Monday, April 27, 2015

What About Writing, Any Way?

I don't speak much about writing.  While I was considered a *good* writer in school (whatever that means), I've never really thought of myself as a good writing teacher, or coach.  My older son always wrote pretty effortlessly and had handwriting so good when he was little (now - not so much, lol!) that no one believed it was his writing.  They always accused me of writing things for him, lol - until I showed them MY bad handwriting.  His was much better than mine!  He used the entire Writing Strands program pretty much on his own and without difficulty.

My younger son was a whole 'nother animal.  He seems to have a "shadow" dysgraphia issue (according to a psychologist we see from time to time) and when he was little, he was definitely NOT ready to write, or writing well (in terms of handwriting or composition), at the same age as his brother.  I decided to take things slowly with him and try to allow him to excel at oral work as much as possible but still keep him writing some on worksheets for very short answers, etc.

So he WAS "writing" down plenty of work during the day.  Those hand muscles have to get exercise or it never really gets any easier - but he was not doing anything nearly like I had done the first time around.

In our homeschool, we always incorporated writing across the curriculum as much as possible, so I did not do a lot of writing just for the sake of writing - my younger son's writing was related to his science work, his geography work, his history or literature work, etc.  That said, we did do a little writing to try to give him a framework for expressing himself.

I thought I'd take a look at what he did during fourth grade, in terms of both handwriting practice and actual composition work.

In addition to his Getty Dubay workbook, a few grammar exercises and writing of spelling "trouble" words, filling in spelling workbook pages, taking spelling tests, filling in the math workbooks, etc., here are other things he did:

Throughout the fall, we read through Writer's Express about the process of getting started in writing, pre-writing and drafting, revising and editing.

My son wrote, over the course of several months, four types of paragraphs:  descriptive, narrative, persuasive, and expository. 

He also completed most of the exercises from the writing section of Abeka grammar and did a research report set forth in his grammar book.  The report was on George Washington Carver.

In January, he wrote an informational essay from Writing Express.

We did poetry work throughout the year and he wrote some poetry.  He participated in a once weekly, three-part poetry workshop at our local library.  At home we worked on Limericks and Haiku, among other forms.

We finished the year with a little workbook I had used earlier and liked for my older son:  Spectrum Writing.  I started it at the very end of third grade and my younger son worked the first two units of it then.  In looking over the books online now, I see that they have changed them to color illustrations and also seem to have rewritten them.  The closest one I see is the grade 4 book, so that must be what we used.  The newest edition has been rewritten again, and I'm not sure that I like it as well....  He completed sections 3-5 of a book very like the one shown in fourth grade.

  (This is the one I see that is most like what we used.)

The sections completed included:

Writing Comparisons - several lessons that include both short answer, fill in the blank type questions, as well as some longer writing of a few sentences, leading up to writing a paragraph.  Each section ends with a lesson on revising, another on proofreading, and a post-test.

Writing Details - each section is set up similarly.  He was already writing longer paragraphs, more of them, and even page long stories by the time he hit this section.  Now, the content, the penmanship, and the even the grammar (not to mention the spelling) still needed a LOT of work - but he WAS writing!

Writing Facts and Opinions - same set up as other sections.  (The sections covered in the prior year were:  Writing Main Ideas and Writing in Sequence.)

He also completed some copywork throughout the year.  I was able to print out a free copy of "My Lessons and Carols Copybook" (don't see the author's name anywhere on it) and he worked on it to help with his cursive practice during the months of December and January (because we did not work on it during Christmas break from school).

Oh!  I see that it is still available on

Julie Shields is the author.  She also has copybooks that go along with The Story of the World series, among other things.  She does these not just in Getty Dubay italic, but also in other scripts.

Also, I picked up some of the Draw Write Now books used from another homeschooler and he created his own little book (using those pages that have the space at the top for a picture and large lines at the bottom for children's writing, which I bound together in construction paper end plates).

So even though you don't see writing mentioned too much in my posts, it DID get done! 


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