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Old 06-15-2018, 12:01 PM   #1
arelyn
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Default Writing Program Recommendations

My nearly 11 year old is way beyond grade level with almost everything except writing. He can barely put together a 4 sentence paragraph. He knows this will be a problem if he wants to start online college classes so he's looking for something to help him catch up. He would prefer something which focuses on factual writing and not fictional writing. It would also be great if it's something we can download instead of having to order an actual book.

We were handed down Wordsmith Apprentice which he loved but he didn't seem to actually take anything away from it. We also had a book that had a talking octopus which he hated (the text seemed like it was for elementary kids but he couldn't get past the first assignment).

Does anyone have some recommendations?
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Old 06-15-2018, 01:41 PM   #2
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Default Re: Writing Program Recommendations

I am a HUGE fan of IEW. It focuses on nonfiction and is a very structured, step-by-step approach that I think a lot of non-natural writers appreciate because it demystifies the process. I would recommend their Student Writing Intensive series, which is DVD based. Level A is for 4th-6th grade, so that's the one I would start with.
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Old 06-16-2018, 05:17 PM   #3
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Default Re: Writing Program Recommendations

Lots of people love Brave Writer.

At what age is he hoping to start online college classes? I would try to downplay the idea that he'll struggle with college courses. While the charts and lists don't say this, it's actually pretty common for kids of this age to really struggle with writing. When push comes to shove and they are about to enter college, they usually figure it out. Sometimes it just takes some simmering and steeping, if you know what I mean. Some exposure and time for the brain to assimilate.

Does he like to tell stories? What excites him? What does he like to tell you about? Has he tried dictating into dictation software? Then he can edit. Sometimes that's a boost.

My dd is taking an online writing course at www.udemy.com It's only $10. She's learning a lot. She's 14, though. It might be too much for an 11 year-old. She's taking creative writing now, academic writing next. So far, the assignments are SHORT, which makes her happy. But she feels like she's learning.
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Old 06-16-2018, 11:33 PM   #4
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Default Re: Writing Program Recommendations

I'm watching carefully. I bought writeShop Primary book C for Margaret going into grade three but we haven't started it yet. She LOVES to write and creative wise does really well. Structure and spelling though not so much. I'm hoping this will help her organize her ideas a bit more.
I'm debating doing the writeShop 1 with Cecilia who very much struggles. Ive done IEW in the past but we found it too constricting (if that makes sense) its jsut really increased her anxiety. SHe also hated the videos. She felt as though her writing was no longer HER thoughts and ideas but more what the "teacher" wanted. The cost was for us over the top as well.
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Old 06-17-2018, 11:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Writing Program Recommendations

We used allinonehomeschool this year and I saw huge improvement in my kids writing. The writing is mixed with the other language arts components though so it's not just writing. We used year six, and especially the assignments at the end of the year seemed to help my kids with using different types of structure in their sentences.

We used IEW last year. My son liked it well enough, but my daughter felt the same way as a pp. She said it didn't feel like her writing. I think it is good for students who need to understand how to write and aren't upset by not being able to express themselves creatively. It gives a good pattern to follow but not a lot of room for individuality.

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Old 06-17-2018, 01:21 PM   #6
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Default Re: Writing Program Recommendations

I love Brave Writer. (It's fully downloadable, and many of their products are discounted at homeschool buyers co-op.)

I love the philosophy and the inherent creativity. Yes, she teaches the academic forms, it's not a creative writing course, but rather teaches kids to write in their own unique voice. It's a quality vs quantity program, but it can get teacher intensive. You need to understand the underlying philosophy because nothing is scripted and many of the projects are open-ended. You're working on different skills at different times - grammar, spelling, and punctuation are addressed separately from organizing ideas adn choosing vibrant descriptors. Talking about ideas or writing is a huge part of the program.
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Old 06-17-2018, 03:10 PM   #7
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Default Re: Writing Program Recommendations

