Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Backtracking- learning as we go ~

I suppose you could say we are "backtracking". We decided to go back to our old writing program, we just missed it too much! Yes, it's that good~

A bit ago I posted about our writing program we had been using. I saw how my boys were slipping in their enthusiasm to want to write they way they did previously. ( IEW )
I started looking at the writing program we were using and talked it over with the boys and we decided to head in a different direction. We moved onto a program you may recall me mentioning WriteShop.

I read up on it and it seemed to be a good fit for my 13yo son. I read lots of great reviews on it so I decided to pick it up and we began working on it about a month ago. I read all through the Teachers Manuals etc so we started in on the program and we found we really didn't like it.

We had done several lessons and I found there to be a great deal of busy work and worksheet type exercises leading up to the writing process. We didn't like that. We aren't really "big" on worksheets to begin with and this seemed very similar to me like the "watered down" writing assignments I would get when I was in school. ( and I didn't like that, lol )

I think I my perspective is kind of biased since we began and had been working with IEW. Each writing program I look at I use my own experience with IEW to work with it and so do my boys.

My 13yo seemed to not like the WriteShop really at all and it seemed to work against his strengths and seemed to emphasize his weaknesses much more and I couldn't have that ~ so we both decided to go back and stay with IEW through the rest of his middle learning years and then beyond to his high school years.

I see IEW with a new perspective. It is a very structured program in that it is designed to be used as a kind of formula for good writing structure and for writing style. There is no doubt this program helps inspire good writing and takes a very forward approach to writing which we both realized we really like and now can appreciate. The "matter of fact" (if you will) approach and modality of the program really helps my boys to learn and write to their best abilities.

We will change things from before so there is not the burnout we had gone through previously, one thing that is nice is our changing over to using Oak Meadow~ it will work nicely with IEW so I think we will be able to fit more modeling time in and working daily in smaller steps than we had to before.

I was happy to set Write Shop aside and impressed my son could see this did not fit his learning style. Many of us as adults are not able to see these things so I was very proud of him today. He really is growing both in body and mind.

Both programs can work and are very good writing programs. I just think it is interesting how I have read reviews of others who have children that did not work well with IEW; so they then switched to WriteShop and had great success, while others had not had found success with Write Shop and found IEW to be a fit. :) I really think it depends on the child and the parent.

Notes:
IEW ( Institute of Excellence in Writing)
Here is a review about the IEW TWSS (Teacher Writing Stucture and Style) from Curriculum Choice Blog.
and another review from This Old Schoolhouse Magazine, this one I found interesting,lol I think it is important to be mindful of reviews. Some reviews are from people who have never actually used the programs~ imagine that? :) Some of the confusion in this person's review can be completely cleared up by actually using the program and working through the units themselves, I never found any confusion with the DVD's and the notebooks. You have to work through it and everything is outlined for you in the student pages along with schedules, dvd tracking sheets etc.. from the IEW families group, which one would only know about if you actually used it.
Here is some reviews from others who have used it, from Choosy Homeschooler.

WRITESHOP I & II
Here is a review about the Writeshop I program from This Old Schoolhouse Magazine.
Here is a review from Cathy Duffy

* anyone interested I have WriteShop I for sale~ email if you think you would like to try it. It is brand new :)

Happy Writing~ whichever program that makes you write "right" :)

4 comments:

elysabeth said...

I can recommend a book also - it's geared for 4th through 8th grade students but may be adaptable for other levels of writing. It's called "Teaching the Story" by Carol Baldwin (Maupin House is the publisher). Carol wrote this book specifically geared for teachers to help them teaching creative/fictional writing. I met her a 1-day workshop last August. I purchased a copy of the book and sent to the 6th grade teacher in Utah I do virtual class visits with and then turned around bought a copy for myself to follow along when he's teaching. The first chapter is an overview of everything, and the remaining five chapters break down the major points of writing a story (one on character, one on plot or theme, et cetera).

I believe she homeschooled her children or worked with a lot of her children's classes over the years to come up with this book. She has mini lessons which are usually one page items to reinforce what is taught throughout the book. Carol's blog is http://www.carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com/ - you can contact her directly or order the book from just about anywhere. The ISBN is 978-1-934338-35-3. Good luck with that.

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of the Junior Geography Detective Squad, 50-state, mystery, trivia series
STATE OF WILDERNESS, now available
STATE OF QUARRIES, now available
STATE OF RESERVATIONS, coming April/May 2010
STATE OF ALTITUDE, coming May/June 2010
http://jgdsseries.blogspot.com
http://junior-geography-detective-squad.weebly.com

Learners at Home said...

Thank you for this information, I will certainly look into this ~ ;)

Sparklee said...

Thanks for the info!

We really need to work on writing and we haven't quite found the right program. I have been curious about IEW for a while, and I hadn't heard of Writeshop. I'll take a look at both of them!

Learners at Home said...

Sparklee, if you decide on WriteShop I have it so send me an email and I can sell it to you, it is brand new :)
All the best,

Tracey

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