total ban on adverbs that sometimes later has been thought to equate with "good writing."

 

We did not do enough IEW for me to see a lot of examples like you mention, since ds did not like IEW. But the parts I saw seemed much more academic, by and large--rewrites of nonfiction passages. To me it seemed like it would help certain types of reluctant writers be able to handle a basic academic assignment without falling apart. That said, I did not see that it, in itself, would lead to becoming _______ insert your favorite great author's name--nor, OTOH, did I see that it would stop someone from becoming a great author if he or she were so inclined.

 

Perhaps you could tell your students that the IEW check-lists are like training wheels, and that in your class you will use a different method.

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All of my dc either have already completed or will complete one to two years of IEW. I use it for the reason mentioned upstream - to give my dc a larger writing vocabulary when they are young, and to build confidence. Once they are more comfortable with thinking about word choice and sentence structure we move onto different programs. Could they accomplish the same thing with a different program? Sure. IEW is just one of many ways to get to the end goal of writing well. Using a

program that doesn't use these formulaic techniques may be "superior", but if it doesn't work with your child then it's useless. Some kids are able to put words to paper for the first time with this program when nothing else works.

 

My older dc don't use a checklist for writing anymore; they do use said when it is appropriate, they use adverbs sparingly, they don't try to stuff their writing full of dress ups for the sake of using them. They do have the knowlege and skill to use them when they are useful or appropriate. Their writing has matured through lots of practice, revisions and discussions.

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How do you teach them to return? I spent a long time convincing my oldest that he could use the same word twice in a paragraph after using one writing program. Is it in how you talk to them during the process? I just used the program and didn't know that I needed to tell him that these requirements were just exercises and not permanent ways to write. And is there a way to accomplish the new words and ways of expression without requiring things you will then tell them not to do? I haven't gone far enough in WWS but I think it may accomplish the same thing. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm being argumentative. These are questions that I've struggled with and would love to see a discussion about them.

 

Thoughts?

 

We're only in our first year of IEW so I'm quite new to the discussion. What we do is work on all the "required" IEW elements together. Dd sits down to write her assignment with notes and ideas for all the various elements. She writes her piece and brings it back to me. I don't grade it against the check-list or require every element to be in every paragraph. She doesn't use the banned word list other than as we edit, we talk about word choice and whether she could have made better selections for her writing. We do go through to see which elements she selected to include, and we discuss how the other elements could have been worked into the piece. I try hard to make sure she doesn't feel as though there are rules for writing while trying at the same time to teach her better ways to write.

 

Alongside IEW we are completing Killgallon sentence composing. I think Killgallon is a great complement to IEW.

 

IEW and Killgallon have been just what my 5th grader needed. They give dd the tools to let her writer's voice come out. Before this year, she was almost frozen at the thought of writing anything of substance. She nearly glows with pride at what she is able to do now. So maybe IEW isn't turning her into a fabulous writer, but it is giving her the chance to get there. IEW is preparing her for WWS.

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That thing about said made me laugh. I was reading a magazine somewhere the other day that depends greatly on readers stories - as told to their writers. The all sound the same, people gasp, scream, whimper etc. They are definately funnier than the content intends them to be.

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People use dialog tags that sometimes don't make sense. In my opinion, nothing but said should be used, and when it's easy to make out who is speaking, no tag is best. I can't read books that use tags like "gasped" or "laughed". Ick. Also, adding on adverbs to show how someone spoke also makes me cringe. "Not now," she said sadly. Ugh. No. I don't want to be told how someone is speaking. I should be able to tell how something is said based on the conversation and the character speaking.

 

-ly adverbs drive me batty too. I will teach my kids to find stronger verbs than adding -ly adverbs. And I'll also be teaching them appropriate diaolog tagging. ;)

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I also think that some programs may be better at getting to a point of competent writing, or past reluctant writing, rather than to superb writing. Excellent writing, often, among other things, takes careful attention to writing by others that is excellent--but a young child cannot be expected to match a professional, so one has to start somewhere.

 

 

 

These two statements were so helpful to me. The first statement because I had just never thought of this difference in programs. I think you are right about this.

