Jump to content

Menu

Recommended Posts

1 hour ago, forty-two said:

LToW is really good at forcing you to *think*.  (It's one of the things my dd *didn't* like about it, lol.)  And there's a ton of scaffolding, for getting from your initial ANI chart (how they organize your brainstorming), to guiding *how* to think wider and deeper, to generating your main points and supporting commentary from your revised ANI chart and putting them on an outline.  (And going on to generate your body paragraphs and your intro/conclusion, and into revising.)  My oldest dd is an intuitive creative writer, but struggles with making her thinking *explicit*.  She needed a lot of guidance and some pushing from me on all the various "forcing you to think through your topic" parts of LToW.  I'd teach them and then we'd apply the new bit to the previous essay together.  Then she gave it a go on her own on the new essay topic.  Often she could only come up with some of it, or the answers she gave were only so-so, so then we'd go over it together next lesson. 

Honestly, discussion together, with me drawing her out (and with me basically doing it myself alongside her, so *I'd* interacted with the topic sufficiently) was really, really key.  LToW gave us a good structure for thinking in, so that we could think in productive directions, be stretched to think in new directions - but it couldn't think for us.  We got out what we put in.  (Which made keeping to a schedule hard, and I did have problems knowing how much I should push the first time we'd encountered something, versus pushing a little more each time we saw it.)  I found that we lived or died based on our topic (which we selected ourselves) - we had to care enough about it to keep pushing our thinking deeper and wider (and it had to have enough to it to reward such thinking).  (And it's one of those programs that I don't think I'll really understand how to teach it till I've taught it all the way through once, but I was learning more every lesson.)

~*~

However, a lot of what LToW does in the Invention stage, in guiding *how* to think deeper and wider and in productive directions, is not unique to them - it's their take on Aristotle's Common Topics.  Writing With Skill, Classical Writing, and CAP's Argument Builder, among others, also use the Common Topics.  (I do think that WWS might be worth looking at, starting at Level 1.  SWB does a good job breaking things down into logical, explicit steps, and a lot of the early exercises provide all the content you need to build your argument - you just pick and choose from what's already there, instead of having to come up with stuff from out of your head.)

CAP's Argument Builder is actually a logic text (albeit one that has a heavy crossover with classical-inspired writing programs), and that might be another avenue to pursue: studying word-based logic.  The intersection of logical thinking and working with words might help harness some of her math strengths. 

~*~

Another resource that comes to mind is The Writing Revolution.  It's not a curriculum, but an approach (aka not open and go).  They take a writing-is-thinking approach, and integrate writing with other subjects - the idea is that you teach writing through learning other subjects and teach other subjects through learning writing.  So *all* their exercises, from the easiest to the most advanced, involve *thinking* about what you are writing, require you to *interact* with your subject.  They have a nice scaffolded approach to moving from sentences to one paragraph compositions to multi-paragraph essays to argumentative essays.  The idea is that the rigor of the subject drives the rigor of the thinking and thus the rigor of the writing.  So little kids can start learning to think and interact about what they learn, using easy subjects, while older kids can use the same tools to interact with their more difficult subjects.  They treat sentences as mini-compositions, and a single paragraph as a mini-essay - so you can learn to interact and think about your subject through first expanding simple sentences.  They bridge from sentences to single paragraphs by expanding on an expanded sentence.  It teaches the sort of thinking that goes into longer essays without overwhelming their composition skills.  They hold that you can't write an effective multi-paragraph essay before being able to write an effective single paragraph composition.

I added the Writing Revolution to my amazon cart! Thanks!

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Shellydon said:

She can do short, factual paragraphs and short summaries for classes pretty easily.  Her current history class requires that type of writing and she isn't have trouble with it. 

That's awesome.  She can do a lot more writing than she probably thinks she can.

Is she able to write a multi-paragraph factual essay, or multi-paragraph book/chapter summary?  Have her history classes required her to do anything like "Evaluate the extent of change in United States political parties in the period 1791 to 1833"?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 3 weeks later...
On 7/26/2020 at 7:26 PM, forty-two said:

That's awesome.  She can do a lot more writing than she probably thinks she can.

Is she able to write a multi-paragraph factual essay, or multi-paragraph book/chapter summary?  Have her history classes required her to do anything like "Evaluate the extent of change in United States political parties in the period 1791 to 1833"?

Coming back to update and answer this above questions.  No, she is not able to write a multi-paragraph anything.  The college classes she has taken thus far only require a single paragraph answer which she can do.

Several of the books I have ordered have arrived, but they seem to be more for *shaping* what you have already written than getting words to appear on paper.

