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dereksurfs

Lost Tools of Writing experiences

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We've decided to use LToW this year and have the newest edition.  We also have a LToW training workshop planned in our area which will be taught by Leah Lutz.  So I think that will definitely help in learning how to better implement the materials and follow their approach.   We'll see how it goes.  Classical Conversations is also using it in our area.  So there will be a lot of families using it.   Time will tell how easy or not it will be for us to implement.  But either way, we plan to use it.  I can always report back what our experiences are with it.

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We've decided to use LToW this year and have the newest edition.  We also have a LToW training workshop planned in our area which will be taught by Leah Lutz.  So I think that will definitely help in learning how to better implement the materials and follow their approach.   We'll see how it goes.  Classical Conversations is also using it in our area.  So there will be a lot of families using it.   Time will tell how easy or not it will be for us to implement.  But either way, we plan to use it.  I can always report back what our experiences are with it.

 

That all sounds great, Derek.  Definitely report back after some time using it. 

 

Next week, I will get to compare 4th vs 5th editions side by side and will decide if I want to purchase the newest student workbook or not.  Looking forward to it as we all know that we homeschoolers love to hold the curriculum in our own hands before buying, if given the chance!

 

Blessings,

 

Brenda

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Brenda,

It's probably worth considering that instructions in your Challenge guide will reference page numbers in the new student workbook.  This is one reason it would be more convenient for you and your student to purchase the new student workbook, at a minimum.

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I am more than happy to help you Derek too, since you also helped me with maths in the past. We completed the entire program, Version 5, in 4 weeks total. This is the review I wrote for another forum:

 

We bought the new version (5) of Lost Tools of Writing when they came out in February and my plan was to take the entire year to do it, once grade 9 NAPLAN had finished. Anyway, LToW only took 4 weeks to complete! That's doing one hour per day, 4-5 days per week. I'm pretty sure we did most it the right way, though we kept the same essay throughout. It is kind of like IEW, where you add things to your essay, but with a lot more thinking behind the reasons why we write in such a way. That was the best part of it. The verbal discussions and exploratory exercises were also fun and enriching. 

 

But, it is very homeschooler unfriendly, ugh! I was trying to read out what the teacher manual says to my son, while having to constantly edit out "your students" and replace it was "you". The TM speaks mostly to a class teacher, and there's no way you could memorise everything overnight and regurgitate it to your child. You really have to do the exercises and writing before you know what it's trying to teach, if you KWIM. The videos weren't much help: they just repeated what was in the TM and had too much fluff in them. 

 

I also couldn't work out why we did the 5 Topics in the beginning, and then redid them throughout, with no indication of where you're supposed to put the info into the essay, and if we were not supposed to, what is the point of doing them again? So, for the next few weeks my ds will practice what he's learnt with new essays, but I'll get him to do the 5 Topics before the ANI, so he can add more info to use as ideas for his essay, before he starts the actual essay. Hope I'm making sense. 

 

My tip: choose a really meaningful, meaty topic for your child's essay, because not only do they learn to write but also explore important ideas. We read Romeo and Juliet a few weeks ago and I chose the essay topic: 'Should Romeo Have Sought Juliet' and ds was more than happy to choose "he should not have sought Juliet". This was ideal for an almost 15 year old, as we explored issues such as being controlled by passions and hormones: we had some great discussions. It was perfect  wink.gif

 

If I had a girl I might choose some sort of comparison between Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice and Juliet from R&J, maybe: 'whether Juliet should have been more like Elizabeth.'  

 

 

It would be suitable for grades 7-12, even adults will benefit, but I just WISH they'd make a homeschooler friendly version.

 

 

Well, we've started school and LToW.  Unfortunately, it hasn't started very well for student or teacher (my wife).  ds14 finds it very repetitive and somewhat redundant based on other work he has done in previous years.  I've read that the first part does have a lot of this repetitive stuff like doing ANI charts which is supposed to build the foundation for better writing.

