WS - Praise & describe how it works

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)
cbollin

Writing Strands: how much accomplished in 4th grade?

Unread post by cbollin » Fri May 18, 2012 9:53 pm

abrightmom wrote:Still trying to wrap my brain around this program.
What is it that you want to understand?

Over the years of using WS, you get to help with skills (strands) in areas of
*Basics of stronger sentences, that build to stronger paragraphs. That's the building blocks of all writing.
and
*organizing your thoughts

it is then applied to
*Creative writing (point of view, plot, character development)
*Descriptions
*and reports (non research style)

as they go into next books, more application will come with
"essay"
letters
more stories.
and even a touch of expository writing.

As the years/level increase, more details of writing are introduced:
it goes past just tenses, into narrative voices, organizing into "persuasive" essays, more detail in writing.


Grammar and edit skills are taught alongside in small increments. Those are usually in little boxes in the lesson and there as check points in the year... such as if they are still writing in "dick and jane" style, make sure they vary sentence openers.

WS is not one of these writing programs where you study a skill, then do worksheets. It's really more about the art form of writing and less on the formula of writing. There's still plenty of structure taught, don't get me wrong. But it's more about the art of writing first.............

-crystal

abrightmom
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:17 pm

Re: Writing Strands: how much accomplished in 4th grade?

Unread post by abrightmom » Sat May 19, 2012 1:16 pm

Crystal,

You DID actually answer my questions. You helped a lot. I am getting the sense that there is more "open-endedness" and creativity in the Writing Strands curriculum.

I like formulas and checklists and all that jazz because I DON'T KNOW HOW TO WRITE and I don't know ABOUT writing (terms, expectations, goals, sequence, editing, etc.). SWB DOES recommend Writing Strands and it has a long standing history. There's just so much on the market these days and so many WAYS to teach writing; it's a bit overwhelming. I don't want to throw it out if it REALLY does work and will get us to the point we need to be in High School. Sighing over this whole issue right now....

I DO want to grow in my skills as a teacher and writing is one department in which that is needed. I also don't want to spend a million dollars getting there. I'll pull that WS book out this weekend and read through ALL of the lessons and see if I can't have a "lightbulb" moment !? .
-Katrina-

DS15, DS14, DD12, DS8

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

Re: Writing Strands: how much accomplished in 4th grade?

Unread post by TriciaMR » Sat May 19, 2012 2:16 pm

It's kind of like going to someone's house for a 7 course meal, but they don't tell you what each course is... WS is like that. You get the first course, and just do it, then the second course... But, by the time you get to level 5, you start to see the purpose. I like that it isn't overwhelming. We can set a timer for 15 minutes, work that long for the day and call it good.

-Trish
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

jabec
Posts: 9
Joined: Wed Apr 25, 2012 1:45 pm

Re: Writing Strands: how much accomplished in 4th grade?

Unread post by jabec » Sat May 19, 2012 4:28 pm

TriciaMR wrote:It's kind of like going to someone's house for a 7 course meal, but they don't tell you what each course is... WS is like that. You get the first course, and just do it, then the second course... But, by the time you get to level 5, you start to see the purpose. I like that it isn't overwhelming. We can set a timer for 15 minutes, work that long for the day and call it good.

-Trish
I love this explanation!!! If so many say it works, and it's pretty painless- I'm willing to give it a try!
Newbie to MFW.
Thankful for this board.
Using ECC for 6th grade DS, 4th grade DD, 2nd grade DS, Ker DD, and 2 yo DS.
(just using mix and match stuff for K, though she'll do as much as possible in ECC)

cbollin

Re: Writing Strands: how much accomplished in 4th grade?

Unread post by cbollin » Sat May 19, 2012 4:38 pm

I like Trish's explanation too.

WS 3, lesson 1 goals.
follow the structure he gets with the model
learn what makes a complete sentence.
now learn how to expand a sentence with descriptive words.

A few years I described it this way...
Writing Strands works in "Karate Kid" style.
Wax On Wax Off
Sand the floor
paint the fence.
"but I want to learn Karate!" wax on wax off.. sand the floor... paint the fence..
and of course in the process of those skills, he learns karate. ;)

I've learned while teaching writing that some structure is taught. (sentence formation. paragraphs put together).. but content is "caught"... oh we can make suggestions like "try adding a few more words to describe that object, or how she feels when saying those words" and even give 2 or 3 options to choose. But they have to try a few.. It's like trying to find your clothing style. Sometimes you have to grab a bunch of things from the racks, go to the dressing room... laugh and have fun with it.

you might even take a listen to a workshop given by the WS author...
http://www.writing-strands.com/media/19 ... ention.mp3

-crystal

abrightmom
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:17 pm

Re: Writing Strands: how much accomplished in 4th grade?

