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A question about Writing Strands


Elizabeth86
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I'm still struggling to decide what to do for writing for my son's 4th grade year.  I haven't particularly  been too concerned with following TWTM, but I thought I'd check it out from the library again to see what it said for writing for this age.  I see that she lists Writing Strands as an option for 4th grade.  I have looked at it a bit, but I'm struggling to be sure what writing strands.  From my understanding there is an original form the 80's?, a new version published by Master Books and I also see MFW has their own version called Writing Skills for Today which I think I understand is more like the original.  I feel confused?  So, which one does the TWTM mean?  Also, if you are a fan of writing strands, which do you prefer and why? I think it is the one put out my Master Books, BUT I've been looking at curriculum a lot today so I could be confused.

Thanks

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I prefer the original  Writing Strands. And that would be the ones TWTM refers to.

The original just teaches writing, and it does a fine job of it. Nothing fancy; no focus on putting everything into paragraphs; no rules like every paragraph MUST HAVE at least three sentences, or that there must be [insert favorite number] of rough drafts, or long checklists that are used for every.single.thing the dc have to write; just...writing. The things the children learn in WS can be applied to everything they write.

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On 1/15/2020 at 1:19 PM, Elizabeth86 said:

I'm still struggling to decide what to do for writing for my son's 4th grade year.  I haven't particularly  been too concerned with following TWTM, but I thought I'd check it out from the library again to see what it said for writing for this age.  I see that she lists Writing Strands as an option for 4th grade.  I have looked at it a bit, but I'm struggling to be sure what writing strands.  From my understanding there is an original form the 80's?, a new version published by Master Books and I also see MFW has their own version called Writing Skills for Today which I think I understand is more like the original.  I feel confused?  So, which one does the TWTM mean?  Also, if you are a fan of writing strands, which do you prefer and why? I think it is the one put out my Master Books, BUT I've been looking at curriculum a lot today so I could be confused.

Thanks

 

agreeing with the other person who said twtm was taking about the books before the rights were sold to master books.

if you like to have information and details about stuff, I know this much.

The MFW version is very closely identical in content to the "original" style Writing Strands.  Most of the changes are cosmetic in nature with how the pages look and how each lesson has start and stop points that are more obvious than the original.  Example of what I mean is original might have said in level 3 book that a lesson took 9 days, but it was not necessarily super obvious where a natural stopping place was each day in the "lesson".   So, the mfw version makes those pauses more obvious.  And some of the other changes are minor in my opinion and this is an example of it.  Some people were clutching their pearls over a sentence in the original WS that said something like parents don't always know you can follow directions so you have to tell them.   (Seriously, that was hot topic discussion back in the day that some people over reacted saying WS was encouraging rebellion, uhnmm.. anyway.. moving on).  Well, mfw removed that humor sentence.  Or maybe it was really master books that removed it since they have the "rights', and mfw just reprints "just the writing part of the master books version and gave it a new name".  (huh>?) but you get the idea it was editorial changes, versus major content changes.

master books:  took original, and added in a reading component.  Now, in the original writing strands it just told parents to "take a week off of writing and read together" or close enough to that idea.  you'd work for a week on writing. take a week for reading.   So master books helps make sure that is done in the new books.  original writing strands did not offer that within the book itself.  it just say go pick out stuff you like to read and do that.  so master books scheduled stuff.  MFW on the other hand, does what it has always done with WS and schedules it 2 days a week and then schedules reading/read aloud all along.  That's why they (mfw) got to reprint WS as just the writing,  without the reading and without the master book daily lesson suggested planner.  see?  all the same basic product (original, mfw)

so, really it's all the same thing old WS and "new" WS.  the content of the writing lessons did not really significantly change.  master book added in a daily lesson planner to guide through the books to have stop/start points for daily work.  made it look visually nicer.  and maybe added an extra feature on the evaluation rubric (but i'm not sure on that)  master books intermediate book 1 of WS is the same writing lessons as original WS book 4 (including a cleared up version of that thanksgiving dinner food drop sentence)  and of course the addition of a literature component with specifics instead of "just take a week off and enjoy books with parent"

all I know is that mfw over marketed writing for today as something new.  It was so identical to the original ws 3 and 4 that unless you knew about the pearl clutch internet drama sentence, you wouldn't really know much to look for.  but they couldn't use the same title.  business reasons.

now you have some backstory with years of this stuff.  I doubt it helps you with which one you want to buy.

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Of course, I am definitely prejudiced: I knew Dave Marks, and his wife, Lee. Not well; I met them at a convention where they were exhibitors, and I loved WS right away, and we talked, and I fell in love with them. Later I did a couple of conventions for them, and we talked for hours.

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20 hours ago, cbollin said:

 

agreeing with the other person who said twtm was taking about the books before the rights were sold to master books.

if you like to have information and details about stuff, I know this much.

