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We're on the verge of completing WriteShop Level F (their last elementary level), and I'm torn on what to look at next. My 5th grade daughter liked the gamification of WriteShop, and I thought it did a good job of strengthening her style, so I'm looking for something similar. I don't know that she's ready to sit through the next WriteShop level, it feels too dry to me...So I've looked for something more creative (her own creativity is through the roof) including Cover Story (hard for me to quite wrap my head around) and Faltering Ownership (I'm not sure it'll give her what I'm looking for.) I'd ideally like her to get better at taking notes, and improve her voice/stylistic techniques. But most of all, I want her to have fun...Before this year she HATED writing, and to improve report writing skills I did IEW with her this summer, which made her hate writing even more. But now she's actually writing a novel in her free time, and has improved tremendously from where we'd started. I want to nurture that enjoyment as much as possible!

Here are short samples of her writing: the first is the beginning of a 10 page short story, and the second is the first chapter of a sort of field guide she wrote about ocean creatures. (I realize there are minor errors...She's very sensitive to editing, so at this point to keep her enthusiastic I try not to correct her.) I'm pretty sure her writing is on track for her age, but would love feedback on whether she might be ready to move on to middle school level curricula (pared down if necessary), or if we should spend more time on the basics. And I'd love suggestions on a curriculum she might find engaging. 

Thanks so much!

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Edited by nature girl
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  • nature girl changed the title to XPost: What next? (5th grade writing)

Well, my rising fourth grader is barely willing to write a sentence. And when he does, it’s something like, “the cat ran up the tree. The boy got the cat.” so that looks pretty amazing to me. Why not just stick with what works? I’d say she is ready for middle school curriculum. Usborne has a bunch of creative writing books that would probably be fun for her. Or maybe she could take a class on brave writer? Or Outschool? Looks like she has a talent for writing...that’s great!

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If she is enjoying creative writing, then this is a great time to explore that. 

Cover Story would be a great option. You could spread it out over 1.5 years -- so start it this year when finished with Write Shop, and then continue and finish in 6th grade. Cover Story is a complete program with video lessons, so not much to have to figure out as the parent/teacher. 😉 It includes writing instruction in sentence and paragraph structure, grammar as it pertains specifically to writing. It has a very nice variety of writing assignments -- journalism articles and blog posts, essays, letters, and creative writing of both poetry and short stories.

Two other possibilities might be:
Jump In
- Writing and Rhetoric
   - book 4 (expository essays (factual writing) with narrative, descriptive, and persuasive elements)
   - book 5 (persuasive essays (opinion writing) with narrative, descriptive, and persuasive elements)

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6 hours ago, Masers said:

Well, my rising fourth grader is barely willing to write a sentence. And when he does, it’s something like, “the cat ran up the tree. The boy got the cat.” so that looks pretty amazing to me. Why not just stick with what works? I’d say she is ready for middle school curriculum. Usborne has a bunch of creative writing books that would probably be fun for her. Or maybe she could take a class on brave writer? Or Outschool? Looks like she has a talent for writing...that’s great!

Well she wasn't much further along in 3rd grade either! A lot of development happened in a year and a half, especially this year since I've brought her back home. Thanks so much for directing me to the Usborne books, I hadn't seen those before, so thank you. They look like so much fun! I just bought her the Fantasy and SciFi book, which I think will be right up her alley.

5 hours ago, Lori D. said:

If she is enjoying creative writing, then this is a great time to explore that. 

Cover Story would be a great option. You could spread it out over 1.5 years -- so start it this year when finished with Write Shop, and then continue and finish in 6th grade. Cover Story is a complete program with video lessons, so not much to have to figure out as the parent/teacher. 😉 It includes writing instruction in sentence and paragraph structure, grammar as it pertains specifically to writing. It has a very nice variety of writing assignments -- journalism articles and blog posts, essays, letters, and creative writing of both poetry and short stories.

Two other possibilities might be:
Jump In
- Writing and Rhetoric
   - book 4 (expository essays (factual writing) with narrative, descriptive, and persuasive elements)
   - book 5 (persuasive essays (opinion writing) with narrative, descriptive, and persuasive elements)

Thanks so much, Lori. I'd looked at Jump In at the beginning of the year, and I absolutely love the conversational style, and that it's so self-directed with concrete steps to follow, which I think she'd like. The samples look great. But I'm worried it may have too much Christian content. I don't have an issue with some (I realize Cover Story also has a little) but, for example, I've read that it mentions abortion more than once, and I'm just not ready to discuss that with my 10 year old. How closely incorporated is that content? 

I know W&R is excellent, and probably covers everything I'm looking for, but I'm worried might be too dry for her...I'd like writing to be as fun as possible, which is why I was looking at the more creative options.