 

The good news is, my wife will be attending a LToW workshop this weekend which she can hopefully get some further guidance.  So, we'll see how things go.  I just don't want them both dreading writing all year.  I'm not that committed to any curriculum.  I wouldn't know where to go from here if we were to switch.  Well, we're not ready for that yet.  I'm just not sure how long we should go before cutting our losses if it truly isn't a good fit.  Hmm...

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A suggestion. You and your wife should look at a sample(s) of the complete essay from the last lesson. Then, the question to ask is simple. Can our son independently write an essay like this? Can he decide on an issue, develop an ANI chart, use the other invention tools to generate original thoughts, outline the essay, and write the complete essay using all the elocution techniques on his own? If so, then your son might more than LToW. If not, he has something to learn. Go from there. Decide on the pace. Use complex issues from complex novels for more challenge. The first lessons are simple for a reason. Level 1 moves from very basic to more complex thinking and writing.

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P.S. The ANI chart is the basis for thinking through both sides of an issue. It is as much about critical thinking as writing. The ANI chart and the other invention tools generate original thinking not just a rehash of a teacher's thoughts or the typical essay consisting of quotes or paraphrases from someone else with a bit of interp.

Just curious. What else have you used that helped to generate original thought for writing?

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Regarding 5 Topics and ANI. You begin with the 5 Topics to get some ideas on the ANI. Then, you use other invention tools to add to the ANI. Eventually, you have ANI columns full of ideas that are grouped and sorted to be used for an outline and essay. The process teaches generating ideas as well as ordering and prioritizing those ideas.

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Well, the good news for us is that the workshop this weekend helped to answer some of my wife's questions and concerns.  Initially, there seemed to be some uncertainty about the best way to approach the weekly lessons.  And yes, the ANI work does seem a bit painful for ds.  But I think 'we' see more value in it now.  So, it will be easier to convey it to him and encourage him to stick with it.  While the new text has been improved, it was still somewhat confusing for dw, even after reviewing it and listening to the video lessons.  I can see why some may not be using it correctly or may find it less open and go than other curriculum.  That's not to say its not worthwhile.  However, it does take more time and effort to try to implement it effectively.  And if your time is limited as a teacher with other siblings, subjects, etc... it may not be the best fit.  

 

Regarding some repetition from other things already learned, ds14 completed WWS I&II and most recently The Lively Art of Writing. The LAoW was such a breath of fresh air for ds14.  It was first time I could seem him actually enjoying the writing process.  It goes beyond formulas and strives to encourage original thought.  I think that might also contribute a bit to the let down he experienced going into LToW after just finishing LAoW and really enjoying it.  It's kind of hard for him to get back to more formulaic things again.  DS14: "Is all this ANI stuff really necessary?"  Obviously, there is a purpose for it.  I just think its a little hard for him at this stage after the writing work he has already done.  We saw lots of growth in his writing skills toward the end of last year.

 

We've decided to give it more time.  I think it's too early to move to something else before giving it a chance.  Hopefully, over some time, it will start to come together and become a little less drudgery work for him.  Only time will tell.

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Encouraging your son to understand that the ANI process is something he can use for any issue in his life might help. Also, keeping the focus on thinking; i.e. why something can be both positive and negative when considering an issue, etc.

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Just curious. If your son mastered essay writing with Lively Art.., why not have him write essays this year on topics from his studies? Lots and lots of short essays where he practices and expands on what he already learned For example, our dd took Bravewriter Expository Essay class at the beginning of the summer, and she is going spend this year practicing that form, which includes most of the skills she needs for college writing, until she achieves fluency.

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Just curious. If your son mastered essay writing with Lively Art.., why not have him write essays this year on topics from his studies? Lots and lots of short essays where he practices and expands on what he already learned For example, our dd took Bravewriter Expository Essay class at the beginning of the summer, and she is going spend this year practicing that form, which includes most of the skills she needs for college writing, until she achieves fluency.

