View Full Version : Writing!

07-03-2004, 07:44 PM
I am going on my 3rd yr and I STILL don't feel I have a handle on writing!!!!
I need help. I ordrered

07-03-2004, 07:47 PM
I hit one wrong button, and truncated my message. (It's my pinkie's fault.)
Anyway, I have Strands for next year, and perhaps that will be the answer, but I have heard some people just don't like Strands.
So, how do you teach writing? (Esp. for boys?)
Leah E.

07-03-2004, 09:14 PM
Pen pal letters worked for us. Andrew didn't like the idea initially but he did finally get into it and once he got going he enjoyed doing it.

Not sure if that's of any help to you, but it's a suggestion...

07-03-2004, 09:30 PM
We use "A Reason For" handwriting and love it. It's Bible based with scripture writing.


07-04-2004, 10:26 AM
I am using writing strands with my second and third graders. My kids do not like to write and they complain some with this program but it is much better than before. I ordered the Handwriting Without Tears to use this year . The plan is to use both. I am using strands for content and the second just to improve the mechanics of their writing. ( The company did not promise the teacher would not be in tears ! ) I homeschool grandchildren and my daughter was looking at their work one day and said" Look at this, you can't tell their writing apart". She was right. Perhaps we are inventing a new style called " Can You Guess What I Wrote Cursive " . Oh well we just keep trying! The absolutely wonderful thing about homeschool is if one thing does not work we can try another.

07-04-2004, 11:04 AM
My fifth-grader is my "reluctant writer". I did a little of Strands with her last year toward the end and was told "I guess it's not too bad!", which is high praise from her. So I will be using it for her and also with her younger sister (who will write all day if given the opportunity).

07-06-2004, 09:10 AM

I don't remember which level your son is in....you didn't mention it :wink: However, I can tell you that OVER and over I continue to read that writing is a *boy thing*. Most are very active, (not that some girls aren't and can outdo them) in the sense the mind thinks in a different way. So its takes imho a lot of time and patience to cultivate it. :wink:

Obviously this is a skill that is very important but since it takes time to cultivate it gets left behind or on the *backburner* in ps,imho. :shock:

I really changed my method of teaching writing with my boys this past year and it worked. :D Yes, I have writing strands and I like some of it,but not all. I found that part of the enjoyment process for my boys is obviously picking the subject to write about. They always have the choice, but not always were they in the mood to exercise that choice. So I always had a backup topic/example.

Also good writing takes several days and/or lessons to develop. Its a logical thought process. Boys are impatient, mine anyway, when it comes to that process. So only write ONE good subject per week or week/half. The rest of the time, let them journal about ANYTHING and/or copywork/dictation. Journaling doesn't need to be interactive. Because once you have that 1:1 time with them, its exhausting on them and you both mentally LOL Jounaling for my sons are about anything from eating pizza to going on a field trip to how bored they were for the day. I always expect neat handwriting, but don't necessarily correct grammar/punctuation because it gives me an idea of where they are at and I want them to feel *uninhibited* when they write. If its how they feel, no matter how silly to me then I want that from them. I don't want them to feel that i will correct it every time. Writing is something individulistic and personal and its their expression, unlike the quote *lessons or compositions* that are actual assignments of more formal writing.

So I used a variety of writing sources. Here is my curriculum list:

Topic choices and skills
If your gonna teach a child to write you have to have this book
Writing Strands

Skill only with model/examples
Comprehensive Composition by Kathryn Stout.

Draw Write Now
Copywork/Dictation from classics/living books/Bible

This next year I will incorporate Classical Writing:Aesops Fables.

Yep, I know the list isn't pretty :o but it worked and its not as hard as it seems. I used Rod/Staff and Calvert this year as guidelines regarding what a child this level should be introduced to. I bought Kathryn Stouts book late in the year, however its been a great help already.

So I knew each week or two what skill he needed to be introduced to and the suggested topic. One topic, for example, was about how you feel about hugging. My son gave me one of these :roll: LOL and frequently throughout the other topics too. So I changed those topics, used same skill that I needed to introduce. However, when it comes to history or science, he can *talk* which aids in writing. Kathryn Stouts book allows flexiblity because she teaches the skill and has you apply it to any subject of interest. This AIDS GREATLY in reluctant writers.

So heres my actual writing process :

First, we are in no hurry once the topic is chosen!!!!! The first two days about 20 minutes at first, then a little longer as year progresses, is *brainstorming* words, thoughts and sentences. We just let it flow. If no *flowing* going on (LOL)then I ask questions about that subject to draw them out to help him.This requires a little preparation, not much on moms part to help. But usually if its a topic he likes, he runs with it, so to speak. I don't stop him talking, (I wrote list at first since he can concentrate on enjoying the thought process)..I just write in the order he says. In otherwords *out of logical order*. This may take one day depending on what you have. If no flowing going on, I research a little on that topic and have more interesting questions to draw him out with. Then we add to that *scratch list* ourselves. The next day, same amount of time, but then he does write with your oral discussion of how to put it in some type of coherent sentence structure.. DON"T try to get it all done on this day. Save some for the next day.
Same for the next day. Until the last day, you have erased, changed around and used some other synonyms besides *good and bad* that are way more interesting! This takes up pretty much the whole week or at least 4 days. Its very easy this way, enjoyable and thorough since you have not moved too fast.

Decide which skill you are working on for that week and composition. For example, if Rod/Staff or Calvert say *good topic sentence* that focus ONLY on that, not body and conclusion at same time. TOO much, imho. That all will come!! It keeps it all real simple.