 

The second because I have always wanted this aspect in a writing program and not much exists like this that I am aware of. Aside from Classical Writing (and others) that retell fables and narratives(and CW does a good bit of analysis in the levels I've seen), Writing With Skill is the other I've seen with pieces of writing analyzed for style and structure. But I'd like even more of that. I'd love a book or books that simply contain good writing at increasingly difficult levels with instructions for analyzing and even suggested answers. I'd like the instructions and answers to contain analysis of rhetorical devices, logical structures, etc. From the simple-find the descriptive adjectives and strong verbs) to the complex such as what Corbett's Classical Rhetoric for the Modern student does. As far as I have been able to determine this book is a dream and not a reality.

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Any other IEW users get the feeling we're being told that we are teaching bad writing? ;)

 

I find this whole conversation somewhat humorous, actually. Earlier today, I thought to myself that I could go pull any classic book off our shelves right now and find examples of the poor usage described in this thread. So, just for fun, I did a quick scan of our current read-aloud, The Wind in the Willows, starting with tonight's reading.

 

"You hear better than I," said the Mole sadly. "I cannot catch the words."

 

"Let me try and give you them," said the Rat softly, his eyes still closed.

 

Nice. Said. But what about those doggone adverbs?

 

"murmured the Rat" (Rat actually "murmured" 2x in the same spread! Plus lots more murmuring throughout the chapter. Oh my! How did this get past the editors?! :tongue_smilie:)

 

Rat and Mole also sighed, cried (joyously, at that!), asked, called, and "found breath to whisper." Looking ahead, I also see replied, whispered, sobbed, cried, explained, retorted, suggested, twittered (to be fair, this character was a bird :D), demanded, asked, remarked, responded, mused... OMG mused!? Throw this rubbish in the trash! :lol: I had to stop. Too many substitutes for said. Even when things were said, they were sometimes said gravely, lightly, presently, slowly...

 

Aside from dialogue, verbs were too often assaulted by adverbs. Poor things. Faintly reflected, shyly waited, slowly declare, sank reluctantly, piped suddenly, sat up suddenly, greatly wondering, rowed steadily, possessed utterly, bent mechanically, grew steadily, slowly passed, stared blankly, blew lightly, fallen happily, growing silently, crying bitterly, ran quickly... Again, I had to stop. The travesty was too great.

 

In short, I'm not sweating it. :lol:

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In short, I'm not sweating it. :lol:

 

LOL!!!

 

Nah, I'm not either. I was reading Arthur Conan Doyle earlier and I found several examples of said with an adverb, alternatives to said, and adverbs being adverbs.

 

I suppose some might consider Kenneth Grahame and Doyle to be unskilled writers...I'm just not that much of a literary snob though. :p

 

 

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LOL!!!

 

Nah, I'm not either. I was reading Arthur Conan Doyle earlier and I found several examples of said with an adverb, alternatives to said, and adverbs being adverbs.

 

I suppose some might consider Kenneth Grahame and Doyle to be unskilled writers...I'm just not that much of a literary snob though. :p

 

This morning I went through The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Little Women, and To Kill a Mockingbird and found similar "errors." Now, to be fair, there is tremendous variety in sentence structure in these great works, but there were definitely plenty of adverbs, said __ly, and retorts, exclamations, etc. Even Mark Twain, who famously quipped, "if you see an adverb, kill it," used adverbs in his writing.

 

This might also be a good time to mention that, although IEW does supply students with a list of adverbs from which to choose, students are not actually encouraged to use them in great numbers. It is not a case of using one in every sentence or the more the better. It is a case of learning how to use adverbs as a tool. Same goes for the other tools in the IEW box. What I saw in these great works, particularly with Twain, was that some of these devices were used more rarely, but they were used well. Teaching students to avoid adverbs and take the long way with descriptions is not always appropriate. Sometimes terse works. Sometimes long-winded works. Most often, a combination works, IMO. Again, I think holding strictly to rules is not the way to develop a strong writer's voice.

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This is all abstract, I could have given some specific examples, but I may be the only one interested in this topic so I won't take any more of your/my time than I already have(below) It's been good for me to think through this even if I'm boring everyone else, so feel free to skip this post.

 

Just thinking aloud here and trying to summarize what I've learned through this thread, past experience, and previous thinking about this topic.

 

We teach students some things "to do" in order to teach them tools, not to prescribe what good writing always looks like.