In looking at reviews here, I see you've used Cover Story. Do you think it would work with a 5th grader? I'd extend it into next year, but don't want to discourage her at this point. The samples (a chapter on show vs. tell (concept writing vs. "movie" writing) looked fine for her age/level, and the humor interspersed in the videos is perfect for her, but it's hard to tell if further lessons might go over her head, or how customizable it is. I also am curious about how much actual writing there is, if we didn't do the free writing (which I think she'd balk at after the first month or two.) I'd love her to have more experience in research and essay creation, and it's hard to tell if this program would give that to her.

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2 hours ago, nature girl said:

Well she wasn't much further along in 3rd grade either! A lot of development happened in a year and a half, especially this year since I've brought her back home. Thanks so much for directing me to the Usborne books, I hadn't seen those before, so thank you. They look like so much fun! I just bought her the Fantasy and SciFi book, which I think will be right up her alley.

Thanks so much, Lori. I'd looked at Jump In at the beginning of the year, and I absolutely love the conversational style, and that it's so self-directed with concrete steps to follow, which I think she'd like. The samples look great. But I'm worried it may have too much Christian content. I don't have an issue with some (I realize Cover Story also has a little) but, for example, I've read that it mentions abortion more than once, and I'm just not ready to discuss that with my 10 year old. How closely incorporated is that content? 

I know W&R is excellent, and probably covers everything I'm looking for, but I'm worried might be too dry for her...I'd like writing to be as fun as possible, which is why I was looking at the more creative options.

In looking at reviews here, I see you've used Cover Story. Do you think it would work with a 5th grader? I'd extend it into next year, but don't want to discourage her at this point. The samples (a chapter on show vs. tell (concept writing vs. "movie" writing) looked fine for her age/level, and the humor interspersed in the videos is perfect for her, but it's hard to tell if further lessons might go over her head, or how customizable it is. I also am curious about how much actual writing there is, if we didn't do the free writing (which I think she'd balk at after the first month or two.) I'd love her to have more experience in research and essay creation, and it's hard to tell if this program would give that to her.

Well, that is a relief to hear. I’m a little worried about his writing skills (or lack thereof). I hope your daughter loves the books! We are big fans of Usborne books here. 

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3 hours ago, nature girl said:

... I'd looked at Jump In at the beginning of the year, and I absolutely love the conversational style, and that it's so self-directed with concrete steps to follow, which I think she'd like. The samples look great. But I'm worried it may have too much Christian content... How closely incorporated is that content? ...

...In looking at reviews here, I see you've used Cover Story. ...

Actually, I've used Jump In, not Cover Story -- Cover Story came out after our DSs graduated, so I have no experience with it. But I have read a number of very positive reviews/experiences from other posters on these boards. 🙂 

re: Christian content in Jump In
There is now a 2nd edition of the program, and we used the original 1st edition, so there may be changes that I don't know about, in either direction (i.e., more or less Christian content). Amazingly, the WTM search engine actually WORKED tonight and I was able to find an OLD post of mine (from this old thread: "Is there something like Jump In?"), with info about the Christian content of the 1st edition of Jump In. (And, hopefully someone with experience with the 2nd edition can comment on Christian content for you, too). 

Hope that helps! Warmest regards, Lori D.
_________________________


my 2014 post:

"Jump In is published by Apologia, a Christian company. Most of the Christian content is in the writing prompts that are set up to be used for a month of "free writing" between each unit, so that it extends what is a 1-year program into 2 years. We ended up dropping the writing prompts -- DS was in 8th grade, so they seemed juvenile, boring and "too Christian" (and we are Christian), so the prompts didn't connect or spark any interest in writing, and there wasn't any real variety in the types of prompts and topics. (For "free writing" we  ended up moving to practicing timed essay writing from a prompt, using past SAT test essay prompts.)

As far as the main instructional portion of Jump In, as I recall, the Christian content tends to be largely limited to a few of the ideas for a few of the writing assignments. Specific examples I remember: pro-life and abortion are mentioned for one assignment; a "prayer chain" is mentioned in another. The references to abortion (and it's more often expressed as "pro-life" or "pro-choice" views, with only one direct mention of abortion that I can recall) -- along with references to religion or other potential "hot button topics" were not that frequent -- maybe a dozen in the entire book (with abortion/pro-choice totaling about 3 of those dozen). One of two of these mentions were as examples of good writing; the rest were ideas (among a list of other ideas) to pick from for specific writing assignments.

We found it pretty easy to skip over the handful of overtly Christian writing assignment suggestions. However, as a Christian, there may be subtle things in the overall worldview/presentation of the program, or in the phrasing of things, that I might not have noticed or thought of as "religious", while someone else may find the overall tone of the program to be "too religious". Perhaps checking out the sample pages may help to see if the program could be adapted to meet your needs??"

