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silver

writing, invention/brainstorming, lost tools of writing...

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I know that some classical writing curricula call this "invention". When I search for that on the forums, all I get are old posts about Lost Tools of Writing. How hard is it to teach? Are the videos needed, or is the teacher's guide complete enough that one doesn't need the videos? If your student types everything, is the student workbook needed?

What other curricula do a good job of teaching the student how to come up with what to say?

Are there any books that would help me teach this topic to a student in 6th-8th grade or so?

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We used Lost Tools of Writing last year. I will say that one thing I did like about it was the invention portion.

I would see what you can find online about the "ANI" chart (Affirmative, Negative, Interesting) and the five common topics.  The five common topics give you questions you can ask to populate the ANI chart. For example this site has some questions for the common topics  https://drrussel.public.iastate.edu/www548/aristcomtopics.html

Here is a youtube of an ANI  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBLC25d8J_4

you tube on common topics

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-qkv-M24Sw

 

I learned how to run an ANI chart from Lost Tools but I don't see how you couldn't do it without that program. 

While I did like the format/outline for the persuasive essay they presented, we felt LTOW moved too slowly and produced very simple writing.  I felt like my kids' writing was worse than when we started. YMMV. I would definitely move through it faster than they recommend. 

I am teaching govt/econ this year to high schoolers and we often do ANI charts when we talk about an issue. It helps to come up with ideas, organize them, and understand how to present an argument.

 

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Just now, silver said:

Did you use the videos with LTOW?

 

I watched them, yes. My kids did not. They are really designed for instructors, but I am guessing if you had a high schooler they could watch them and get something out of it. 

The newer edition of LTOW comes with online access to the videos. The older version has DVDs.

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Does anyone else have suggestions for teaching a middle schooler to figure out what to say in their writing?

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1 hour ago, silver said:

Does anyone else have suggestions for teaching a middle schooler to figure out what to say in their writing?


Sitting with the student and me asking a lot of prompt questions, especially in the brainstorming/organizing stages of writing, is what we did. (Only thing that worked.)

Some students need more scaffolding than others. Boys often are more laconic than girls and need to have details "dragged" out of them (lol) with questions and prompting. And any student with any kind of writing, spelling, or language arts issue is going to struggle with figuring out what to say -- it is often a matter of time for brains to mature, and until then, lots of 1-on-1 prompting/guidance/mentoring. Once my struggling writer with mild LDs hit 8th/9th grade,  Jump In seemed to help him with figuring out what to say and how to organize his thoughts a bit more independently from SOOO much of my help -- but still required quite a bit of scaffolding and 1-on-1, all through high school.

Some tools/resources:
- 4 Square Writing Method -- visually seeing that you need to fill in the squares can help guide the student's thinking into what to say
- Killgallon's Paragraphs for Middle School -- paragraph construction and what goes into a paragraph, so that might help model for a student see what is needed, and guide into self-prompting
- Evan Moore Paragraph Writing, and/or, Scholastic Paragraph Writing Made Easy -- fill-in blanks and guided exercises to gently bridge the gap from already written paragraph examples into writing your own paragraphs 
- Writing Skills (Diana Hanbury King), book 1 and/or book 2 -- guided exercises leading into paragraph writing; not as much instruction as one might hope for -- but several people on these boards with reluctant/resistant writers have said this one worked for their students

These may be too simplistic for your student, if your student is generatingthinking/discussing at the level of all the classroom thoughts on the white board in Cintinative's ANI youtube link above. 

Edited by Lori D.
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4 hours ago, silver said:

Does anyone else have suggestions for teaching a middle schooler to figure out what to say in their writing?

 

Have you looked at Writing With Skill?  That is one of the main categories of the instructional content--what to say and how to organize it, divided into outline (organize) and topoi/forms (what to say).  

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1 hour ago, Patty Joanna said:

 

Have you looked at Writing With Skill?  That is one of the main categories of the instructional content--what to say and how to organize it, divided into outline (organize) and topoi/forms (what to say).  

