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Brave writer or something else for 1st?


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Well, I am beginning to make plans for my youngest for first next year....so my answer for her is BraveWriter. I used WWE 1 with my other 2, and honestly it works. It's good. Basically, I think good literature, copywork and narration are the foundations for that age...so how you accomplish that is up to you. After browsing through the samples of The Quiver of Arrows it looks perfect for that age.

 

A few years ago we did a lot of BW and then I panicked a little and moved away. Well, this year we are back and having a wonderful year. If the BW philosophy resonates with you-- Quiver of Arrows and Jot it Down look like they will make for a wonderful first grade writing program. We will also add phonics, and I haven't decided on adding any handwriting-- maybe only for the days there is no copywork...

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Honestly, I'd do only casual writing (notes, lists, nature journals, making up little stories or books together with you scribing what your child says etc...) rather than a program in 1st grade. I prefer to focus on reading and handwriting, add spelling on when they are ready, and build up skills before using a formal writing program. But if you really want something, BW would have some casual things to do (I might use some of the BW lifestyle suggestions like Tuesday Tea, for example). Here's an article on planning language arts that might help as you consider what to focus on this year. Have fun! 

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Honestly, I'd do only casual writing (notes, lists, nature journals, making up little stories or books together with you scribing what your child says etc...) rather than a program in 1st grade. I prefer to focus on reading and handwriting, add spelling on when they are ready, and build up skills before using a formal writing program. But if you really want something, BW would have some casual things to do (I might use some of the BW lifestyle suggestions like Tuesday Tea, for example). Here's an article on planning language arts that might help as you consider what to focus on this year. Have fun! 

 

The BW Jot It Down book which the OP mentioned basically takes ideas like that and turns them into projects - one per month. So it's asking kids to do their own oral fairy tale retelling that the parent scribes and the kid illustrates or make their own little nature journal or whatever. I have to admit that I don't know what all of them are - that came out too late for my boys to really use. But it's not a "writing program" the way that one might think of it. It's mostly scribing and pre-writing skills.

 

OP, if BW appeals to you and you've had a chance to read some of Julie's blog and/or emails, then I'd get either a few titles from the Quiver of Arrows or Jot It Down to start with. And then I'd go from there. If it's working, I'd consider getting something else, but definitely don't buy the whole hog with BW when you're starting out. Pick one thing, if it works, add another.

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The BW Jot It Down book which the OP mentioned basically takes ideas like that and turns them into projects - one per month. So it's asking kids to do their own oral fairy tale retelling that the parent scribes and the kid illustrates or make their own little nature journal or whatever. I have to admit that I don't know what all of them are - that came out too late for my boys to really use. But it's not a "writing program" the way that one might think of it. It's mostly scribing and pre-writing skills.

 

It came out too late for us too, but I figured it was probably pretty gentle. If one can avoid feeling like they have to "keep up," it can be good to have some resources available, though not always necessary. I mainly like to focus on building-block skills and reading aloud in first grade. 

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We used Jot it Down in first grade and it was excellent. You do not need TWJ yet.

 

We are doing the Arrow this year, but I am glad we did not do it in first -- it is listed as grades 3-6. We did WWE instead. Bravewriter has a level called the Wand that is for k-2 and sounds like it would be a more appropriate level for grade 1 (rather than the Arrow).

 

You can buy through the homeschool buyers co-op and save 25-50% depending on the product: https://www.homeschoolbuyersco-op.org/brave-writer/?source=130827

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I am a bit confused with all the different products.  I have looked at them many times.  I have gotten Julie's email for a few years and have always appreciated the reminders to just do something fun (read: relax. the kids are learning).

 

Anyone care to elaborate on her offerings?

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I am a bit confused with all the different products.  I have looked at them many times.  I have gotten Julie's email for a few years and have always appreciated the reminders to just do something fun (read: relax. the kids are learning).

 

Anyone care to elaborate on her offerings?

 

Sure. Brave Writer has different categories of products.

 

The Big Picture Program:

The Writer's Jungle - basically a book about the philosophy and ideas about how to implement it, covers all ages, but is especially focused on students who are already writing independently

 

The Project Books:

*These also summarize a lot of the information in The Writer's Jungle...

Jot It Down - one project a month for kids who aren't writing independently (or aren't writing much) (1st-3rdish grades)

Partnership Writing - one project a month for kids who are writing a little but need lots of support (3rdish-5thish grades)

Faltering Ownership - one project a month for kids who are writing more independently (5thish-7thish grades)

 

Help for High School - this book is a little different, older than the others, written to the student, specifically about expository essays

 

The Writing Mechanics/Literature Supplements:

* These all teach writing mechanics through a single book per month - there is a dictation passage per week for each book as well as an additional assignment and guidance for discussion or a literary element to explore - these are thin but meaty if you really do them.