 

I'm not really sure one ever masters essay writing as it encompasses so many areas.  It is as much an art form as it is following accepted scholastic formats/patterns/norms.  I think I know what you mean though, regarding practicing more of what he has already learned.  Quite honestly, I wish LAoW had a volume two.  He definitely needs more practice in general along with more advanced concepts to help stimulate the 'invention' process.  So, if LToW can help with that, I think it can benefit him this year.  We'll just have to see how it goes.  

 

I was also considering Bravewriter Expository Essay as well.  I guess one always risks 'some' degree of redundancy when using a variety of writing programs.  And that's not always a bad thing.  As a student, ds14 is feels the need to consistently move forward to more advanced topics/concepts, never backwards (to him).  He thinks very linearly in this driven sort of way - onward and upward!  So repeating anything for him is more of a mental chore than with our dds.  He is the same way with math, science and every other subject.  If he's got it, its time to move on as in Next!

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I am just going to throw this out for you to think about. If your son got everything from Lively Art, then he is ready for more advanced topics/concepts. I have Lively Art..., and it does an excellent job of teaching essays. Although I love Bravewriter Expository Essays, your son has learned the same material in Lively Art. Lively Art..., Bravewiter EE, and even LToW I, although in a slightly different and more structured format, all teach the 5-paragraph/basic essay. Have you looked at SWB's suggestions for writing at your son's level? "The high school student will be writing continually about history, science, and everything else he studies." I haven't listened to the lectures in a while, but the high school lecture has suggestions about how to do this.

 

Although the writing samples aren't stellar, Format Jensen's "Format Writing" shows how the 5-paragraph form can be used for example, classification, definition, process, etc. etc. essays. An additional way to add complexity is to expand the basic format and require 2-paragraph openers, conclusions and/or support. Also, add deadlines; i.e. 2 weeks for a persuasive paper on a topic from history or science or... 

 

It sounds like your son has concepts to learn from LToW I, but if he is a quick learner and strong writer, then he can easily move through the material in a few months, including independently practicing a few complete persuasive essays.  At that point, you might want to consider SWB's suggestions for writing within subjects or her suggestions for rhetoric. Since your son has the ability to write a basic essay, outline, etc. from the curriculum you have used, he can shift from needing direct instruction to help from a mentor.

 

Speaking from experience, it's sometimes difficult to let go of the idea that a student has learned enough of the basics and just needs to get in there and mix it up with the writing process; i.e. choose a topic, develop a thesis...write an essay, get input, improve the essay. (Possibly produce some bad writing along the way.) Rinse, repeat.

 

 

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I like 1togos advice.  Shannon did LAoW last year, and learned the essay form, easy peasy.  She would not enjoy a repetition of the basic essay form, nor super redundant writing assignments focused on learning a form she has pretty much got down.  What she needs is to really work on developing her ideas, having interesting and unique things to say.  So I've gone with Bravewriter, since that seems to be a focus, and actually placed her in the Kidswrite Intermediate class this year. It has just started, but I think it will fit the bill, it's letting her exploring words and ideas and I'm confident she'll be able to use that in her own essays.  But it doesn't seem like this more open-form, loosey goosey writing is what your ds needs.  It definitely wouldn't feel like the next step up in terms of difficulty.  For us it's a welcome lateral move, allowing focus on a different aspect of writing.  It's definitely not the next linear step int he process.  For linear steps, I think of WWS/SWB's writing instructions.  Did you look at the WTMA classes? There is one that reviews WWS 1-3 in a consolidated format, maybe something like that would work for him?

 

ETA: Ah, ok, looking back at page 1 of the thread I see he did WWS 1-2.  WWS wasn't a great fit here as written, although I learned a lot from it as a writing teacher. Ok, I guess I got nothing, other than the suggestion to have him write across the curriculum, perfecting his essay technique and developing his ideas.

