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We have used my favorite homeschool writing curriculum for a full year now, so I thought it was time to finally write a WriteShop review.
I transitioned my children to WriteShop last year. Previously we were using the BraveWriter program. I love the BraveWriter lifestyle – tea with poetry, big juicy conversations, incorporating movies and fine arts, etc. – but I wasn’t seeing a lot of improvement in writing proficiency. Cultivating a love of language and writing is important, but so is the ability to write well.
Combining BraveWriter lifestyle activities with the WriteShop curriculum has been the best homeschool writing curriculum for my family. My son is currently working through the WriteShop Junior Curriculum and my daughter is just about to progress from WriteShop I to WriteShop II.
The WriteShop homeschool writing curriculum has multiple levels, ranging from children just beginning to write all the way through high school students.
WriteShop Primary = K – 3rd
WriteShop Junior = 3rd – 6th
WriteShop I and II = Jr. High – High School
Each level is labelled with a different letter rather than a grade level equivalent. This can be confusing initially, but is very helpful if your child is working at a level that is different from their age-based grade level. Use the WriteShop sample lessons to help you determine the appropriate level for your child.
Each section of WriteShop differs a bit, due to the average age level of students, but there are several things I love that are consistent across levels:
- Lessons and materials are well organized
- There is plenty of teacher/parent instruction and guidance – including a grading rubric
- Writing assignments teach great technique and a variety of styles while still offering flexibility to include a child’s interests.
Each level of WriteShop Junior contains 10 lessons. I choose to spend three weeks on each lesson, but the teacher’s guide offers several scheduling options. There are two sample two-week lesson plans and even a schedule for teaching students in two different books.
Homeschool parents often wonder if the teacher’s guide is truly necessary, and in the case of WriteShop, it is! The teacher’s guide lays out the lesson schedule, occasionally provides a script, and gives detailed information on how to best teach each lesson.
Every WriteShop Junior level teaches a variety of writing styles. For example, in WriteShop F students will learn how to write a fable, humor, an adventure, science fiction, a mystery, poetry, personal narrative, descriptive narrative, a book report, and a nonfiction report.
The genres repeat throughout the entire curriculum, so don’t worry that your child won’t learn to write a book report if you start in a different level. Just jump in when you are ready.
WriteShop Junior has a few different components: Teacher’s Guide, Activity Pack (this includes the student worksheet pack and the fold-n-go grammar pack), and Time Savers. The Time Savers pack is technically optional, but it really will save time. I like to spend an evening organizing the writing curriculum so that everything is ready to go the rest of the year. Once it is organized by lesson, it takes almost no planning each week. Just grab the teacher’s manual and the WriteShop lesson file and you are ready to teach writing anywhere. This has come in handy many times when we need to get work done while waiting at co-ops.
The topics are broad enough kids can really get creative and include their interests (which naturally increases engagement and learning). Ben once took a simple assignment about writing an adventure and turned it into a short story about an island surrounded by sharks. He had such a good time figuring out the plot and adding stock images that I don’t think he even knew he was learning!
The teacher’s manual for WriteShop I and II is combined into one book. I love this because it let’s you always see the next step. It is also a great cost-savings because this teacher’s guide will last the entirety of WriteShop I and II.
There are a total of 30 lessons, covering topics such as describing an object, writing concisely, and writing a timed essay. The teacher’s manual offers two schedules – a two year track or a three year track. We have opted to complete both levels in two years, at a pace of about one lesson every two weeks.
The student workbook contains a few exercises per week that are designed to help a student strengthen specific writing skills. Don’t skip these! They are really quite valuable and are an integral part of improving writing.
WriteShop I and II lessons offer a broad topic, but give room for a child to personalize the writing and make it their own. For example, in WriteShop I Hannah wrote a biography about her great-grandmother, a report about hedgehogs, and a fictitious journalism piece (also about a hedgehog . . . can you guess her favorite animal?). She is happy to spend time researching and editing her writing if it about a topic that is special to her.
One last thing . . .
The WriteShop curricula can be purchased as either a digital pdf or a printed book. I highly recommend purchasing the printed versions. The program is through and would require a good bit of time, paper, and printer ink to print at home. Save yourself the time and effort by buying it already printed and bound.
I hope this WriteShop review was helpful! If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments or email me at [email protected]
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