The Quiver of Arrows - an easier version of The Arrow (1stish-3rdish grades if kids are writing comfortably)

The Arrow - using middle grades novels and chapter books

The Pouch of Boomerangs - an easier version of The Boomerang (5thish-7thish grades - for kids who are beyond the Arrow books but not ready for some of the harder Boomerang books)

The Boomerang - using upper middle grades, young adult, and some classic novels (6thish-9thish grades)

 

The Impossible to Explain Thing:

The Wand - So, this one is hard for me to explain. It's for K-2nd grade. When I looked through it, I felt it was clearly a gentle introduction to writing mechanics and some literature stuff for kids who were learning to read. But Julie says no, it's a phonics program. Frankly, I don't fully see that. There's some phonics stuff in there, but there is not nearly enough from what I saw to teach a child to read - more like a nice supplement to whatever you're using to teach the child to read. There was copywork, little lessons about punctuation, teaching about letter sounds and spelling, etc. all based on picture books and some easy readers. I think it's good to note that it also has a different author than the rest of the program.

 

So, to give you an example... A 7 yo who has learned to write a little and can read a little might do Jot It Down projects and the Quiver of Arrows for copywork. A 10 yo who is a really good writer and reader might do Faltering Ownership for projects and The Boomerang for dictation. And then all kids doing BW would do the other BW lifestyle elements, which are discussed in the project books and The Writer's Jungle - so poetry teas, a movie night, narration, etc. etc.

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Thank you so much Farrar!  

How do you think The Quiver of Arrows compares to SWB's Writing with Ease?  I'll be frank.  I didn't do a lot of reading instruction with Robby last year for K.  I started off the K year with OPGTR and it didn't progress well.  I decided to just give him time.  He has had some speech delays and thought perhaps it was related.  We are working hard with phonics again and honestly don't know if it is making much difference.  I keep telling myself he is only 6 and he will read, eventually.  Anyways, I have him write a single line from our current poem each day.  The first two weeks we worked on writing/illustrating The Caterpillar by Christiana Rossetti.  This was in FLL Level 1.  Our second poem that we've worked on this week is Edward Lear There Was An Old Lady of France.  This was a suggestion from Pam Barnhill's Your Morning Basket podcast.  I truly believe copywork and poetry are valuable and only three weeks in have seen fruits.  So how much writing/reading do the students need to be able to do to complete these (Quiver of Arrows and Jot It Down) well? 

 

I saw The Wand on her blog recently, but couldn't understand it either.  I think I'll pass on that.  

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The Impossible to Explain Thing:

The Wand - So, this one is hard for me to explain. It's for K-2nd grade. When I looked through it, I felt it was clearly a gentle introduction to writing mechanics and some literature stuff for kids who were learning to read. But Julie says no, it's a phonics program. Frankly, I don't fully see that. There's some phonics stuff in there, but there is not nearly enough from what I saw to teach a child to read - more like a nice supplement to whatever you're using to teach the child to read. There was copywork, little lessons about punctuation, teaching about letter sounds and spelling, etc. all based on picture books and some easy readers. I think it's good to note that it also has a different author than the rest of the program.

 

I'm using the Wand with my first graders (started about halfway through K).  There is phonics, but it's supplemental phonics.  My oldest really needed direct phonics instruction to get reading, and she didn't read for pleasure until she had enough "school" reading that it wasn't a struggle anymore.  I don't think she would've gotten much out of The Wand.

 

My twins, on the other hand, took off reading not long after they learned CVC and then long-vowel words.  I guess they figured they could do anything their big sister could.  :-)  The Level 2 and 3 Wand selections use passages from the books as jumping-off points to talk about some of the phonics patterns that my first-graders have encountered but not really learned as rules (e.g. vowel teams "ou" and "ow", "au" and "aw" and the "-tch" vs "ch" and "-dge" vs. "-ge" endings.)  There's a whole system using Post-It notes as manipulatives for the phonics, but it didn't work well for us because the Post-Its stopped being sticky after a few uses and ended up everywhere.  So we just write stuff out with window markers and talk about it.  There's a bit of grammar and a bit about literary devices that we discuss from time to time too.  We skip the spelling because I already have AAS and will be starting that after finishing The Wand.  We alternate the copywork and French dictation assignments with Zaner-Bloser handwriting because they need more practice forming letters correctly.  I mostly use The Wand for the phonics, and it's a nice way to talk about those rules before we get to them in spelling and without using an intensive reading program that would be overkill for these particular kids.