She is unwilling to try anything at this point.  We have done a highly recommended online academy and in-person writing classes and she hasn't made any progress in the last 4 years, so she just wants to call it quits.  So at this point I am not sure what we'll do.  This kiddo is just a "I want to live a quiet life where I don't have to do anything or talk to anyone or think about anything other that sweet pleasant happy thoughts" kind of person.  She'll find a easy 9-5 computer programming job and live as far away from people as possible and never read or write anything.  She has loved quarantine LOL.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/26/2020 at 5:29 PM, square_25 said:

I would really, really think outside the box with her and talk to her thoroughly about her options. She just seems like a kid who's genuinely bored by both argument and by literary analysis. And it sounds like she associates writing with tasks she really hates, so it's entirely possible that what you should work on at this point is not five paragraph essays but just lack of hatred of the written word. 

I'd really talk to her about WHAT she might want to write about. Would she like to write about math -- explaining her ideas in words? Or writing about her animals? Or writing an instruction manual for how to take care of her animals? Or maybe explaining how something works? Really, anything sounds like it might be an improvement over forcing her to go through a program that will increase her dislike of putting words down on paper. 

I have thought a lot about this  and I agree wholeheartedly.  I can occasionally get her to read fluffy middle school fantasy books, but she really just does not like literature or writing in any form.  She just doesn't.  She has grown up in a literature rich house with two of her siblings thinking books are the most wonderful thing that the Lord put on our earth, but she doesn't like the written word. Not sure what you do with this type of kiddo, but somehow we'll get through.

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 7/24/2020 at 12:28 PM, Shellydon said:

My 16 yo really struggles with writing. Really, really struggles. She has  taken 3 classes at reputable online academies and in person and still she just can't generate a good 5 paragraph paper.  Any suggestions as to where to go from here, curriculum ideas? 

 

I am an "old" homeschool Mom. My kids have moved on...I came here to read for fun tonight, haven't been here in years. I saw your post, and I had to create an account just to answer because you happen to hit a scabbed over sore from back in the day. LOL. My daughter is going into her senior year of college with a computer science major.  Guess what -- she is a fabulous writer!!! Guess what -- her junior year in high school I was miserable because I thought I failed her at writing.  Her junior year...she wasn't a good writer, and she hated it.

IEW was terrible for us by the way. I can't recommend it. I'm actually a professional writer. We used it for a few years because I loved all the "theory" behind it. I actually don't like it now after having used it for a number of years. I'm sure it works for some people, many people even. It was NOT good for us.

I gave up on using a curriculum junior year. Instead, we focused heavily on the formula of writing and really attacked it from a logical/formulaic angle.  

1. Five paragraphs.

2. Thesis in standard place.

3. Good Intro

4. Include a counter argument.

5. Defend your point.

Topics were as diverse as write a 5-paragraph paper convincing me of why you need a new phone case. Write a paper convincing your Dad that he should buy jewelry for Mom every Friday. (Sometimes keeping it silly takes the pressure off.)  LOL. Also, she did book reports, She did a five-paragraph essay on her favorite mathematician. It was all about non-boring topics to her and working on that standard framework. The words came with topical interest.  In many schools, some teachers will have a five paragraph essay per a week. If you go at this rate, you will improve. I will say junior year was a bit painful with all the writing, but she often gets complemented by college teachers for being such a good writer.  I do not regret taking things into my own hands or the tears when realizing it was a paper a week, although I was a bit scared at the time. I actually think IEW and similar programs make writing too complicated for the student. I think if I had used such rigid programs in school, I probably would have skipped the English/Writing major in college. I was left to write what interested me, and I wrote often. That is the key.  

For at least a semester, I would focus on the five things I listed above and not worry about word choice, adverbs, fluff. Just get the writing down and praise it often. Once the words roll, then you can start to worry about word choice and tightening things up. First, you have to get the words on paper and feel good about it.

Hope this helps!!

 

Whatever path you choose, have a great year!

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 minutes ago, LoveWriting said:

 

I am an "old" homeschool Mom. My kids have moved on...I came here to read for fun tonight, haven't been here in years. I saw your post, and I had to create an account just to answer because you happen to hit a scabbed over sore from back in the day. LOL. My daughter is going into her senior year of college with a computer science major.  Guess what -- she is a fabulous writer!!! Guess what -- her junior year in high school I was miserable because I thought I failed her at writing.  Her junior year...she wasn't a good writer, and she hated it.

IEW was terrible for us by the way. I can't recommend it. I'm actually a professional writer. We used it for a few years because I loved all the "theory" behind it. I actually don't like it now after having used it for a number of years. I'm sure it works for some people, many people even. It was NOT good for us.

