Nov 10, 2010

The Write Foundation

I enjoy writing. I have been homeschooling my children for almost twenty years, now. Amazingly I would be unable to tell a novice homeschooler exactly how to teach writing to their students. If pressed I would probably say that good writers are first, good readers, and I still believe this to be absolutely true. Beyond this I would be at a loss to describe a protocol, or step-by-step plan or taking students from early reading and writing through a firm grasp of how to construct a meaningful essay.

It is for parents like me that "The Write Foundation" has published their curriculum.

I received the third level of the curriculum, essay writing from the publisher free in exchange for this review as a part of the This Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. The third level is intended for ages 14-17, although the publisher recommends that you consider the particular student when determining which level to use. If you have a weak or resistant writer it is suggested that you start them at the level where they are at the upper level of the recommended ages. Conversely if you have an eager writer who is desiring guidance and direction to move quickly through learning to write well then you would want to start them at the level where they are at the younger age range. I have children at all age ranges and my children love writing as soon as they can, taking delight in expressing themselves in writing. It is as we move into a need for more formality and structure that we need guidance and it is for this reason that I desired to try the higher level.

Those who know me personally or who have followed my accounts of our homeschool in this blog will know that I chafe at structure. Where we do use a formal curriculum I appreciate it providing me with many options with which to tweak the curriculum and tailor it to our own style. I will be honest and say that at it's most basic this is not a curriculum that does this. The curriculum is written to allow it's use with both a co-op, in a group setting or individually, one teacher to one student. There are directions given to facilitate either option and I appreciate this. I also appreciate that the intent is to make this simple to use by giving step by step directions. Although my typical response is to determine where time and effort may be saved by cutting steps or combining processes, the admonition is given to mandate that the student repeat the processes given every single time. The goal of the curriculum is to make sure that a foundation is laid that will serve well for a lifetime of writing. The curriculum includes a teacher's guide which includes step by step lesson plans, grading system and instructions on using the program. It also includes a set of worksheets (reproducible within a family) and a CD with word games, record sheets, presentation sheets, and a reading list among other resources.

This is not a "ready made" program in that you can pick it up and go with no advance preparation. Much work has clearly gone into providing you with a well-rounded writing curriculum (including poetry, word games, critical thinking component and more) but it still takes time to print out the materials needed for the week's lesson. This is also not a program that you can hand to your student and have them follow to learn the material--this is very much a teacher-directed program. This can be good--if you have a student that needs very specific direction and guidance and a nuisance if you have a student who is interested and focused but who merely needs reviews and guidance on structure. If you have a situation where the student is self-motivated and it is the teacher who needs the hand-holding this curriculum could well fit the bill as there is no way that one would not feel as if they have covered their bases when they have completed this program as it includes day by day assignments to go with the weekly in-depth lesson plan.

I will be honest. I do not think that this is a program that will work in our homeschool. Our life is simply too often unstructured and on-the-go. Considering the fact that I may be called away from school time for a nursing baby, a goat (or person) in labor or I may simply be away, selling goat cheese at market, we need something that is more student directed and that needs less planning prior to the delivery of the lessons. We need something that we can grab, toss in a backpack and teach 'on the fly' if you will. That being said, I can pretty clearly recommend the program for families that have a more structured schedule, and desire more formality in a writing program or who appreciate the assurance that can come from following a complete program that they have been thorough and 'covered their bases'.

The program includes the spiral bound lesson plans, the worksheets for the lessons and the resources CD. The program can be used with different levels so one level (1, 2 or 3) can be used for any number of children. Parents have the option of buying lessons 1-30 for $100 (for a very motivated student or a homeschool that is a smoothly oiled machine to complete within a year) or $65 for lessons 1-15 and later, $65 for lessons16-30. Instruction manuals and resource CD can also be purchased separately.

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