 

We teach students some things "not to do" not because they are not used in great writing, but because beginners use them poorly and excessively rather than well.(I include myself in the beginner category)

 

With both "to do" and "not to do" I wonder if communication is key. Tell them that these are tools, tell them that these things are to be avoided but are good when used well. Tell them why and look at great writing to see how/when the things are used. Maybe look at poor writing to see how they are abused. I know my two older sons needed me to communicate these things to them and I didn't know to do it. I just followed the program. The one then thought he had to write a certain way forever and the other argued with the things he couldn't do because he needed acknowledgement that they were used in great writing and he needed to be taught when to do them and how he was using them in a way that wasn't great.

 

I wonder if a "checklist/rules" based writing program needs more communication about the temporary prescription and the non "checklist/rules" based programs need to make sure they are providing enough practice for tools to actually become tools and enough instruction and practice to get the tools.

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We teach students some things "to do" in order to teach them tools, not to prescribe what good writing always looks like.

 

We teach students some things "not to do" not because they are not used in great writing, but because beginners use them poorly and excessively rather than well.(I include myself in the beginner category)

 

With both "to do" and "not to do" I wonder if communication is key. Tell them that these are tools, tell them that these things are to be avoided but are good when used well. Tell them why and look at great writing to see how/when the things are used. Maybe look at poor writing to see how they are abused.

 

I wonder if a "checklist/rules" based writing program needs more communication about the temporary prescription and the non "checklist/rules" based programs need to make sure they are providing enough practice for tools to actually become tools and enough instruction and practice to get the tools.

 

Yes...this. I have found, in my experience, that I can not use one program to teach writing. In fact I don't use a program to do the teaching for me at all. I do the teaching using the knowledge I've gleaned from many sources. One program may have taught me how to work on summary skills effectively, one program may have taught me about note taking, another about sentence structure, a book may have given me insight into paragraph construction...I haven't found one program that does everything that I want my dc to work on. There is never a point in the year that I say that xyz curriculum is complete so we don't have to do any writing again until we start xyz level 2. It is an ongoing, always changing, always evolving, process. I also carry on a lot of dialog about writing when I teach concepts - what concepts are set in stone, which ones aren't - what I want them to work on now and how that will evolve as they become more mature, skilled writers. We also discuss the writing of the authors we are reading. We talk about writing styles we like, don't like and why. There is far more to teaching writing in my home than opening a book and doing the next lesson.

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Any other IEW users get the feeling we're being told that we are teaching bad writing? ;)

My oldest used to cry and sob at the thought of any writing assignment. When he did produce "writing" it went like this: We went to the beach. It was fun. There were waves. The first time I put an Andrew Pudewa video in the player(at the end of his fourth grade year), he watched it, laughed, and then jumped up eager to complete the first assignment. I hadn't planned on having him complete the assignment that day, but of course I "allowed" him to. I cried and cried when I saw his first "paper". It was so far above anything he had ever produced before and, more importantly, he did it happily. Now, in seventh grade,he writes well, with his own voice. People say (!) "Wow!" when they read his writing. IEW may not be necessary for every child but it is absolutely the reason my son can write well today. He needed the structure and the "scales". I needed Andrew Pudewa to teach him.

 

The natural writers who have children who don't sob at every writing assignment and don't like adverbs can use something else. For some of us, it is a God-send.

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My oldest used to cry and sob at the thought of any writing assignment. When he did produce "writing" it went like this: We went to the beach. It was fun. There were waves. The first time I put an Andrew Pudewa video in the player(at the end of his fourth grade year), he watched it, laughed, and then jumped up eager to complete the first assignment. I hadn't planned on having him complete the assignment that day, but of course I "allowed" him to. I cried and cried when I saw his first "paper". It was so far above anything he had ever produced before and, more importantly, he did it happily. Now, in seventh grade,he writes well, with his own voice. People say (!) "Wow!" when they read his writing. IEW may not be necessary for every child but it is absolutely the reason my son can write well today. He needed the structure and the "scales". I needed Andrew Pudewa to teach him.

 

The natural writers who have children who don't sob at every writing assignment and don't like adverbs can use something else. For some of us, it is a God-send.

 

Exactly. This has been our experience as well. I initially resisted IEW, due to negative feedback on this board, but found it was exactly what DS needed. No writing snobbery here, LOL. IEW completely turned him around, gave him the confidence and tools to try, whereas before he just shut down and cried.