The MFW version is very closely identical in content to the "original" style Writing Strands.  Most of the changes are cosmetic in nature with how the pages look and how each lesson has start and stop points that are more obvious than the original.  Example of what I mean is original might have said in level 3 book that a lesson took 9 days, but it was not necessarily super obvious where a natural stopping place was each day in the "lesson".   So, the mfw version makes those pauses more obvious.  And some of the other changes are minor in my opinion and this is an example of it.  Some people were clutching their pearls over a sentence in the original WS that said something like parents don't always know you can follow directions so you have to tell them.   (Seriously, that was hot topic discussion back in the day that some people over reacted saying WS was encouraging rebellion, uhnmm.. anyway.. moving on).  Well, mfw removed that humor sentence.  Or maybe it was really master books that removed it since they have the "rights', and mfw just reprints "just the writing part of the master books version and gave it a new name".  (huh>?) but you get the idea it was editorial changes, versus major content changes.

master books:  took original, and added in a reading component.  Now, in the original writing strands it just told parents to "take a week off of writing and read together" or close enough to that idea.  you'd work for a week on writing. take a week for reading.   So master books helps make sure that is done in the new books.  original writing strands did not offer that within the book itself.  it just say go pick out stuff you like to read and do that.  so master books scheduled stuff.  MFW on the other hand, does what it has always done with WS and schedules it 2 days a week and then schedules reading/read aloud all along.  That's why they (mfw) got to reprint WS as just the writing,  without the reading and without the master book daily lesson suggested planner.  see?  all the same basic product (original, mfw)

so, really it's all the same thing old WS and "new" WS.  the content of the writing lessons did not really significantly change.  master book added in a daily lesson planner to guide through the books to have stop/start points for daily work.  made it look visually nicer.  and maybe added an extra feature on the evaluation rubric (but i'm not sure on that)  master books intermediate book 1 of WS is the same writing lessons as original WS book 4 (including a cleared up version of that thanksgiving dinner food drop sentence)  and of course the addition of a literature component with specifics instead of "just take a week off and enjoy books with parent"

all I know is that mfw over marketed writing for today as something new.  It was so identical to the original ws 3 and 4 that unless you knew about the pearl clutch internet drama sentence, you wouldn't really know much to look for.  but they couldn't use the same title.  business reasons.

now you have some backstory with years of this stuff.  I doubt it helps you with which one you want to buy.

Thanks for such a thorough reply!

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  • 1 year later...
On 1/18/2020 at 11:37 PM, Ellie said:

Of course, I am definitely prejudiced: I knew Dave Marks, and his wife, Lee. Not well; I met them at a convention where they were exhibitors, and I loved WS right away, and we talked, and I fell in love with them. Later I did a couple of conventions for them, and we talked for hours.

Would Writing Strands work well with R&S English for grammar? The R&S writing assignments are just killing us. Oldest is in tears at every writing assignment. I'm wondering if WS would maybe be a better fit for writing since it progresses daily and just keeps building on itself rather than the once every few days assignments in R&S. 

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19 minutes ago, Servant4Christ said:

Would Writing Strands work well with R&S English for grammar? The R&S writing assignments are just killing us. Oldest is in tears at every writing assignment. I'm wondering if WS would maybe be a better fit for writing since it progresses daily and just keeps building on itself rather than the once every few days assignments in R&S. 

If you want something separate just for grammar, I wouldn't use R&S. I'd use Easy Grammar.

Also, *everything* counts as writing with R&S English. All of the assignments require writing of some kind, even if they are not the official writing chapters. If your dc does most of the assignments orally instead of writing them, well, that might be part of the problem. 🙂 R&S's English is a lot of work, though. I'm not sure my dc would have liked it, either.

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46 minutes ago, Ellie said:

If you want something separate just for grammar, I wouldn't use R&S. I'd use Easy Grammar.

Also, *everything* counts as writing with R&S English. All of the assignments require writing of some kind, even if they are not the official writing chapters. If your dc does most of the assignments orally instead of writing them, well, that might be part of the problem. 🙂 R&S's English is a lot of work, though. I'm not sure my dc would have liked it, either.

We do the oral lesson part aloud, but the written work is usually on paper or the white board and occasionally I trade it for the corresponding worksheet if I think he needs the additional practice. He doesn't mind the grammar lessons and I have the textbooks through next year already. It's the composition lessons that induce tears. He is a very reluctant writer across all subjects. I just wasn't sure if skipping the composition lessons in favor of something like writing strands would work better or if I should be ditching R&S English entirely. Maybe if it were more interesting and had more handholding it would be less tearful.

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3 hours ago, Servant4Christ said:

We do the oral lesson part aloud, but the written work is usually on paper or the white board and occasionally I trade it for the corresponding worksheet if I think he needs the additional practice. He doesn't mind the grammar lessons and I have the textbooks through next year already. It's the composition lessons that induce tears. He is a very reluctant writer across all subjects. I just wasn't sure if skipping the composition lessons in favor of something like writing strands would work better or if I should be ditching R&S English entirely. Maybe if it were more interesting and had more handholding it would be less tearful.

