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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Write Foundation Review

Because of the children God has given me, my homeschooling journey has not, at times, resembled much of what I thought it would be. Through circumstances beyond my control, we began as unschoolers, and have slowly progressed toward a more "traditional" approach with each passing year. With that transition comes the introduction of more and more subjects beyond just "the 3 R's", and this year, I had really felt the conviction to work more on writing with my kids.
And God is so good, He met that need for me in the form of the TOS Crew reviews!

Enter The Write Foundation, a company whose website starts with the follow questions:

Have a struggling writer?

Does your student just need to learn how to

Long for teacher-friendly lesson plans you can quickly prepare
and teach?

Desire a writing curriculum your children will enjoy while
learning creatively?

Ummmm, YES! To all of it! I have a 13 year old who needs to know how to write, who is less than motivated, and so needs to enjoy the process. Oh, and add to that the fact that I tend to write well, but have no idea how to translate that ability into teaching someone else the process, and you get one excited TOS Crew reviewer.

The Write Foundation was developed by a homeschool mom who had experience teaching in the traditional school setting, at a homeschool co-op, and with her own children. She developed this curriculum while teaching in a co-op, but it is adaptable for use in an individual homeschool as well. The curriculum seeks to teach the foundations of writing incrementally, but in a way students will enjoy. It has 3 levels.

Sentence to Paragraph-for ages 11-13, this focus on how to write basic sentences, add interest with descriptive words, organize writing ideas, edit writing, creative poetry, and writing one and two paragraphs. This is the level we received.

Paragraph Writing-for ages 12-15, this focuses on writing papers of varying paragraph lengths from one to 5 paragraphs. Brainstorming, organizing, outlining, rough drafts, and editing are stressed. Poetry is also covered.

Essay Writing-for ages 14-17, this focuses on the process of writing, rewriting and editing essays. Students start with 5 paragraph essays and work on to longer ones, eventually learning to write a research paper. As with the other levels, poetry is also covered.

Each level can be completed in one or two years, depending on how quickly you go through the material. And each level can be divided in half for purchasing only part of it at a time.

The pros: The writing process is broken down step by step, and even my, "I won't write more than a one word answer" child wrote sentences as soon as he learned he could type them instead of actually physically write it. Because of The Write Foundation, he has used a thesaurus, and done it happily, I might add. I like that The Write Foundation incorporates Mind Benders by The Critical Thinking Company to help students learn to organize thoughts. I like that the emphasis on poetry isn't on "stuffy" poetry, but rather acrostics, or alphabet poetry, or making word pictures-ways to get kids thinking about and using descriptive words. I like the way the parts of speech such as adjectives and adverbs are emphasized for their roll in making basic sentences much more exciting to read. And I like that the lesson length is short, so it is not too overwhelming. Oh, and I LOVE that it is Christian.

The cons: I always hate to dislike a product, or even part of a product, that I know some well-meaning homeschooler has poured their heart and soul into, but I'm afraid for The Write Foundation, that pouring out of heart and soul might be part of the problem. It took quite a bit of time to "get into the author's brain" and really understand HOW the program was supposed to function. While it's adaptable to an individual homeschool, many of the instructions still assume a classroom setting. For example, one of the first lessons has you set up your notebook for the class. My son and I did his, complete with all the "tabs" she suggested. But in reality, we didn't need half those tabs, and it seemed like not much further instruction was ever given as to what was meant to go behind each one. I think if you have a student who is taking this class somewhere else, the tabs are probably helpful, but in a homeschool setting where I, the teacher, know everything he is doing, we really didn't need all of them. And the same follows for some of the other instructions. Even the basic layout of how much time it should take and how the material should be covered was more geared toward a co-op than an individual family. But we did eventually find our grove, and that is really what matters. I also have to point out that the instructions aren't necessarily grammatically correct either. Again, it's very much like the author is trying to explain her process to you the way she would speak, not necessarily as if her instructions should be the epitome of correctness in grammatical construction themselves. I can get past a few missing commas, etc., but I also think it's fair to say any language art curriculum that want you to trust them to teach your children should probably hold even the instructions to a very high standard. But then, I tend to be a bit of a grammar nazi myself. My last con is the price. Maybe I just need to get over myself and my thought that homeschooling doesn't have to be expensive, but each of these levels, if you get the complete sets (which of course is what is recommended) is $100. Each. That makes $300 for the whole thing. That's just a lot of money to me. I know there are other writing programs out there that are costly too, but I'm just saying, I did not expect the price on this one to be nearly that high.

The bottom line: First, to be fair, all new curriculum have some sort of learning curve, and I don't know that this one is unreasonable, but it definitely took some time to figure out just what the author intended or was asking for in some cases. I do think the lessons are short, and interesting, and effective-at least the ones we've done. And I think the age range is right on. I just wish it was a little more reasonable in price. I'm not sure if I will continue on with it once we are done with this book. The results would have to be pretty spectacular to warrant that kind of spending. So I guess you could say the jury is still out on this one.

To check out more about The Write Foundation, including sample pages from each level, more detailed descriptions of what each level covers, and ordering information, go HERE. To read about the experiences of other members of the TOS Crew with all three levels of The Write Foundation, go HERE.

Legal Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received the first 15 lessons of Sentence to Paragraph Writing and a downloadable version of the Resource CD for FREE in exchange for my honest review. That product is the only compensation I received.
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1 comment:

Tiffany said...

I am NOT a good writer and have no idea how to teach my kids to write. Somehow they are starting to get it though but this sounds like a good curriculum.