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Writing strands vs Winning with Writing


Nam2001
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Hi ladies,

 I am considering using writing strands or winning with writing for my fifth grade daughter this year. Can anyone who is familiar with both of them tell me what they think the strengths of one is over the other? 

Thanks! 

 

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I don't know of anyone who has used both, but here is why we picked Writing Strands(old version) this year after coming from a more detailed writing plan last year:

1. It's gentle.  There are built-in times to self-critique and it calls for breaks between assignments to reflect on writing before diving into the next piece.
2. It's not rigid.  There is a lot of guidance expected from the parent, but that's not written in the book.  It's just what happens as you discuss the piece each day.

I did not consider the newer version to be a viable option in our house, so I can't give you that.  And we have tried Writing Strands in the past, but between a reluctant writer and my uncertainty in how to help him, it was not the right program for him.  Detailed days were best for him.  Different kid, different needs, though, and Writing Strands seems to be what he needs this year.

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We haven’t used Writing Strands, but we have use Winning with Writing.  To me, it is very public schooly, independent, and did cover all the bases.  It’s not exciting, but it gets the job done - kind of like Essentials in Writing without the videos.

We used level 8, along with the matching grammar and  spelling / vocab program. 

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2 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

I don't know of anyone who has used both, but here is why we picked Writing Strands(old version) this year after coming from a more detailed writing plan last year:

1. It's gentle.  There are built-in times to self-critique and it calls for breaks between assignments to reflect on writing before diving into the next piece.
2. It's not rigid.  There is a lot of guidance expected from the parent, but that's not written in the book.  It's just what happens as you discuss the piece each day.

I did not consider the newer version to be a viable option in our house, so I can't give you that.  And we have tried Writing Strands in the past, but between a reluctant writer and my uncertainty in how to help him, it was not the right program for him.  Detailed days were best for him.  Different kid, different needs, though, and Writing Strands seems to be what he needs this year.

Thanks! 

Do you mind me asking why the new version wasn’t an option for you? I know they are quite different but just curious. 

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11 minutes ago, Nam2001 said:

Thanks! 

Do you mind me asking why the new version wasn’t an option for you? I know they are quite different but just curious. 

Writing Strands was secular.  The way it is set up now, not only does it dumb down the writing but it creates nonsense work on the off weeks. New level Beginning 1 is a hybrid of old level 2 and Reading Strands.  Level 2 was meant for the beginning writer, about age 7 or 8.  New Beginning 1 is marketed toward the age span of 5th-8th grade, but with the same, now very gentle, work meant for a beginning writer. From their site:

Designed for students who can independently write simple sentences (5th - 8th grade),

The off weeks have two pieces to read: a bible story and an assigned book.  The assignments do not go into literary elements, as would be appropriate for a 5th-8th grader, but ask questions like "were the characters (Adam & Eve) right or wrong in what they did?  What advice would you give them?  Do you know people in real life who act the same way?" and for the book, "What is the message of the book?  Does it agree with the message the bible teaches?"  And yet doesn't offer any instruction for the student in how to figure out what a book is about.

I'm not a fan of the way they took the driving ideas of Writing Strands and tossed them out the window to do a Mock Christian attempt at the work.  This smacks of pseudo-Christianity, written to appeal to the pocketbook instead of the integrity of the product.

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2 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

Writing Strands was secular.  The way it is set up now, not only does it dumb down the writing but it creates nonsense work on the off weeks. New level Beginning 1 is a hybrid of old level 2 and Reading Strands.  Level 2 was meant for the beginning writer, about age 7 or 8.  New Beginning 1 is marketed toward the age span of 5th-8th grade, but with the same, now very gentle, work meant for a beginning writer. From their site:

Designed for students who can independently write simple sentences (5th - 8th grade),

The off weeks have two pieces to read: a bible story and an assigned book.  The assignments do not go into literary elements, as would be appropriate for a 5th-8th grader, but ask questions like "were the characters (Adam & Eve) right or wrong in what they did?  What advice would you give them?  Do you know people in real life who act the same way?" and for the book, "What is the message of the book?  Does it agree with the message the bible teaches?"  And yet doesn't offer any instruction for the student in how to figure out what a book is about.

I'm not a fan of the way they took the driving ideas of Writing Strands and tossed them out the window to do a Mock Christian attempt at the work.  This smacks of pseudo-Christianity, written to appeal to the pocketbook instead of the integrity of the product.

Thanks for this review. Very helpful! 

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That sounded a bit more bitter than I meant it to, sorry.
The original WS was meant for someone who was more a natural writer or a more natural teacher in this area than either my oldest and I were 12 years ago.  I could have used it as a kid and been fine, which is part of why we ended up using it for two and a half books before I realized my son was truly struggling with the concepts and needed more explicit teaching and handholding than I knew how to give at the time (progym and classical styles ended up being perfect for him!).  It wasn't the fault of the program that it didn't work for that kid, though, and its instruction style is why we are returning to it now for a different kid.

I would strongly encourage you to think about what your student needs: day by day handholding, a looser instruction method, time or skill intensive, teacher intensive, which skills are important to work on this year...all of that and more, and then find a program that meets that and you can be confident in.

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