Unread post by abrightmom » Sat May 19, 2012 5:02 pm

Ladies,

This has been such a helpful discussion! Thank-you for all of the examples or analogies to "explain" WS. I think we MIGHT give it a whirl this summer. My oldest is more than ready and I want to do some writing instruction this summer.

Crystal, I really appreciate your input and how you often "read between the lines" to perceive what a Mom wants or needs. :-) :-)
-Katrina-

DS15, DS14, DD12, DS8

MelissaM
Posts: 161
Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2010 12:52 pm

Re: Writing Strands: how much accomplished in 4th grade?

Unread post by MelissaM » Sat May 19, 2012 6:28 pm

Hey Katrina,

Just wanted to throw in, don't be discouraged if you don't really get it or love it even after you first try it. I didn't either (not sure I fully "get" it yet, but I like Tricia's analogy!), and had a couple different starts with it. It took us till nearly the end of 5th grade to finish WS3. I will say that even though *I* don't always love it, my dd does, and she does great with the assignments. That, combined with the awesome price, the open-and-go convenience of it, and the simplicity of saying, "We're going to work on this for xx minutes and be done" and then being able to do that makes it worth it for me to stick with it.

I have looked (a LOT) at SWB's samples and I think they're great. I would be very concerned though, with the time that program would require. I know someone using WWS with her 5th grader this year and there were a lot of tears and just general resistance because of the great length of some of the assignments. I always think about that when I'm considering subbing out one of MFW's recs for something else. It seems that great time and care has gone into choosing MFW's LA recs, and it's almost like a puzzle, how all the different pieces work together to make a really comprehensive program. If you take out one piece, you have to make sure you fill that spot with something that fits just as well.

Also, HI! Good to "see" you around here. :)


[Editor's note: MFW now recommends WWS beginning in 7th grade.]
:)
Melissa
DD13
DS10
DS5
DS2

abrightmom
Posts: 56
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 7:17 pm

Re: Writing Strands: how much accomplished in 4th grade?

Unread post by abrightmom » Sat May 19, 2012 11:10 pm

Hi Melissa (waving and smiling here :-) ).

Thanks for sharing your journey and for encouraging me. :) :-) ;) I am going to read through that WS3 again and we will TRY it on for size. I won't give up the first week and I'll have a good attitude, esp. with my son.
-Katrina-

DS15, DS14, DD12, DS8

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

Writing strands

Unread post by TriciaMR » Thu Oct 04, 2012 6:06 pm

annaz wrote:How is Writing Strands going with those of you who are using it? Have you used more than one level? I have this from ECC when we did part of Level 3. We did not complete it and I'm thinking of going back to it. I'm wondering how many long-term users are using it? And whether or not the Teacher Evaluation book for Writing Strands is worth buying.
We're in Level 5 - the second half. We started with level 3. I like how it builds gradually, seems a little incremental. We did a lot of double-dictation the first couple of levels - she would dictate to me, I would write on the white board, then we would edit, and then she would copy to paper. This year I'm having trouble (time-wise) incorporating it into our week. but, I'll figure it out eventually.

Evaluating Writing is helpful, I just think the examples are of super-genius kids (my kids never wrote as well as the ages of kids in the examples in the book.)

-Trish
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

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

Re: Writing strands

Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu Oct 04, 2012 7:28 pm

I'm another fan of Writing Strands. We used about the amount Trish has - through the middle of level 5. I probably should have pushed to finish even more, but what we did was valuable, in my opinion. WS lets you spend all your time on the short topics and the parent feedback, which IMO are the only way to work on writing.

Another benefit is that MFW staff and board users are here for you, if you get stuck. There are quite a few help threads here (scroll down to threads beginning with "WS"):
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewforum.php?f=19

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

annaz
Posts: 54
Joined: Fri Mar 24, 2006 7:34 pm

Re: Writing strands

Unread post by annaz » Thu Oct 04, 2012 9:42 pm

So far I've heard mostly good things on my search with WS. It seems simple enough, and won't break the bank. DD loves to write and I'm glad there would be help here on the site. That's a bonus. Not only that I don't have to change again next year if we like it. This is good. :-)

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

writing strands

Unread post by MelissaB » Fri Jun 21, 2013 8:21 am

Mississippi Jenni wrote:Please tell me about WS. Does it cover everything we need for writing? DS is in vision therapy so we need small chunks of writing. We are also not creative about picking topics to write about. This is why we cannot do understanding writing. We are using Easy Grammar.
Writing Strands does a good job of breaking writing down into small segments. It always provides the topic to write about, from describing your bedroom to continuing a story.

