We have been homeschooling now a little over four years. During that time, writing has been a part of it since River was as young as the first grade. Most of the writing they did was short paragraphs. I wanted to get them use to opening their minds and letting their thoughts flow onto the paper; no limitations, but there was not much structure. They learned a lot, but I saw the need for more structure, direction, and for them to have a reason and an understanding for the steps in the writing process.
WriteShop was created by homeschooling moms, Kim Kautzer and Debbie Oldar, who began teaching their WriteShop class to a group of homeschoolers. At the time, they planned to use established writing curriculum for the core of their class, but were unable to find one that suited their needs. They wanted curriculum that:
- Emphasized clarity, conciseness, colorful vocabulary and interesting sentence types;
- Focused on developing a strong paragraph;
- Offered wide variety of writing activities;
- Helped students know exactly what to look for when refining their own work
- And helped parents know how to methodically evaluate their children’s writing.
As resourceful as many homeschoolers are, they decided to create their own curriculum. It combined all of the above listed needs and became what we now know as WriteShop, which has been helping students write for almost 15 years.
WriteShop is an incremental writing program. The lessons build upon each other and continually include previously taught material to reinforce what the student is being taught.
We had the opportunity to review WriteShop Primary Book C, which is a writing program for students in the second through the third or fourth grades depending upon prior writing experience. Parents of a fourth grade student may find the curriculum useful if their student has limited or no writing experience, or is a reluctant writer.
The book is part of a three book series that covers grades kindergarten through fourth grade; so they believe in teaching the skill (and art) of writing early. If you are not sure where to start your child, then they have a chart that can help you determine where your student would begin when using the series. If you need more assistance, then Ms. Kautzer goes into more detail here.
FOR THE TEACHER
There is no student book, only a teacher’s guide, which provides schedule suggestions (three-week, two-week, or one-week lesson plans) and suggestions on teaching multiple children at different levels. There are ten lessons in the book, so you can decide which schedule to follow depending upon how quickly you want to move through the book.
Everything for instruction is provided in the teacher’s guide from guided instruction to sample dialogue to lesson prep. If you are a planner, then you will love the detail provided to help you prepare for each lesson (see some sample lessons).
There are reproducible activity worksheets that complete the program and introduce and support what the student is taught in each lesson.
Before starting, you will create a writing center with supplies/tools that will inspire your student and enhance his writing experience.
FOR THE STUDENT
The student is introduced to beginning writing skills and provided the tools he needs to be successful at writing. They will go through the brainstorming process of collecting their ideas. They learn about the ingredient of a story, which includes: Who? – characters; What? – problem; When? – setting (time); Where? setting (place); and Why? or How? – solution. Then, the student will put everything together and have a well developed story with all of the details from the beginning to the end.
The student is given a variety of activities that are fun and engaging to motivate his interest in writing. Hopefully, what he learns will encourage him while he develops his writing skills.
We followed the three-week lesson plan because I wanted to give myself time to make sure I knew what I was doing (overly cautious) and to give River and Lily a chance to adjust to the new program. Using that schedule gave them a more relaxed learning experience.
Lily likes writing more than River and can come up with just about anything without prompts, but I think they both benefited from having instruction on what specifically to write about. It also helped that they had steps to follow. They knew their story was not complete unless it had all of the necessary ingredients. One of the stories Lily wrote was about a frog.
Needless to say, there was more story telling going on because there was more motivation to write.
I really like WriteShop. I like that they have curriculum for teaching writing as early as kindergarten and that the lessons are not intimidating for the student (nor is the instruction for the teacher). The incremental approach gives the student an opportunity to gradually walk through the process of putting his thoughts on paper and making it presentable and understandable for others to read and enjoy.
The guided teacher’s manual is helpful for the instructor whether or not he or she has experience writing. You don’t have to love writing or be published to be able to teach your student how to write. Everything is in the teacher’s guide.
For the experienced writer/teacher, some of the lessons were a good reminder of writing basics, the necessary ingredients, and the thought process to go through when doing any type of writing. Some steps may get overlooked to arrive at my final product. Part of the ingredients, “Who?, Where?, When?, What?, Why and How?,” are so simple, but one or more of those ingredients can sometimes be forgotten in the final writing product.
WriteShop is offering a special discount to my readers! You can receive 15% off any WriteShop Primary and Junior products in the WriteShop store (including e-books) using coupon code CREW15 at checkout. This offer is valid through June 15, 2012.
|Disclaimer: The product featured in this review was provided to me in exchange for an honest review by the manufacturer or representing PR agency as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The opinions expressed are my own.|