Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Teaching Writing with The Write Foundation- A Review

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I received Curriculum Package 2: Paragraph Lessons 1-15 which includes:
  • Spiral Instruction Manual Lessons 1 – 15
  • Printed Student Worksheets Lessons 1 – 15 
  • Paragraph Additional Resources - when ordering you get a CD (we got these as a download)
Level 2: Paragraph Writing Lessons 1-15 that I received:
  • Contains a lot of guidelines and checklists for the student to use.
  • Begins with writing one basic paragraph 
  • Reviews basic grammar using poetry, other exercises and games
  • Teaches something different each week... adding a new part of speech or other grammar rule to use in their writing that week.
  • Teaches them how to  brainstorm about a topic, outlining, rough draft by doing it as a group first and then editing to get a final draft.
  • It then does 2 paragraph papers
In part 2, which I did not receive, the publisher says it progresses to writing three- and four-paragraph papers and then introduces the five-paragraph formal essay

We used the lessons as suggested in the teacher manual. Completing what was suggested for each day in the one year plan, which means doing one lesson a week. The publisher says the 30 lessons can be used in a one- or two-year format. If I was using the complete program for teaching my kids I would definitely go with the two year program. Since they only have 3 levels for teaching ages 11 to 17 you have plenty of time. I think the one year plan has way to much to accomplish each week. Spreading it out would be much better. My boys felt really pushed to get the work done and it took a lot of time each day, 1 - 1-1/2 hour per day. 

Each lesson starts with Mind Benders. I did not have Mind Benders already part of my homeschooling and could not afford to get it at this time so we skipped that part. Mind Benders is a product of the Critical Thinking Co. The teacher book tells you which Mind Benders book you need for each level of Write Foundation.

In the instruction manual there is a layout of what is expected in class and then a day by day layout for what to do that week. One of the things I did not like was the confusion about when to do certain things. In the Recommended Daily Schedule  it says to do the poetry on day 5 and in the daily schedules at the end of each lesson it says to do the poetry on day 2 (day 1 is Mindbenders)  They need to make up their mind. I was very confused. I ended up doing the poetry first. It is the introduction of the new part of speech that the student is to add to their writing that week. It makes more sense to do it first. But also, in the layout of the teacher pages, they put the poetry at the end of the lesson.  If it is the first thing you do each week then it should be the first page(s) of the lesson each week. They should put the pages of the instruction manual in the same order as the suggested and have a uniform recommendation to do it first each week.

After you do the poetry you have many, many worksheets. Some of them you fill out together as a class and some the student does on their own. You have the worksheets for the poetry and introduction of the part of speech. Usually one of those is a page to look at (like a list of adverbs) and the other is a page to practice the new part of speech in sentences. Then comes the paragraphs that are the samples, next you have outline pages to take the words from the paragraph and copy the important words onto. Then you have the paragraph organization/brainstorm worksheet where you copy over the important words and then use that sample to brainstorm and write your own version. Then you have to copy that same information over onto a Block Outline page. Then you can write you own story on paper or type it up.  If you, or your student likes worksheets than this is the writing program for you! It has it all laid out! 

However, we all hated it, even the teacher. My children and I have never liked worksheets. The instruction manual says,
"The Paragraph Organization/brainstorm and outline may seem redundant, but making the students do the "extra" work prepares them for successful independent writing. They do not realize they are training their brain to automatically think in an organized, step by step fashion."
I am sorry to say we found it annoying and it made for a hard few weeks for us. It was like pulling teeth to get the boys to do writing.

It is not just the worksheets that we do not like. We did not like the way the program was laid out. Right away, lesson 2, it has the children writing stories with their own topics. That is one of the things my boys have struggled with and it puts a wall up with their writing... What to write about??? They don't know what to write about. This makes them resistant to the writing process as well. They can't learn how to write when they are worried about what to write! Even though the program includes brainstorming about ways to  re-write the stories my boys still struggled with what to write. The brainstorming did not help.

Also the program utilizes highlighting of paragraphs and matching outlines. This seemed to frustrate the boys more than help them. It may help another child who is visually stimulated but these extra steps did not help us write better.

Here is the link again to the main page of the company The Write Foundation

At this link you can get a pdf download of an Introduction to The Write Foundation 

Suggested Levels and Ages
Level 1: Sentence to Paragraph Writing Ages 11 – 13
Level 2: Paragraph Writing Ages 12 – 15
Level 3: Essay Writing Ages 14 – 17
more details on the suggested ages can be found on the link above

Samples of all three levels

Pricing
The Package I received:
Curriculum Package 2: Paragraph Lessons 1-15 $65 + tax/shipping.
    Spiral Instruction Manual Lessons 1 – 15
    Student Worksheets Lessons 1 – 15
    Paragraph Additional Resources CD

Curriculum Package 1: Paragraph Complete Lessons 1-30 $100 + tax/shipping

There are other packages available and pricing for each level can be found by the links on this page:

Order Information for all three levels

This is quite a lot of money for a writing program. It is a whole year or two worth of lessons but because of the cost I am giving this my Break the Bank icon. 

If you are thinking about this program I suggest you look at the samples and then see what my fellow crew mates had to say about the program before you buy. I am sure there are some crew mates who had different opinions on the program and that will give you a whole different viewpoint. Other crew members also got different levels of the writing curriculum. To see what my other crew members have to say about The Write Foundation check out the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

I am sorry to do this but out of five stars I give The Write Foundation Level 2: Paragraph Writing:


***The Write Foundation provided me with the The Write Foundation Level 2: Paragraph Writing so that I could do my review. Though I received this product for free I have given an honest review of it here in this post.

all content on my blog is ©

5 comments:

Mrs. Mandy said...

You were so much nicer than I. We also did not "get along well" with this one. I love your stars, I was actually thinking of doing star ratings for this one, would you mind if I use this idea for other reviews?

Debbie said...

I tried to be diplomatic about it. I know some people/students would like this curriculum and it would work great for them... it just did not for us.

You are welcome to use stars on your reviews. I was not the first to do it. A bunch of ladies last year, and some this year I think are using different ways of rating the products. I just looked up stars on a domain free clipart site and used them.

Briana said...

I just started writing this review. I'm trying to be nice in my review. We only made it through two lessons but I can't make myself do any more to find out if it gets better.

momma24 said...

Great job! It was hard to review this when it was not a great fit.

Mrs. White said...

This is a great review! I am enjoying reading all the different viewpoints. I didn't review this one, but wasn't sure if it was something we should buy or not.

Thanks for your honest and informative review!

blessings
Mrs. White

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