The next 3 or four days let him do copwork and dictation from you. BOTH VERY important skills,imho. Good witers learn how to write from writing/reading good work. It makes it a natural process when they can get the *feel* for quality work. Copywork is excellent for this! Dictation makes them keep more than one or two words in their heads. It helps them to keep a thought in it. Dictation starts off with only one good sentence (like in second grade)from ANY good living book, preferably one he likes! Work your way up to two or more in the next. GO SLOW and enjoy :D

Ok..are you completely overwhelmed? :shock: :D

I just wanted to see if any or part of what I post will help you. :D

I do some other things too,but I think this will give you an idea of how our process works and what are some of my tools.

Does it help any? :shock: :D


07-06-2004, 11:18 AM
Writing is a strong emphasis where I use to teach.
I teach my own children to write (both boys).
Here are some ideas.
Teach a variety of writing techniques and genre.
Kids that are reluntant to write need to know a purpose for their writing.
Are they writing to entertain, report, inform, communicate with others (letters,etc) and so forth.

Organizing ideas:
I showed them how to organize their thoughts using a web graphic organizer. This help them outline their fictional or non-fictional writing. Kids can do this as an early age with picture to help them. He was only 4 at the time he did his first oranizer (words and pictures)
Types of graphic organizers:
--story grammar charts
--comparison charts
kwl (chart that asks What they know, What they want to Know and What they want to Learn)
--For older kids...Cause and Effect
There are others, look on the internet under graphic organizers.

Having a choice in writing topic is great, but they will need guidance. Writing about "anything you want" seems too overwhelming for some kids.

Kids can make a list of topics:
Favorite books and authors
Favorite places
People I would like to meet (past and present)
Places I would lie to visit
Favorite fantasy characters
Favorite historical events,
Things I want to learn

From this list they would pick an area to write.
For example under family, they may write about a memorable event.
Writing Process
Brainstom words and ideas
Write a draft
Read it aloud
Write the final story/paper
Publish in some form (only those that they want to get to this point) ---books, posters, power point presentaions, skits, etc.
These are just ideas. Most of the boys loved to write about adventure and sports.

They are many ways to write and it is important not to get stuck in one format which will get tedious and boring.

comic books
speech writing
write to persuade (advertising a new product, etc.)
Realistic fiction
Historical fiction
How to ... (How to play ..., How to make... etc)
Goal setting
Opinion papers
Small books with illustrations
Chapter books...they think they are really cool making their stories in chapters.

This is some of the things I do with my boys.
They have a book shelf of their "authored" works.
They love to read each others stories.

Also teach mini-lessons that teach writing techniques.
alliteration, simile, writing in threes, good begginings and conclusions, personification, imagery, metephors. These can be taught at an early age. You just need to adjust the level.

Reading helps with writing. Using books is a great way to get some writing techniques.
Copy a writer's style (like Dr. Seuss) Look at a bunch of books and how they begin their stories when working on begginings, etc.

Good luck to all the future writers.

07-06-2004, 01:02 PM

I had a few more after thoughts :P I really researched this topic last year :roll: :D

From what I remember, Writing Strands is more concrete writing as opposed to creative writing like Journaling. I do both, but don't sweat it if the boys don't want to journal because :

Journaling is creative writing and not all children are creative! No matter how hard they try. For that fact US EITHER as adults! LOLSo its something that has to be developed in some children. They don't want to/need to express thoughts, emotions,etc. So if it causes a big rift, I say PITCH it and opt for things that your concrete minded child needs like lists. Lists are concrete. List what I did today, Want i want to do for our vacation, What I want to read, What I DON"T want to read,What to do tomorrow,etc.

We had this dicussion one time on welltrained mind and Susan Wise Bauer made a good point. Journaling was introduced in the 70's when feelings/emotions were needed to be expressed,etc. So I bear that in mind when we write. Nevertheless some kids, don't like to. If yours do, fine, if not, its not a big deal. There are other ways. * Lists accomplish the same thing*. Yep some ps teachers may not like them, but creativity is something you either have or don't. If not, it takes time to *water and cultivate*

Also, I myself don't like to use a lot of graphic organizers or mapping as it is called for several reasons. Some kids(not all) don't need help on ideas that are drawn out on lines or put is some sort of graphic organizer. They have more problems with Where do I begin? How do I put this is in order that makes sense? (Here is where outlining comes in). Mapping as I understand, yes Calvert has it too :roll: is a ps technique from what I remember. So most kids don't need ideas as they do in how to put the important ones first, leave out unimportant details and add supporting ones. KWIM? So don't feel the need to have to do a lot of those with them.

I didn't use ANY last year even though we had them. Outlining will solve that problem is the older grades and a basic outline in younger grades solves that problem. Graphic organizers just for us, seemed one more step we didn't need. We put all the information on the lines and circles and still wondered *MMM, where do I start?*. So one *brainstorm list*, then oral discussions of our thoughts in the younger grades , while hitting some outlining was much more concrete and effective for my concrete minded children and for my boys that needed to get to the point :roll: :D .

I do remember one thing about Writing Strands that SWB said was that it just lacked sentence variety. But it is for concrete writers. Its not creative, it sets out an outline or boundaries and they fit them so to speak. A thing a lot of reluctant writers need. They want clear cut directions. So thats I will continue to use parts of it along with the other that I have to try to keep a balance between creative and just plain ole writing,which is good in my opinion. Writing is just communication. It should be straightforward and to the point. KWIM?

Just my afterthoughts! :D


07-06-2004, 04:53 PM
Just to clarify.
These are just ideas. We didn't do all this with each writing. :)

My boys loved to write stories, and often didn't use any organizers.
But, if your child is stuck, one or two from the list are worth a try.

Just sharing.

07-12-2004, 02:12 PM
Brenda's idea of penpals worked well for us as "extra" writing practice. Sadly we have lost contact with most of ours. Anyone interested in some penpals from PA?