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Help me pick my writing curriculum for next year


dauphin
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DD will be in 6th grade. She just completed her first (and last) year with Classical Conversations (Foundations and Essentials). In Essentials, we did a fairly thorough coverage of grammar (their proprietary Essentials of the English Language (EEL) program). I’m very happy with what DD and I both got out of it, even if I didn’t buy in initially (I don’t think I EVER knew this much about grammar and I was worried about diagramming - now we both think of diagramming as a fun puzzle/exercise in logic/reasoning). We will probably do Analytical Grammar so I don’t think I want a comprehensive curriculum that does grammar and writing. (But feel free to persuade me otherwise if you feel strongly)

 

IEW, not so much. It.drove.me.nuts that they did the chapters out of order (MBHW). So the checklists, which IEW seems to center on, never apply correctly (because they list things that haven’t been covered yet, or don’t list things that HAVE been covered). GAH!!!! I’m still not clear on why they were used out of order - I hear things like: to have the stories in more chronological order…to put the skills in the same order as the TWSS guide. Whatever. While I hear noises that IEW will be producing a new series of the theme-based guides (US History will be the next CC cycle), it doesn’t matter as we won’t be returning to CC in the fall. We had hoped to accelerate next year to the Challenge program, which was using the Lost Tools of Writing curriculum (which I went ahead and picked up while it was on sale recently, oops!), but accelerating is apparently not an option due to rigid birthdate cutoffs. So I’m back to square one! In every sense. This year with CC was our first full year of homeschooling, so we don’t have a repertoire of experience with other methods/curriculum for writing, or me having a solid grasp on DD’s writing skills/level/needs.

 

But here are some of the bullet points:

 

DD is a voracious reader and naturally reads and comprehends well above grade level

 

However, neither DD nor I are naturally literary persons. We both tend much more heavily towards STEM.

 

She is a very strong speller and I have yet to find a spelling program that “challenges†her, with the exception of the challenging 8th grade words on the Scripps Spelling Bee list.

 

I have considered Charlotte Mason-influenced instruction but I still struggle with narration - I’m an introvert surrounded by 3 extroverts and you.want.me.to.ask.her.to.talk.MORE!?!?!? Heeheehee. I just read the ancient thread by Nan, and I am starting to “get†why it is important, but I really don’t get the HOW, especially when I am not starting in the early years (how most explanation of narration begins) but in the middle, AND with a girl who narrates quite easily (as far as recall and organization/flow of the content). But how do I shape it? How do I know what is missing? She can type (handwriting is still an issue) fairly easily, so how/where does written narration/outlining/etc intersect?  (But can I just say that I got more about the HOW to introduce/request narration from TWTM than I -ever- did from CM materials, pragmatically speaking (I got plenty of WHY/theory). 

 

I looked at a copy of FLL (or was it WWE?) waaay back (okay it can’t be that long ago since we’ve homeschooled less than two years, but it seems like ages ago!), and I didn’t like the look of the intensive scripting. I’m less sure now, because scripting out what narration should look like at various levels of growth may be just what I want/need? I really would like to get my hands on a copy of WWE 4 or WWS.

 

I have heard Andrew Pudewa speak and found myself nodding in agreement a lot. I also have a copy of the TWSS DVD’s that I haven’t watched yet but I don’t know that I want to invest more time into IEW if another writing curriculum would be a better fit.

 

I have a copy of Writing Strands 3 and flipped through it and liked it okay.

 

Any feedback? Feel free to ask clarifying questions. I have an idea that there is so much that I don’t -know- that I don’t know!

 

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I agree that IEW, as used in Essentials, was convoluted and frustrating. But otherwise, how did you like IEW? Because if I owned the TWSS and I were a STEM- oriented person, I might be inclined to use it. We will be returning for a second tour through Essentials as my daughter is quite young and has more to learn from it, so I've already purchased and just received the IEW US History theme book we'll use this year. I think it looks so much better! At this point, though, I don't see us returning for the third tour through Essentials, largely because I think two years of IEW will be more than enough- I'm one who views it as a means to an end, rather than our longtime writing program. Not sure if any of that is helpful at all, but in your shoes I'd pair AG with IEW (possibly SWI B?) for next year.

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There are pretty good samples on the Peace Hill site for both WWE (all levels) and WWS. There are also diagnostic tests. My oldest is 7 so that is all I can offer.

 

I'll print those up and see how that goes. IDK that she would "pass" all of the diagnostic tests for WWE because we haven't worked on the terminology/expectations, but has the capacity to if we did some overview lessons - is there any way to do that without going way back to the beginning (or to rapidly accelerate through the material; e.g., WWE2/3 in one year) DD really does NOT need a lot of explanation or rote practice.

 

I agree that IEW, as used in Essentials, was convoluted and frustrating. But otherwise, how did you like IEW? Because if I owned the TWSS and I were a STEM- oriented person, I might be inclined to use it. We will be returning for a second tour through Essentials as my daughter is quite young and has more to learn from it, so I've already purchased and just received the IEW US History theme book we'll use this year. I think it looks so much better! At this point, though, I don't see us returning for the third tour through Essentials, largely because I think two years of IEW will be more than enough- I'm one who views it as a means to an end, rather than our longtime writing program. Not sure if any of that is helpful at all, but in your shoes I'd pair AG with IEW (possibly SWI B?) for next year.

 

Well, every time I heard Andrew Pudewa present I kept nodding my head! I think there are still things she could "get" out of IEW due to how poorly it was organized and how confusing that was for ME. But I think she got a lot of the content/skills in spite of that (as in, I could have her do some writing assignment and hand her a checklist of dressups/openers and she'd be able to do most or all of it independently). It -seems- like we'd feel like we were "going backwards" if we went and did the more detailed SWI (on another thread, someone said that the SWI was supposed to come -before- the HBWLs). I hope that makes sense. I'm kind of "done" with the frustrations of IEW. But we are having our last meeting this week. The more distance I get, the more I might find it appeals again. Maybe I need to go download another AP conference audio :).

