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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Write Shop

I haven't really used a full ("real") writing curriculum for any of my younger kids.  We have just kind of done the few writing assignments that are included in their regular language arts curriculum and then we usually add in a book report or something here and there.....but with no real plan.

I wanted to try an actual writing program to see what would happen.  Then, maybe when they got old and were assigned bigger writing programs, they wouldn't have the deer in the headlights kind of reaction for the first few times.

We got the chance to review a program called WriteShop an incremental writing curriculum that can be used from K - 12.

We used Write Shop Junior Book D, designed for 3rd and 4th grades. 

L-girl, who is in 4th grade, and I worked through this together.  This is definitely a program that you work through with your child....not an independent resource.

I started with the Teacher's Guide and confirmed that I had chosen the correct level for L-girl.  Then it guided me through creating a plan to incorporate this into our lesson plan/schedule.  You can choose from a three week plan or a two week plan to work through one lesson.  We chose the two week plan because L-girl is a go-getter when it comes to her school work.  She is the first one up in the mornings and jumps right into her lessons - usually before she even has breakfast!

One thing that we didn't do that is suggested in the Teacher's Guide was to create a writing center.  It suggests having a clean, organized place set aside for writing.  It talks about this (fictional) place encouraging creativity and will be helpful in developing good work habits for my writers.

Well.  I think that sounds awesome.  I would like a nice, quiet, creativity inducing  writing center for me.  But, in our house (which is NOT a mansion) with six kids and a mom and dad that is not happening. 

I figure I am preparing my kids really well for life in the dorms when they get to college.  There will be noise and chaos and people being obnoxious.  Those poor kids that had a quiet, peaceful study environment at home won't know what to do with themselves.  My kids, on the other hand....will breeze through like it is nothing.  Your welcome, kids.

Back to the writing center though.....the book did have some good ideas that I will having a separate dictionary and things specifically for writing work set aside...not just floating around somewhere in your house for school assignments.....maybe in a plastic storage bin or something that is just dedicated to writing and can be moved around to your writing center.

L-girl and I both had a favorite thing about Write Shop Junior, Book D.  The Fold-N-Go grammar packs. 

Basically, there are miniature reference guides for grammar.  You cut them out and put them together yourself, just using old manila folders.  See how they are put together....

.....with each page behind a little bit you can see the title of the page.  They are helpful.  They are colorful.  They are smaller than a usual reference book.  Much smaller.

We really liked the Fold-N-Go grammar packs.  I can see keeping those around even as she gets older.  Honestly, I could see myself grabbing one to double check that my own grammar and usage is correct.  Here is what they cover:

  1. Punctuation Marks
  2. Self-editing (this one is great and has proof reading markings)
  3. Nouns
  4. Pronouns
  5. Verbs
  6. Adjectives
  7. Adverbs
  8. Prepositions
  9. Capitalization
  10. References

This was a fun product to try out.  The activities were fun and visual.  I like that.  I think I could have tried the next level up for L-girl because many of the things that we worked on she already had a pretty good grasp on from our normal school.  If you want to try this but aren't sure where to place your child, here is some good information on helping you choose the right level.

I could see that this would be well suited for a reluctant writer in this age range.  Actually, I think the whole program would work really well for a child who is a reluctant writer because the lessons are not plain and simple....."sit your butt down and write something"....kinds of lessons.  The activities are fun and the Fold-N-Go sheets are brief and colorful.

The Write Shop website is pretty helpful too.  They have a Parent's Corner that has articles and other resources to help you feel more comfortable teaching writing.  There is also a Kid's Corner that has everything from games to writing prompts to writing contests for them to be a part of. 

The one thing I didn't like was the design of the activity pack.  It is designed like a two sided stack of construction paper.  So, as we were ripping out the things we needed.....other things further back in the pack just sort of fell out.   

Write Shop Junior, Book D Activity Pack student book is available for $39.95.  The Teacher's Guide is also available for $39.95.  And, the the Time Saver pack is available for $13.95. 

The Time Saver pack is just what is says.  It is filled (20 pages) with the stuff (like spinners and cards) you need for the activities already printed on card stock. 

If this program sounds like something you would like, I can get you a great deal! 

WriteShop has offered a coupon code for 15% off any WriteShop Primary or Junior product from the WriteShop store valid until June 15, 2012. Enter the code CREW15 at checkout.

Still not sure?  Go take a look at a sample lesson and see if you think it would be a good fit for your family.  If you decide to try it, don't forget the coupon code is CREW15.

Go take a look and see what other TOS crew members thought of Write Shop for different age levels.

Disclaimer:  I received Write Shop Junior Book D, Teacher's Guide, Activity Pack and Time Saver pack for free in exchange for an honest review.