Language Arts - Are the MFW recommendations the way to go?

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)
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Re: Writing Strands versus IEW? Thinking ahead..

Unread post by gratitude » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:13 am

erin.kate wrote:Hi Carin. :) Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeell, I'm not there yet, either. But what I have learned over the last three years with MFW is that I should never have veered from their suggestions. Obviously, if something just plain does not work for one of my kids I'd look elsewhere, but somehow the way Marie puts this all together makes sense in the long run, and YOU know that I have a wandering eye, lol. I am planning on trying WS as recommended before changing course. I have read great reviews and less than stellar reviews of it, but that's true of anything, and perhaps I'll fall into the love it category. Maybe you will too. :-)
8[] I LOVE your answer Erin. Yes, yes I too have learned that when I veer from their suggestions it only proves to me how much their suggestions really work. :-)

I really do like the LOOK on the computer of Writing Strands much better than IEW, but of course I still had to ask. ;)

Does MFW by any chance take a copy of Writing Strands to their booth at conventions so I can see one in person this June?


Re: Writing Strands versus IEW? Thinking ahead..

Unread post by cbollin » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:34 am

yes, they take product to booth.

I started with WS. tried to like it. wanted to use it before I knew MFW existed. so that tells you it's a long time ago... in a galaxy far away...
hated it. couldn't do it. Oh, who would ever use this stuff! blah!

Right? (well. It gets better.. my oldest did WS 3-first half of book 6 so I went back to it. but....

Reflecting back, I realize I was a clueless teacher and had no idea how to teach writing. I wouldn’t have done well with any of the programs. It's funny... on some discussions on some forums, people claim that all you need to be is a native speaker of a language and that makes you best qualified to teach that subject to others. So, why couldn't I as a native speaker of English teach how to communicate in it? (oh... oops.. that's because it's a flawed premise to begin with!, but I digress right now....

so I set down WS 3. ok, I probably sold it for 25 cents to someone.

bought it a 2nd time.... I really wanted to use WS. I could go all spiritual on you and say "I felt God told me to try it again and just use all of mfw recommendations" but that's only part of the reason. it did happen... but...

just the summer before that prayer communication... ooh.. all of my friends were raving over IEW. So, I did the local cool thing... I got it. I waited and did go back to WS...per God's gentle prompting....

Here are things that I like and learned from IEW that helped me to be a better teacher using Writing Strands ... andout.pdf

I liked the idea of IEW with "this is how to improve and vary your sentences". add words to describe it better.... (oh, wait, you mean that lesson is in WS 3 as well?) and don't start all of your sentences like dick and jane...

in retrospect, I did not really click with the idea in IEW of "key word outlining" from a model in order to teach paragraph structure for long term. Other people LOVE it! so I stopped using IEW

I think WS covers more kinds of writing. IEW is nice too. served a season for me.

other people like the writing with ease, or similar title....

Most common problems with WS that I’ve heard.

Has a feel of lack of hand holding to encourage you if you’re doing the right thing.
IEW on the other hand – has very structured check list. Ah Ha! I did everything on a list so it must be ok.

But it really wasn’t the checklist in IEW that gave me confidence. It was hearing IEW guy give talks and those outlines I linked above.

Oh, you mean it’s ok to help them when they are stuck. Oh. Ok. blush.

It’s ok to do “double dictation” as it is called.
Student says something
Teacher writes it down
Student copies their own words
Together they edit.

In spite of continuing on with WS, I still wanted so much to use IEW since it was on my shelf. But I just thought, why? MFW has notebooking. We have “source material” if we need to model for paragraph structure. I can help her vary sentence structure and use fancier words.

So those got sold.

Well.. that’s it really. I planned to say more, but that’s enough. blah... here's comes that rainy day feeling again....


Julie in MN
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Re: Writing Strands versus IEW? Thinking ahead..

Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu Mar 08, 2012 9:53 am

I used IEW with my older dd because I saw a particular need. (She basically was trying to memorize the encyclopedia and reproduce it from memory for her essays, and IEW "forced" her to summarize and somewhat to rewrite, due to their long list of required sentence openers and such).

I also enrolled my youngest son in an IEW writing semester at a co-op, around the 7th grade, by mistake (I would never have enrolled him, had I known, but I was helping a disabled mom get her dd to this co-op...). Ds absolutely does not need more fancy sentence openers and lovely adjectives and such. He is the opposite of my dd. If I could get him to write anything close to an encyclopedia article, I would be ecstatic :~

IEW is a "big" program. And it uses up precious editing time on throwing in decorations according to an extensive checklist of requirements. Along the way, I think kids pick up some knowledge of writing skills and even grammar, since grammar is embedded in some of the dress-up requirements. Finally, I think IEW helps some parents (and co-op teachers) feel more secure in working on writing consistently. But in the end, I think it is the parent as the reader and giver of feedback who teaches writing, and I far prefer having a more manageable tool like Writing Strands to work with in that process :)

Just one family's experience. I know there are MFW families who use IEW with success, as well.
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

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Re: Writing Strands versus IEW? Thinking ahead..

