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Mom2mthj

Writing Will Skill for 8th grade

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I have an 8th grade son who dislikes writing.  He took a classical composition class last year with Memoria Press Online Academy. He did well, but it doesn’t seem to help his writing for other subjects.  He has done some IEW in the past, but strongly disliked the creative writing component.  He is much more a STEM sort of kid.  I have been looking at writing with skill, but he is a bit on the older side of the grade range.  Is it good for high school?  Must one start with book 1?  Is it possible to speed it up for an older student?  I tried WWS1 the first year it came out with my daughter and it didn’t go well, but that was before the updated age recommendations so she was probably too young.  Alas, I sold it so I would have to repurchase.  Thanks for any advice.

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If he's a STEM kid, I think he would do well with Writing With Skill. WWS teaches expository writing so it should be a good fit. In one of her talks, SWB said that creative writers behave like reluctant writing when asked to do expository writing. Students who don't naturally write creatively seem to do better with expository writing. WWS is a very rigorous and meaty writing curriculum. I think your son would get a lot out of it. I would start with level 1 because you can always skip lesson that you feel he doesn't need. In my opinion, level 1 is foundational. Maybe someone who has used it with a high schooler can chime in. 😊

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I used WWS 1 with my 8th and 9th graders. I think that it would be a great fit for what you are looking for, especially for writing in other subject areas. 

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We've been using WWS for.ev.er and I love it. It really holds the student's hand through the writing process. I feel it is very apropriate for high school writing if it is teaching your student something they haven't done. We have never made it through a complete book in a year. Maybe we are slow note-takers - that seems to be where we fall behind. My freshmen are in WWS3 and at the end of last semester I decided that rather than push through to finish the book, we would spend some extra time writing with all the different topos we've learned over the years. I got some nice papers on the Persian Wars, Hannibal, Rockets, and Shakespeare in the last few weeks. The writing notebooks that they have assembled working through the books have been helpful resources when writing papers for English, history, and science.

Each book is scheduled for 4 days a week, but we set aside time every day for writing and an extra week when there is a writing assignment. It feels crazy, but that has been what it takes for us. Regardless of your student's pace, I think it would be hard to speed up the program without missing important parts. There isn't fluff or repetitive assignments that can easily be pared out. In fact, my addition of a pause to practice what we have learned is going to push this curriculum into year 5.

I'm not a writer and always planned to outsource writing by high school, but that just hasn't been how things have worked out. This is what my students need.

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12 minutes ago, SusanC said:

We've been using WWS for.ev.er and I love it. It really holds the student's hand through the writing process. I feel it is very apropriate for high school writing if it is teaching your student something they haven't done. We have never made it through a complete book in a year. Maybe we are slow note-takers - that seems to be where we fall behind. My freshmen are in WWS3 and at the end of last semester I decided that rather than push through to finish the book, we would spend some extra time writing with all the different topos we've learned over the years. I got some nice papers on the Persian Wars, Hannibal, Rockets, and Shakespeare in the last few weeks. The writing notebooks that they have assembled working through the books have been helpful resources when writing papers for English, history, and science.

Each book is scheduled for 4 days a week, but we set aside time every day for writing and an extra week when there is a writing assignment. It feels crazy, but that has been what it takes for us. Regardless of your student's pace, I think it would be hard to speed up the program without missing important parts. There isn't fluff or repetitive assignments that can easily be pared out. In fact, my addition of a pause to practice what we have learned is going to push this curriculum into year 5.

I'm not a writer and always planned to outsource writing by high school, but that just hasn't been how things have worked out. This is what my students need.

I agree with SusanC, there is no fluff in WWS. Also, the time allotted for some lessons/assignments was just not enough. When I go through this program again when my second child I plan to give her as much time as she needs instead of trying to finish a book by the end of the school year. 

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I have zero qualms about using WWS into early high school.  My son is now finding the writing that he is doing for his AP and dual enrollment classes is actually a step down from what he learned with WWS.  

Speaking as a former high school English teacher, I would have been thrilled if students arrived in English III with these skills.  Over the moon thrilled...backflips in the classroom thrilled...

And yes, start with Book I.  It builds a great foundation.  I’m working through it again with a pair of seventh graders and I’m still learning from it!

Edited by Hadley
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I just received my copy of the student book and the teacher book is on the way.  Is there any way to avoid writing in the student book?  I would like to be able to reuse it later for another child if I like it.

