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Okay, fess up...who has dumped Writing & Rhetoric?


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While DD and I are enjoying Fable to an extent, I'm finding the lack of explicit instruction incredibly frustrating. If seems like it's entirely on the instructor to teach students how to brainstorm and map their stories. I'm also finding that the samples are more advanced than what the instructions suggest for the writing assignments.

 

For example, with "The Hunter and the Doves" amplification, the instructions say to add description and details. No where does it say to add a cause/effect relationship (i.e. the Hunter slipping and getting his kurta caught on a branch so they Doves have a chance to escape). It is not intuitive that the child should add this degree of detail. Also, the instructions do not say to reword the entire story.

 

I feel like the program is majorly lacking in the instruction department. I don't necessarily want to dump it, but we don't have time to add something else to it.

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We dropped it halfway through last year. We started using Killgallon Sentence Composing then and added Blackbird & Company's Intro to Composition: The Essay this year. We're enjoying both far more than we did W&R. The Blackbird & Company books are rather expensive, but they are so much more effective than W&R was.

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We did sort of. My son hated it because he dislikes creative writing. I decided to put it on hold for a while. He did learn things so I think we'll go back to it in the spring. My daughter who loves creative writing thought it was easy when she overheard the lessons. She can't wait to start.

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I wish there was more to the TM than the little they include. I skipped Fable & Narrative 1 for my kid who has done Treasured Conversations but needs more time before WWS1. We're only two weeks into Narrative 2. So far, okay. Not sure I'll do any other levels. We'll see what this kid needs & where we are when we get done with this one.

 

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Well, we are taking a break. I actually really liked W&R... We did Fable and Narrative 1, and I have Narrative 2 and Chreia on the shelf... This year I just wanted to make our writing more integrated. I am loving what we are doing so much I am just not sure we will go back.

So what are you using?

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This makes me nervous! We are doing Fable but have barely begun. My son seems to like it. I've been happy so far, though I do feel direct instruction lacks. I use it more as a guide and expand where I desire. I'm a lot more comfortable teaching writing than anything else so that could be why I'm okay with it thus far at least. Thankfully my son isn't anti writing, so far it has been just enough actual writing without being too much/too little for him. I was hoping to be able to stick with it for the long haul but seeing so many give it up has me worried I'll grow to dislike it.

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Hmm, well, we are not using it this year, mostly because I went back to straight narration/copywork, partly to save money.  But we liked it, and I didn't find the instructions difficult or complicated.  I guess, I didn't particularly think there was some specific method I was supposed to be teaching as far as getting ideas together, nor did I think what my dd produced was necessarily supposed to look like their examples - it just didn't occur to me to think they should be giving me more information.

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This makes me nervous! We are doing Fable but have barely begun. My son seems to like it. I've been happy so far, though I do feel direct instruction lacks. I use it more as a guide and expand where I desire. I'm a lot more comfortable teaching writing than anything else so that could be why I'm okay with it thus far at least. Thankfully my son isn't anti writing, so far it has been just enough actual writing without being too much/too little for him. I was hoping to be able to stick with it for the long haul but seeing so many give it up has me worried I'll grow to dislike it.

 

It's so funny how our different perspectives influence our impressions. I'm a professional writer (and I manage a team of 12 writers), and I'm completely comfortable teaching writing, which is part of the reason I didn't like it!

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I did this book, http://www.amazon.com/Most-Wonderful-Writing-Lessons-Grades/dp/0590873040then went back to fable. That book gave the explicit instruction that, I agree, Writing and Rhetoric lacks. We then used Writing and Rhetoric (Fable, Narrative I and Narrative II) to practice those skills. Over and over, I felt myself frustrated with the same issue. I purchased another resource to teach outlining, for example.

 

Finally  we reached the Chreia and Proverb book and, as with all the rest of the books, found myself frustrated with the lack of actual instruction. In fact, I think it was actually worse. We were just told to do x or y and provided with examples. Any "how" was going to have to, once again, come from me.The book was also both too much and too little in terms of expectations. The sayings we were analyzing required relatively advanced thinking, yet the writing assignments were comparatively simple and absolutely repetitive.

 

We did a handful of lessons. Then I was done.

