By Joanne Trewick
Far North Queensland, Australia
This homeschool writing curriculum is very thorough, but does not require large amounts of time, which would have to be the main reason that I find it so helpful. To complete a book in a year, you need only do about three or four units a term, and each unit is generally set up to complete in four sessions. (Over four days- though I have found that some of my children tend to combine the first two days and spend longer on the fourth.)
Scope of Writing Strands
We have only used books 2,3 and 4 so far, but I believe that the last four books in the series take the student right through to competent university level writing.
Written to the Student
The books are written directly to the student, aiming for independent work, though they assume that students are studying at home as there are frequent instructions to interact with parents. (eg. Read what you have written, aloud to your parent, or, discuss how you feel about this with your parent etc.)
Common Problems Section
I love the chapter at the end of each book about common problems in writing, and how to avoid or fix them - I have learnt so very much from these sections.
At the beginning of each unit there is a list of objectives, which I have found to be very helpful for the student to know what they are meant to be understnading, and to help me with marking and knowing what to look for in their work.
Providing Writing Skills to be used in other subjects
Many homeschoolers like to assign writing topics around the topics they are studying, rather than doing a seperate writing course. With this concise approach, we can do both, and sometimes modify the assignment slightly to fit a current topic. Writing Strands give us a clear and concrete scaffolding for building secure writing skills, step by step. It is achievable, even for reluctant writers as every step of the writing process is broken down to managable chunks, with examples to work from. Also the student is encouraged to improve on their first attempts to make more interesting sentences, better constructed paragraphs etc, not just to fix spelling errors and hand in a final copy.
Working with Writing Strands has made my children more confident writers and me a better teacher. We hope to use it into the future with contiued success.
Our Personal Highlight with Writing Strands
The highlight of Writing Strands for me so far, has been when my son (9 at the time), created a book for his youngest sister. This lovely (and interesting to read) story is a favourite for Hannah at bed time, as Levi printed it out, illustrated each page carefully with chalks, then we laminated the pages for durability and bound it. A treasure forever!
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