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Writing Curriculum - which one fits this description?

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DS13 (will be in 8th next year) wants a writing curriculum that will teach him step by step how to write each type of essay. He would love a formula or a,b,c checklist.

He understands outlining (dislikes doing it, but can), can find the main idea in a paragraph, can summarize well from a fiction piece (non-fiction seems harder for him). We did WWE 1-3, then tried WWS (not a good fit). We tried EIW, not for us, seemed like busywork and not secular.

He does not like writing "stories" like my favorite field trip or the like. Most likely headed to some sort of STEM field (interested in chem and math), so looking at academic writing.


One of his main issues is lack of sentence variety (using Killgallon for this). He was tested and his reading comp was 12th grade level and vocab was 10th-12th. So not for lack of knowing the words. Just more of writing is something subjective versus a "right" answer and hesitant to "make a mistake". I do not use writing as a time to teach handwriting or spelling (we edit after thoughts are down on paper, or typed as the case may be).


The past few months we have been using Killgallon a couple days a week and then using articles found online (last one was on GMOs from Scientific American Magazine) to practice summarizing without using direct quotes (something he struggled with when doing research papers). Recently we have started working on just writing a thesis for a persuasive essay. 


I could probably come up with something myself, but I have several other curriculum to plan for next year and would love something open and go.


Something secular only please. Reusable preferred, figure at least one of the sibs may use it. 


Is Lively Art of Writing the answer? (I was kind of planning this for 9th, but we could use it in 8th)

I have never tried IEW, do they provide this sort of "formula" ?? If so, what do I need to teach it???

Purdue's OWL (Online Writing Lab)? Probably not all of it, but some.

Something else I haven't seen?



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Not a program, but you may want to read the book Engaging Ideas by John Bean.  One of the things it discusses is the writing is an extension of thinking and until thinking is clear, there is no formula/format/checklist in the world that will make up for it.


Other interesting books about teaching/learning writing are Habits of the Creative Mind and They Say/I Say.

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Help for High School from Bravewriter teaches two forms of essay--open and closed.  Open are essays that present material and several sides of an argument.  Closed are essays that argue for a specific point of view.  


He can take the class as well--it's pretty good.  DD took it in 8th grade, or maybe at the end of 7th--I can't remember which.

Edited by Carol in Cal.
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I had my kids do lots and lots of logic.  They tell me that really helped with their writing, even the mathematical logic they did.  


They also did a variety of writing programs, sometimes overlapping, sometimes not, all of some, parts of some, etc.  The main thing with my own kids was that when I saw a problem with the curr that I couldn't work around, we moved on to the next one.  Ex.  When we tried IEW, the kids enjoyed most of it, but hated sitting in front of videos, and hated the 'forced' feeling they got with it.  (And this would vary greatly with families and kids.)


Another thing that helped our dc was to do a variety of programs with different emphases - some creative, some technical, etc. - not all at the same time, maybe alternating with some overlap.




Not only speech but also debate helped my children's writing improve. And I "made" mine do many proofs in geometry. Time spent on logic is never wasted IMO. 

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For teaching sentence variety and a formulaic approach, I highly recommend IEW.


I have never used the student intensives. Instead, I worked through the teacher materials and then developed my own courses. I've also used their thematic books. All this to say that I'm not sure which types of essays are covered in which materials. I do know that it's helpful to have a strong understanding of essay structure before taking "The Elegant Essay." "Windows to the World" covers literary analysis essay.


From time to time, IEW does include Christian content.

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I learn so much from this board. Seriously, still learning things even after almost 3 years.


After rereading your description of your son's abilities, the Jensen's format writing book seems more like what you will need. I am so pleased to now know about it!


The Paragraph Book series does the same thing, but it is for remediating middle school kids and would probably be too youngish for him. I use it for my son who needs help with writing (he is on the spectrum and struggles).


If I end up homeschooling high school, the Jensen book will be on my list. Thanks to the posters who suggested it!

Edited by Jyhwkmama
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