 

The description of what each new level they release purports to teach generally sounds good to me. Though I haven't seen any beyond Chreia, I expect that those things aren't really taught, though.  It's too bad, because the program is enjoyable. A really great writing program for this level and these skills needs to be written!

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We did quit with my oldest dd but the problem for us was that I put her in too low of a level. I didn't want her to miss anything but instead she was bored with the same skills she had been working on (successfully) for a few years.  Speaking of her writing, I need to bump her up in the book that we are using (School Composition).  I plan to try Writing and Rhetoric again with my younger kids at some point.

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I haven't dumped it, but none of my kids are currently using it. My oldest aged out of it, my middle one is currently taking a break (she is doing plenty of writing in her various subjects, plus she has decided to start writing her own cookbook), and my youngest is still too young. Knowing how quickly it ramps up in expectations of the student, I don't plan on starting him in it until at least 4th grade.

 

I do still like the program. I am a very parts-to-whole learner, though; so that is probably why - the books teach all the individual parts before slowly bringing them together. The program is also very discussion-based, which I like...the student basically talks through what they are going to write before they ever put pencil to paper.

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We did Fable, Narrative 1, and part of 2. We got stuck at outlining. I'm a natural writer and if I ever learned outlining, it's long gone now. We needed much more explicit instruction with that. This problem and looking ahead at the assignments in Chreia made me feel like we were not in the right place. My daughter is a very reluctant writer who needs very explicit instruction. She told me today that she is really enjoying IEW SWI-A. I am too.

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I was having a hard time finding a good fit for my DD when she was in 4th.  I think the first two books worked okay for her at that time, but I didn't like the series enough (or felt like it was going in the right direction for DD) to continue it.  She did Treasured Conversations in 5th and is doing WWS1 this year.  So far so good on WWS...she feels well prepared for it and I feel like overall thrust of the program is exactly where I want DD working.

 

Right now I am not expecting to return to it with my boys...but you never know.  I suppose it could be "the right thing at the right time" for one of the boys at some point.  I can't imagine doing the whole series though!

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My older dd was too old for it, though she did have fun with the bits she did. She already knew how to write, though, so it wasn't an issue of the instruction, she just really liked the creative assignments.  She did bits of Narrative 2, that's really it, we had to move on.

 

My younger dd liked Fable a lot at first, but I started her too young and the writing was too much for her by the end.  So now she dislikes the whole series and won't consider going back to it.  I blame myself for pushing it too soon.  She doesn't like any writing curriculum, though, and is really forcing me off the beaten path (more of a BW lifestyle) so unless something changes radically I can't see returning to it.  I did really like it for the most part. Although I thought having kids outline The Three Little Pigs was just silly. I"m with SWB, you can't outline stories the way you do nonfication/informational texts.

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We used Fable, Narrative 1, and Narrative 2 through third and fourth grade. We also continued narrations and dictations across the curriculum. We really liked the first book, then Narrative 1 was pretty good. Narrative 2 was okay. I really didn't like the outlining of the short stories; I just don't believe students need to outline other people's fiction, so after a couple of attempts I didn't require it. We do lots of outlining of non-fiction of all types in our homeschool.

 

Then it came time for Chreia, and I didnt like the look of it at all. Just not what I think we need to be doing for writing right now. I'm not really sure I want to work through the progym, actually. Refutation and Confirmation looks better to me, but we'll see.

 

I don't know. I guess there isn't a lot of instruction, that's true, it's more of a scaffolding. It's one I felt comfortable using for the first few books. It's elementary writing, and we're working on basics: making sure sentences make sense, varying them and using interesting words, reinforcing proper mechanics, and structuring paragraphs properly, things like that. To me, it gets trickier with beginning essays and constructing meaningful arguments, and we never did any of that since we didn't go past narrative. To be honest, I only had the teacher manual for Fable and never used it. I didn't feel I needed one for the narrative books, and just made up my own dictations.

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I did Fable last year with my 4th and 5th graders. It was rough to start with but went well, I thought, once we got going. I have noticed much improvement, especially, with my 5th grader. We are doing IEW-A, now, then I plan to go back to Narrative I and II. I want explicit instruction as well, but not ALL the time. Learn something, go use it, then learn something else, kwim? I think merging these 2 will work, at least, for now.