I gave up on using a curriculum junior year. Instead, we focused heavily on the formula of writing and really attacked it from a logical/formulaic angle.  

1. Five paragraphs.

2. Thesis in standard place.

3. Good Intro

4. Include a counter argument.

5. Defend your point.

Topics were as diverse as write a 5-paragraph paper convincing me of why you need a new phone case. Write a paper convincing your Dad that he should buy jewelry for Mom every Friday. (Sometimes keeping it silly takes the pressure off.)  LOL. Also, she did book reports, She did a five-paragraph essay on her favorite mathematician. It was all about non-boring topics to her and working on that standard framework. The words came with topical interest.  In many schools, some teachers will have a five paragraph essay per a week. If you go at this rate, you will improve. I will say junior year was a bit painful with all the writing, but she often gets complemented by college teachers for being such a good writer.  I do not regret taking things into my own hands or the tears when realizing it was a paper a week, although I was a bit scared at the time. I actually think IEW and similar programs make writing too complicated for the student. I think if I had used such rigid programs in school, I probably would have skipped the English/Writing major in college. I was left to write what interested me, and I wrote often. That is the key.  

For at least a semester, I would focus on the five things I listed above and not worry about word choice, adverbs, fluff. Just get the writing down and praise it often. Once the words roll, then you can start to worry about word choice and tightening things up. First, you have to get the words on paper and feel good about it.

Hope this helps!!

 

Whatever path you choose, have a great year!

It does, thank you! I was just reminding myself that she made a 1200 on her PSAT last year and had not yet taken Geometry. This year she will be taking precalculus and should score even higher. She is actually pretty strong academically she just has no desire to dive into literature to write. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought I would update-- found a writing curriculum I had purchased last year for my 7th grader and we did not use, Writing Strands. I pulled it out and my junior and I have been working through a few worksheets. She was able to write a couple of decent paragraphs utilizing narrative and objective voice for a fiction prompt. She read a couple of passages and answered some questions without difficulty (e.g What is the setting, what is a conflict, what is the plot etc.) The next assignment was " Write a well-organized paragraph explaining how two of the following elements ( character, plot, conflict, setting) work together. Be sure to start with a topic sentence and to provide specific examples to support your point. ""

So-- this is her break down point. She needs more explicit instruction and smaller steps at this point. BUT-- I have a good starting point, now just to figure out how to love her beyond this point. 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 8/17/2020 at 9:19 PM, Shellydon said:

She is actually pretty strong academically she just has no desire to dive into literature to write.

 

3 hours ago, Shellydon said:

I thought I would update-- found a writing curriculum I had purchased last year for my 7th grader and we did not use, Writing Strands. I pulled it out and my junior and I have been working through a few worksheets. She was able to write a couple of decent paragraphs utilizing narrative and objective voice for a fiction prompt. She read a couple of passages and answered some questions without difficulty (e.g What is the setting, what is a conflict, what is the plot etc.) The next assignment was " Write a well-organized paragraph explaining how two of the following elements ( character, plot, conflict, setting) work together. Be sure to start with a topic sentence and to provide specific examples to support your point. ""

So-- this is her break down point. She needs more explicit instruction and smaller steps at this point. BUT-- I have a good starting point, now just to figure out how to love her beyond this point. 

Yea for a starting point!  (What follows are just some hopefully helpful thoughts - use if helpful, ignore if not.  I was in a hurry, trying to write it during lunch, so idk if my tone reflected my intentions.)

That particular question from WS is a hard one, though, at least to me, though I'm probably over-thinking it a ton. (I'm a decent writer but even with all that I read, lit analysis has always been my weak point.)  I wonder if she'd do better with topics she was interested in, or at least topics in subjects where she is successful at the type of thinking requried (it sounded like history goes pretty well).  I know I always found the kind of analysis required in history essays to be *much* easier than lit analysis.  Finding the words to express your ill-formed-but-nonetheless-existing thoughts is a totally different task from having no thoughts to begin with (and seeing no way to find thoughts, either).  Heck, my oldest loves to write in general, but she still locks up when faced with the task of coming up with thoughts on command.

Both WWS and The Writing Revolution start by having students arrange already existing ideas into a logical order, before having them try to come up with thoughts on their own.  How does she do on those early WWS activities, where they give lots of details and you pick and choose which ones you want? 