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I guess my point is that there really aren't lots and lots of forms. Learn the basic essay and use it for different topics, subjects, etc.Then, work on improving those essays

 

LToW I does this. Lesson 1 - very, very basic essay.  Lesson 2 - add a technique. Lesson 3 - add another technique.  The final, persuasive essay is a complete, persuasive essay with every point generated from the student's thinking. Using invention worksheets may seem tedious, but the goal is internalizing the tools of invention to use in other essays and arrangements.

 

Bravewrite EE also teaches the persuasive essay, but the particulars that support the points come from research and outside sources, so the student learns paraphrasing and documentation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Thanks, 1togo and Rose.  This is very good food for thought.  I think we'll stick with LToW for more lessons and see how it builds.  Normally, I would not keep him working on something I think he's already got.  But, I do like the idea of internalizing the tools of invention, even if a bit tedious.  So, hopefully it won't be time wasted if he can retain some of that.  I also like the idea of possibly accelerating it and then moving into more writing across a wider swath of his subjects.  He *loves* doing science related research papers which he did with Lively Art.  That really had him jazzed on writing!  On the other hand, he has a heavier load this year and I'm adding in AP CS as well.  So, I might just let this one play out a bit more.  If acceleration means more hours per day, I don't think he has it available. 

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After a rocky start with LToW, we are now well into the first half of the program.  I just had a talk with my wife about our path forward.  It turns out she feels strongly that she wants to stay the course now.  Things are starting to come together for both her and our son, Luke.  The individual pieces and tools are beginning to make more sense as each lesson builds on the prior one.  I was actually ready to make a switch if need be.  However, after reviewing our writing goals in relation to the last assignment (a substantial eleven paragraph essay), they seemed to be in alignment.  We like the level of depth and structure which each essay provides.  So, we've decided to go through all the lessons.  If we finish a bit early, which it looks like we may, we can add another resource toward the end of the year.  

 

Thanks for everyone's input and suggestions!  While LToW does offer students good benefits including skill building opportunities, it's just not without certain challenges when it comes to teaching it.

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My son is taking LTOW I this year with Renee Mathis and I am very pleased with the class. I have been watching all the lectures with him, so that I can help him apply what he learns in the class to his other writing. This is the first time ever that I have felt like I could actually be a help to my kids with writing. My daughter isn't even taking the class, and some of the basic ideas that I've picked up in this class have also helped me to guide her.

 

Ds has had years of IEW classes and while he was strong in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and variation, writing complete paragraphs, etc. he was still struggling to write papers for his lit class. What I started to realize is that he had no idea how to come up with strong arguments and support them. He didn't know what he wanted to say. LTOW is very simple, but it puts a huge emphasis on the brainstorming process. My son is being forced to put a lot of thought into why he is making his argument and he has to come up with plenty of reasons for and against it. That is turning out to be The Answer for him. He's recently been working on his first lit paper this year and we've been implementing the brainstorming process using the questions from LTOW and it has gone so much more smoothly than it ever has before.

 

The focus on the structure of the essay has also been helpful to us, but the focus on the brainstorming process is what really makes LTOW different IMO. While it isn't a method that I found easy to automatically apply to other types of writing, I was able to ask for help on the LTOW message board and I'm really starting to get how it's done now.

 

I will say that when we first began the class, I was a bit disappointed because it didn't seem like there was much to it and it was moving so slowly, but as we continued, it all started to click and I began to see the beauty of it.

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My son is taking LTOW I this year with Renee Mathis and I am very pleased with the class. I have been watching all the lectures with him, so that I can help him apply what he learns in the class to his other writing. This is the first time ever that I have felt like I could actually be a help to my kids with writing. My daughter isn't even taking the class, and some of the basic ideas that I've picked up in this class have also helped me to guide her.

 

Ds has had years of IEW classes and while he was strong in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and variation, writing complete paragraphs, etc. he was still struggling to write papers for his lit class. What I started to realize is that he had no idea how to come up with strong arguments and support them. He didn't know what he wanted to say. LTOW is very simple, but it puts a huge emphasis on the brainstorming process. My son is being forced to put a lot of thought into why he is making his argument and he has to come up with plenty of reasons for and against it. That is turning out to be The Answer for him. He's recently been working on his first lit paper this year and we've been implementing the brainstorming process using the questions from LTOW and it has gone so much more smoothly than it ever has before.