 

We don't use only IEW. We started with WWE. I'm planning to use WWS next year. WWS would have never been possible without getting past the earlier issues. I believe in using more than one writing program and whatever gets your DC writing, adverbs or not.

 

ETA: I feel very confident and satisfied with my choice of IEW for my DS. I really don't feel like I'm defending it. I don't know any of you IRL, anyway, LOL. My purpose in posting at all is to encourage any future thread-readers who might have otherwise felt like they were settling for a sub-par product if they chose IEW. IEW works great for many students, especially those who start out as reluctant writers.

 

(This feels like one of those threads attacking Teaching Textbooks users. Yikes.)

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The natural writers who have children who don't sob at every writing assignment and don't like adverbs can use something else. For some of us, it is a God-send.

 

 

I was a 'natural writer' at the age of 12, and I still have all the diaries and very long stories I wrote at that age. I was the opposite of how Andrew Pudewa describes most kids; that they cry at the thought of a blank page and having to pull something out of nothing. I used to LOVE it! I would BEG for blank pages! And I had so many story ideas "out of nothing" that it was hard to choose.

 

So I would have resented anyone telling me to add 'dressups' or avoid certain words!

 

That is why I projected that onto my son who is NOT quite a natural writer. I just assumed he would feel the same way as me ... and that was my mistake (until I thankfully realised this!).

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This would be a very interesting discussion but it seems to have evolved into a feeling of needing to justify one's choice of writing curriculum. Sorry that happened as I think there are some really interesting, important things we could talk about. Oh well.

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This would be a very interesting discussion but it seems to have evolved into a feeling of needing to justify one's choice of writing curriculum. Sorry that happened as I think there are some really interesting, important things we could talk about. Oh well.

 

If some hadn't blatantly criticized a particular program and in doing so criticized those who use it we wouldn't have felt the need to defend and justify.

 

Oh well...I've enjoyed the discussion so far, and if you have any additional interesting, important things you'd like to add about writing in general I'd love to hear them. I'm always trying to gain new insight into teaching writing. As I said, I don't only use IEW.

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This would be a very interesting discussion but it seems to have evolved into a feeling of needing to justify one's choice of writing curriculum. Sorry that happened as I think there are some really interesting, important things we could talk about. Oh well.

 

Well, what have you got? Interested here and all ears for more discussion. What are your thoughts on the matter, specific curriculum choices aside? Threads here can turn on a dime. No need for "oh well." Rarely does good conversation result from throwing our hands in the air. Share your POV.

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To be honest I don't really have too much of a point of view. This is one of the areas that I really struggle with, so when I see "good writing" I am all ears. I have one natural writer and one who can put together good sentences, but it's like pulling teeth to get her to do it. I've only used the method outlined in the WTM - initially doing it myself and then this year using WWE and WWS. I think those are working well but I'm so unsure of myself with this that I feel nervous about it.

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I find this whole conversation somewhat humorous, actually. Earlier today, I thought to myself that I could go pull any classic book off our shelves right now and find examples of the poor usage described in this thread. So, just for fun, I did a quick scan of our current read-aloud, The Wind in the Willows, starting with tonight's reading.

 

"You hear better than I," said the Mole sadly. "I cannot catch the words."

 

"Let me try and give you them," said the Rat softly, his eyes still closed.

 

Nice. Said. But what about those doggone adverbs?

 

"murmured the Rat" (Rat actually "murmured" 2x in the same spread! Plus lots more murmuring throughout the chapter. Oh my! How did this get past the editors?! :tongue_smilie:)

 

Rat and Mole also sighed, cried (joyously, at that!), asked, called, and "found breath to whisper." Looking ahead, I also see replied, whispered, sobbed, cried, explained, retorted, suggested, twittered (to be fair, this character was a bird :D), demanded, asked, remarked, responded, mused... OMG mused!? Throw this rubbish in the trash! :lol: I had to stop. Too many substitutes for said. Even when things were said, they were sometimes said gravely, lightly, presently, slowly...

 

Aside from dialogue, verbs were too often assaulted by adverbs. Poor things. Faintly reflected, shyly waited, slowly declare, sank reluctantly, piped suddenly, sat up suddenly, greatly wondering, rowed steadily, possessed utterly, bent mechanically, grew steadily, slowly passed, stared blankly, blew lightly, fallen happily, growing silently, crying bitterly, ran quickly... Again, I had to stop. The travesty was too great.

