I am struggling with WS as well, though I know it is completely my issue and not WS. I have looked around a little bit at other curriculums, but have not seen anything that I think would really be a better fit. I would love something like All About Spelling that has the script of how to teach the mechanics. I have Evaluating Writing and I like that it reminds me to be positive and only pick one thing to improve at a time. The quote about giving grace to our kids because it took time for us as parents to become perfect cracks me up.
Lesson 6: This is what my 10 year old 4th grader turned in
for the assignment about the most exciting thing that happened. We have not yet edited it or improved on it.
- "The most exiting thing that happened was when we read Narnia. It made time fly. The best part was when a god named Tash [he was bad] grabbed a man named Rishda. Narnia is like The Big God Story. Narnia has helped me to understand God a little more."
In terms of the mechanics teaching: are you using Language Lessons? if so, the mechanics are taught in there with those bolded notes
in lessons such as #8, then reviewed in the lessons such as 51,100, 150,195, 248,301. additionally, check the boxes at the bottom of the pages in WS. Some of those are mechanics to look for. Approach them as needed.
definitely agreeing that it isn't necessarily that WS is hard, but learning how to teach writing is a skill that we have to learn as teachers. But, how do we as writing coaches know what to look for when sometimes we’re dealing with life and children and trying to cook supper at the same time?
If I were making a crash course..... I'd start with the wisdom that Julie shares about small steps and working together. I'd add in some humor. I'd show the back cover of Writing Strands books and make everyone see the analogy on the back cover with the bird cage. I'd start with saying "if you are beginning to teach writing, then expect the student to be a beginning level writer and it's OK!"
Then..... I'd go here with that workshop.
Let’s try to break it down a bit to help with the small steps to see what it means to be a beginning writer.
I’d like to suggest starting with links to just help a bit with checklist for elementary level writers.
Six Traits: Ideas, Organization, Voice, Sentence Fluency, Word Choice, Conventions
at concord.edina.k12.mn.us , they offer poster versions https://www.edinaschools.org/Page/2343
and even simple activities on line to say this is what we mean. Very low time needed for that.
So, those are beginning stages of a student learning to write.
Perhaps you’d like something to use as a rubric with the 6 traits. Those are easy to find on the internet.
(p.s. I like one that shows a flow of skills over time and development. So if you have a 4th grader who is at beginning level, that’s exactly where they should be!)
So, if we go back to the FAQ on WS that MFW has. They name their six traits a little bit differently. That’s ok. It’s all the same stuff, just named a little differently. It’s all the same stuff.
- MFW says to evaluate on:
organization, structure, word choice, clarity, style, and mechanics.
Let’s make sure we know what we are looking for in those words when using WS.
: simple here for elementary. Does it tell it in an order than makes sense? Is there a conclusion of something that matches their age and overall development?
: Does it seem to be set up according to the instructions and follows similar organization in the example shown in WS. Is Paragraph is on one topic? Are the sentences complete?
The specific words that you choose create images, capture a reader's attention and make your writing grow with you. You might ask the student to look at the paper with you and think about these questions:
Have I used some strong verbs, or adjectives or phrases? if not, how about changing one or two?
Have I chosen the most precise word? (in example of my3sons’s student, I think he did select a very precise word by talking about a specific book.) Did I repeat common words too many times?
Are sentences to the point? Do they engage the reader and make the reader understand the author? Read it out loud and find out. Does something read in 2 ways to potentially confuse a reader? Also, I personally think that the Ideas/Content section of the above rubrics will fall in the “clarity” category, so look at those when looking for clarity.
: Are the sentences different lengths?
Am I trying not to do all Dick N Jane sentences? (how could I start it differently)
Can I add a word in a sentence?
Additionally, look at the rubrics for hints on “voice” and fluency..
Mechanics or Conventions
: These include spelling, punctuation, grammar, capitalization and paragraphing.
Use what has been taught in ILL and WS to the timing of the lesson.
If you see consistently something wrong, work on that.
Introduce new mechanics as needed for the student’s writing.
And remember, they are beginners. Encourage as such. Not everything will be worked on in one year. Some things will naturally develop as they do copywork and dictations and English lessons. That's why we do those things in MFW for several years prior to starting WS.
Some of the word choices will come from doing read alouds that are above their current level. Never be afraid to give your student 2 quality options from which to select if they are struggling to write something. Work with them.
We can do this.