WS - Help with teaching

Copywork, Cursive, Dictation, Grammar, Handwriting, Letter Writing, Memory Work, Narration, Read-Alouds, Spelling, Vocabulary, & Writing (many of these topics apply to other subjects such as Bible, History, and Science)
MelissaB
Posts: 368
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 10:01 pm

ECC-writing strands question

Unread post by MelissaB » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:07 pm

arecte wrote:My third grader is very logical and does not enjoy creative writing at all. If writing strands is not working, what do people switch too? Do I stress about this at this age? Thanks for any suggestions!
Hi! I wouldn't worry too much about it. Our dd is in 5th grade this year, and she is really blossoming in writing. She did not enjoy it at all in 3rd grade.

I think, looking back, my recommendation would be: keep it simple.

And no worries. There's still time. :)
Melissa B. (Arkansas)
Girls ages 16 & 13
Completed K, 1st, and Investigate {ECC; CTG; RTR; Expl.-1850; and 1850-Mod. Times}
"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,.." Titus 2:4

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: ECC-writing strands question

Unread post by Julie in MN » Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:38 pm

I just wanted to mention that MFW recommends starting Writing Strands in 4th grade, with level 3. I did use it with my son in 3rd grade, back when that was the original recommendation, and it worked well for us. However, waiting until 4th grade seems to be helpful for many families. So that's an option for you.

As for the creative writing issue, I can sympathize with her as I can't even express how much I disliked my college composition class with assignments like, "Describe your favorite place." However, I do like Writing Strands. To me, it explains the point of the exercise, and it sticks to that point. It doesn't just say, "Write 500 words about X."

And those exercise points seem important to me. They are exercises in things like keeping track of tense, and understanding that different points of view can exist within the same scenario. I might even go so far as to say that the lessons can help students be better readers, and understand the control the author is wielding (only giving you one perspective, etc.).

Some very general hints when teaching Writing Strands: I found it helpful to work closely *with* my child, rather than handing him the assignments as a workbook. I also found it helpful *not* to use the instructions as a lesson in following directions, but to save the direction-following-lesson for elsewhere and use our writing time to just get my student writing... and editing. Editing with a specific purpose of learning to exercise a specific skill, rather than editing every last jot. But learning to examine one's writing and edit it is so very important in later years. It's almost as if "the more headaches the better" when teaching writing, sorry to say %| , because that means you're making real progress (whatever your student's strengths and weakness), rather than just "getting it done."

Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

MelissaB
Posts: 368
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 10:01 pm

Re: ECC-writing strands question

Unread post by MelissaB » Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:34 am

Yes, as I read Julie's last statement, I was shaking my head in agreement. Over the last two years, our daughter hasn't always enjoyed writing strands (we've even had a few moments of tears). Now, her writing is better than my writing was in early high school. And she enjoys it.

Hang in there. Like anything, it's a skill that needs practice, encouragement, and patience. :)
Melissa B. (Arkansas)
Girls ages 16 & 13
Completed K, 1st, and Investigate {ECC; CTG; RTR; Expl.-1850; and 1850-Mod. Times}
"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,.." Titus 2:4

arecte
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2013 8:19 pm

Re: ECC-writing strands question

Unread post by arecte » Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:58 am

Thank you for the replies! They have been helpful. I think I have been getting caught up in comparing our schooling to others worried I wasn't doing enough in the area of writing. It was like pulling teeth to get her to complete the lesson so we took a break from it. It's a new year and I've got a new attitude (and the goal of being more patient) to go with it! :) Tood to know others need to sit with their child and work through the lessons together as well. I thought I was hindering her by doing so.

Thanks again for your replies and helping settle my nerves. Your right about relaxing about things once in awhile, I remember teaching this child to read and thought it would never happen (she absolutely hated it!) but now I can't keep a book out of her hands. It's her favorite activity, but at the time I thought that would never happen. It's good to keep things in perspective and that in time all things will come together and when looking back realize that maybe I stressed out too much over something so trivial.

Julie mentioned writing strands level 3 is recommend for 4th grade. We are using MFW first edition ECC so maybe that recommendation has changed for the 2nd edition? If I put this off til next year, then the only "creative" writing she would do would be in PLL and science correct? I have started encouraging her to writing in a journal weekly (something I don't correct) just a place for her get use to the idea of free writing.

