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This week at Teach Beside Me is Homeschool Curriculum Review Week. Since school is about to start, lots of people are researching which curriculum to use for the new year. If you are still searching, this is the place to come and look! Each day I will have a link-up for other bloggers to share their reviews that they have written for various subjects. So be sure to check back all week long! Today You can link up any posts with Language Arts Curriculum Reviews in them. I also have a writing curriculum review to share with you today from the Institute for Excellence in Writing called Student Writing Intensive. (Disclaimer: I received these products for free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.)
Student Writing Intensive teaches writing to students in grades 3 through 12. There are different levels (A,B, & C) and we received level A for my 4th grader. The goal of the class is to teach kids to write with Structure and Style. The classes are on DVD’s made by Andrew Pudewa. They are actual classes full o students that were recorded. The set also includes a student and a teacher notebook. You begin the lessons by watching a clip of the DVD the class gives you instructions and teaches, then gives an assignments. The students then use their notebook with handouts included to complete the assignments given in the lesson.
The first assignment is learning to create a key word outline from a simple paragraph. Pudewa teaches how to do this in a fun and easy way that kids understand. Then with each lesson, they build on the beginning skills learned in this first lesson. He adds in what he calls Dress-ups to encourage the kids to be creative with their writing. He gives a list of adverbs and prepositions for them to use. He also has them start a list of banned words that he encourages them NOT to use! Under each banned word (words that are just plain boring) they list alternative words that are much more exciting to use. For each assignment he gives a little checklist of skills to complete making it so simple to follow.
The videos are fun and engaging. When I turn them on, my younger daughter always wants to join in watching. He makes jokes and gets them all laughing. My son says he should be a comedian. But along with the fun and humor, he has really learned some valuable skills. We have gotten through only a portion of the lessons so far, since we took a summer break, but this is something that I plan on using through the coming school year as well. I have been impressed to see what my son can do after only a few lessons. He is really not a writer and in fact kind of hates writing. I wanted to try this because I heard it was a great way to strengthen his writing. He complained at first, but after doing it he actually started enjoying it and greatly improving in his skills with each new paragraph he wrote. He went in thinking he could never write a paragraph, but is no longer afraid of it!
There are 15 lessons in all that are outlined to last a total of 30 weeks. The teacher’s manual is a great resource. It has a suggested schedule to follow, the video scenes broken down to the second for each lesson, handouts for the students, lesson outlines and possible ways to help your students do their outlines. It really is quite easy to open up and go with no prep work at all. I love the simplicity of using it. I am enjoying watching the movies and learning along with my son, too!
Along with it I also received the Teaching Writing seminar and workbook. This is an incredible resource to help the parent learn the skills before teaching your own children. The great thing about it is that if you watch it before starting your kids on the writing program, you will be able to help them and answer their questions easily. It comes with 10 DVD’s that teach you how to teach writing. There is also a workbook with handouts to go along with the seminar. I enjoy writing, but have not always been the best with ll of the rules, so the teaching set is really valuable to me. I am learning it a little at a time over the summer and enjoying all the skills I am gaining. I know it will really make me a better teacher this year for my kids.
Some topics covered:
- Outline and summarize
- Generate cohesive paragraphs
- Create stories
- Produce reports and critiques
- Develop essays
- Translate their thoughts and ideas into writing
- Vary sentence structure
- Use interesting vocabulary
- Add literary devices
So, if you are looking for the best language arts curriculum around for writing, this is it. Take some time to check it out on their website. The cost is high, but the quality matches the price. The package sells for $249. But you can buy either part individually.
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