 

In short, I'm not sweating it. :lol:

 

 

Thank you! :) :)

 

That is just what I was thinking, reading the comments about how using "said" automatically means bad writing. And now here you prove my point. :D

 

I think the simpler dialogue without as many tags or descriptive tags is a more clean, modern style of writing. But it isn't necessarily (uh-oh, adverb!) bad writing.

 

That said, I *have* cringed reading IEW- taught papers. They may well be an improvement on what many students would have produced otherwise, though. It seems like it would be possible to use IEW and leave out the instructions you don't agree with.

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I would love a program that taught kids how to edit out all the junk that creeps in and emphasized the use of active verbs. Is there such a thing as a writing program that teaches great writing?

 

 

I think that the program doesn't teach this, it's the teacher. And it's a long process, little bits at a time, when they are ready to understand.

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It seems like it would be possible to use IEW and leave out the instructions you don't agree with.

I think that the program doesn't teach this, it's the teacher. And it's a long process, little bits at a time, when they are ready to understand.

 

Yes, and yes. Some writing programs are wonderful for getting dc to write, but you must educate yourself in HOW to teach so that you can intelligently evaluate when, if and how to help your student move beyond the basic instruction.

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To be honest I don't really have too much of a point of view. This is one of the areas that I really struggle with, so when I see "good writing" I am all ears. I have one natural writer and one who can put together good sentences, but it's like pulling teeth to get her to do it. I've only used the method outlined in the WTM - initially doing it myself and then this year using WWE and WWS. I think those are working well but I'm so unsure of myself with this that I feel nervous about it.

 

 

There is more than one way to "good writing". I personally don't feel you can find it in just one writing program, but I believe that knowing how to see the value in one program that works for your kids and expand on that is invaluable. What I've seen of WWS1 and read about the upcoming levels seems to come really close to being my perfect program.

 

While your dc are working through these programs I recommend you start educating yourself in how to teach writing. Once I took the power out of the program and put it into my own hand I felt much less nervous about knowing if my dc were on the right path, how to evaluate their writing, and how to help them continue to hone their skills.

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While your dc are working through these programs I recommend you start educating yourself in how to teach writing. Once I took the power out of the program and put it into my own hand I felt much less nervous about knowing if my dc were on the right path, how to evaluate their writing, and how to help them continue to hone their skills.

 

 

You're right about this being the way to go. I am learning more and more and slowly feeling a little more confidence in my ability to teach writing. But it's one of those skills that I really don't want to mess up, and I think that's why I second guess myself so much. It's not the slogging through it I mind so much, it's the uncertainty that the way I've chosen will lead us where we want to go. Do you have any particular recommendations for self education?

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I think that the program doesn't teach this, it's the teacher. And it's a long process, little bits at a time, when they are ready to understand.

 

I agree.

 

There is more than one way to "good writing". I personally don't feel you can find it in just one writing program, but I believe that knowing how to see the value in one program that works for your kids and expand on that is invaluable.

 

Yes. I defended IEW in this thread, but since my signature is currently under construction, I should declare here that I use WWE/IEW/MCT/Killgallon/No More "I'm Done!", Show Me a Story, a dash of Brave Writer, Rip the Page...what else? I know there's more. :lol: For writing, WWE and IEW are our main programs, but I believe in variety. I supplement the supplements. :tongue_smilie:

 

To be honest I don't really have too much of a point of view. This is one of the areas that I really struggle with, so when I see "good writing" I am all ears. I have one natural writer and one who can put together good sentences, but it's like pulling teeth to get her to do it. I've only used the method outlined in the WTM - initially doing it myself and then this year using WWE and WWS. I think those are working well but I'm so unsure of myself with this that I feel nervous about it.
You're right about this being the way to go. I am learning more and more and slowly feeling a little more confidence in my ability to teach writing. But it's one of those skills that I really don't want to mess up, and I think that's why I second guess myself so much. It's not the slogging through it I mind so much, it's the uncertainty that the way I've chosen will lead us where we want to go. Do you have any particular recommendations for self education?

 

I have one natural writer (like she was born with a gel pen in her hand :lol:) and two decent writers. All three need lots of polishing. Natural's writing needs to be sanded down a bit and decents' writing needs to be puffed up and polished. I use the same stuff with all three kids. We have a writer's workshop every morning, a time when we all work on writing. Honestly, with enough flexibility and confidence, I believe you can make almost any program serve you well.