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Thank you so much Farrar!  

 

How do you think The Quiver of Arrows compares to SWB's Writing with Ease?  I'll be frank.  I didn't do a lot of reading instruction with Robby last year for K.  I started off the K year with OPGTR and it didn't progress well.  I decided to just give him time.  He has had some speech delays and thought perhaps it was related.  We are working hard with phonics again and honestly don't know if it is making much difference.  I keep telling myself he is only 6 and he will read, eventually.  Anyways, I have him write a single line from our current poem each day.  The first two weeks we worked on writing/illustrating The Caterpillar by Christiana Rossetti.  This was in FLL Level 1.  Our second poem that we've worked on this week is Edward Lear There Was An Old Lady of France.  This was a suggestion from Pam Barnhill's Your Morning Basket podcast.  I truly believe copywork and poetry are valuable and only three weeks in have seen fruits.  So how much writing/reading do the students need to be able to do to complete these (Quiver of Arrows and Jot It Down) well? 

 

I saw The Wand on her blog recently, but couldn't understand it either.  I think I'll pass on that.  

 

I have the QofA and have looked through it but not used it yet.  I used WWE1 and WWE2 with my older daughter.  I'd say that the QofA is in between WWE1 and WWE2 as far as difficulty.  It has copywork as well as fill-in-the-blank dictation exercises.  There is discussion of some of the techniques the writer uses, but there aren't any questions about the content of the book and there isn't any oral or written narration.  (However, if you're using SOTW for history, the activity guide has questions and narration prompts for each section, so you could easily skip WWE and do this type of work for history.)

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Thank you so much Farrar!  

 

How do you think The Quiver of Arrows compares to SWB's Writing with Ease?  I'll be frank.  I didn't do a lot of reading instruction with Robby last year for K.  I started off the K year with OPGTR and it didn't progress well.  I decided to just give him time.  He has had some speech delays and thought perhaps it was related.  We are working hard with phonics again and honestly don't know if it is making much difference.  I keep telling myself he is only 6 and he will read, eventually.  Anyways, I have him write a single line from our current poem each day.  The first two weeks we worked on writing/illustrating The Caterpillar by Christiana Rossetti.  This was in FLL Level 1.  Our second poem that we've worked on this week is Edward Lear There Was An Old Lady of France.  This was a suggestion from Pam Barnhill's Your Morning Basket podcast.  I truly believe copywork and poetry are valuable and only three weeks in have seen fruits.  So how much writing/reading do the students need to be able to do to complete these (Quiver of Arrows and Jot It Down) well? 

 

I saw The Wand on her blog recently, but couldn't understand it either.  I think I'll pass on that.  

 

I think all the BW dictation programs are much more gentle and flexible than the WWE books. I've never used WWE, but I have seen it. For one thing, the model of dictation is different. BW uses prepared dictation - kids are taught the passage beforehand and are to read it and study it before the dictation. Additionally, BW suggests using "French" dictation where some words are filled in for the student to give clues and facilitate the passage. Finally, part of the BW philosophy is to try and bring as many things together at once, so the dictation is from the literature book, the learning about literature is from the book, the learning about mechanics is from the book, etc. As a result, the learning is completely spiral and holistic. You cover different things circling around and around. All that is different from WWE where the books are broken into bits (passages to copy and dictate) and the knowledge is extremely step by step, not spiral.

 

Kids do not need to be doing any writing really to do Jot It Down. That's what Jot It Down means - that the parent can do all the writing for the child if need be. The focus is on narration, but also on just fostering an appreciation of stories, of language, etc. I think kids who can write a word or two will likely get more out of it, but it's not a real prerequisite.

 

As for the Quiver, I have to admit that I haven't seen them - only the sample page and, of course, the actual Arrows. I think a child would need to be comfortable writing a couple of sentences (even as copywork) without a fuss. So, when I say comfortable, not just capable when pushed, but able to copy a couple of short sentences in a short time happily. You would build up to more and to dictation by using the Quiver.

 

Two things I'll add... One, I don't think The Wand is bad at all. I just didn't use it and a lot of the BW things are hard to really get until you've used them. Two, we don't use The Arrow anymore, in part because we used a few and that was enough to teach me to do dictation in the style of The Arrow. So that's what we do now. Just something to think about when buying. It's easy to get a few issues of the Arrow (or the Quiver Arrows) and then see if you will want more.

