Most of you are a few months into the new school year, and by now you have a pretty good idea of whether writing is humming along nicely or stubbornly dragging its heels. Now is a good time to evaluate this often-neglected subject and decide if you need to make any mid-course corrections.
It may help to ask yourself: Do I really need a formal writing program? Surprisingly, you may not. Here are some things to consider.
Do You Need a Writing Curriculum?
No, if you . . .
- Are a self-starter.
- Provide your kids with a variety of writing activities and projects.
- Feel comfortable taking your children through the steps of the writing process.
- Include writing as part of your unit studies.
- Regularly incorporate writing across the curriculum.
- Enjoy thinking up writing lessons for your children.
- Are good about remembering to have your children write several times a week.
- Don’t worry too much about whether you’re missing something.
Yes, if you . . .
- Tend to push writing to the back burner.
- Feel uncertain about what to teach and when.
- Worry about not doing enough writing with your children.
- Prefer a bit more structure.
- Like a more systematic approach to teaching.
- Are more comfortable following a schedule.
- Feel overwhelmed at the thought of coming up with writing assignments or creating your own lesson plans.
Did You Answer Yes? Read On!
What to Look For in a Writing Program
- Clear teaching directions.
- Step-by-step student instructions.
- Creative, engaging ideas for prewriting, brainstorming, and publishing.
- Ungraded materials that allow you to teach several children.
- Materials that will encourage a reluctant writer, yet challenge a stronger or more eager writer.
- An approach that appeals to different learning styles.
- A program that builds the writing process into the lessons.
- Lessons that offer models or examples.
- A program that teaches self-editing.
What to Avoid
- Materials that just tell children to write rather than teach them HOW to write.
- Rigid lessons with very specific writing topics and little room for flexibility.
- Comprehensive curricula that attempt to fully teach both writing and grammar.
- Generic or all-purpose grading rubrics that require too much guesswork on your part.
. . . . .
When you’re comparing writing programs, WriteShop is a good place to start. Whether you’re teaching elementary ages or teens, WriteShop products meet many of the above recommendations for a solid, parent-friendly writing program.
Photo: Jeremy Page, courtesy of Creative Commons.