Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Write Foundation

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When building a house, the importance of a solid foundation is paramount. No less important is a good foundation in academic areas. We had an opportunity to review The Write Foundation writing curriculum and it is all about creating the "right" foundation for the discipline of writing.

From the The Write Foundation website:
Many writing curricula focus on the different types of writing, such as creative writing, story writing, poetry writing, persuasive writing, argumentative writing, informative writing, descriptive writing, book writing, fiction writing, novel writing, but the basic foundation of writing is assumed. The Write Foundation begins with the writing process, how a student formulates a topic, then a thesis, then supporting points, and by incremental teaching drills in the basics. In most grammatical subjects, we have found that failure is almost totally because the basics have not been learned.

The Write Foundation writing curriculum is a result of 8 years of successfully teaching homeschooled students in a one-day-per-week co-op setting. It has been adapted for a homeschool and used by numerous homeschooling parents to give their own children the tools of how to quickly organize and write an essay with excellence.

A reading of the Introduction to the Write Foundation will explain the format of the material, the philosophy of the course, student expectations as well as needed supplies to implement the course. The introduction also explains how to complete the course in either 1 or 2 years.

The Write Foundation offers writing curriculum in three stages:
  • Level 1: Sentence to Paragraph Writing (ages 11-13)
  • Level 2: Paragraph Writing (ages 12-15)
  • Level 3: Essay Writing (ages 14-17)
The age ranges are guidelines. If you start with a younger student, it is recommended that you extend the course over 2 years. If you have a reluctant writer, select a level in which your student is on the upper end. For those who love writing, select a level in which they are on the lower end. For any level, teachers are encouraged to slow down and/or redo any lessons to reinforce a challenging concept. The courses include 30 lessons which allow instructors some flexibility to take a break as needed or spend extra time on a particular lesson. Skipping ahead is not recommended lest key concepts be missed or learned. Viewing the samples from their website will help you determine which level will be right for your family.

Our Experience

For this review, I chose to try Level 2 to use with my three oldest children (15, 12 and almost 11). In looking at the samples for the various levels, Level 2 seemed the most appropriate for their skill level. Once we began the course, however, my 15 year old felt it was too basic for him so I continued on with the next 2 younger ones(we may include him in later lessons). Although the recommended age for the material is 12 to 15 year olds, it worked fine for my 10 and 12 year olds who both have a good foundation in English.

This was the first writing course I have ever used that enabled me to work with more than one child at a time. Completing some exercises as a group and then allowing my kids to complete some assignments jointly was a nice break and proved to be a helpful introduction to the material before they were "let loose" on their own individual assignments.

Needed Preparation

The website suggests spending a couple hours reviewing the material before beginning to teach the course. It took me considerably longer than that to acclimate to the material; I have to admit that the first few weeks I was frustrated but the author gives warning that the process may be uncomfortable (like any new endeavor) until the basics become a habit.

I wish there had been more specific "scripting" in the manual. I felt as though some things were assumed and not as thoroughly laid out as they could have been. For example, in a given lesson, there might be 12 sections but it isn't very obvious how those sections are to be tackled--all at once in a teaching session (that's a lot to cover in one session) or spread over the week? The student assignment sheet lists Day 1, Day 2, etc. but the teacher book is not organized by days so how they correlate was a bit confusing.

It was recommended that students prepare a binder with tab dividers. It wasn't always clear where a particular worksheet should be filed in the notebook. Having a key word in a corner of the worksheet would be extremely helpful.

Finally, having a link to the author teaching a lesson would be a valuable way to see how the lesson is supposed to flow.

What We Liked
  • Writing curriculum that incorporates logic exercises* and poetry along with writing instruction (*NOTE: Mind Bender worksheets were scheduled but not included in curriculum; purchase separately or substitute similar cognitive puzzles)
  • Recommended list of books for outside reading (with suggested "point" totals assigned)
  • Easily reproduced materials (student worksheets came 3-hole punched)
  • Worksheets and assignment pages provided in PDF format (helpful for households with "disappearing books")
  • Teacher pages that can be used for overheads
  • Incremental steps that guide students
  • Ability to use at home or in a co-op setting
All in all, I liked the product even though you definitely need to factor in a learning curve (for both student and teacher). I really enjoyed having a writing course to use with multiple ages. A single family is given permission to reproduce materials. So the investment extends to younger family members with whom you'll later reuse the material.

I also really enjoyed the inclusion of studying poetry. My kids have studied some rules of poetry but have not really had the opportunity to write their own. I was surprised how much my kids enjoyed this aspect of the program. It provided a very non-threatening way to express themselves (and provided a welcome reprieve from more traditional writing exercises.

One interesting aspect of this writing curriculum is the opportunity to pay for someone to read your student's writing assignments (multiple lesson discounts are available). Price is $15 per lesson for grading/tutorial assistance.

For additional reviews, visit the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

Pricing

Each level can be purchased in the following ways:
  • Full Year bundle (includes teacher manual, 1 set student worksheets, resource CD) $100
  • Half Year bundle (teacher, student, CD) $65
  • Student Worksheets full year (for co-op participants) $25
  • Student Worksheets half year (Lessons 1-15 or Lessons 16-30 for co-ops) $15
  • Additional Resource CD $15
  • Grading Service $15 per lesson (more information on this option is available here).
Contact Information

Website: www.thewritefoundation.org

To reach the author, Rebecca Celsor:
  • Email: bcelsor@sbcglobal.net

  • Phone: 281-356-3556

Yahoo Group:

thewritefoundation


Disclaimer: I was provided with Lessons 1-15 of The Write Foundation course for the purpose of reviewing and blogging about our experience. The views expressed are my own. No other compensation was received.


3 comments:

Lorie said...

Great review! (I forgot about the option of having the students work looked at by someone from TWF.)

Guiding Light said...

Awesome review!!! Have a wonderfully blessed day!

Jill said...

Really enjoyed your review! It sounds like we had the same frustrations you did. Thanks for your comment on my review, I appreciate it.