Also, TWR's sentence summary activity - where you start with a base sentence (that you, the teacher, supply to the student), like "Antennae help crustaceans," the student expands the idea by answering when/where/why/how questions, and then expands the sentence by incorporating those answers into the base sentence - is helpful for turning a general topic into a useful topic sentence; and so is the because/but/so fill-in-the-blank sentence activity.  (Right now I'm having my oldest work on summary sentences, single paragraph outlines (SPOs), and turning an SPO into a paragraph.) TWR has free diagnostics, both sentence level and paragraph level (I'll attach them to this post); I ran my oldest through both (and my middle through the sentence one), and it was useful for seeing where things broke down.  It has smaller steps than WS - such as identifying topic sentences and detail sentences in already-written paragraphs - and an easy topic (winter) it might help you narrow down where the issues are.  There are several free online resources available for TWR on their website (requires free registration).

 

It's great that you have an entry point! 

Diagnostic-Sentences-Winter.pdf Diagnostic-Paragraph-Winter-.pdf

Edited by forty-two
Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, forty-two said:

 

Yea for a starting point!  (What follows are just some hopefully helpful thoughts - use if helpful, ignore if not.  I was in a hurry, trying to write it during lunch, so idk if my tone reflected my intentions.)

That particular question from WS is a hard one, though, at least to me, though I'm probably over-thinking it a ton. (I'm a decent writer but even with all that I read, lit analysis has always been my weak point.)  I wonder if she'd do better with topics she was interested in, or at least topics in subjects where she is successful at the type of thinking requried (it sounded like history goes pretty well).  I know I always found the kind of analysis required in history essays to be *much* easier than lit analysis.  Finding the words to express your ill-formed-but-nonetheless-existing thoughts is a totally different task from having no thoughts to begin with (and seeing no way to find thoughts, either).  Heck, my oldest loves to write in general, but she still locks up when faced with the task of coming up with thoughts on command.

Both WWS and The Writing Revolution start by having students arrange already existing ideas into a logical order, before having them try to come up with thoughts on their own.  How does she do on those early WWS activities, where they give lots of details and you pick and choose which ones you want? 

Also, TWR's sentence summary activity - where you start with a base sentence (that you, the teacher, supply to the student), like "Antennae help crustaceans," the student expands the idea by answering when/where/why/how questions, and then expands the sentence by incorporating those answers into the base sentence - is helpful for turning a general topic into a useful topic sentence; and so is the because/but/so fill-in-the-blank sentence activity.  (Right now I'm having my oldest work on summary sentences, single paragraph outlines (SPOs), and turning an SPO into a paragraph.) TWR has free diagnostics, both sentence level and paragraph level (I'll attach them to this post); I ran my oldest through both (and my middle through the sentence one), and it was useful for seeing where things broke down.  It has smaller steps than WS - such as identifying topic sentences and detail sentences in already-written paragraphs - and an easy topic (winter) it might help you narrow down where the issues are.  There are several free online resources available for TWR on their website (requires free registration).

 

It's great that you have an entry point! 

Diagnostic-Sentences-Winter.pdf 282.62 kB · 0 downloads Diagnostic-Paragraph-Winter-.pdf 765.03 kB · 0 downloads

Thank you! I'm pulling out my writing with skill and reading the blog linked above

Link to post
Share on other sites

She is late to the rodeo, but it is never too late to learn, IF someone wants to learn. I searched on Coursera.org and they have 373 results for "Creative Writing".  Possibly one of those will be of interest to her. Essay writing is something that she will need to do in university and it is not simply during the application process. This is the Coursera.org SERPs page for Essay Writing:  https://www.coursera.org/search?query=essay writing&

Link to post
Share on other sites

I’m late to the party, but want to chime in and say the 5 paragraph essay is overrated. Professors in college often spend time unteaching it, so in some ways she’s ahead by rejecting it and seeing the flaws.

It’s ok if she doesn’t like 5 paragraph essays. If she doesn’t have much to say, then she may need help thinking of all the different ways she’s already thinking or give her explicit directions to read and form some opinions. She should make sure she considers time spent thinking and forming opinions to be crucial parts of the writing process. You could try having Socratic type discussions with her about whatever topic you want, take notes, and give her back a general outline of what she’s said. Then show her that she does have ideas and how to turn them into an essay or opinion piece.

She needs an intro, body, conclusion or beginning, middle, end. She does not really need any of the HS English 5 paragraph essay tricks. I think it’s great that she recognizes that she needs to have something worth saying to write well. So many kids just ramble on saying not much of anything and it’s painful. 
 

If she’s feeling pretty anxious about writing you may have better luck trying anything that doesn’t look like essays at first. She can write poems, dialogue, drama, descriptions, recipes, letters, proofs, comics, lab reports, etc. 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, you need structure, and 5 paragraph essays can be a useful tool, but if it’s not clicking with someone there’s no need to feel like it’s the only or even best tool to teach structure- especially when you know it’s going to be untaught in 2 years.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×
×
  • Create New...