Thanks again!
Audra

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: ECC-writing strands question

Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:06 pm

arecte wrote: It's good to keep things in perspective and that in time all things will come together and when looking back realize that maybe I stressed out too much over something so trivial.
Is she your oldest? If so, join the club LOL :)
arecte wrote:We are using MFW first edition ECC so maybe that recommendation has changed for the 2nd edition?
I'm not sure exactly when that changed, except that it was after the 2004-2005 school year when we did ECC for the first time.

I hope someone doing ECC more currently knows more, but here is a post about the writing included in ECC, written back when it was more fresh in my mind: http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 812#p87812

Basically, you can tailor the writing to your child's needs, at her age, and watch for a growth spurt here and there along the way. I think writing is something important to pay attention to, since good communication is important in any future calling. However, I try to balance that with thoughts about Socrates and Moses, teaching large numbers of people without writing at all... Which is easier to do now that I'm on my youngest child :~
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

MFW-Lucy

Re: ECC-writing strands question

Unread post by MFW-Lucy » Fri Jan 04, 2013 8:54 am

Hi Audra,

You have had some great encouragement from the ladies here and I would say that our experience with writing has been very much the same.

I wanted to mention for your sake as well as others who may read this thread that Marie Hazell, the author of MFW does not always use a resource exactly as written. The Teacher's Manual will give further instruction on how to use the resources we recommend. These will be listed in the Teaching Tips or weekly notes. Since you have an older T.M. I am not sure what information you have, but one of the instructions is to sit with the student and read the lesson to him, discussing anything that is not clear. She goes on to encourage you that composition is a skill that is learned over time and not to expect too much from your student.

I think this is one of the things that I really love about my MFW T.M.'s. I felt that I had another mom who had already been there helping me along with suggestion on how to best use the resources and to encourage me along the way.

If you have more questions or concerns please keep asking too. The experience of the moms on this message board is wonderful and will also give you ideas and encouragement.

Blessings,
Lucy

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Teacher book?

Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu Mar 20, 2014 3:31 pm

4monkeyz wrote:Julie did you use any instruction book with Writing Strands or not? We kind of struggle with WS and I'm wondering if I am "missing" something?? I think I might not be utilizing it correctly...How to best use it as a tool???
Andrea,
I have their guide. I thought of it as something more of an encouragement to calm down about writing and focus only on a limited number of things at one time, so the student isn't discouraged all the time. I think you can get about the same info from listening to the audio of the author here, although of course YMMV:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLMddsrILtA

Another big help, to me, was having other MFW users going alongside and willing to discuss. Here's a conversation I remember with the swirly bedspread (my reply was on the next page): viewtopic.php?f=19&t=4681#p71347

At the beginning of each lesson are the main goal(s). I think if you keep your eyes on those, it helps you use WS as a tool. I remember each level had something about working with tense, which isn't something that comes up in writing notebook pages and such. And each level would get more complicated, later incorporating more than one tense in a single paper, which is something that is needed when we write about the past or a book written in the past etc.

For example, I liked the lessons on "perspective" that build over the years. I remember once my son & I were working on a WS assignment and I had us both sit in front of the same window and draw what we saw -- he saw the trees and driveway and he had a hard time believing that I could see the garage and the neighbor's house until he moved over just that foot or two. Kids tend to think everything in a book is factual, and it was good to have this lesson to help see that they are reading one author's perspective

Try to keep your eyes on those goals. I know sometimes it's easier to do in hindsight than right when you're in the midst of it all, so give yourself mercy, as well. You can always accept a WS assignment as-is and then re-visit the same assignment later if it occurs to you to focus on something else within it, etc.

Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

TriciaMR
Posts: 998
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 11:43 am

Struggling with writing strands and LA in general...

Unread post by TriciaMR » Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:04 am

klewfor3 wrote:I have tried to use writing strands with my 4th grade ds and we can not seem to get it. I need advice and I am really concerned!

Here's the basic story, my wonderful son does not like writing. He has no issues other than he is a healthy active 10year old boy. We started homeschooling when he was in 2nd grd. I was nervous with how vague PLL was but finished what was required. With ECC, we often skip the letter writing but I have still required the note booking pages. These are reviewed using my basic judgement/opinion only. Writing strands has gone to the wayside. I have no idea what to expect from him at this level. What are the rules for writing a basic paragraph and what should he be doing at his age as far as quality and quantity of papers? I still feel I really have no idea how to correct or grade his writing other than correcting his spelling and explaining again that he can not start each sentence with "Then...".

