PDA

View Full Version : Story Starters, Wordsmith ... what to do, what to do???



Negin
10-04-2009, 04:45 AM
I'm not thrilled with any writing program that we have so far, specifically composition and actual writing - not grammar and such, per se.
I'm reluctant to fork out any more $$ on any others, unless if I feel pretty certain that it will work for us. Plus, living where we do, I can't get a very good chance at browsing through a book or program. Never mind the fact that we have to pay far, far more for shipping and duties here.

By the time I was my dd's age in Britain, I was writing two-page compositions. I don't think my dd could do so and that frustrates me. I feel that I have been a bit too easy on them. We've done lots of oral narration. Looking back, I think that perhaps much of it was a waste of time. I feel that I've spoiled them.

They do write in their journals and they love that. Dd is usually quite creative. I no longer correct her journal writing.

Should I:
* Give what we have so far, a bit more of a chance:
Story Starters - for those of you who use this, how do you implement it? The more details, the better. Please share. We've used it for oral narration so far. The kids like it. They don't love it. How do you encourage them to write more than just a few lines? This has been sitting on our shelf and we haven't used it enough. It's gorgeous. The book is beautiful. I just feel overwhelmed. There's no structure and dd and I LOVE structure.

Wordsmith - I was all excited about this. Now I think it's just okay and even a bit annoying at times. Dd rolls her eyes at this "silly" program. Her comment: "Mom, I don't want to work for a newspaper". She's a Perfect Paula type like myself and just wants to get to the work and cut out the fluff and unnecessary stuff if you KWIM. The other day we were going through the 3 types of sentences - declarative, interrogative, imperative or whatever - and she was ready to scream. So was I. Her attitude and mine is: who cares? Let's just write. I don't remember ever being taught the 3 sentence types and all those details. We just wrote and loved it. I think perhaps too many details kills the joy and pleasure in writing.

----

I have had suggestions for Bravewriter before. I really don't have the time or energy at the moment to teach myself something. I don't want to reinvent the wheel or feel that I am going to college all over again.
I want a program that:

has low prep time and is easy to use for me also
is clearly structured, planned, and organized. My dd is a Perfect Paula - they "seldom act spontaneously and are uncomfortable with creative activities that lack specific guidelines. They like to follow a typical specific school curriculum. They prefer: workbooks and consistent structure."

Am I asking for too much?
According to Cathy Duffy, some programs to consider are:
Frode Jensen's Format Writing - I can't find enough sample pages online and will no longer purchase anything without sufficient sample pages.
IEW - I guess I need to look into this more. I've always seen it mentioned, but really don't know much about it at all.
Write Shop - as above.
Writing with a Point
Writing for 100 Days

should I just get some Evan Moor or other type of workbook? Usually, these are at least easy to use. I used to reject anything that wasn't designed by and for homeschoolers, anything that was geared for classroom situations. I no longer do.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Jeni
10-04-2009, 06:02 AM
I understand exactly where you are coming from. I don't remember if I was writing compositions by 11 but I know I was writing paragraphs on my own and mine struggle to do that. :unusure: We are using Saxon with my 11yo and really like it (he tolerates it :lol: but he would prefer no work in this area as it's not his strong suit ;) ) but I know you said you were happy with everything except writing so may I suggest Ignite Your Writing (http://www.currclick.com/product_info.php?products_id=932)? I'm seriously considering it for my 9yo. Best of all for you, no shipping, you can just download it from Currclick. ;)<input id="gwProxy" type="hidden"><!--Session data--><input onclick="jsCall();" id="jsProxy" type="hidden">

Robin(CA)
10-04-2009, 11:47 AM
I would recommend Meaningful Composition. It sounds exactly like your description. It is laid out day by day in a workbook and written to the student.

http://www.tfths.com/comp.php

ETA: From my understanding IEW is *not* easy on the teacher. You watch the videos which teach you how to teach writing. One of the things that I liked about Meaningful composition is that the author took the principles from IEW and created a program directed toward the student.

One of the reviews from Cathy Duffy's website:
http://www.cathyduffyreviews.com/grammar-composition/meaningful-composition.htm

Nancy Ann
10-04-2009, 03:16 PM
Hi Negin,

I don't think oral narration was a waste of time. I think it's time that you start switching from oral narration to written narration. Your children can start to write out their narrations now. Written narration is a very important transition to eventually being able to do composition and research papers and things like that. If your children are use to doing oral narration that's great!! Just have them start writing them out. Start out slowly.

I love the Ambleside Online information about language arts. I enjoy browsing through this site, they have lots of great information and suggestions.

Here is their Language Arts Scope and Sequence. I find this very informative and helpful.
http://www.amblesideonline.org/LangArtsScopeSeq.shtml
According to this scope and sequence your kids are doing just fine.

Here is their information on Language Arts
http://www.amblesideonline.org/FAQ.shtml#language

CINDY LB OH
10-04-2009, 03:24 PM
I'm sorry your dd doesn't like Wordsmith Apprentice; my dd loved it.

I don't have any specific suggestions for you because we like using Brave Writer as well.