 

For me, the biggest boost to my confidence in teaching writing (and every other subject, for that matter) was to read ahead and do most of the work myself. Working along with them. Talking with them. Playing at writing with them. Reading all written work aloud. In fact, having my kids read their writing aloud is the single most effective strategy I've used, mostly because they have listened to and read classic books for years and have developed good ears for beautiful language and correct usage. I believe that the first essential ingredient in good writing is good reading. I think the second essential ingredient is being brave and trying lots of different techniques and voices. I consider it essential to learn the rules, even conflicting rules, and then be willing to toss them aside occasionally in the name of art. :D

 

For self-education, pick up all of SWB's MP3 writing talks at Peace Hill Press. Other things I have benefitted from reading: Brave Writer's The Writer's Jungle, IEW-TWSS (great if you can borrow it from a friend), myriad "teacher books" on writing I have purchased on Amazon or checked out from the library, NaNoWriMo guides (free on the web)...

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For self-education, pick up all of SWB's MP3 writing talks at Peace Hill Press. Other things I have benefited from reading: Brave Writer's The Writer's Jungle

:iagree: These resources are the first ones one should start with.

 

myriad "teacher books" on writing

If it helps someone, I'll list the ones I liked:

1. The Oxford Essential Guide To Writing by Thomas Kane

2. On Writing Well by William Zinnser

3. Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers

4. The Little Red Writing Book by an Australian author, Mark Tredinnick

5. 50 Writing Tools by Roy Peter Clark

 

I am also reading The Lively Art of Writing and I like it so far.

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For me, the biggest boost to my confidence in teaching writing (and every other subject, for that matter) was to read ahead and do most of the work myself. Working along with them. Talking with them. Playing at writing with them.

 

I needed this reminder. I learned so much reading books on writing during the years when I could read while nursing babies. Now that I have my hands free more, I need to do the writing they are going to do. I've done a little of it this year, but need to do more.

 

I'll add to the list

1. Writing to the Point by Kerrigan

2. They Say, I Say

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I was a 'natural writer' at the age of 12, and I still have all the diaries and very long stories I wrote at that age. I was the opposite of how Andrew Pudewa describes most kids; that they cry at the thought of a blank page and having to pull something out of nothing. I used to LOVE it! I would BEG for blank pages! And I had so many story ideas "out of nothing" that it was hard to choose.

 

So I would have resented anyone telling me to add 'dressups' or avoid certain words!

 

That is why I projected that onto my son who is NOT quite a natural writer. I just assumed he would feel the same way as me ... and that was my mistake (until I thankfully realised this!).

 

My youngest is like you were and my 10yo is the opposite. The girl gets JOY out if words. She wants to spin them around and play with them. The boy wants clear, specific instructions so he can spit them out and walk away. Meeting both of their needs is definitely my biggest challenge in homeschooling.

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I agree.

 

 

 

Yes. I defended IEW in this thread, but since my signature is currently under construction, I should declare here that I use WWE/IEW/MCT/Killgallon/No More "I'm Done!", Show Me a Story, a dash of Brave Writer, Rip the Page...what else? I know there's more. :lol: For writing, WWE and IEW are our main programs, but I believe in variety. I supplement the supplements. :tongue_smilie:

 

 

 

I have one natural writer (like she was born with a gel pen in her hand :lol:) and two decent writers. All three need lots of polishing. Natural's writing needs to be sanded down a bit and decents' writing needs to be puffed up and polished. I use the same stuff with all three kids. We have a writer's workshop every morning, a time when we all work on writing. Honestly, with enough flexibility and confidence, I believe you can make almost any program serve you well.

 

For me, the biggest boost to my confidence in teaching writing (and every other subject, for that matter) was to read ahead and do most of the work myself. Working along with them. Talking with them. Playing at writing with them. Reading all written work aloud. In fact, having my kids read their writing aloud is the single most effective strategy I've used, mostly because they have listened to and read classic books for years and have developed good ears for beautiful language and correct usage. I believe that the first essential ingredient in good writing is good reading. I think the second essential ingredient is being brave and trying lots of different techniques and voices. I consider it essential to learn the rules, even conflicting rules, and then be willing to toss them aside occasionally in the name of art. :D

 

For self-education, pick up all of SWB's MP3 writing talks at Peace Hill Press. Other things I have benefitted from reading: Brave Writer's The Writer's Jungle, IEW-TWSS (great if you can borrow it from a friend), myriad "teacher books" on writing I have purchased on Amazon or checked out from the library, NaNoWriMo guides (free on the web)...