Well, the worksheets are not intended to be a substitute for the written assignments. And the grammar/mechanics lessons are supposed to build up to the writing lessons, which is one of the reasons they should all be done on paper (except for the oral lesson, of course).

Is this is his first year doing R&S English?

And you say he's "reluctant" with everything?

You could go a couple of directions. One would be to be gently consistent in requiring the writing (all the R&S lessons, all the other subject writing, all.the.things).  The other would be to ditch R&S English and doing Writing Strands/Easy Grammar, maybe a little Easy Writing thrown in for good measure. I would not do R&S only for grammar (even though I know some people do it and are happy doing it). Neither one is better than the other. 🙂

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9 hours ago, Ellie said:

Well, the worksheets are not intended to be a substitute for the written assignments. And the grammar/mechanics lessons are supposed to build up to the writing lessons, which is one of the reasons they should all be done on paper (except for the oral lesson, of course).

Is this is his first year doing R&S English?

And you say he's "reluctant" with everything?

You could go a couple of directions. One would be to be gently consistent in requiring the writing (all the R&S lessons, all the other subject writing, all.the.things).  The other would be to ditch R&S English and doing Writing Strands/Easy Grammar, maybe a little Easy Writing thrown in for good measure. I would not do R&S only for grammar (even though I know some people do it and are happy doing it). Neither one is better than the other. 🙂

Worksheets are rare here. I used them once last week because there were only four sentences in the textbook exercise and it is review from last year. We're only 2 weeks into the new school year here. I had a Dr appointment and needed seatwork for Oldest to do (with DH lightly supervising) while I was gone. The worksheet was the exact same material, just more of it. Lots more. Lol. This will be our third year using R&S English. I don't mind continuing the grammar because I have it, but I'm open to switching if need be. The writing/composition has to change, though. I don't know if it's an issue of him not wanting to write (physically), writer's block, or what. DH told me to try again before running out and buying something new. If more guidance is needed, I'm the teacher, ect. I really struggle here. I didn't like composition as a student either because it required more than just remembering or looking up answers and the correct answers weren't black and white. But I would've done alright with this curriculum as a kid because the steps are very clearly laid out and examples are given in full. Pray for me. I'm going to try again today and hope it goes better. 

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20210916_141413.thumb.jpg.7ed3055829926bf1584531510aeceab1.jpg

Fifth grade: Following the Plan. Lesson 5: Written Practice. Looks like it was writer's block because he couldn't think of what to write about. I gave him a few ideas to get his brain running and left him to brainstorm for a few minutes. I told him not to think about all the other stuff that comes later. Just pick a topic. He did. Then we discussed what type of questions he should answer about his topic and I scribed his questions for him. No answers, just the questions. His job was to write down answers to his questions. Tomorrow, I'll have him cut apart his answers (full sentence answers) and arrange them in a logical order to get him started and have him add more info as needed. This seems to be the only way to get him through a writing assignment. Is this normal? 

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2 hours ago, Servant4Christ said:

20210916_141413.thumb.jpg.7ed3055829926bf1584531510aeceab1.jpg

Fifth grade: Following the Plan. Lesson 5: Written Practice. Looks like it was writer's block because he couldn't think of what to write about. I gave him a few ideas to get his brain running and left him to brainstorm for a few minutes. I told him not to think about all the other stuff that comes later. Just pick a topic. He did. Then we discussed what type of questions he should answer about his topic and I scribed his questions for him. No answers, just the questions. His job was to write down answers to his questions. Tomorrow, I'll have him cut apart his answers (full sentence answers) and arrange them in a logical order to get him started and have him add more info as needed. This seems to be the only way to get him through a writing assignment. Is this normal? 

So, you're using the fifth grade text even though you say he's "in fourth grade"? That might be part of your problem.

Also, IMHO, those kinds of writing assignments are useless. Writing a story about a personal experience is one thing; having to go through that kind of process is another. I would probably not require my dc to do it.  Or if I had them write about a personal experience, I would not require them to go through those steps first.

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On 9/16/2021 at 5:16 PM, Ellie said:

So, you're using the fifth grade text even though you say he's "in fourth grade"? That might be part of your problem.

Also, IMHO, those kinds of writing assignments are useless. Writing a story about a personal experience is one thing; having to go through that kind of process is another. I would probably not require my dc to do it.  Or if I had them write about a personal experience, I would not require them to go through those steps first.

He's in fifth grade. Just started at the beginning of September. He is 10, almost 11 years old. 

I helped him brainstorm for a topic. He chose one. I then had him give me sentences about it and I scribed each sentence for him on post-its, which he then could physically manipulate into whatever order he thought logical and eliminate any unnecessary ones before writing them on his paper. It worked. Turns out he had 2 hangups. One was coming up with something worth writing about, and the other was that when he saw that he had to write a story, he thought that meant a book. 😂

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