Friday, April 13, 2012

My Daughter's Writing

Last spring, I wrote about my decision to switch to a new writing program.  I am so thankful I did.  I had been using The Well Trained Mind's Writing With Ease Program with my oldest daughter for 1st and 2nd grades.  Writing wasn't fun for her then and there was no component of creative writing--which is her natural bent.  So, I decided to switch.  Originally, I had planned to use a combination of different Evan Moor books.  There are 3 basic types of writing--creative, expository, and poetry.  So, I'd picked different Evan Moor books for each one.  Then, I ran into a snag.  Several used book sellers on Amazon sent me the older versions which didn't have what I needed in them and it turned it a huge mess trying to return them.  So, it sent me questioning.  

Was this the right path for the girls and me?  I pondered for a week or two and then came back to the writing program I use with my kids for kindergarten "The Writing Spot" by Great Source.  I found the second grade program "Write Away" and located a program guide for it.  The teacher's guide for the series gives mini-lesson ideas but really doesn't help plan out a whole year's curriculum.  The program guide was different and I thought I'd take a chance and order it.  As soon as it arrived (it was a newer edition than my kindergarten one), I was so excited!  It was exactly what I was looking for.  I love seeing God work in our curriculum journey.  

The newer edition had day by day plans (not unit by unit) plans so I would be able to just pick it up and use it.  I went back to the older first grade program guide (which I also had) and began to write the day by day plans out myself so that I could use it with my younger daughter this year.  I just hadn't had a vision before of how to do it before I'd seen the second grade program guide as an example.  

So, this week my daughter wrote a fable.  She's in 3rd grade, but because the other program didn't teach her how to write, I backed up a year and have been doing the 2nd grade writing program with her.  She wrote the rough draft on Wednesday and we sat down to revise it today.  Up until now, I've edited her writing with only minor corrections.  I have just wanted to get her writing.  Today I focused on the editing marks and marking all of the places where a new paragraph needs to start.  I didn't try to get her to add more descriptive words or adjectives.  I knew I was asking a lot of her anyways with the editing marks and paragraph breaks.
(Which as a side note, I do very little editing in kindergarten and first grade--I emphasize starting with a capital and ending with a punctuation mark.  I wait until my child can read better towards the end of first grade and spelling starts clicking.)

I wanted to share her story because it just makes me smile.  This is one of those moments when I realize that though my daughter couldn't do the math steps we'd gone over 10 times, she wrote a really fun story.  The praise and good feelings from this story helped erase the frustration we'd both had earlier over one of her math lessons.

Title:  The Wolf Who Didn't Believe (or The Girl Who Believed.)

     Once upon a time, in a cottage, a girl was listening to her grandmother.  Her name was Romia.
     Her grandmother was saying, "My dear, wolves are tricky.  Do not believe they are friendly or such."
     A wolf was overhearing the conversation.  He thought silently, "Oh my, oh my!  What shall I plan?  Of course!  I will trick her and eat up Romia!"
     But later the Lion said, "I, the Wisest Lion command you, do not do such a crime as eat any young, little lady."
     The Badger said, "If you do, I will weep day and night, and refuse to see or forgive you."
     "But, I must eat," said Wolf.  "Or I will starve."
     Lion said, "Very well, we will plot to stop you.  You are the enemy now.  No more will you have my counsel."  (she really wanted to put council in there)
     One day Lion came upon Romia and he said, "Romia."  It startled her and she started to run, but something inside her told her to wait.
     "How do I know you're a friend, really a friend?"  said Romia.  
     "I've a token," he said.
     "My penny!"  said she.  
     "A wolf will come to eat you, said he, and quickly left.
     Just then Wolf popped out.  "Come have some berries." he said.   He led her to a berry patch.  "Taste one," he tempted.  "Taste one."
     She reached, but then she remembered the words of her grandmother.  Wolves are tricky.  So, she ran for home so the wolf couldn't eat her, and the badger would not cry.  Wolf would have the Lion's counsel back.

Moral:  Don't deceive or you will face the consequence.  (Her original moral was "Don't do what you don't mean, or you may not get a chance to do what you need or want.)

The End

So, it's been interesting using this writing program this year.  It has opened up Autumn's eyes to what she can write and all the different types of things she can write.  It's been the right one, but I also know what I need to add to it next year.  

I ordered 5 books this week to use along with the series.  They are called Daily Language Workouts.  There's one for each year.  In each reproducible book, there's a sentence to be edited for each day, a paragraph for each week, writing prompts, and reproducible writing pages.  There's also a section starting in 2nd grade for Show-Me writing--sentences for practicing "show-me" writing.  The teacher and student take the sentence and talk about how they could really describe it so someone could see through their words.  Thankfully, I found used copies of each of them for $3-5 each.  

I need to implement journal writing next year.  I put it off and just didn't get to it.  But, next year it is going to be the first thing my girls do in the morning.  I'll have them copy in their sentence and correct it and then write on one of the writing prompt topics.  The Daily Language Workout books would work even if you're not using Great Source's writing programs.  I like that they are leveled--and right at grade level.  I don't feel like they're way above or below.  I've been using Evan Moor's Daily Language Review, which I do really like.  I know a lot of people love Editor in Chief--which also has a similar purpose.  The goal is that by editing other people's writing, students will learn how to edit their own and learn how to spot their errors and improve their writing.  It also allows them to apply the grammar lessons they're learning and apply them in context.

I don't regret doing the Writing With Ease program.  I learned a lot about learning in general and how my daughter learns.  She did take some great things from it like answering in complete sentences.  But, it wasn't the right one to continue with.  It wasn't a waste.  Sometimes I think we all fear that--that the time we spent was a waste if we have to switch.  But, I am reminded that God works in all things!

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