Edited by Lori D.
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9 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Actually, I've used Jump In, not Cover Story -- Cover Story came out after our DSs graduated, so I have no experience with it. But I have read a number of very positive reviews/experiences from other posters on these boards. 🙂 

re: Christian content in Jump In
There is now a 2nd edition of the program, and we used the original 1st edition, so there may be changes that I don't know about, in either direction (i.e., more or less Christian content). Amazingly, the WTM search engine actually WORKED tonight and I was able to find an OLD post of mine (from this old thread: "Is there something like Jump In?"), with info about the Christian content of the 1st edition of Jump In. (And, hopefully someone with experience with the 2nd edition can comment on Christian content for you, too). 

Hope that helps! Warmest regards, Lori D.
_________________________

 

Thanks so much, Lori, that's been very helpful!

I've done some more reading on Cover Story, I was on the verge of purchasing, but while the format looks fantastic, I read several reviews saying that it contains some violent content that I just don't want my daughter exposed to...Really a shame, because I think otherwise she'd love it. I'm now reading more reviews for Jump In, and it does look like it might work well for us (although I've seen some say it didn't actually improve their children's writing. That may be a "Your mileage might vary" thing, though!)

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12 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Actually, I've used Jump In, not Cover Story -- Cover Story came out after our DSs graduated, so I have no experience with it. But I have read a number of very positive reviews/experiences from other posters on these boards. 🙂 

Hi Lori, sorry one more question. Do you think the teacher guide is helpful for Jump In? It looks like it's mainly for scheduling and rubric, but are the tips for teaching, and the "Writing Plunges" helpful?

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53 minutes ago, nature girl said:

Hi Lori, sorry one more question. Do you think the teacher guide is helpful for Jump In? It looks like it's mainly for scheduling and rubric, but are the tips for teaching, and the "Writing Plunges" helpful?

For my experiences with the 1st edition (no experience with the 2nd edition):

re: teacher guide
I never used the teacher guide, as it wasn't hard to schedule a "bite" at a time, however much/little worked for DS#2. However, DS#2 had LDs in writing, and by the time we used Jump In, I had years of experience in adapting material, and in scheduling for *his* needs/speed. And rather than using a rubric, we just worked on a piece of writing until we were satisfied (without me overkilling and making him re-work it too much).

re: "writing plunges"
We dumped these very quickly. These are the "free write" prompts that we personally found to be very repetitive and lame. And I didn't feel it would help my particular student to take 4 weeks off after completing each unit of Jump In to spend on free writing from prompts. Instead, we did Jump In 4 days/week, and 1 day/week we practiced timed essay writing writing from choice of old SAT prompts. Yes, it was helpful to do those practices as our "free writes" as it really developed the thinking needed for writing, and practiced thinking and organizing your thoughts quickly. However my DS was 8th grade, and ready for that type of timed essay writing, and he was not interested in doing creative writing -- or writing of any kind, quite frankly. So that worked as a pretty quick and fairly painless type of "free writing" that he could accept, since he knew he would be doing an SAT test later on in high school, and at that time, they still required the essay.

All that said... If I had a 6th grader who enjoyed creative writing, I would probably either do a unit of Jump In and then spend a week or 2 or 3 on her creative writing projects. OR, do Jump In 4 days/week with 5th day/week for her creative writing projects -- and  if she didn't have a particular project she was working on, have her look through one of the lists of ideas below for a prompt of interest to her for "free writing". Sure, look over the free writing prompts in the Jump In teacher guide, and use any that are of interest to your DD, but don't feel limited that you "must only" do those prompts -- or "must" schedule them the way Jump In says -- or that you "must" do the free writing at all. 😉 

Alternate, Free Writing Prompt Ideas

- Writing Buddies website
   - 31 Sixth Grade Writing Prompts
   - 31 Writing Prompts to Get Kids Writing Regularly
   - Life Skills for Kids: 32 Writing Prompts for Middle Schoolers
   - 40 Writing Prompts for Middle School
   - 55 Creative Writing Ideas
   - Story Writing Topics

- 100 Entertaining 6th Grade Writing Prompts
- 251 Creative Writing Prompts for Kids
- 300 Fun Writing Prompts for Kids: Story Starters, Journal Prompts, and Ideas
- 501 Prompts - persuasive, expository, narrative, literary 

Edited by Lori D.
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15 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

For my experiences with the 1st edition (no experience with the 2nd edition):

re: teacher guide
I never used the teacher guide, as it wasn't hard to schedule a "bite" at a time, however much/little worked for DS#2. However, DS#2 had LDs in writing, and by the time we used Jump In, I had years of experience in adapting material, and in scheduling for *his* needs/speed. And rather than using a rubric, we just worked on a piece of writing until we were satisfied (without me overkilling and making him re-work it too much).


- 300 Fun Writing Prompts for Kids: Story Starters, Journal Prompts, and Ideas
- 501 Prompts - persuasive, expository, narrative, literary 

Oh wow, thank you SO MUCH! Saving all these links, and then I'm off to order. Thanks again, Lori. You've been so kind to take the time to respond!

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