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I think all the BW dictation programs are much more gentle and flexible than the WWE books. I've never used WWE, but I have seen it. For one thing, the model of dictation is different. BW uses prepared dictation - kids are taught the passage beforehand and are to read it and study it before the dictation. Additionally, BW suggests using "French" dictation where some words are filled in for the student to give clues and facilitate the passage. Finally, part of the BW philosophy is to try and bring as many things together at once, so the dictation is from the literature book, the learning about literature is from the book, the learning about mechanics is from the book, etc. As a result, the learning is completely spiral and holistic. You cover different things circling around and around. All that is different from WWE where the books are broken into bits (passages to copy and dictate) and the knowledge is extremely step by step, not spiral.

 

Kids do not need to be doing any writing really to do Jot It Down. That's what Jot It Down means - that the parent can do all the writing for the child if need be. The focus is on narration, but also on just fostering an appreciation of stories, of language, etc. I think kids who can write a word or two will likely get more out of it, but it's not a real prerequisite.

 

As for the Quiver, I have to admit that I haven't seen them - only the sample page and, of course, the actual Arrows. I think a child would need to be comfortable writing a couple of sentences (even as copywork) without a fuss. So, when I say comfortable, not just capable when pushed, but able to copy a couple of short sentences in a short time happily. You would build up to more and to dictation by using the Quiver.

 

Two things I'll add... One, I don't think The Wand is bad at all. I just didn't use it and a lot of the BW things are hard to really get until you've used them. Two, we don't use The Arrow anymore, in part because we used a few and that was enough to teach me to do dictation in the style of The Arrow. So that's what we do now. Just something to think about when buying. It's easy to get a few issues of the Arrow (or the Quiver Arrows) and then see if you will want more.

 

 

These sound amazing!  (I don't need more curriculum though.)

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These sound amazing!  (I don't need more curriculum though.)

 

Hehe. If doing dictation a different way appeals to you, look at the sample Arrow and see if you like it. Like I said, one of the cool things is that you can get a few Arrow issues and then get the hang of DIYing it.

 

And one of the neat things about Jot It Down (or the other project books) is that it can go well with another program, particularly something like WWE which is focused more on mechanics.

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I just listened to her podcast on Jot It Down.  Excellent.  http://blog.bravewriter.com/2012/05/30/03-jot-it-down-stage-of-development/

 

I want to email this to my husband and mother-in-law so perhaps they will do this "Jot It Down" method when they are spending time with Robby and as our other children grow.  We already take narration of stories he tells us in his journal, but I don't do it spontaneously.  I am looking at it on Homeschool Buyers CoOp now.  

 

I think perhaps we could buy Jot It Down and then buy Quiver of Arrows next year.  I am interested in learning more about French Dictation.  I've heard that referenced before and never had time or the gumption to research it.  Now I do.

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Hehe. If doing dictation a different way appeals to you, look at the sample Arrow and see if you like it. Like I said, one of the cool things is that you can get a few Arrow issues and then get the hang of DIYing it.

 

And one of the neat things about Jot It Down (or the other project books) is that it can go well with another program, particularly something like WWE which is focused more on mechanics.

 

 

I going to try some French dictations this week with dd.  I'll stick with DIY b/c it all sounds very CM and I know CM well.  The Fr. style adds another layer to the "studied" part of the studied dictations, and might be well worth it.

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Well gosh, I've been considering BW for awhile, I must have been on the website six or seven times over the past year. And now that I understand the different components better (thank you, Farrar!) I've finally been lured in.

 

So I'd love opinions, from anyone who's used the program. My DD6 is pretty advanced verbally and creatively, she comes up with cool metaphors and fun poems and I think she's a natural storyteller. I'd love to develop that, and give her a sense of self-confidence...Since she's young I guess we should go with Jot it Down. But even though the projects in the sample look sweet, they almost feel like busywork to me, I'm not sure I understand how they help a child progress with creating his own stories. DD is already able to organize her thoughts pretty well, and summarize stories she's read, which from the little I've seen seems to be the main point of these activities.

 

I've looked over the Partnership Stage samples as well, and even though I'm sure parts would be too advanced, from what I've seen there's a lot that DD would enjoy. It would also give us an opportunity to work on her handwriting and introductory grammar in a fun way, and maybe get her to the next stage in creating her own stories. But at this point she's only writing a sentence or two here and there, things like short letters to family (or to the tooth fairy) and her handwriting is atrocious (especially when she tries to write quickly), and we haven't even started to consider working on spelling or grammar. Would it be a mistake to start with Partnership at this age, even if I tried to tailor it younger? Or should I stick with Jot It Down and add in some partnership writing techniques to help her start writing down some of the stories and poems she narrates now? Thoughts?

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