 

ETA

I was able to look at a friend's WWE and WWS today. It made me happy looking at it - teaching writing is probably the one area where I feel most un-grounded, and this really makes it tangible, there's examples of what narrations should/might look like, scoring rubrics, incremental skills (hopefully not too "spiral," though, as that drives DD and I craaaaazy), etc. 

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Idk, I'm a huge bravewriter fan - she focuses more on having a routine of language arts, not a schedule or a strict curriculum.  Its as much or as little as your child needs. It is a bit hard to get the hang of a more open-ended program.  She doenst have a writing project book for that age yet, but she does have the book studies.  Idk, depending on your budget, getting a copy of The Writers Jungle, which explains her entire philosophy and gives a lot of suggestions, might be worth it.  You could also read over her blog posts and listen to her podcasts. 

 

I dont think a strong speller needs a spelling program, though, and while some knowledge of grammar is important, in-depth grammar does not help with writing.  

 

But my main focus in LA is to create strong writers.  In any field, you will need to write.

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I'll print those up and see how that goes. IDK that she would "pass" all of the diagnostic tests for WWE because we haven't worked on the terminology/expectations, but has the capacity to if we did some overview lessons - is there any way to do that without going way back to the beginning (or to rapidly accelerate through the material; e.g., WWE2/3 in one year) DD really does NOT need a lot of explanation or rote practice.

 

 

Well, every time I heard Andrew Pudewa present I kept nodding my head! I think there are still things she could "get" out of IEW due to how poorly it was organized and how confusing that was for ME. But I think she got a lot of the content/skills in spite of that (as in, I could have her do some writing assignment and hand her a checklist of dressups/openers and she'd be able to do most or all of it independently). It -seems- like we'd feel like we were "going backwards" if we went and did the more detailed SWI (on another thread, someone said that the SWI was supposed to come -before- the HBWLs). I hope that makes sense. I'm kind of "done" with the frustrations of IEW. But we are having our last meeting this week. The more distance I get, the more I might find it appeals again. Maybe I need to go download another AP conference audio :).

 

ETA

I was able to look at a friend's WWE and WWS today. It made me happy looking at it - teaching writing is probably the one area where I feel most un-grounded, and this really makes it tangible, there's examples of what narrations should/might look like, scoring rubrics, incremental skills (hopefully not too "spiral," though, as that drives DD and I craaaaazy), etc.

I am only using WWE1 but the text book covers all 4 years. If she had a few weak spots you could just buy the text (about the same as one workbook) and concentrate on those skills across the test of your curriculum. Level 4 is optional anyway - see the pinned thread with the update.

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Love WWE, but WWS not so much. WWS sucked the fun and joy of writing right out the window for us. I have looked at IEW so many times and get knots in my stomach every time I do. It would never work with my teaching style or my children's learning styles. 

 

For us, we are doing a combination of academic essays based on our history and science content, and a new program called Cover Story, which is a more creative (but not entirely) approach, and we love it. 

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Dd12 used WWS this year. She is very science-y and not much of a creative writer. It has really challenged her. It's not been her favorite, but she has learned a ton. She, also, used Analytical Grammar. Again not her favorite, but she really learned with it. We dropped spelling and used vocabulary from classical roots instead. I address any spelling issues she has as they arise in her writing.

 

When I say they aren't her favorite, I don't think any writing or grammar program would be her favorite. Language arts are a necessary evil in her world. If it's not science, she's not interested. I like them because they are challenging and make her think. She cannot just breeze through.

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I'll print those up and see how that goes. IDK that she would "pass" all of the diagnostic tests for WWE because we haven't worked on the terminology/expectations, but has the capacity to if we did some overview lessons - is there any way to do that without going way back to the beginning (or to rapidly accelerate through the material; e.g., WWE2/3 in one year) DD really does NOT need a lot of explanation or rote practice.

What if you got the instructor's guide for WWE instead of the individual workbooks? Each year is broken down into 36 weeks, with about 4 terms. The first week of each new term (where expectations are increased) gives a full sample from the workbook of what that week would look like. You could just use each of those samples from WWE1-3 until you get into trouble. Then you could just get the workbook for that level (if she just needs level 4 for example) and go from there; or you could continue making up more of the types of work she needs practice on yourself.

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I've never been one for "making it up" myself, but I think that may be a good idea (to get just the instructor's guide). Right now we're working through the end-of-level tests. She has made mistakes, but more out of not paying attention to details rather than not knowing the rules (e.g., punctuation). I think she would benefit from this type of work just for the training in careful attention to details, alone. But I tend to over-do the "let's make sure you know this by doing -all- (or most) of the assigned work (I made her hate Khan Academy and she is losing her love for Math Mammoth for this reason - I don't do a good enough job of compressing/accelerating through the assigned work).  

 

 

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Idk, I'm a huge bravewriter fan - she focuses more on having a routine of language arts, not a schedule or a strict curriculum.  Its as much or as little as your child needs. It is a bit hard to get the hang of a more open-ended program.  She doenst have a writing project book for that age yet, but she does have the book studies.  Idk, depending on your budget, getting a copy of The Writers Jungle, which explains her entire philosophy and gives a lot of suggestions, might be worth it.  You could also read over her blog posts and listen to her podcasts. 

 

I dont think a strong speller needs a spelling program, though, and while some knowledge of grammar is important, in-depth grammar does not help with writing.  

 

But my main focus in LA is to create strong writers.  In any field, you will need to write.

 

:iagree:

 

Yes, yes, and yes!!!

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