Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Write On, Babe!

I'm sure all of you out in the blogosphere have kids that LOVE to write. They all just let the words flow. I'm sure there aren't any battles or tears when you ask your son/daughter to "write a sentence". I'm sure they don't flail, fidget, furrow their brows, or fall off the chair from an overwhelming task... as mine do. I'm thinking of one dear daughter in particular. And if you think that image to the right is an exaggeration... well, think again.

So now you'll understand when I tell you that in recent years I've bypassed a lot of writing assignments from dd's schoolwork. Which really isn't such a bad thing as long as there is some sort of formal writing. There wasn't. And it wasn't so much just her it was that I couldn't convey to her how to construct the most simplest of sentences. It just wouldn't click with her and it became stressful and frustrating for both of us. But I also know that she needs to know how to do things she doesn't like doing. Especially when it comes to writing. It's important to learn how to put the pen to the paper - or the fingers to the keyboard - and communicate something... anything.

I've heard about a 'writing program' before but never really knew exactly what it did, how it worked, and what was involved. I'd see folks chatting about it on the yahoo group but never gave it another thought. [you can see that I'm not too good at conveying my thoughts]

So at the last Mothers Night Out [known as MNO *but* known as LMNOP 'round here :o)], a few of us got to chatting about our children's writing or lack of writing. And many were raving about IEW - yeah, yeah... I've heard about that on the email loop. I'm sure it won't help :*( - yeah, I know, good attitude, right? I didn't say that, but I wasn't too enthralled when they mentioned it.

Then one of my friends started explaining the program to me and how it works and many examples of lessons. All I could think of was: I've got to do this for my kids. I owe it to them!

So, the next day I ordered IEW's Student Writing Intensive Level B through Adoremus online. It is a bit pricey, but this is something for school and I can use it with all of the kids.

We started with the first lesson last Wednesday. I'm using it with my 12yo and 8yo daughters. We popped the first DVD in and watched the guy teach. And boy is he good!

They are given a binder with lots of printouts in it. We pulled out a 6-sentence paragraph. The students have to pull out 3 of the most important words in each sentence and write them down. This is their key word outline. I might also add that the DVD is the teacher actually teaching students at a workshop - so there is rapport with the students and cute humor. He makes it fun and interesting for them and for those of us watching in our homes. So - we worked on that 2 days last week and still weren't done with Lesson 1.

Today was 'the clouds parting' kind of day. I had tears in my eyes and thanked God in the quietness of my heart.

They had another writing assignment [now mind you, all the assignments are done with him and the students on the DVD - the kids aren't alone to fend for themselves] - it was one they were finishing up from Monday's paragraph. The following they did all on their own. This is what Miss 12yo read to me:

The Bear and the Honey Comb

One day a bear who noticed a bee hive calmly reached in to grab some
combs. He grabbed some and frantically tried to pull out his paw which
was bulging with honey combs, but it wouldn't come out. Unwilling to let go of the combs, he was unable to free his paw. He desperingly burst in to tears. A owl nearby, who was awaken by the crying, remarked, "if you let go of some of the honey and be satisfied with fewer, you can free your paw. Sometimes you must give up a little to get what you wish." - copied as was on her paper


And what the 8yo dictated to me:

The Chipmunk and the Chocolate

A young chipmunk spotted a jar of chocolate and reached in to get
some. He grabbed some chocolate and tried to pull out his paw which he
couldn't do because his fist was bulging with chocolate. The chipmunk was unwilling to drop the chocolate so he was unable to pull his paw out of the jar. Helplessly the chipmunk cried. A nearby squirrel noticed the chipmunk crying and told him, "If you let go of some of the chocolate you'll be able to get your paw out. Sometimes you need to give up a little to get what you wish."

This was all done from their key word outline. So they had 3 words from each sentence from the original story, The Boy and the Nuts - that sparked each of their sentences in their own work. The teacher told them that it would be nice, but certainly not necessary, to come up with their own characters. The girls enjoyed doing that! They also had in front of them a list of adverbs [100+] so there was no stress. They were required to combine 2 sentences with 'who' or 'which'. And they were NOT allowed to use the "Banned Words" [said, see/saw, go/went - thus far] I am just so proud of them! And amazed that this is their first real assignment and this is the fruit! How awesome is that?

The best part? There were no tears, no stressing out. There was excitement and pride in achieving this task!

Another interesting thing that I learned is the teacher guy [don't know his name] is a convert and our homeschooling group is booking him for a conference in 2010!

So - writing around here is taking a turn for the better! And now I can't wait 'til the next lesson!

Sometimes I just hate Blogger - why can't the words just be the way you want them to look. I 'm speaking about their stories. They were supposed to be blocked! I feel a comment from Regina coming on ;)


Therese said...

Is it just as good for boys? I need something for Tom now. He is 8 and we fight over writing every time I make him do it.

Shelly said...

Absolutely - gender doesn't matter. Therese is 8 - and I'm not making her do all the writing. She'll tell me what she wants to say [dictate] and I'll write it down.

Karrot's Blog said...

I have tears in my eyes as I read your post. I love hearing how (especially Dani) is growing up. It shows maturity on her behalf.
Thanks for sharing!

Kayla said...

You talking about me? The dear daughter who puts up a fuss when she has to write?

Vicki said...

That course looks great Shelly! I'm thinking about getting it for my boys too. If it works, it would definitely be worth the price.