 

The focus on the structure of the essay has also been helpful to us, but the focus on the brainstorming process is what really makes LTOW different IMO. While it isn't a method that I found easy to automatically apply to other types of writing, I was able to ask for help on the LTOW message board and I'm really starting to get how it's done now.

 

I will say that when we first began the class, I was a bit disappointed because it didn't seem like there was much to it and it was moving so slowly, but as we continued, it all started to click and I began to see the beauty of it.

Well, I don't want to act like this class is some sort of miracle, but my son just got his literature paper back. This class has 50 students in it and his paper was one of two picked to be read in class. And this is a kid who has really struggled with writing. No, it's not all due to LTOW, but the heavy emphasis on brainstorming has been the missing piece for him and LTOW addresses this so well. Up until now, I have had a friend who was an English major working with him on his lit papers. This is the first one he did without her and I almost emailed his teacher to let her know that since he spent about 15 hours writing this thing and I was afraid he'd give up if he got a lot of negative feedback. Now, I'm so glad I didn't do that. Well, he is walking on air and so am I. I almost cried when he showed me. Edited by OnMyOwn
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I like 1togos advice.  Shannon did LAoW last year, and learned the essay form, easy peasy.  She would not enjoy a repetition of the basic essay form, nor super redundant writing assignments focused on learning a form she has pretty much got down.  What she needs is to really work on developing her ideas, having interesting and unique things to say. 

 

My dd has the basic essay form down, that's not a problem.  But I thought the bolded is exactly what LToW is supposed to be so good at; it's not just rehashing how to write a 5-paragraph essay??

 

Dd needs help really thinking through her argument instead of just mailing it in, also in choosing which argument to use that she can get adequate support for that also isn't such a huge topic that she could write a 5-volume set on the topic instead of a 2+ page paper.  Like she says she'd like to write a paper comparing the governments of the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms in Ancient Egypt.  Kid, that isn't an essay level topic.  Distilling it down to a few pages would make it waaay too superficial.

 

My son is taking LTOW I this year with Renee Mathis and I am very pleased with the class. I have been watching all the lectures with him, so that I can help him apply what he learns in the class to his other writing. This is the first time ever that I have felt like I could actually be a help to my kids with writing. My daughter isn't even taking the class, and some of the basic ideas that I've picked up in this class have also helped me to guide her.

 

Ds has had years of IEW classes and while he was strong in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and variation, writing complete paragraphs, etc. he was still struggling to write papers for his lit class. What I started to realize is that he had no idea how to come up with strong arguments and support them. He didn't know what he wanted to say. LTOW is very simple, but it puts a huge emphasis on the brainstorming process. My son is being forced to put a lot of thought into why he is making his argument and he has to come up with plenty of reasons for and against it. That is turning out to be The Answer for him. He's recently been working on his first lit paper this year and we've been implementing the brainstorming process using the questions from LTOW and it has gone so much more smoothly than it ever has before.

 

The focus on the structure of the essay has also been helpful to us, but the focus on the brainstorming process is what really makes LTOW different IMO. While it isn't a method that I found easy to automatically apply to other types of writing, I was able to ask for help on the LTOW message board and I'm really starting to get how it's done now.

 

I will say that when we first began the class, I was a bit disappointed because it didn't seem like there was much to it and it was moving so slowly, but as we continued, it all started to click and I began to see the beauty of it.

 

This is very encouraging to hear.  I'm hoping to sign dd up for the online class next fall.  Do you like Renee Mathis as an instructor?

 

ETA: How long is the live class?  I see start times at the Circe site, but can't seem to find duration.  An hour, or 1.5?

Coram Deo also offers a LToW live online class - it says its classes are 1.5 hours.