This year we have been doing ILL. There is not really any direct LA "language" that I could find directly relating to verb tenses, nouns, pronouns, basic sentence structure. I really enjoy MFW for everything else but was embarrassed that my son couldn't fill out a Mad Libs with me without asking me to remind him what an adjective is.

Any recommendations? Thanks,
Kathy
Kathy, {hugs}

First, writing is a challenge for every mom, I think. I've used writing strands levels 3-4, and part of 5. Make sure you read the goals at the top of each lesson. Second, pick one thing to work on. For example, using "Then" to start each sentence. Give him options of other ways to start sentences. After you've worked on that, find something else. That way he doesn't get over whelmed.

As to naming parts of speech... That is covered in the 6th grade section of Language Lessons. Charlotte Mason's philosophy was that kids really aren't ready for the naming of those abstract concepts until jr. high. Don't worry, I still have to remind my kids what those are when we play mad libs, too. I recommend getting the school house rocks videos for a fun way to learn those at this age.

By the way, I have to test my kids every other year in my state, and my kids have tested just fine using PLL and ILL, so it does work.
Trish - Wife to Phil, Mom to Toni(18), Charlie(14), and Trent(14)
2014-2015 - AHL, CTG
2015-2016 - WHL, RTR
2016-2017 - EXP1850, US1877
2017-2018 - DE, 1850MOD
2018-2019 - College, AHL
My blog

klewfor3
Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:14 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: Struggling with writing strands and LA in general...

Unread post by klewfor3 » Fri Mar 28, 2014 5:47 pm

Thanks for your kind response. I will check out your suggestions! I think I would just like more guidance. Or, examples of what to look for in my son's writing. For example, I haven't written a letter since I was in school. I think if there was a guideline to follow for the language arts, it would help moms like me...A lot!

Thanks again!
Kathy
Kathy
Mom of Tyler 13, Paige 10, Brooklyn 9 and Chase 3
God bless us!
We've used:
MFW-K
MFW 1st (both versions)
MFW ADV
ECC
CTG
RTR
Expl-1850
Currently using 1850-Modern Times (2016/2017)

MelissaB
Posts: 368
Joined: Sun May 09, 2010 10:01 pm

Re: Struggling with writing strands and LA in general...

Unread post by MelissaB » Sat Mar 29, 2014 11:10 pm

Yes, agreeing w/ Tricia that it's a good idea to choose one thing to focus on, and add on gradually.

Not sure if I should admit this or not. :~ Last year, we put WS aside and asked our dd to write one paragraph on the history lesson she learned each day.

Today, she's an excellent writer. Her papers have grown from one paragraph to, "When are you ever going to get off the computer?!" two-page essays. She loves to write. She enjoys writing about history, retelling those stories and expounding on why historical events were important, what impact they had on the people of that time and today.

She does not enjoy creating a story.

What does your son enjoy doing? If he doesn't want to write a paper describing his bedroom, ask him where is his favorite place in the world to be? Describe what that place looks like. Does he love to make things out of wood? Play a certain sport? There's his topic. Apply what he's learned in WS each day, and ask him to write about whatever peaks his interest.

Being a good writer (using descriptive words that entice the reader's interest, using correct grammar, topic sentences, etc.) can all be taught by writing about anything.

Just write. :-)
Melissa B. (Arkansas)
Girls ages 16 & 13
Completed K, 1st, and Investigate {ECC; CTG; RTR; Expl.-1850; and 1850-Mod. Times}
"That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,.." Titus 2:4

Julie in MN
Posts: 2925
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: Struggling with writing strands and LA in general...

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sun Apr 06, 2014 12:46 am

Hi Kathy,
I was thinking about your post and finally got back to it. In addition to the great conversation you've already had, i thought I'd join in as another fan of Writing Strands and PLL/ILL.
klewfor3 wrote:I need advice and I am really concerned!
I'm glad you decided to post, and I hope you will again if you get stuck in future. This is our "teacher's lounge," as another mom used to say, and we homeschoolers need that!
klewfor3 wrote:Here's the basic story, my wonderful son does not like writing. He has no issues other than he is a healthy active 10year old boy.
I have one of those. Well, he's 18 now, but you can read posts in the archives dating back to when he was in 3rd grade. I've always said he had a "pencil allergy." Some of the things we did were marker boards, discussing out loud, and typing.
klewfor3 wrote:With ECC, we often skip the letter writing but I have still required the note booking pages. These are reviewed using my basic judgement/opinion only.
The notebooking and letter writing are a piece of your son's writing education. They get him writing something, and hopefully before he gets to high school, he will be writing a solid paragraph.

