Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Write Foundation~ Sentence to Paragraph Writing

Note: Republishing this with new (lower!) prices.... :)

With the focus on  Math reviews last year, I was determined to give a little more attention to Writing this year, as my oldest is heading into the area of high school next year. What a great year to be on the TOS Crew.


We have been working through Sentence to Paragraph Writing, the Level 1 course put out by the Write Foundation (How does that famous song go? "Let's start at the very beginning..... a very good place to start..."). This was definitely my outlook, having put off most sorts of  consistent, formal grammar schooling in a Charlotte Mason-esque  manner.

Each Crew Member reviewing the program was given the choice to try any of the 3 Levels of writing instruction. The basic suggested age levels are as follows :
Level 2 Teacher's Manual
Level 1: Sentence to Paragraph Writing Ages 11-13
Level 2: Paragraph Writing Ages 12-15
Level 3 Essay Writing Ages 14-17
As you can see, there is an overlap of ages, and there is more information on the website on choosing the correct level for your child. Because my Eldest is a voracious reader, but reluctant writer, I felt it best to start with  Level 1, and possibly work through the book at a good clip, depending on our schedules and her accomplishments. 

Once I waded through the 15 pages or so of "introduction" (Basic instructions on how to use the program) and perused the Additional Resources Files for awhile, we jumped right in. 

The first few lessons cover the very basics~ The structure of a complete sentence from Capitalization to Punctuation, Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives. The activities in each of these lessons familiarized my daughter with the Thesaurus... they are now great friends! :) I appreciated the time taken to show how expedient it is go through your writing and replace weak words with strong and interesting words. I see it coming through in other areas of the curriculum, and life in general, so this is a GREAT thing! 

In addition to the basic grammar, there is a poetry component to each lesson. I think this is one of my daughter's favorite things. :) Concrete Poetry was rather new to her, but she enjoyed it, and came up with not 1 but 3 pieces of "Alphabet Poetry" (After declaring that it was going to be impossible!! ;)  )

It took me a couple of lessons to figure out how to schedule our time, but the basic idea is repeated in each lesson~  Here is my simplistic adjustment of the instructions, based on the way our family works and the fact that we are not a classroom or co-op, but rather mother and daughter working together.
  1. Introduce the concept and fill out a worksheet or two depending on the lesson, together or independently, depending on the day. 
  2. Split up the rest of the worksheets (That reinforce the topic at hand) across the weekdays, with Friday being "Poetry" day. 
That's it... pretty simple in my opinion. The program asks the student to hand in 10 type-written sentences each week  for "Homework", but I haven't required that every week. As long as the sentences are written neatly, I'm fine with that. (Has something to do with only one computer in the house, and I'm usually the one using it... ;) )

A note here: The Objectives of the Write Foundation, as found in the introduction of the Teacher's Manual:
  • To teach "The Writing Process" ~ the fundamental writing skills of brainstorm, outline, rough draft, edit, & final copy.
  • To teach "Writing Structure" ~ incorporating structured organization in writing.
  • To teach "Word Usage" ~ the basic grammar and figures of speech used to enhance writing.
We haven't been had it quite long enough to delve into the nitty gritty of paragraph structure, but the initial lessons are certainly laying a foundation for choosing strong words in her writing. Eldest currently thinks that we should definitely use this with middlest as his next step in writing, which I would take as a reasonable endorsement, and she is not prone to torturing her little brother (much...)  ;)

More General information for you~ 
Each level contains 30 complete lessons, which can be used for 1-2 years depending on your circumstances. 
What we received in our packages: 
(Note.. this is 1/2 of the first level, and has been made available for purchase in order to help homeschooling budgets spread out the costs)
  1. Spiral Bound Printed Teacher's Guide  Lessons 1-15
  2. Notebook-ready 3 hole punched Student Worksheets Lessons 1-15
  3. Additional Resources (Ours came via download for the purposes of reviewing, purchasers receive a physical CD) that included
  • Grading System
  • Grading Record Sheets
  • Word Games
  • Checklists
  • Teacher Presentation Sheets
  • Weekly Assignments
  • Extensive Reading list

Here are my thoughts on the additional resources, just because they seem overwhelming at first glance:
  • The grading system was interesting, and I appreciated seeing how a point system could be set up, but since I don't "keep grades" as of yet, I felt it was most appropriate for a classroom setting.
  • The grading record sheets would be practical for a school or co-op situation, but aren't necessary for this homeschooling mom
  • The word games will also be more beneficial in a group setting. They are fairly simple, but I can see that it is nice to have most of the work done and included in the program at appropriate points, so that one doesn't have to "Remember" to throw something fun in, or go "find" the something fun... it is already there.
  • The checklists will be used  more as the writing becomes more complicated. Checklists are good! :) 
  • The Teacher Presentation sheets could be most advantageous again, in a classroom setting, or for a homeschooling family with a laptop... my desktop situation doesn't make them as convenient me, but I appreciate that they are there.  They mostly replicate much of the information in the Teacher's manual as well as the Student worksheets that are to be completed with the teacher. 
  • The weekly assignment sheets are nice to have to remember what needs done, but I did find that the "order" didn't fit the way I set things up, so we didn't go by them "By the letter". However, my daughter loves to have a checklist, so that she can see what still needs to be finished by Friday. 
  • The Extensive Reading List was pretty good. I liked the "Ranking" of the books. It was interesting to see how many my prolific reader had already read, though.... ;) I did get a few more ideas, tho', so that was good.
 Once I figured out what all those folders contained, and which ones would be convenient for me in my own situation, I found it fairly easy to proceed and actually "Grab and go" with this curriculum. There were a few discrepancies between the teacher's manual and the student worksheets (Things like the number of words or sentences that were to be done), but they didn't throw me off... typos happen that spellcheck won't catch!

By now you're wondering "What is the price of The Write Foundation?" right? 
Level 1 complete (Lessons 1-30) $70 + tax and/or shipping Order here
Level 1 in 1/2 year increments (Lessons 1-15) or (Lessons 16-30) $40 each + tax and/or shipping (Must order through this link)

The prices and set-up for levels 2 and 3 are the same.
If you would like to read more about some of the other levels, please check out my TOS Crew-mates' reviews, as all three levels were covered.

As always, I hope that this information is useful to you as you choose where to spend your homeschooling budget~
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this/these item(s)/service for free as part of the TOS Crew Review Program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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