Unread post by gratitude » Thu Mar 08, 2012 10:14 am

Thank you Crystal and Julie both of your experiences and the links were very helpful. :-)

I think Erin is right, staying with MFW suggestions keeps us from going off and then finding out how good they are and then coming back around to where we started. :~

A few things really clicked for me while I was reading. It brought back a life from way far back that has been essentially forgotten. A life where I had the privilege of writing with a published professional author as my editor, guide, mentor, professor, and everyones friend. A life where I studied under great world class pianists and their methods of teaching. I think I just remembered how art is taught, and how to teach it. As far as I can tell from the descriptions Writing Strands would be a far better tool for doing so. Not the fancy cadillac, as IEW was described, but the nuts and bolts tool that would allow for the teaching of an art. It reminds me of the days when I taught piano and Faber and Faber came out with the 'new tool' on the block for all to try. I knew better, but I went to try it anyways. It had some good elements; fancier in its approach. But I lost the nuts and bolts approach of Hal Leonard that is a fabulous tool for laying the blocks of classical piano technique and teaching piano as an art that prepares them for a swift switch into early classical music by the 2nd year. Hal Leonard gave the room to approach music lessons as an art; not just as an exercise. Guess what? My students who had my teaching using Hal Leonard as the tool played ten times better than the students who received my new fancy Faber and Faber tool as their foundation.

Thank you ladies. I think I will just stay with MFW suggestions this time in the first place, and try not to be swayed by all the fancy Classical Conversations around me.

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Thank you

Unread post by inHisgrip » Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:19 am

We've been using MFW from the start and currently have 2 kiddos old enough for school (1st and 3rd/ECC). I have kept with Marie's suggestions for language arts and math and it has worked very well for our family so far.

I have never been a strong speller, and starting Spelling Power this year honestly frightened me. It seemed overwhelming. But I settled down, read the manual, watched the DVD (a couple times), and dug in. I'm very happy to say it has worked out very well this year. Now, yesterday my DS took the delayed recall test for the end of Level B and totally bombed it. Most of the words he got wrong were words he got wrong earlier in the year, and not because of spelling rules. We reviewed, and today he took the second test and bombed that too. It had me discouraged all day. Worse than that, it had me second guessing Spelling Power for our spelling program.

Well, all that to say that this evening I sat down and started looking at the board under SP and what do you know... there's a whole thread on the Delayed Recall Test. You mean my kid wasn't the first to do poorly on a DRT??? ;)

I have to say thank you to the many mamas who take time out of their very busy days to share wisdom here. I am so thankful that I am never alone in this walk. I get so much encouragement through you ladies. I feel so blessed to have found MFW and be able to learn as a family.

After reading the archived SP DRT posts I feel renewed. I know that a bad DRT does not mean I have to scrap our whole spelling program and start to look for something new. It is working, my DS is a better speller now than he was at the beginning of the year (and I'm a better teacher too). He just has more to learn (and so do I)!

Anyway, thank you Crystal. Something you took the time to write to another mom a long time ago, was exactly what this mom needed to read tonight.

God Bless!
Married since 98 to my best friend
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New to MFW- Coming from Christian School- need advice!

Unread post by momtogc » Sat May 19, 2012 2:18 pm

brenjan98 wrote:I was most of you follow MFW's suggestion for LA/math? I think I might be able to handle Abeka's math, but the LA program, especially in the early grades, is very intense and lengthy. That is why their science & history are so abbreviated. The focus is all on LA. I'm wondering how a student finishing 5th grade in Abeka's math & LA would transition into MFW's suggestions? My rising 1st grader is excelling at Abeka's math and LA. I probably should have started him in school sooner because his birthday is 8/21 and the cutoff is 9/1 here and I held him back for social reasons and not wanting him to be the youngest. I think I would include him in ECC and then just let him go naturally from 1st to 2nd grade LA at his own pace (great benefit of hs!).

I appreciate everyone's input and advice! The more I look at other curriculum, the more I appreciate MFW and know for sure we will be using this curriculum once we know for sure we are homeschooling (and it looks more and more like we will be).
We have always used MFW recommendation for Language Arts. Last year my dd, who was in fourth grade, scored at 8th grade reading comprehension level on Iowa skills test. Not telling you this to brag, but to say that MFW has more than adequately prepared her.

