Thursday, May 17, 2012
Write Shop TOS Review
Writing Instruction for my children has been something I have struggled with for my children. I can teach them the steps of writing or the elements of a paragraph or composition, but the how to get there is the tough part. Write Shop has provided this crucial bridge in writing instruction.
I have had the opportunity to use and review Write Shop Level B, designed for 1st and 2nd grade, but also suitable for 3rd grade. Level B contains 10 lessons with each lesson studied for 2 weeks. The lessons can also be stretched for use over 3 weeks if the child needs more writing practice.
Write Shop Level B teaches the following writing skills: letter writing, standard spelling, acrostic poems, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, in the news, problem solving, humor, characters and settings, and using graphic organizers. We have used the first three lessons with topics of Grandparents, holidays, and space. Additional topics in the curriculum are neighborhood and community, dinosaurs, ocean animals, nursery rhymes, fairy tales, animal homes, and neighborhood helpers.
Each lesson focuses on a specific theme or event, such as holidays, birthdays, trips. All the topics chosen for the lessons are exciting to children and something most children are already familiar with. Thus they are aren't faced with writing about something which they don't know about, a major hurdle in the whole writing process. The major elements of writing; brainstorming, pre-writing, writing, revising and editing are practiced several times over the course of each lesson.
The lessons are designed to be done in approximately 30 minutes a day, with several different, yet related activities accomplished during this time.
In addition to performing the various steps of actual writing, students using Write Shop also are exposed to spelling and word families as they relate to the writing projects. Throughout the course students are encouraged to make a spelling notebook containing words which are related to the subjects of their writing projects. Students also review word families and make diagrams of them in preparation of poetry projects.
Write Shop requires a lot of parent/ teacher preparation and participation. This adult needs to gather various materials for the course and have them easily accessible for each lesson. It is also necessary to prepare some papers or cutout items for each days lessons. Much of the teaching in the Write Shop program is done interactively between the student and teacher. The adult is encouraged to do the physical act of writing for the student so they may focus on the thoughts involved. The teacher carries on a conversation with the student while he is engaged in the writing process to him him remember details and mechanics of writing. This conversation is also designed to help prompt the student to remember details to include in their writing.
The teacher helps include a detailed schedule for one, two, or three weeks per lesson on a grid format and show which parts of the lesson are to be completed each day. There is also a grading rubric or checklist for each of the 10 lessons. This is on two pages, but clearly shows what the teacher should be looking for as they work with the child to master the various styles of writing presented.
Write Shop level B also uses an Activity Set. This is a collection of pre designed pages which are used with the lessons to introduce the topic, peak interest and give a nice form to the culminating writing activity of each lesson.
Write Shop B is $26.95 e-book format, $29.95 book. Activity pages Level B are $4.95 print, $4.50 e book. All of these products are available from the Write Shop store. Now through June 15th 2012 Write Shop is offering a discount to readers of the TOS Crew Reviews a 15% discount at checkout with the code CREW15 This includes all Write Shop Primary and Junior books and e-books.
Write Shop also has additional levels of writing programs for kindergarten thorough high school.
Both my 8 year old son and I love this program. Using the Write Shop program has changed writing from a subject which is dreaded to one eagerly anticipated. My son has gone from "No, Do I have to write?, I don't want to write" to "Mom, we can't forget to do today's writing assignment." He has been interested in all three of the topics we have completed, but especially space.
The first lesson features a little ditty to help students remember the parts and order of a letter. They learn a letter has a heading, greeting, body, and closer and associate them with parts of their head, hands to greet, body, and feet to sign their letter. My 8 year old enjoyed acting this out and my 11 year old thought it was so fun that she joined in.
One of the components of the program is making a 'Super Speller' notebook containing words the student has difficulty spelling. I think this is a great idea and one which I had started in a different format. I had set up an index card box with letter dividers and wrote words on individual cards. That way we are able to update the word collection as his vocabulary grows and interests change.
Another component involves making a flower garden featuring word family flowers. The flowers contain a word ending in the center and words made with that ending for the petals. The flowers didn't not appeal to my 8 year old son so he decided to make a vegetable garden. He thought it would be more interesting to have a variety of vegetables, rather than just one kind.
The pictures above feature lettuce and red potatoes; to the left corn and tomatoes.
I received a pdf copy of the Write Shop text and activity pages for this review. It was convenient to have the activity pages on my computer and print when I needed them, however I did not find the electronic copy of the text as convenient. Because teaching the course requires some much parent preparation and participation I found it challenging to have an electronic format. It was not easy to go back and forth on each page to see what needed to be prepared or try to follow the directions while teaching the lesson. I had to print out a number of pagers as well as the schedule before I could really get a handle on how to present the program to my son. My personal preference would be to have a hard copy of the book available for preparation and next to me while working with my child.
Other members of the TOS Crew reviewed this level and other Write Shop levels. See what they had to say at the Crew Blog.
Disclaimer: I received a gratis pdf copy of this program to enable me to write this review. I have not been compensated in any other manner. All opinions expressed here are solely my own.