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Help me choose? (5th grade ELA)


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So we've been using IEW, and it's a fantastic program, has definitely improved my daughter's ability to take notes and summarize without plagiarizing, but she absolutely hates it, it's a struggle for her to finish every day because she finds the selections she needs to write on so dry.

So now that we're done with the first level of Structure & Style, I'm ready to move on to something new. My biggest issue is that her sentence structure is still very amateur. For example, when writing for Peace Day yesterday she wrote:

"Peace is good because nobody likes war. War can lead to death. Nobody likes death. This is why we all want peace."

I realize she was probably uninspired by the topic 😂 but all her writing is like this. She just doesn't seem to have an ear that notices disjointedness and repeated words, and never tries to write compound sentences.

So I'm looking for a program to help her finesse her writing, but it needs to be at least somewhat fun and engaging. I love the Bravewriter playfulness and think she would too, but I don't think it'll give us what we need in improving her actual style. So I'm looking now at WWE Level 4 (I like that it doesn't include grammar...Her grammar is pretty solid, and I think learning more would bore her and make her protest, but the program seems pretty dry, with no creative writing), at WordSmith Apprentice (mainly because it looks fun, but it probably has too much grammar), and WriteShop Level F (which I like because it seems to help with brainstorming and organizing ideas, which she definitely needs.)

Will any of these give us what we need to advance her writing skills? Is there anything else I haven't looked at that's engaging enough to keep her from rebelling? Also, we've never done dictation, but I'm wondering if dictation of complex sentences might eventually help her absorb complex structure.

 

Edited by nature girl
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28 minutes ago, perkybunch said:

She's in fifth grade.  I'm not sure it is developmentally appropriate for her to write with much style.  Of course she writes like an amateur.  She's in fifth grade.  

Ha. I mean yes of course, I worded my OP really badly. But comparing her writing to samples I've found online, I think by 5th grade writing should be a bit more complex.

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It's not a curriculum but are you familiar with the Writing Revolution? You could make up your own assignments using its advice. I read it last year so I probably don't remember it that well but I recall building sentences using "and" and "but." Of course those are very simplistic contractions but it's a good place to start. It recommends exercises like combining sentences. Maybe that's from Killgallon? You start out with 3 sentences and have the child make 2 sentences. Then have the child make 1 sentence. 

Also no curriculum, but this is a good link. The Write Way to Teach Grammar. It's inspired by Killgallon. I have both of the elementary Killgallon books. Some people really like them but I did not like how all of the sentences came from children's literature. I just bought this book, Building Great Sentences, because I wanted to work on sentence structure this year. I haven't read much of it yet but it looks good so far. 

This is another good link, Image Grammar. It is also a book. I know it's not exactly what you are looking for and it's probably too advanced for a 5th grader but the process in the link is good, thinking of a writer as an artist who uses tools such as phrases, clauses, etc. 

Does anyone know of a curriculum that focuses on combining sentences and adding complexity to sentences by adding phrases and clauses? 

ETA - Bah - conjunctions NOT contractions! I'm a 70s kid so that's a stupid mistake, "conjunction junction...what's your function?" 

Edited by Ordinary Shoes
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2 hours ago, Ordinary Shoes said:

It's not a curriculum but are you familiar with the Writing Revolution? You could make up your own assignments using its advice. I read it last year so I probably don't remember it that well but I recall building sentences using "and" and "but." Of course those are very simplistic contractions but it's a good place to start. It recommends exercises like combining sentences. Maybe that's from Killgallon? You start out with 3 sentences and have the child make 2 sentences. Then have the child make 1 sentence.  

Those seem like fantastic resources, thank you so much! I'm digging through your links now.

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On 9/22/2020 at 10:05 AM, perkybunch said:

She's in fifth grade.  I'm not sure it is developmentally appropriate for her to write with much style.  Of course she writes like an amateur.  She's in fifth grade.  

Agree entirely. She has years to develop more style. For now, just make sure it is grammatically correct. 

On 9/22/2020 at 10:13 AM, 8FillTheHeart said:

I would look at something like Killagon's Sentence Composing and just work on composing a couple of interesting sentences per day.

I do love this resource, and think until middle school sentences alone are enough. Then paragraphs, Then essays. Essays are easy if you can write good sentences. 

But good in 5th grade might just be correct. 

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25 minutes ago, OKBud said:

Since you pulled this out, you obviously recognize this kind of thing, even if you don't "feel" awesome at LA (not that you said that you don't, just even if that's the case, you're already on the right track!) all you have to do is turn around and talk with her about it. I would read it aloud in a stunted robot-voice and say something like, "These sentences are all very short and simple, but we want a good mix of sentence length and complexity. You rewrite it and I'll rewrite it, and we'll compare notes."

Then if you do that here and there, she doesn't even need to fix it in the original paper or whatever it was. She'll just, over time, start to have some taste about what sounds good and what doesn't. 

I'm not saying don't buy something helpful 🙂.  But even if you do, you'll probably end up needing to just talk about and rework basic stuff like this, so you might as well get a jump on it now. 

If you want a thing, in case it hasn't been mentioned I will plug Easy Writing. It comes in PDF too. I love it that way so that we can use it here and there. 

 

Thank you, that makes a lot of sense, I'll try it! 🙂 

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I don't think you necessarily need a writing program to do this for you. Why not just talk to her about how to improve her writing and then work with her to make it happen on each piece?

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