Edited by Matryoshka
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My dd has the basic essay form down, that's not a problem.  But I thought the bolded is exactly what LToW is supposed to be so good at; it's not just rehashing how to write a 5-paragraph essay??

 

 

 

 

It may very well be. I haven't done LToW. My comment was responding specifically to what 1Togo was saying in answer to someone's question, and wasn't meant to be about LToW.  and I haven't seen the two most recent updated versions. The older version I saw was just so unwieldy and disorganized I decided not to use it. Since then we've gone in other directions.  So I can't speak to your question here, hopefully other users can.

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It may very well be. I haven't done LToW. My comment was responding specifically to what 1Togo was saying in answer to someone's question, and wasn't meant to be about LToW. and I haven't seen the two most recent updated versions. The older version I saw was just so unwieldy and disorganized I decided not to use it. Since then we've gone in other directions. So I can't speak to your question here, hopefully other users can.

Lol to the unwieldy... this is why I'm only considering the online course. I have heard the horror stories about figuring out how to implement the text based course. .. I'm pretty sure I'd end up crying uncle! But the reviews from those who did figure it out are so good! I wonder if dd will also let me watch the lessons with her; that seems a much easier way for me to figure it out too...

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I am using LTW this year, for the first time, as I tutor CC's Ch.A. We are taking 3 weeks per essay, using a good book. ANI charts are one week and the kids are having to come up with 30 items for each area of the chart. This is really stretching them to think deeply about the book. The program itself is good/ basic, and the terms are a bit different (exordium), however, I have found it to be a good exercise to learn them as they are referenced often (I hear the term "Exordium" often this Xmas break while watching Peter Wimsey films and listening to Old Western Culture)- iow, it expands your classical vocab. 

My 7th-ish grade students are enjoying the class and their essays are developing very well. 

 

There are videos available with the 5th ed. I found these helpful. 

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Another question... what are the essays on? Are they given something broad like "a literary paper", or would it be on a specific book? Are they writing across the curriculum (history or science essays), or ??

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My dd has the basic essay form down, that's not a problem. But I thought the bolded is exactly what LToW is supposed to be so good at; it's not just rehashing how to write a 5-paragraph essay??

 

Dd needs help really thinking through her argument instead of just mailing it in, also in choosing which argument to use that she can get adequate support for that also isn't such a huge topic that she could write a 5-volume set on the topic instead of a 2+ page paper. Like she says she'd like to write a paper comparing the governments of the Old, Middle, and New Kingdoms in Ancient Egypt. Kid, that isn't an essay level topic. Distilling it down to a few pages would make it waaay too superficial.

 

 

This is very encouraging to hear. I'm hoping to sign dd up for the online class next fall. Do you like Renee Mathis as an instructor?

 

ETA: How long is the live class? I see start times at the Circe site, but can't seem to find duration. An hour, or 1.5?

Coram Deo also offers a LToW live online class - it says its classes are 1.5 hours.

I do like Renee. She is very engaging and the class time goes by pretty quickly. The class is one hour long.

 

I don't know if I said this in one of my earlier posts, but the value in this class for us has actually been in the presentation of the material, which is kind of ironic because I recently started a thread about whether online lectures were worth the time or not.

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Another question... what are the essays on? Are they given something broad like "a literary paper", or would it be on a specific book? Are they writing across the curriculum (history or science essays), or ??

They can use any book of literary value that they have read and pick their topic from that. All the papers are persuasive essays and they start out very basic. The actual essay is so basic, especially to start, I really thought the class was too easy and that I had made a mistake. It's the brainstorming process and the thinking skills they are teaching that have been so helpful to ds. And me. The teacher has not given a ton of feedback on my ds's papers either. Just minor changes, but then, I don't think there were very many things that he really needed to change, so I'm not sure if others are getting more feedback.

 

Definitely sit in on the class with your dd if you can. Or watch the videos afterwards. I saw the main point of the class and have been able to reiterate it and point it out to my son. He may not have figured that out in his own. He may have just gotten bogged down with following all the rules of the paper and missed the reason behind what he was being asked to so.