 

Dd13 was too old for it. She used WWS1 for 6th and 7th but didn't like it all. She is trying IEW-B, and I have Lively Art of Writing waiting in the wings if needed. Brave Writer has been recommended for her so I've been looking at it and may get Writer's Jungle when the budget allows.

 

I feel confident and happy with all our curriculum except writing, especially for my oldest. I guess we'll just keep trying new things until something sticks or not. I figure this is one subject that multiple resources will help not hinder so as long as the girls continue to improve, I'll try not to worry.

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I've used the first three books  of W&R and the fourth book is sitting on my shelf. The program is working well for us, mainly because my son thrives on open ended assignments. He HATES any sort of formulaic writing program as much as he hates fill in the blank worksheets and dental work. When he gets stuck on the longer writing assignments, I just read the sample from the teacher's edition and he takes off writing, usually with something completely different from the sample I read. 

 

That being said, like the previous poster, I also have plans to intersperse an IEW thematic unit every few years for more direct instruction, especially to prepare for research paper writing.

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I've used the first three books of W&R and the fourth book is sitting on my shelf. The program is working well for us, mainly because my son thrives on open ended assignments. He HATES any sort of formulaic writing program as much as he hates fill in the blank worksheets and dental work. When he gets stuck on the longer writing assignments, I just read the sample from the teacher's edition and he takes off writing, usually with something completely different from the sample I read.

 

That being said, like the previous poster, I also have plans to intersperse an IEW thematic unit every few years for more direct instruction, especially to prepare for research paper writing.

This makes me happy to read. My son sounds like yours. I'll have to check out the IEW thematic units, I assume they can be used even if you've never done IEW before?

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Well I wouldn't say my son likes W&R, but he dislikes it less than other writing. He just hates picking up a pencil for anything!

 

So, we are still doing it. It has enough structure, variety, and "bite-sized" sections that make it easier for him to handle. We have paused until we finish Grammar Town, then we will alternate W&R with MCT sentence analysis and Killgallon Story Grammar.

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I asked this in the W&R thread in the writing section, but haven't really gotten responses. Reading the sample from the instructor's guide to the student is the only way for the student to get a clear idea of what they're supposed to do and to what detail, but it feels a bit like cheating to me. (I struggled with this on "The Hunter and the Doves." I felt that if I just read the sample to DD instead of trying to guide her into including some of the types of elements they included but the directions didn't say to, we could have been done lickety-split. I didn't know what to do and it frustrated me to no end.) There needs to be age-appropriate samples that actually follow the directions for the student to read before writing. The samples need to be for other fables so they don't taint the student's own ideas.

 

I've used the first three books  of W&R and the fourth book is sitting on my shelf. The program is working well for us, mainly because my son thrives on open ended assignments. He HATES any sort of formulaic writing program as much as he hates fill in the blank worksheets and dental work. When he gets stuck on the longer writing assignments, I just read the sample from the teacher's edition and he takes off writing, usually with something completely different from the sample I read.

 

That being said, like the previous poster, I also have plans to intersperse an IEW thematic unit every few years for more direct instruction, especially to prepare for research paper writing.

 

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This makes me happy to read. My son sounds like yours. I'll have to check out the IEW thematic units, I assume they can be used even if you've never done IEW before?

 

I am going to use the US History based writing lessons, and based on the online sample sample, it looks like it should be doable.

 

I asked this in the W&R thread in the writing section, but haven't really gotten responses. Reading the sample from the instructor's guide to the student is the only way for the student to get a clear idea of what they're supposed to do and to what detail, but it feels a bit like cheating to me. (I struggled with this on "The Hunter and the Doves." I felt that if I just read the sample to DD instead of trying to guide her into including some of the types of elements they included but the directions didn't say to, we could have been done lickety-split. I didn't know what to do and it frustrated me to no end.) There needs to be age-appropriate samples that actually follow the directions for the student to read before writing. The samples need to be for other fables so they don't taint the student's own ideas.

 

There is no one size fits all writing program. Now that you've done a few lessons in W&R, you may want to reread the introduction in the Teacher's Edition and reacquaint yourself with the author's philosophy. If you don't agree with him, ditch the program. The W&R program is not a scaffolded writing program, which involves a lot of direct instruction and teacher interaction. My son had a steady diet of programs like that in public school and he withered. 