 

 

I love writing and teaching writing, so my "prep" looks a lot like yours. I taught my eldest using mostly Classical Writing - what I loved best about it was the focus on author's emphasis and how small changes in word choice, grammar, or structure can alter the emphasis. We spent most of our time playing with sentences - it was fabulous.

 

If I was a better homeschooler, I'd implement CW (to a degree) with my boys at home and in co-op. I do carry over a lot of the ideas from CW, but I should go back to it more often (maybe now I will). I love IEW's The Elegant Essay and Windows on the World and adapted lessons from both of those when I taught grade 8 writing last year, and when dd was still at home. I read at least a couple of adult books on writing each year and that's where a lot of my frustration stems from. The advice to adult writers is a lot different than the advice to children and I honestly don't think it has a lot to do with development or an inability on the child's part to write clearly. I've seen what kids are capable of.

 

I've done my own lessons this year with some references to Writing Aids (from TOG). I'm working with kids from grade 3 to 5 but they all came into the class needing to review paragraphs. We spent some time working on sentences, then moved on to different genres of paragraphs. I emphasize the writing process so we worked with a number of different graphic organizers and did a lot of discussing and brainstorming during the planning stages of writing. We moved on to rough drafts, peer editing, and sharing our works aloud. I wanted them to really understand that writing is rewriting so we did a lot of edits and we realized that even if we had done something pretty amazing the first time, it was possible to make it even more amazing. I taught them how to do formal outlines and how to research and take notes. They each did a three paragraph report before Christmas. During the nine weeks after Christmas we did some literary analysis - discussions and story charts. Then we moved into writing our own stories. We discussed characterization and how to show character traits, plot development, the importance of setting, and planning. The kids wrote their stories, did peer editing, shared their stories aloud, had them edited by me, and then wrote the good copies on iPads in the BookCreator app where they were able to also integrate the illustrations and cover pages they made. A few of the students recorded themselves dramatically reading the story in the app - this was pretty cool because their books can be shared in iBooks to family and friends (or sent in PDF to family who don't have iPads).

 

Anyway, we had a great year and I loved seeing how much improvement took place from the beginning of the year to the end - and even from the beginning of a writing project to the end of it. I'm looking at plans for next year (I'll have a grade 7 class next year) and I was just wishing for the "perfect" curriculum :) And, of course, it doesn't exist so I am likely back to pulling ideas from a variety of places. Time to drag out CW, Lost Tools of Writing, my favourite books on writing, the Creative Writer and WWS and see what I can cook up.

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I'll add that a fun book from a writer's perspective to insert, maybe only once per week, is Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine.

 

In one of her chapters, she writes about how "said" almost disappears when you are reading. She also talks about how writing styles change over the years. She has lessons on paying attention to details (people, processes) and how to write material that is very descriptive (and when you should use that type of writing) vs. writing more sweeping action (and when to use that type of writing). Each chapter is only a few pages and most end with at least one writing prompt. It is a fun book to work through with middle graders, especially ones who love to write. (Here's my blog post on it.)

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Any other IEW users get the feeling we're being told that we are teaching bad writing? ;)

 

 

No. No!!! (okay, yes ... )

 

But I trust my gut on this. AND I've had the experience of reading fine writing and having it percolate through my consciousness that there was a great deal of dialogue without a list of "said"s.

 

I think it's pretty straightforward, with a neurotypical child, to explain in middle or high school that those adverbs could be made more precise and more demonstrative. If the adverbs are there, that gives the child room to sharpen the writing. Yes? Good theory? Why not?

 

but I'd never push IEW on somebody bugged by it. I tossed FLL because I would not teach my child that the critical thing about poetry is beginning each line with a capital letter. I refuse to put that thought in his head until he's writing fine poems, or at least spontaneous and vivid ones. Is this rational? DH doesn't think so ... we all have our particularities I suppose!

 

(I use too many !!! and ... for example. Also ;;; ;))

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