Tuesday, November 9, 2010
TOS Homeschool Crew Review The Write Foundation ~ Essay Writing
The Write Foudation has a dedicated focus on improving the writing of young people. This Christian company works toward that goal with a series of products that are thorough and exhaustive. Luke 6:48 is beautifully displayed at www.thewritefoundation.org and I will tell you that I do have a bias toward Christian homeschool companies!
The Write Foundation offers three levels of writing curriculum. Level 1 is "Sentence to Paragraph Writing" geared at ages 11 to 13. Level 2 is "Paragraph Writing" for ages 12 to 15. And Level 3, the product I am reviewing, is "Essay Writing" for ages 14 to 17. You can see all of these products and their prices at the website ~ www.thewritefoundation.org. The website gives a thorough understanding of which level to use with your child or children. The ages for each level are suggestions, and information regarding proper placement can be found at the website by clicking the "Suggested Ages" tab.
I have been using Level 3 - Essay Writing Instructions (lessons 1-15). When I received this product (free of charge for review purposes) it came with a spiral bound Instruction Guide (the teacher's guide) and all of the coresponding worksheets for the student, 3-hole punched and ready to place in a binder. I also received several pdf files emailed to me; these are normally sent to the customer on a cd. (For review purposes it made more sense for this company to email them to the reviewers.) Included on the cd are: Grading System, Grading Record Sheets, Word Games, Checklists, Teacher Presentation Sheets, Weekly Assignments, and an Extensive Reading List. The cost of the package I received is $65, and as you can well see, the customer gets a whole lot of product for their money! Also available is the complete set of 30 essay lessons for $100. You can also purchase additional sets of the consumable student worksheets. They accept PayPal for payment using your checking account information; if you order using a credit card via PayPal you do not need to sign up for a PayPal account.
As I just mentioned, this product came with a LOT of resources; it is very thorough and in a homeschool co-op class, this particular product stands out as an ideal way to teach essay writing. You could even "tag-team teach" with another mom! Using it at home, however, might seem a little intimidating to some homeschooling mothers. Many of us are teaching multiple grades on a daily basis, and we don't always have enough planning time available in our 24-hour days to fully utilize all a product has to offer. If you are a homeschool mom who falls into that category, as I am, I would encourage you to choose carefully when it comes to key subjects like teaching writing. This is a subject your child will use in their daily life as an adult, not matter where the Lord takes them. In our society, which is oftentimes ridiculously fickle, we are judged by our performance in certain areas, and our ability to write (or email!) in a clear manner with decent spelling is one of those areas. This particular company has a sole focus on improving your student's writing skills; they are very good at what they do. Don't be afraid to "tweak" things in order to make a very thorough program work in your busy homeschool. You can stretch out the lessons a little bit and use the curriculum over 30 weeks instead of 15. Or you might consider doing one lesson a week for 5 weeks and every 6th week, pour your time into honing writing skills (sort of like a writing unit study week). The big rocks need to go into the jar before all the smaller rocks, sand and water. Determine what your family's big rocks are and do what you must to get them in the jar first. I promise, you won't regret it later on and your children will thank you for making it happen!
If I had to change one thing about Level 3: Essay Writing, it would be the introduction. It's a bit lenthgy for the typical homeschool mom and I didn't feel confident that I understood how I was supposed to use the program. However, once I began using Lesson 1, I found it very teachable. So I would encourage moms to push through to the actual lessons, and refer back to the instructions as needed. And I would also consider this a wise choice if your student is on a college prep track. Just think how much easier the college application process will be if your child doesn't struggle with the essays!
Looking specifically at lesson 1 of Essay Writing, I'd like to share what I like and didn't like so much. The "Essay No List" contains several excellent esssay hints; the "Essay Checklist" is also very useful. In the first lesson alone, topics covered include "Title Hints", a "Skeleton Outline", "Rewrite Tips", and "Step-by-Step Brainstorming Instructions". The Biblically based themes are a huge plus for Christian homeschoolers and the outline tip to use color codes is great advice for those teaching visual learners. There are plenty of examples for each step in the process - neither the student nor teacher need feel confused about any part of the lesson. The organized notebook is "expected" in class. This is a nice addition that can affect the student's grade and is laid out by the curriculum, not by mom. Why did I appreciate the requirement of an organized notebook brought to each lesson? Primarily because it's all to easy as busy moms teaching multiple grades to let the standard for organized neatness slide, and it's really very important! Having it laid out as a gradable requirement in the curriculum was an excellent addition to The Write Foundation's Essay Writing.
My synopsis is that this is a thorough and comprehensive product created by a Biblically based company with high standards aiming for excellence. It's good stuff, and you may want to consider it as an addition to your homeschool. Again, the website is www.thewritefoundation.org.
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my review ~ happy homeschooling!
Day 51 done :)
Jan L. Burt