If any day's assignment feels overwhelming, stop and start there the next day. :)
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

Writing Strands

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sat Oct 05, 2013 11:51 am

hsm wrote:I would like to hear some positive testimonies regarding Writing Strands. I have been using level 3 with my 11 year old. While I like it "enough", I am not giddy about it. It doesn't help that writing/language arts were always my strong suit and my daughter HATES writing. I am not sure how I feel about WS. Anyone love it? Are you seeing improvement and/or better yet, enthusiasm, in your writer? I confess I have looked at other writing curricula and am feeling the grass is greener itch... help please? I also would like to add that MFW LA in general is not an issue although I admit it did take me time to love those as well. :~
Hi Lori,
I'm not sure if you've looked in the archives, but I'm sure I'm there chiming in about my love of Writing Strands several times &)

My appreciation of WS comes from my high value for writing and my low confidence in "writing programs." My experience working with my kids as well as tutoring lots of others leads me to believe that the only true writing lesson will come from the reader who gives feedback to the writer. However, that is such a HUGE job in my mind that I appreciate having Writing Strands to give me some direction.

- Writing Strands has relative short, very focused lessons. (A few of the assignments can seem to take you all around the block, but they can be spread out, shortened, and just remember that real writing does sometimes involve a lot of steps but it's really about a fairly small lesson focus.) There is never an assignment to "write 500 words about X" and accomplish... what?

- Writing Strands exercises the writing muscles that I don't think would be worked on without an "exercise routine" that brings them out. WS will add things like writing a story from different perspectives, in different tenses, and with different sentence styles (a goal is stated at the beginning of each lesson). For instance, when working on tense, working up to being able to go back and forth in one piece of writing that includes different tenses for different reasons, etc. Lessons on perspective go from thinking about the fact that one person standing over here can't physically see what that other person can see, to thinking about how the park worker who cleans up the mess doesn't feel the same way about the party as the child playing. Those kinds of things don't often get covered in regular notebooking or free writing.

- Remember that the WS lessons are just filling in the gaps that aren't covered by your other work (copywork, PLL/ILL, etc.). Using the MFW recommendations avoids duplication and wearing out the student with language arts. During the WS lessons, that reminder helps me to focus on adding these things to my child's writing and not get caught up in "following the directions exactly" or "correcting everything," like I did at first!

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

hsm
Posts: 146
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 8:09 pm

Re: Writing Strands

Unread post by hsm » Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:26 pm

I promise I checked the archives first...how did I not see the complete archive of WS praises/encouragement &) Thanks, Julie, for the link. I like your analogy of the working the writing muscles. I think that workout is what is "strange" to me (for lack of better word). It seems so broken down, but between your analogy and looking through the archive I can see the reason behind it. I also checked out the link within your link [to the above archive] that had an article written by the author of WS and what he said made sense. I want to go back and listen to the audio. I haven't had time to do that yet.

Also, Crystal's analogy to Karate Kid really helped it click for me. I think I am getting it now. I do like the short lessons. That is a huge plus for my "I don't want to write" daughter. I think the baby steps are beneficial to her. It is a bit uncomfortable for her though because coming out of ps she has already been "trained" how to write and I believe WS has a better method behind it than what she has been taught. She wasn't taught the baby steps. It was: write a topic sentence, 3 supporting sentences, conclusion, and repeat. They didn't work on sentence expansion, avoiding Dick-Jane writing, etc.

With giving feedback to my dd, I don't feel I am doing a good job with it. It is hard for me to know what to expect from a beginning writer, kwim? I don't want to slaughter her writing and crush her confidence, but I also want to make sure she is given proper critique and feedback (age appropriate). That said, have you any experience with WS's book Evaluating Writing? I saw it mentioned in the threads and it piqued my interest.

Thanks again for your help!
Lori-IL
K/ECC, CtG/Learning God's Story
dd-12, dd-9, ds-6

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

Re: Writing Strands

Unread post by Julie in MN » Sat Oct 05, 2013 5:20 pm

hsm wrote: That said, have you any experience with WS's book Evaluating Writing? I saw it mentioned in the threads and it piqued my interest.
I did have the book. I didn't use it very often, but I like to read :) Here's a thread with some experiences on that: http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=10158

Here are some posts on helping if you get stuck on particular lessons in book 3:
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=4681

Folks have posted their kids' work on the Message Board, too, looking for feedback. I think it's good we homeschoolers support one another that way.

If you get a chance to listen to the author's audio link, I think it gives some good perspective on teaching writing. I especially like his cooking analogies. Here it is, to make it quick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLMddsrILtA

HTH,
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

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