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Our Writing Instruction Philosophy
I latched on to the idea of “coaching writers” very early on in our homeschool. Our goal for our students is to have effective written communicators. That’s the same goal for each child, but each begins at a different place and requires different coaching to reach the goal. Some of our students have been intuitive writers who are good spellers and need just some fine tuning. Others needed a little more coaching to reach the same goal. The trick is knowing your student well enough to see what they need along the way.
In elementary school, we work on basic sentence structure and putting ideas together. We work on spelling and grammar conventions. As our students get older, we add on more skills and help them to practice the skills in authentic ways. We don’t use a formal grammar program. We simply write. We talk about what needs improvement and what grammar needs work and why. Grammar outside the context of real writing is not easily mastered or remembered. I have found that teaching grammar as the tool which helps our readers understand what we’ve written as we intended it is the most effective method.
By the time our students are in middle school, we use a variety of curriculum to further develop their foundation. The standardized tests have come back very positive. Their skills are solid and our job is to build on them as they get older to master specific sorts of essays and writing.
Ideas for Coaching Writers
I try to come up with ideas that allow my students to work with words. Here are a few of my favorites:
- How to Make a Word Collage (& Why)– Word collages get your kids thinking about words and their meanings. This is a great activity to get students working with a dictionary and thesaurus.
- How to Build a Repertoire of Words– Ideas for word building
- The Dictionary Quest– Learn the value of a printed dictionary for building word knowledge.
- Writing with Word Cards– Using word cards to make paragraphs
- Five Ways to Play with Words– Fun activities for more word building skills
- High School Skills: Analyzing Text– Learning to write about literature for high schoolers
- A Homeschooler’s Guide to the Persuasive Essay– How to prepare your high schooler to write an effective persuasive essay with resources.
- Tips for a Well Written Expository Essay– What is an expository essay and how do you write one?
- Writing the Personal Essay– This is a great resource for writing any college application essay.
- Other Worlds: Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction– A post on all things fantasy and science fiction. Find out how we nurture this interest in our homeschool.
Resources for Coaching Writing
- Resources for Coaching Writers– the ultimate post on books, websites, and ideas we use with our writers.
- Coaching Writers with a Writer’s Workshop– How we facilitate a writer’s workshop based on the book Workshop’s Work by Patricia Zaballos
- The Ultimate Guide to Creative Writing– by Sarah at Small World. I love this guide. It is a go to for me when I want to find a new writing idea for my students.
- Coaching Writers Pinterest Board– A gathering of all things writing mostly for older students
- Methods for Teaching Middle & High School Language Arts– An overview of how we do it.
- Using Writing Conferences to Coach Writing– This is a detailed account of how I teach writing by coaching.
We don’t use a formal curriculum regularly until middle school. Here’s a list of our favorite curriculum for older writers.
- WriteShop– This program is very effective at breaking down the writing process and using pre-writing activities at all levels. Pre-writing activities help students to organize their thoughts. I love the tools the authors share for teaching self-editing skills.
- Cover Story– A steampunk themed program to teach writing through the publishing of a magazine. Your student gets to pick the theme of the magazine and write on a topic of his choosing.
- Essay Rockstar– For parents who want a partner in mentoring their students in writing. You can do one module at a time or sign on for the full course.
- One Year Adventure Novel– A creative writing course, taught through video instruction and reading together. By the end, your student will have written a 12 chapter adventure novel. We LOVE this course. It’s been a great community of families and they offer a summer workshop and webinars throughout the year. You can see my review of OYAN here on Curriculum Choice.
- Other Worlds– The Fantasy & Science Fiction Module for One Year Adventure Novel to be taken once the OYAN curriculum is complete.
- Excellence in Literature– All you need for high school English, this program has five volumes and is a valuable resource for reading and writing about literature.
- Brave Writer– I’m new to Brave Writer, but the coaching skills provided throughout this program reinforces what I already know to be successful in our homeschool.
We love words at our house and we love to coach our writers. I hope you’ve found some tools here that will useful to you in your homeschool.
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