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Hannah has always enjoyed writing. Even as a preschooler she created books with invented spelling and adorable crayon illustrations. I am thankful that she has managed to make it to 7th grade with that spark of creativity still in place.
My goal in teaching writing is to help her fine tune her writing style without sacrificing her sparkle, so I spent this summer searching for the best writing curriculum I could find.
I chose WriteShop after falling in love while flipping through a teacher’s manual at my local used book store.
WriteShop I &II
WriteShop I & II is created for 7th -10th grade students. Both levels are included in the same teacher’s manual. I love that this teacher’s manual will last us two years because it lets me see the big picture of the curriculum.
My plan is for Hannah to use WriteShop I for 7th grade and WriteShop II for 8th grade. Each level contains 14-16 lessons. I planned for 2 weeks spent on each lesson when I created our yearly curriculum map. WriteShop makes the pacing easy because they tell you exactly what to do each day, although there is plenty of time to extend lessons if necessary.
Why I Chose WriteShop
Teaching writing does not come naturally to me. I’m great at encouraging my kids to write stories or organize reports, but I struggle helping them edit beyond grammatical and formatting errors. Things like word choice, sentence length, and wordiness felt like style choices that I hesitated to correct. I didn’t want to damper Hannah’s love of writing.
WriteShop provides editing help
The teacher’s manual contains an entire section devoted to editing your child’s writing assignments. They provide a multi-page teacher checklist to help you evaluate your child’s writing. It includes things like using concrete words, varying synonyms, as well as language mechanics.
The student workbook also contains copies of the writing skills checklist and composition evaluation rubric. I think this is really smart. Hannah is learning now to compare her drafts to the rubric. This allows her to see exactly how her grade was calculated. Having an evaluation rubric makes editing and grading less subjective.
It takes the emotion out of it, which is sometimes the hardest part of homeschooling.
WriteShop provides clear instruction
The lessons are clearly laid out with specific expectations. For example, in today’s lesson, Hannah was instructed to rewrite a few sentences. Specific words needed to be made stronger, each sentence needed to have 10-20 words, and she had to use the thesaurus for every sentence. Having those clear expectations set from the beginning of the assignment made it easier for her to do the work to the best of her ability.
Clear instruction helps Hannah, but it also helps me. The teacher’s manual lists the writing activities in the order they are to be taught. Occasionally, there is a script provided. I rarely use the exact wording, but when I see one, I make sure to touch on all of the points before moving on to the next lesson. I feel like I am covering all of the writing bases.
WriteShop is an incremental writing program
The lessons in this curriculum progress in a logical order. Quality writing is expected, so quality writing is taught. I personally like core curriculums that build upon prior knowledge. The progression moves students towards to goal of being a proficient writer.
Setting up WriteShop I
Setting up WriteShop I is much easier and quicker than setting up WriteShop Junior. That is to be expected though. Elementary students need more hands on manipulatives than junior high students. Manipulatives mean more advance prep for the teacher. All you really need for this level is a:
I was fortunate to find a copy of the WriteShop Teacher’s Manual at my local used curriculum store so I only needed to order the student workbook. The teacher’s manual is good for both I and II, but the workbooks are specific to each level.
The physical workbook comes already hole punched, so I just popped it into a 3 ring binder. I added 5 tab dividers so Hannah can easily find what she needs. Hannah’s student workbook is divided into
- Introduction and reference
- Unit 1
- Unit 2
- Unit 3
- Word lists and word banks
I really feel like the WriteShop I curriculum will help Hannah grow as a writer. She will hone her skill in an organized manner while still being supported in her creative writing pursuits.
Have you ever used WriteShop?