Your opinion as a reader is the very best thing you can offer him. To paraphrase what the Writing Strands author used to say, he needs lots of your praise and a little correction each time. A reader's opinion is the thing that no writing program can give him. Students can do every assignment in a writing program and still not write well. I have homeschooled two kids and they needed to work on 100% opposite things. I am so grateful that I could be there to read their writing and give them personal feedback. Even when my oldest child wrote papers in public school, I was his reader, giving him feedback, and personally I think that (and any feedback a teacher had time to give) was more helpful to his future writing than the actual assignments were.
klewfor3 wrote:Writing strands has gone to the wayside. I have no idea what to expect from him at this level. What are the rules for writing a basic paragraph and what should he be doing at his age as far as quality and quantity of papers? I still feel I really have no idea how to correct or grade his writing other than correcting his spelling and explaining again that he can not start each sentence with "Then...".
Start with the sentence before you worry about the paragraph. Public schools who race ahead can be full of poor writers. I was a tutor at a grammar-heavy program for five years and those kids were great at filling in blanks, but only a handful of the hundreds of kids I worked with could actually transfer those grammar worksheets to their own writing. I would have so loved to have sat with them and talked about writing using PLL, ILL, and Writing Strands. I've described some of our conversations that connected in my son's brain far better than asking him to be sure his sentences included subject and predicate, for example:
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 129#p97253
In the next post after that, Shawna shared an actual conversation with her daughter and I can see the lightbulb shining brightly over her daughter's head !?
klewfor3 wrote:This year we have been doing ILL. There is not really any direct LA "language" that I could find directly relating to verb tenses, nouns, pronouns, basic sentence structure. I really enjoy MFW for everything else but was embarrassed that my son couldn't fill out a Mad Libs with me without asking me to remind him what an adjective is.
Like Trish mentioned, naming the parts of speech can be done at different ages according to different philosophies. I love that MFW waits until 6th-8th grades. For one thing, that means kids aren't going over and over it every year. For another thing, it means kids will be writing at a level that actually connects the grammar they are learning to their own sentences. Instead of early memorization, MFW spends the early years doing consistent copywork (practicing writing correct sentences), having conversations about how we write (using PLL/ILL), and finally practice with some of the details of writing (using Writing Strands).

Writing Strands in particular adds in little things kids might not pick up on their own, like building small sentences into bigger sentences, and playing around with tense -- starting with keeping tense consistent, but then later realizing that sometimes we need to be able to work with two tenses in one paper. He tries to do this with fun exercises, like the crazy long sentence one, or the tense one where two people are standing across a time zone line. I also did better with Writing Strands after I started using it as a tool and not a taskmaster :)

The risk with choosing other materials is that you will overlap in some areas and your day might be eaten up by language arts. So keep an eye out and remember that MFW will already include things like copywork and notebook summaries, some vocabulary and some handwriting, etc. But with that in mind, many people use other language arts with MFW.

Best wishes as you teach your precious child.
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

klewfor3
Posts: 81
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 4:14 pm
Location: Illinois

Re: Struggling with writing strands and LA in general...

Unread post by klewfor3 » Thu Apr 10, 2014 11:01 pm

Thank you Julie for taking the time to respond! It was wonderfully encouraging. I do wish there was some kind of guidance or goal to shoot for. I loved the first grade curriculum's teachers guide. It gave a checklist of skills and levels that we should look for. I like being able to know where we should be since I don't live in a state that requires testing. Maybe I should talk to someone in the office to discuss that.

Your advice on the taskmaster vs. tool is SO needed! As well as the note to encourage more than I correct. Sigh, that hit home. My 4th grader is not a school fan so I often have a tough time switching out of battle mode. The other day we just read and discussed the ILL lesson(which I would have never done before!) and it went so much better!!

Sorry to go on, but thanks for your help!
Kathy
Kathy
Mom of Tyler 13, Paige 10, Brooklyn 9 and Chase 3
God bless us!
We've used:
MFW-K
MFW 1st (both versions)
MFW ADV
ECC
CTG
RTR
Expl-1850
Currently using 1850-Modern Times (2016/2017)

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