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I do like Renee. She is very engaging and the class time goes by pretty quickly. The class is one hour long.

 

I don't know if I said this in one of my earlier posts, but the value in this class for us has actually been in the presentation of the material, which is kind of ironic because I recently started a thread about whether online lectures were worth the time or not.

 

Haha, you seem to have answered your own question, at least in part.  In this case, we're doing the LToW on our own which took a lot to figure out initially.  In retrospect, it probably would have gone much smoother had ds14 taken it online.  Though hosting a local LToW teacher workshop was helpful.  I'm now wondering about next year in figuring out how much we'll do on our own vs. outsourcing.  I think certain curriculum and subject matter simply lends itself better to group interaction.  It's the combo of a live class with highly skilled teachers and peer interaction that seems to stimulate the learning learning process beyond working independently.  Though, we have to carefully select the right balance between work at home vs. private outsourcing vs. CC.  It's quite the juggling act in high school to strike the right balance.   ;)

Edited by dereksurfs
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Well, I don't want to act like this class is some sort of miracle, but my son just got his literature paper back. This class has 50 students in it and his paper was one of two picked to be read in class. And this is a kid who has really struggled with writing. No, it's not all due to LTOW, but the heavy emphasis on brainstorming has been the missing piece for him and LTOW addresses this so well. Up until now, I have had a friend who was an English major working with him on his lit papers. This is the first one he did without her and I almost emailed his teacher to let her know that since he spent about 15 hours writing this thing and I was afraid he'd give up if he got a lot of negative feedback. Now, I'm so glad I didn't do that. Well, he is walking on air and so am I. I almost cried when he showed me.

 

While I think this is great that it's working out so well for your son, I can't help but wonder about those other 49 students.  The size of the class is so large that I have a hard time imaging them all being engaged.  But maybe they are?  It's obviously a good thing you didn't let size stop you.  I guess I'm just not convinced that it would work as well for other students depending on their learning styles - just thinking out loud.  What are your thoughts on the larger size of their classes for the others?  Is there any way of telling if other students/families are struggling with the course more?

Edited by dereksurfs

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While I think this is great that it's working out so well for your son, I can't help but wonder about those other 49 students. The size of the class is so large that I have a hard time imaging them all being engaged. But maybe they are? It's obviously a good thing you didn't let size stop you. I guess I'm just not convinced that it would work as well for other students depending on their learning styles - just thinking out loud. What are your thoughts on the larger size of their classes for the others? Is there any way of telling if other students/families are struggling with the course more?

Not sure if I'm being clear. The lit class with 50 kids is actually taken locally. It's not the LTOW class. The LTOW class has less than 10 students in it.

 

And I do wish the lit class was smaller, but the teacher is so good, we've continued with it. Most of the kids who take it have parents who are very involved, so I think that helps. My kids know every book they've read in that class inside and out. It is on a 6 year cycle and this is my son and my dd's 3rd year in it and they both really like it even though it is very challenging -- they just read Paradise Lost and the paper that my son wrote was a character analysis on Satan. But that's why the positive feedback my son got was so meaningful. The teacher is tough and if she says it is a good paper, she really means it.

 

But back to the LTOW class. I'm not sure it would matter if it were a larger class. There is class participation, but it is all through the chat board. And there has not been a ton of feedback for my son on his writing, but I don't know if that is the case for everyone. I look over his work before he sends it in and usually ask him to make corrections and improvements, so maybe if I didn't do that, he would get more feedback. Like I said earlier, it has really been the presentation of the material that has been so helpful. One thing that has been a bit eye opening for me with this class is how much time is spent on very basic concepts. Sometimes when the hour is up, I can't believe we just spent a whole hour on one little concept. And that my son has been completely engaged the whole time. I have always really valued efficiency and I would never have spent an hour on things like they do in the class, but I have come to see why it's done in this class. Also, I've sometimes been surprised that something I think is very simple is such a new idea to my son that it takes him awhile to really wrap his mind around it.