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20 minutes ago, Mom2mthj said:

I just received my copy of the student book and the teacher book is on the way.  Is there any way to avoid writing in the student book?  I would like to be able to reuse it later for another child if I like it.

Most things can be written out in a notebook or on notepaper, even if there was space for it in the workbook; the dd I did it with has dyslexic tendencies, so a lot of times I would help her format the page (if it was potentially tricksy) instead of leaving her to figure it out by herself.  There's some places where you are supposed to underline and double-underline things (subjects and predicates iirc), and box and circle things.  I wasn't able to come up with a great way to modify this; I ended up letting her write in the workbook, under the theory I'd be able to erase it for the next ones.  You could probably do it orally, instead (but my dd was fairly resistant to that).

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You could, perhaps, photocopy those passages that need underlining?

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1 hour ago, Mom2mthj said:

I just received my copy of the student book and the teacher book is on the way.  Is there any way to avoid writing in the student book?  I would like to be able to reuse it later for another child if I like it.

We write on separate paper for most things.  Sometimes we use sticky notes in the margins.  Other times a very light pencil mark is warranted, which can then be erased.  I think we are on week 23 and there have just been a couple times that I thought photocopying the page would be easier than one of the alternatives I already listed.

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23 hours ago, Mom2mthj said:

I just received my copy of the student book and the teacher book is on the way.  Is there any way to avoid writing in the student book?  I would like to be able to reuse it later for another child if I like it.

You can buy a pdf version of the student workbook directly from PHP I think. Or just buy two of the student workbook and be done with it. 

Fwiw, we used WWS1 with my dd in 8th and it was great then. I had to go through it and highlight the important things, so she could see the flow and actually find the important bits, rather than getting lost in the narrative style. So that's another reason to buy a workbook for each student, so you can custom highlight and make instructional notes for them in the book. At that age, my dd was doing it completely independently, so I was putting in notes specific to her.

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RE writing in the book: we purchased the PDF in addition to a physical student book.  You may also copy the pages for use within your family -- Peace Hill Press is great about that. 

RE compressing a bit for an older child with other writing under his belt: in the beginning of the second book, WWS2, there are notes about moving more quickly through WWS1.  You'll find them if you just go to Peace Hill Press' website and download the sample for the WWS2 Instructor book, I believe. 

I wish I'd found those earlier.  They give excellent advice for moving a bit more quickly through WWS1 without losing any rigor or benefit. 

ETA: my STEM fellow hated the literature/poetry analysis sections with a passion, more or less simply could not do them, and began to think he was terrible at understanding stories and poems, so we backed off those bits & are just using WTM guidelines.  In WWS2 we may tackle it again but hold it lightly and be willing to bail if necessary. 

Edited by serendipitous journey
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Agreeing with the others - yes, it can be used at that age. You might need to adapt and do it quicker, or use texts which have more mature ideas, but there's still a lot you can get out of it. Owing to previous illness in the family, I am currently working through WWS with DS14 and DD12. They're getting the hang of it quickly, and I can see that success breeds confidence. Both these kiddos are STEM oriented, and WWS suits them way better than a programme with any hint of creative writing!

Edited by Hedgehog
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On 3/11/2020 at 5:48 PM, serendipitous journey said:

RE writing in the book: we purchased the PDF in addition to a physical student book.  You may also copy the pages for use within your family -- Peace Hill Press is great about that. 

RE compressing a bit for an older child with other writing under his belt: in the beginning of the second book, WWS2, there are notes about moving more quickly through WWS1.  You'll find them if you just go to Peace Hill Press' website and download the sample for the WWS2 Instructor book, I believe. 

I wish I'd found those earlier.  They give excellent advice for moving a bit more quickly through WWS1 without losing any rigor or benefit. 

ETA: my STEM fellow hated the literature/poetry analysis sections with a passion, more or less simply could not do them, and began to think he was terrible at understanding stories and poems, so we backed off those bits & are just using WTM guidelines.  In WWS2 we may tackle it again but hold it lightly and be willing to bail if necessary. 

Somehow I didn’t see this when you posted.  Thank you so much for this link!

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Also the WTMA online course Preparation for Rhetoric is a crash course using a condensed flow through 1-3.  Looking at the syllabus it was a little tough to know for sure which book they were referencing, but I did go back to it when I was condensing and I wanted to make sure to hit all the important assignments.

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