I really like IEW as well. However, I haven't been the one facilitating it with my kiddos. We have a retired homeschool mom who is teaching it in town, and two of my kids have taken these classes from her. I will most likely enroll a third child this fall. My kids have seen some major improvements in their writing skills through using this program.
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Old 06-17-2018, 09:52 PM   #8
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Default Re: Writing Program Recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soliloquy View Post

At what age is he hoping to start online college classes? I would try to downplay the idea that he'll struggle with college courses. While the charts and lists don't say this, it's actually pretty common for kids of this age to really struggle with writing. When push comes to shove and they are about to enter college, they usually figure it out. Sometimes it just takes some simmering and steeping, if you know what I mean. Some exposure and time for the brain to assimilate.

Does he like to tell stories? What excites him? What does he like to tell you about? Has he tried dictating into dictation software? Then he can edit. Sometimes that's a boost.
I'm not sure when he will be ready but he' getting excited for it. He may take the math and chemistry SAT next June but we'll see how he's doing when it get's closer to that time. He might get bored with the idea and not want to by then. Either way, I am more than happy to harness his interest in college prep and improve his writing. He's never shown any interest before. He's never told stories and doesn't really like open ended assignments that involve creativity (unless it's Rube Goldberg machines or diagrams of possible science experiments) so IEW might go over well. It is expensive though and I'm not sure how to get only online access.

Has anyone used Writing with Ease? I'm curious to hear someone's thoughts on that one.
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Old 06-18-2018, 04:54 AM   #9
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Default Re: Writing Program Recommendations

So Verbose is another program.
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Old 06-18-2018, 06:02 AM   #10
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Default Re: Writing Program Recommendations

Writing With Ease is good and it's easy to do. Everything is scripted, so you just open and go. There is narration, copywork, and dictation each week, with increasingly longer passages. If you get the student workbook, it's all written out for you. If you go with just the instructor manual, she gives you the first couple of passages for each new stage, and then tells you what to look for and you choose your own passages until the next stage.

If your ds is 11, though, I'd look at Writing with Skill, the next level of the program, which is for middle school writers. The workbook is written directly to the student, and there is a teacher manual to help you out when coaching your student. It teaches writing from outlines eventually.

Both are solid writing curricula. They are incremental and work well for kids who want step by step instruction. The narration pushes summarizing (and organizing facts mentally), as opposed to the Charlotte Mason type of narration which is more about remembering as much as possible or what's important to the narrator. I don't believe they are available as downloads, though. Peace Hill Press offers pdf's of the SOTW student pages, so it's possible they do that with their writing programs, but I' haven't checked on it.

The other writing program I really like is Writing and Rhetoric, from Classical Academic Press. It's solidly classical in its approach, and everything is written directly to the student, with a Teacher's Manual available. (The TM is a copy of the student book with the answers written in and notes for what to look for in original assignments.) It follows a lot of the same pattern as WWE - narration, copywork, dictation -but adds a speaking component and some discussion about the passages and their meaning. I hesitate to recommend it to you only because it's not a downloadable product and you'd have to order the books.

A note about Bravewriter assignments - there's freewriting (5 minute chunks) once a week, with occasional revisions of the freewrites. There are smaller assignments like spending 2 minutes observing an object with the parent writing down any and all descriptors the student calls out. You then work with that raw material the next day for a day or two to come up with a paragraph. A larger assignment would be something like making a mail order catalog from a historical period or designing an island chain. The writing is in smaller chunks and it gets spread out over the course of 3-4 weeks, with research happening the first week, then freewriting, then revision, then "publishing." It's very much the way you'd write a research paper.
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Old 06-18-2018, 10:46 AM   #11
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Default Re: Writing Program Recommendations

Quote:
Originally Posted by ViolaMum View Post
Writing With Ease is good and it's easy to do.

I don't believe they are available as downloads, though. Peace Hill Press offers pdf's of the SOTW student pages, so it's possible they do that with their writing programs, but I' haven't checked on it.
I know you can download writing with ease, I just bought it ( I opted for paper copies, but digital was an option) I am fairly certain that you can download middle school program as well.


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