 

To clarify, I don't automatically read the example every time there's a writing exercise. And when I do, I never get a writing sample from my son that is just the example regurgitated. I've never even had to address the issue. 

 

The last time I read the example to help my son was in Narrative II. The assignment was to write three different "hooks" for "The Fifth Labor of Hercules." The first hook was to write a physical description of Hercules, the second was to write a dialogue between Eurystheus and Hercules, the third was to write a sensory description of the stables. I had my son choose two of the three.

 

For some reason, he was stumped about the dialogue, so I read him the example from the TE which portrayed a very hostile and angry Eurystheus and Hercules. My son lit up and wrote a dialogue that portrayed and befuddled Eurystheus and and extremely cocky Hercules. His dialogue was also humorous, very different than the TE example. It was also perfectly punctuated. He also write about the stables, I didn't have to give any guidance, he automatically plugged in a lot of description and sensory details. The writing time exercises really help with a lot of the nitty-gritty details like punctuation and description when he sits down and writes longer paragraphs. If you stick with W&R, you just have to trust the process.

 

For me, I've noticed that reading the examples are not cheating, rather they point the way to go and set a high standard for writing. For my son, they are springboards to creativity.

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I don't read to them the examples beforehand. Dd comes up with her own writing and enjoys listening to the examples afterwards, it helps her to think of other ideas for future writings. She is good at writing though, curious to see how other dd will do with this program, writing doesn't come easy to her. However, not ditching it yet...curious to see what the next levels bring (we've only done fable).

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My DD does as well. I also print out student samples from the writing section here. DD likes hearing what other kids her age have written.

 

I don't read to them the examples beforehand. Dd comes up with her own writing and enjoys listening to the examples afterwards, it helps her to think of other ideas for future writings. She is good at writing though, curious to see how other dd will do with this program, writing doesn't come easy to her. However, not ditching it yet...curious to see what the next levels bring (we've only done fable).

 

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I asked this in the W&R thread in the writing section, but haven't really gotten responses. Reading the sample from the instructor's guide to the student is the only way for the student to get a clear idea of what they're supposed to do and to what detail, but it feels a bit like cheating to me. (I struggled with this on "The Hunter and the Doves." I felt that if I just read the sample to DD instead of trying to guide her into including some of the types of elements they included but the directions didn't say to, we could have been done lickety-split. I didn't know what to do and it frustrated me to no end.) There needs to be age-appropriate samples that actually follow the directions for the student to read before writing. The samples need to be for other fables so they don't taint the student's own ideas.

 

It actually never occurred to me to read the samples to my kids. I just used them to evaluate what my kids wrote or give them hints about what to include if they got stuck. The samples were obviously written by an adult to illustrate the elements that should be included, but my kids don't write like adults yet, so my goal was never to get writing like the samples. Now, if they had included samples written by children, that would have been a more helpful tool for evaluation. But I still don't think I would have read it to my kids...the samples showcase the author's voice, so it won't be like my kids' writing, and it shouldn't be. I want my kids to have their own voice, not change it to follow a textbook author's voice.

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I dumped it temporarily, perhaps permanently.

 

It was fun, and my dd looooved it, but I don't think it challenged her enough. And as a teacher, I needed more handholding to give better direct instruction. I think I was captivated by the charming graphics and eye-catching fonts, so we carried on. I'm a sucker for things like that. (Side note: All About Spelling products also have this effect on me. We have since dropped them, but they sure were easy on the eyes!)

 

We are currently working through "The Most Wonderful Writing Lessons" book by Mariconda, and it has been surprisingly good. My dd loves writing fiction, and this resource discusses many pitfalls that children fall into as writers--extraneous details, lack of description for key characters/settings, boring beginnings that don't grab the readers attention, etc. For us it has been a great fit, and I feel like we're having great discussions that she can apply directly to her own writing.

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We dropped Fable at the beginning of last year after the first two lessons. It was just that awful. We ran back to WWE with fresh perspective. We are so thankful for WWE!

 

My oldest finished up the last bit of WWE 3 last year, wrote across the curriculum (History, Science, Literature), wrote letters to family & friends, and is doing well with WWS 1 (slowly) this year for 5th Grade.

 

I wish I hadn't wasted the money on W & R, but at least I only bought Fable & Narrative I. :tongue_smilie: We gave those away to a homeschool library, for some other poor student to suffer through. I couldn't wait to get them out of my house! HTH.