 

And maybe that is part of what I was wondering about with the online math classes the other day. I feel like I can present the material in a fraction of the time that it's being done in those online classes, so they seem inefficient to me, but maybe I am really missing the value of those longer lectures. I guess it probably just comes down to the teacher and how talented he or she is at presenting the material.

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Just wondering if anyone has any new reflections on the LTOW online classes or the LTOW program itself now that the past year is done. Would you use the program again? Are there any reservations you have about it? In retrospect, did you see significant improvements in writing? 

 

 

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In looking back, I still stand by what I said about the process of invention being the missing piece for my son in the writing process and the LTOW class was perfect for helping us understand that. If I had not sat in on the class with him, I don't think he would have benefitted from that aspect as much though, because it was a revelation to me that I was able to point out to him and then emphasize in future writing assignments. I don't think he would have realized that on his own.

 

But, I'm not sure how I feel about the class beyond that. The writing remained extremely formulaic through the end of the year. I thought the class would start out with a more formulaic structure and then ease up as the year went on. The essays my son was writing by the end of the class did not seem like "real" essays and were not something I would have allowed him to turn in for any other class. They met all the requirements of the assignment, but they were pretty awful imo and yet the teacher kept saying they were fine and gave very minimal feedback. Things got hectic here in February and I stopped watching the lectures with him and focused more on using what we'd learned about invention on his papers for his lit class, so I never understood the point of keeping everything so formulaic. Maybe there is a great reason for it, but I did not sign ds up for the next level of the class. Hopefully, someone else will chime in.

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In looking back, I still stand by what I said about the process of invention being the missing piece for my son in the writing process and the LTOW class was perfect for helping us understand that. If I had not sat in on the class with him, I don't think he would have benefitted from that aspect as much though, because it was a revelation to me that I was able to point out to him and then emphasize in future writing assignments. I don't think he would have realized that on his own.

 

But, I'm not sure how I feel about the class beyond that. The writing remained extremely formulaic through the end of the year. I thought the class would start out with a more formulaic structure and then ease up as the year went on. The essays my son was writing by the end of the class did not seem like "real" essays and were not something I would have allowed him to turn in for any other class. They met all the requirements of the assignment, but they were pretty awful imo and yet the teacher kept saying they were fine and gave very minimal feedback. Things got hectic here in February and I stopped watching the lectures with him and focused more on using what we'd learned about invention on his papers for his lit class, so I never understood the point of keeping everything so formulaic. Maybe there is a great reason for it, but I did not sign ds up for the next level of the class. Hopefully, someone else will chime in.

 

Do you want the good, the bad or the ugly?   :D

 

Like OnMyOwn, We had a very mixed experience with LTOW and almost completely ditched it early on because of this.  However, after setting up and then taking a LTOW local training course we decided to commit to the process.  The end goal looked good even with the struggles we were experiencing.  Overall I do think there is value to had in the program.  However, I'm not sure I could recommend doing it on one's own especially without additional training.  IMO, it really shouldn't be this hard or involved.  We also found the end result to be less than desired especially after all the he work put into it.  Based upon our overall experience, I am doubtful we will use LTOW again with our younger children.  That's not to say it won't be great for other families. In our case, we were all very glad to be done with it by the end of the year!    ;)

Edited by dereksurfs
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Thank you for coming back to report! I've been drooling over LToW for 2 or 3 years, but haven't made the leap. It's disappointing to hear your experience. I tend to drop difficult-to-use writing courses (well...pretty much all writing courses...) I should maybe put my efforts into using the programs I already have and just getting kids to write consistently.

 

LToW using Coram Deo Tutorials is still on the table for me. 

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Has anyone used Lost Tools of Writing 2? Is it worthwhile? We used LTOW 1, and I think it does a good job of teaching the persuasive essay. I HATE that they use literature to teach the skills, but it gets the basic idea down. I just don't know if there's any point in using the second book...It serms expensive, since I can't find a used set.

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