I thought that WWS mostly gives students what to say and focuses more on organization?

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On 2/23/2020 at 2:51 PM, cintinative said:

We used Lost Tools of Writing last year. I will say that one thing I did like about it was the invention portion.

I am teaching govt/econ this year to high schoolers and we often do ANI charts when we talk about an issue. It helps to come up with ideas, organize them, and understand how to present an argument.

We're the students in your class familiar with ANI charts beforehand? 

If a student is just learning the ANI charts for the first time, do you think it is easier to do them with literature, the way LTOW does, or would it be easier with material from a content subject, the way you use it in your class you're teaching?

21 hours ago, Lori D. said:


Once my struggling writer with mild LDs hit 8th/9th grade,  Jump In seemed to help him with figuring out what to say and how to organize his thoughts a bit more independently from SOOO much of my help -- but still required quite a bit of scaffolding and 1-on-1, all through high school. 

What sort of brainstorming strategies did Jump In give your son?

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4 hours ago, silver said:

...What sort of brainstorming strategies did Jump In give your son?


I used it about 12 years ago, so I personally can't remember any specifics. 😉 
However, if you use the "look inside" option at this link, you can see how she guides the student into brainstorming/thinking for the first 2 assignments.

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5 hours ago, silver said:

We're the students in your class familiar with ANI charts beforehand? 

If a student is just learning the ANI charts for the first time, do you think it is easier to do them with literature, the way LTOW does, or would it be easier with material from a content subject, the way you use it in your class you're teaching?

 

 

The ANI process starts with developing a question which you can take a definite postion about like "Should Edmund have followed the White Witch?"  SO you can use it with stories, or with any other issue. We used it for "Should there be term limits for members of Congress?" and "Should a church have debt?", etc.  It was not hard for them to pick up on how to populate the ANI chart--it was harder to use the five common topics with a government/econ question than with literature, but we did okay.  I did not get to spend a lot of time teaching them how to pull out three main points and supports for each from each of the A and N columns.

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On 2/24/2020 at 4:29 PM, Lori D. said:


Boys often are more laconic than girls and need to have details "dragged" out of them (lol) with questions and prompting.

 

oh my word. YES. 

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On 2/24/2020 at 7:04 PM, silver said:

I thought that WWS mostly gives students what to say and focuses more on organization?

WWS starts with the review of narration (telling about something) and then goes into teaching how to figure out what to say and how to organize it.  WWS breaks the process into outlining and something they call "topoi" which is fancy Latin for "topics"--kind of--I'm being a little silly. But the point is that WWS gives students some processes for deciding what to write about AND teaches the processes for figuring out how to organize it.  

One thing that is different from the way I was taught to write is that there is a lot of modeling that goes on throughout the series.  Students learn how to outline by outlining work done by someone else, which (at least for my personal self and son) helps to show what an organized paragraph (and eventually, essay) looks like in the first place while *removing* the personal element -- "But MOM, you KNOW what I mean to say!" and "I like it THIS way because I WROTE it this way..."  

When I was taught to write, I had to do all the steps at once; I like it that WWS shows examples of good writing--and uses them as part of the assignment.  WWS provides a lot of modeling and provides tools for deciding on a topic and then teaches how to do research, take notes, and organize the thoughts.  It's all there.  

The sample pages on WWS's description page will show the whole table of contents and the intro to the book--those have been really helpful to me.  

I learned a lot from attending the Lost Tools of Writing seminars and found that their questioning process was a big help in working with my son.  LToW appealed to me for many reasons--but as it turned out, my particular son needed more structure.  LToW was a huge help to me in learning how to work with my son, though, and I am super grateful for that.  And I liked a lot of their principles--especially compared to the way I was taught to teach writing (which I did at the high school level for 5 years).  WWS *and* LToW are a huge step ahead of what our school district used to teach writing.

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