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We dropped Fable at the beginning of last year after the first two lessons. It was just that awful. We ran back to WWE with fresh perspective. We are so thankful for WWE!

 

My oldest finished up the last bit of WWE 3 last year, wrote across the curriculum (History, Science, Literature), wrote letters to family & friends, and is doing well with WWS 1 (slowly) this year for 5th Grade.

 

I wish I hadn't wasted the money on W & R, but at least I only bought Fable & Narrative I. :tongue_smilie: We gave those away to a homeschool library, for some other poor student to suffer through. I couldn't wait to get them out of my house! HTH.

 

I guess that shows that different things work for different people.  My dd and I both really hated WWE, dd and I both found it terribly boring and repetitive.  But we liked W&R Fable (we haven't used any others.)

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We're currently using W&R. However, we're using it a bit differently. our 12 and 11 year old had only been exposed to profoundly formulaic writing in their previous school. So I got the Fable TM for them, and we went through an entire lesson in one sitting, a couple times a week. I read the fable to the two of them out loud, and then we orally worked on some of the exercises. We'd finish up by doing a writing exercise - usually either summarizing or amplifying a fable. It was great exercise for them, and I appreciated that the instruction wasn't overly detailed in every detail. It was very easy for met to scan over the chapter and select the skills that my kiddos needed to exercise. We're going through Narrative I in the same way, and will hopefully continue on to Narrative II this school year. Eventually we'll need to slow down and take more than one sitting to cover a chapter. But for now, it is delightful for the kiddos to be pumping out writing assignments in something other than the super stilted formulaic style that we were seeing before.  

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Jumping in a little late here, but I wanted to comment since we are still continuing to enjoy the W&R series.

 

This answer is going to sound really lazy, but I honestly didn't make my dd do that much work with her stories in Fable.

 

hen she had a rewrite or an amplification I'd talk over the elements she needed to make sure and include, but I didn't make her map it out or anything. We would brainstorm ideas together and talk it through. For example the rewrite of the Mice Council we brainstormed a bit about what animals/situations would work well together. Usually she'd pick random animal that she liked because she wanted to write about that animal, so then I'd start asking her questions. "What would your other animal be?" "How could you make those two animals fit the formula of the fable?" "Would that really work or should you choose another animal?" If her choice was a go, then she'd go off and write it. If her choice wouldn't really work, I would slowly lead her to that realization through questioning and she'd pick another animal that was a better choice as her jumping off point.

 

For amplifications it was much more simple. I'd help her brainstorm where she could add in extra details. Some of that is in the book anyway, but I'd have her start talking to me about what additional details she would add just to make sure she was on the right track, and then send her off to write.

 

So I guess ours was more of a questioning method of instruction, but I really let her lead the direction even if sometimes I was inwardly rolling my eyes thinking, "There are so many better choices for that rewrite," or "It would have been so much better to amplify it this way,"  but ultimately this method has worked with her. By the time we finished Fable she had really found her voice and her writing became very descriptive, tight, and imaginative. It was night and day between the beginning of the book and the end. We started Narrative II this summer and are about to finish it up. I've seen Grace's writing continue to grow by leaps and bounds. My mom even took one of her stories from Narrative II back to her school district to show the language arts teachers how W & R was teaching writing. She was really impressed with Grace's work.

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We dropped it after 2 weeks. I felt it was undoing everything we'd learned in WWE & I found that one week it wanted you to write a simple summary {as taught in WWE} & another week it wanted you to add fluff & detail to it. I did NOT like it. So I simply shelved it {sold it eventually} & brought out WWE. My child's response was, "There was so much less work in W&R." No regrets in switching back at all.

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We did Fable and got halfway through 3/4 the way through Narrative I before calling it quits. Just wasn't a good fit for us. 

I'm still on the fence about what to use this year. He's taking a WTM Academy history class that year that seems like it will have a decent amount of writing required, so I'm waiting to see if that might be enough to suffice for right now. If he needs more I think we'll go back and finish Narrative I since there are only 3 lessons left in the book, then move on to supplementing his history writing with Killgallon. 

The Blackbird and Company essay program looks intriguing as well; I'll have to keep my eye on it when deciding what to do next. 
 

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