One thing to remember though is that it's not just the language arts material that teaches the child. My Father's World is rich in literature. Reading aloud and narration, as well as Book Basket time, are important ingredients in the learning process. I really think MFW opens up a world of understanding and academic growth that can't be measured strictly by a language arts workbook. Does that make sense? Just saying that it has worked well for us, and I see improvement in my daughter every year.

HTH! :-)
Mom to Gabi, a fun-loving and happy girl!
MFW 1st, Adventures, ECC, CTG, RTR, Exp-1850

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Testing Results

Unread post by TriciaMR » Fri Jun 07, 2013 5:26 pm

This question gets asked at various times. We are required to test in 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th in our state.

My oldest is slightly dyslexic. We have used all of MFW's suggestions EXCEPT spelling (we use All About Spelling) since 3rd grade - so Primary Language Lessons, Intermediate Language Lessons, All-in-One English, Singapore Math (we switched from Math-U-See in the middle of 3rd grade), Writing Strands, etc. She did EXCELLENT on her California Achievement Test this year as a 7th grader. Her weakest area was language mechanics (which I knew before going into the test).

My younger two have done MFW since 1st grade, using all the recommendations EXCEPT spelling (again, All About Spelling, as one of my boys is dyslexic, too). Again, they did fine.

My recommendation is, if you must do testing, to get the Spectrum Test Prep books for your grade level and just kind of work through them a couple of pages a week through the year.

Yeah for MFW recommendations!
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
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should I just go back to spelling power ?

Unread post by terrylee66 » Wed Mar 26, 2014 3:48 pm

Joyhomeschool wrote:I gave up on SP for a more independent program and switched twice. Should I just go back to SP now that things are settling down a bit?
I really love Spelling Power, we are in our third year of it. Plan on continuing next year as well.

Terry M CT

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Re: should I just go back to spelling power ?

Unread post by MelissaB » Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:50 pm

3rd year here as well. All of the spelling curriculums are good. If you already own SP, you might give it a second try and see if it "fits" better a second time around. :)
Melissa B. (Arkansas)
Girls ages 16 & 13
Completed K, 1st, and Investigate {ECC; CTG; RTR; Expl.-1850; and 1850-Mod. Times}
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Re: should I just go back to spelling power ?

Unread post by asheslawson » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:34 pm

It can't hurt to try it if you already have it. That is what I did.

Here is a bit of my attempt to use other programs. I tried a few other things - but I just keep using SP primarily. My son needs almost no help with spelling, he is a natural speller, and rarely misses words - so I went to ARFP because he had a friend using it and said it looked fun. This was cute and fun, but very pricey, and it added more reading to my day - which he loved - but I didn't need a teacher intensive program for him - he rarely misses anything. I put him back in SP, which was fine - but he basically just tested everyday and almost never had words to learn. Eventually, he asked to try something else, so I looked @ R&S & CLP. I tried CLP spelling for him as he does it mostly on his own, except for the final test. This was good for him because it gives him other word forms of more difficult words and even some less common words. I tried it with my 3rd grader and my other 7th grader briefly at the first of this year - but it (CLP) was awful for them. They could study the words all week, and still missed most of them - it was advanced for them - especially since neither of them are natural spellers. So I switched both of them back to SP. It is working great for them - they definitely needed more help - but SP is still not so teacher intensive to be too difficult for me. One of my 7th graders needs quite a bit of one on one help, especially with math, plus I keep my 2 yr old granddaughter - and teacher intensive is not what I needed if I could get around it!

I add a bit to SP on my own (and I may have actually gotten this idea from SP because I've been doing it since I started using SP 4 years ago - but it's been a while since I read all the how to info in the front of the book). Essentially, what I do is any missed word gets written on a 3x5 card in an index file box I keep especially for spelling and vocabulary. I call it their "word bank". I number the cards and when each card has about 20 words on it (words they previously missed and had to review with the 10 steps), I give them a test as a "word bank" review test. I still use all of the SP groups as the author suggests in SP - but when they have a group of words they missed, they just seem to always struggle with those words, even with the built in review in SP - so I make sure they get review of them by keeping them on the cards in their word bank. Essentially, I have every word my kids have ever missed tucked behind their spelling tab in my SP box (in the front I have index cards with all the group rules printed on them so I can pull them out for them to copy)- I usually fit 20 or so words on a 3x5 card. These word bank cards are what I pull out also when I choose an activity from the task card box for them to do (or if you don't have that - the SP book has many of the ideas from these cards in it too).

Hope that helps - not sure if it will - but that is my journey from SP and back again! :)
"So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him" Colossians 2:6
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