But I did want to say that your time spent with oral narration was not a waste. You might want to continue with narrations but do written narrations instead of oral. You could continue to use the assignments in the Wordsmith book but have her do them her way, instead of writing for a "newspaper".

Also, I believe Jensen's Format Writing is for high school level, so may not be a good choice for you yet.

Negin
10-05-2009, 03:25 AM
Thank you all so much for these great suggestions :group:.
I'm going to look into them. I wish I could spend the entire day or next few days doing this ... :) They all look so good. Decisions, decisions :crazy:. I have a feeling that I'll be starting a new thread in a few days' time when I narrow down my options.


I understand exactly where you are coming from. I don't remember if I was writing compositions by 11 but I know I was writing paragraphs on my own and mine struggle to do that. :unusure:
Jeni, a homeschooling mom, whose opinions I really respect reminded me of this. I NEEDED to hear this :blush:.
By the time they are adults, it won't matter at what age they learned to write compositions and articles, or if they could do the same thing you could at a certain age.
So true. :yes: Besides, if I really want to go down that route, there are so many things that my dc know and can do that I couldn't do at their age. My dd's math, for example, is leaps and bounds ahead of where I was at her age ... and even for years to come. Parenting and homeschooling can often be such a humbling experience. I'm not saying that you need that reminder :group:, but I certainly did.


I would recommend Meaningful Composition. It sounds exactly like your description. It is laid out day by day in a workbook and written to the student.
Robin, this looks very good. :clap: I assume that you are using this and are happy with it.


I don't think oral narration was a waste of time. I think it's time that you start switching from oral narration to written narration. Your children can start to write out their narrations now.
Nancy Ann and Cindy, thank you for that reminder :kiss:. You are so right.

Nancy Ann, thanks also for the Ambleside suggestion. I haven't visited their site in some time. I must have forgotten. ;)

Tricia in TX
10-05-2009, 09:13 AM
Honestly, I think one of the reasons we homeschoolers have so much trouble with writing is because it feels so forced. WHY are they writing? So they can hand it to mom, she can read it and say "good job"? It feels wrong.

In my experience with teaching my kids writing it's really about JUST WRITING. KWIM?

There is no perfect program. It's just about doing it. They need to be able to write reports, essays, persuasive papers, narrative papers etc. It just has to be done.

Personally, I think you have all the know-how, you just need the reason.

Get a decent online scope and sequence and see what types of papers she should be writing for her grade level then go online and find some examples of persuasive essays or whatever and just have her write it. Start small, a paragraph or two and work up to the larger papers.

Perhaps save all the examples of various types of writing in a notebook and send it to Grandma for Christmas?

Make a Language Arts newsletter on Word to send to family, consisting of the various types of essays/papers?

Honestly, I don't think you're going to find the program you're looking for because I don't think it exists! :lol:

Some years (like this year) my kids have been able to take a writing class at co op and really, they just write. They're assigned the type of writing the teacher wants and that's what they work on till it's done.

I hope this didn't seem disjointed, I've just been where you are so many times I've decided it's an unanswerable question! :lol:

Robin(CA)
10-05-2009, 11:21 AM
Robin, this looks very good. :clap: I assume that you are using this and are happy with it.


It arrived on Friday and I spent the weekend looking through it. We start today. I know it will be a perfect fit for us because each assignment is laid out clearly and broken down into segments. If you search for my previous post, I have a lot of experience writing, and even was a writing consultant back in college, but ds did not like learning from me. He likes to tell me that he knows everything instead of listening. :eyes: So this way, he has his assignment and we can edit it and discuss it together, but there's no bargaining over length of assignments, etc. Since it's assigned by a "3rd party" he'll see it as a challenge to complete, not something to get out of.

I wanted to start it back at the beginning of Sept, but the place I originally ordered from had issues getting their shipment, etc, so I finally ordered level 4, books 1 and 2 from Rainbow Resource 2 weeks ago. I only got book 2 (book 1 is backordered), but we'll start with book 2 temporarily since they can be used out of order.

ETA: looking at the samples of the different levels gave me a good feel for it. I knew I would like how it was laid out and flipping through it over the weekend confirmed that.

Negin
10-06-2009, 03:52 AM
Honestly, I think one of the reasons we homeschoolers have so much trouble with writing is because it feels so forced.
Honestly, I don't think you're going to find the program you're looking for because I don't think it exists! :lol:
I hope this didn't seem disjointed, I've just been where you are so many times I've decided it's an unanswerable question! :lol:
Tricia, thank you. Although right now, I WANT there to be a perfect program :lol:, I've copied and kept your post just in case I get frustrated with whatever I end up getting. I figure I need to first give whatever program I choose a shot. Then I may need to reinvent the wheel, which, I really, really hope I don't have to do :eek:.


each assignment is laid out clearly and broken down into segments.
ETA: looking at the samples of the different levels gave me a good feel for it. I knew I would like how it was laid out and flipping through it over the weekend confirmed that.
Robin, thank you once again :) ... now off to start a new thread ... anyone sick of me yet? :crazy: