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Need a no frills writing book/curriculum for 7th grader

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Wordsmith is very no frills and it was good for my oldest DS. With a 7th grader I'd skip the Apprentice book and start with the regular Wordsmith book which focuses on creative writing. Then when he's ready I'd do Wordsmith Craftsman which teaches all the essay types as well as business/technical writing.

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JMO, and not a workbook, but what I've found to help most at this age/stage in learning to write is to have the student write a weekly 1-paragraph assignment. Write in all 4 areas of writing -- descriptive, narrative, persuasive, expository. Write various types of assignments -- compare/contrast; reader response to the literature; answer to a discussion/thinking question in the History or Science, etc. 

And practice paragraph structure and building a supported argument.

But the most important aspect at this age is if you can scaffold a student by sitting with them, and providing guided questions and input during the writing process, most especially at stages 1 & 2, and 4:

1. brainstorm = generate ideas
2. organize = sort through ideas to find what connects up, and arrange into a logical order/flow; brainstorm again where there are holes
3. rough draft write = turn organization into complete sentences & complete paragraphs 
4. revise = major fixes -- add what is missing, remove what isn't working, combine sentences where you repeat or overlap, rearrange sentences or paragraphs for better more logical flow, and make major sentence structure fixes (run-ons, fragments)
5. proof-edit = small fixes -- spelling, punctuation, capitalization, typos, double words/forgotten words, formatting, etc.


I'm finding that most of my grade 7-12 students who struggle with writing struggle with one or more of the following:
- The idea that writing is a process and that they will have to come back and work on a piece of writing several times -- they want to blurb it out on a page and be done.
- How to think of what to say, or how to put their thoughts into a logical order.
- What makes a complete paragraph (the types of sentences and order of the sentences).
- How to come up with a thesis statement (has 3 parts: 1. overall topic 2. your claim about that topic 3. direction -- summary of main points that the body will be about that build an argument of support for the thesis claim)
- How to think and build a supported argument to support the claim part of their thesis statement.
- The "thinking" stages of the writing process" How to brainstorm & organize, and how to revise


So, from your original post: What do you mean by "serious writing practice" to "get him writing better"?
What is weak or not working? Or what exactly needs practice? That will help you determine what resource might best help DS practice the weak area. If working alongside your student is not possible, and a workbook is what is what would fit for your family, here are a few ideas, based on possible areas of struggle:

- Is sentence structure or paragraph structure the problem?
Maybe Killgallon Sentence Composing or Paragraph Composing

- Is it a struggle with the process of writing as a whole -- how to break down an assignment into stages and what is needed at each stage?
Maybe - Jump In, or Writing Skills book 2 or book 3 (Diana Hansbury King)

- Is it a struggle with one or more parts of the writing process? Like struggling to think of what to say, or trying to figure out how to organize his thoughts?
Maybe Jump In, or Writing Skills book 2 or book 3 (Diana Hansbury King)

- Or is it a struggle to get through the proof-editing process?
Maybe Fix It, or Editor In Chief (level 2 = gr. 6-8), or similar program.

- Or is it a general, hard-to-pin-down struggle?
Maybe Evan Moore Daily Six Trait Writing.

Edited by Lori D.
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My 7th grader is using Writing With Skill. It's no frills and very easy to implement, but you can't just send him off with the workbook. 

Fwiw, with all my kids the determining factor at this age was my involvement rather than the book they were using. They needed my feedback on a regular basis.  

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1 hour ago, mamakelly said:

Lori, thank you so much for the specific information!!! I really appreciate it. I'm going to print that info out 😄  

Happy to help. 😄  

Just clarifying -- the resources I listed above are workbook-based, as that was what you were requesting in your original post. A workbook probably won't have the amount of information/instruction you need to help guide your student through the process, but it may be effective if you're just needing to target a specific area. If you need more teacher information and guidance for YOU, then something like SilverMoon's suggestion of Writing With Skill would probably be a better fit...

BEST of luck, whatever you go with! Warmest regards, Lori D.

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