Kids need clear writing expectations

Kids need measurable, clear writing expectations. Achievable goals, specific directions, and consistency will boost confidence and skills

By Daniella Dautrich

When you have kids, you step into the role of teacher every moment of every day. Your toddlers and teens alike look to you for guidance and approval as they navigate a complex world of social interactions, household responsibilities, and time management.

Clear expectations from you make all the difference in their learning experience. If children fail to understand what you require, the confusion quickly leads to frustration or discouragement. The realm of writing is no exception.

You might not have an antique desk and blackboard or the perfect “teacher outfit” for the first day of school. But when it comes to teaching writing, I’m confident you’ll be the poised and prepared Writing Teacher of the Year if you avoid two common pitfalls!

The Insecure Parent: “A” for Effort

If you feel inadequate when it comes to teaching writing, it’s possible you’re requiring too little from your kids. Because teaching and grading writing are stressful, you may only ask for 15 minutes of journaling each week or give a purposeless assignment here and there just to say, “We did writing.”

If writing is rather hit-and-miss at your house, so is grading. Sometimes you comment on your kids’ papers, and sometimes you don’t. You’re an encourager at heart and desire to praise any of their efforts. More often than not, you liberally give checkmarks, smiley faces, and passing grades. It’s possible their writing and grammar mistakes continue to multiply simply because giving realistic feedback is hard for you.

The problem isn’t your fun-loving or soft-hearted spirit! Insecurity about teaching writing creates low expectations and inconsistency. This makes for a haphazard teaching style that not only creates a stumbling block for overwhelmed kids, but quenches their confidence as well.

The Unrealistic Parent: “A” for Perfection

The pendulum can swing the other way too!

If you have a background in English, love to write or blog, or consider yourself a grammar geek, you may have especially high standards for your children. That’s not necessarily a bad thing—but it can become a problem if you don’t set boundaries or communicate your requirements.

Be careful not to impose vague standards of perfection on your kids (which set them up for failure). Weighing them down with unclear (or unrealistic) expectations can turn them off to writing. Instead, give your children achievable goals so they know what to aim for.

The Write Solution

Giving clear writing expectations will help you raise better writers and reduce stress. That’s why I’m such a fan of teaching writing skills the WriteShop way. Red-pencil corrections such as “too vague” may leave your child scratching his head and wondering what he did wrong. Instead, before he first begins to write, make tasks concrete and give him measurable targets such as:

  • Write one paragraph of five to seven sentences.
  • Include emotion words to add a stronger voice.
  • Choose vivid, exciting words instead of dull, vague words.

Now, instead of marking your children’s writing as “too vague” or “too short,” you can instruct, guide, and correct with greater confidence. As you and your children practice communicating specific ideas, requests, and concerns, the clear expectations might just overflow into the rest of your home life as well.

Interested in learning more about WriteShop curriculum choices?

WriteShop Primary (grades K-3)
WriteShop Junior (grades 3-6)
WriteShop I and II (junior high/high school)

Daniella Dautrich is a WriteShop alumna and a graduate of Hillsdale College. She and her husband fill their home with books on writing, literature, and computer science. Daniella blogs at www.waterlilywriter.com.

Photo: Steven S., courtesy of Creative Commons.

H.I.N.T.S. Book Fair

WriteShop will be exhibiting at the H.I.N.T.S.  Book Fair July 12-13 in Matthews, NC.

HINTS Book Fair

Our WriteShop representative, Kyra, will help and encourage you at the H.I.N.T.S. Book Fair.  She’s looking forward to answering your writing questions, showing you WriteShop products, and helping you choose the best level for your child’s writing needs.

Attend Our Workshop: Building Dynamic Essays in Middle and High School

by Writeshop presenter Kyra Gartrell
Essay-writing is a building process that begins with planning, tools, and organization and ends with a final product–-a well-written essay. Discover how these building blocks help your students gain confidence and skill to conquer the daunting task of writing a successful essay.

At the conventions you can:

  • See our full line of WriteShop products
  • Purchase WriteShop materials.
  • Learn how you can teach a WriteShop co-op class in your area.
  • Receive much-needed encouragement about teaching writing.

Come see what’s new or browse through WriteShop books in person. Visit the convention site for workshop schedules, exhibit hall hours, and directions to the conference. We look forward to seeing you there!

TEACH AV Homeschool Convention

TeachAV logo

TEACH AV Homeschool Convention 2013 is a BRAND-NEW, one-day event taking place Saturday, June 29th in Lancaster, CA.

The conference will be held at Westside Christian Fellowship. Visit the TEACH AV convention page for information, speaker info, and workshop schedule.

Visit the vendor booth

As you begin looking toward the next school year, it’s also the perfect time to stop by the WriteShop booth to ask questions, see what’s new, or browse through WriteShop books in person.

At the convention you can:

  • See our full line of WriteShop products
  • Purchase the newest WriteShop Primary books.
  • Thumb through the exciting new WriteShop Junior materials.
  • Learn how you can teach a WriteShop co-op class in your area.
  • Receive much-needed encouragement about teaching writing.

Attend Kim Kautzer’s workshops

Kim will be presenting two workshops at the TEACH AV convention.

Saturday, June 29th 

10: 25-11:25 a.m. Inspiring Successful Writers (K-6)

Your kindergartener loves to tell stories but can hardly hold a pencil. Your 9-year-old is producing a novel. And the blank page reduces your 11-year-old to tears. What’s a parent to do? Kim will encourage and equip you to teach each of your children, whether reluctant or advanced, by breaking the writing process into manageable steps. Above all, discover how to infuse teaching time with fun so that your children will find joy in writing.

1:00 – 2:00 p.m. Inspiring Successful Writers Part 2 (7-12)

Parents agree—inspiring kids to write well is one of the most intimidating tasks you face. Even if it’s your weakest area, you’ll be relieved to learn that you CAN train your junior high and high schoolers to write. So come discover a fresh approach to teaching composition skills and elements of style. Learn to objectively edit and evaluate writing so you can encourage your struggling, reluctant learner while challenging the one who’s more articulate and motivated.

Visit the TEACH AV website for more information. Will you be there?

 

WHO & AFHE Homeschool Conventions

WriteShop will be exhibiting at two homeschool conventions this week. We hope to meet many of you there! June 14-15 will find us at the Washington Homeschool Convention (WHO) in Puyallup, WA,  and Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE) in Phoenix, AZ.

WriteShop at Homeschool Conventions

Washington Homeschool Convention (WHO) – June 14-15

WriteShop author Debbie Oldar will be answering your writing questions and manning the booth at the WHO conference in Puyallup, WA.  In addition, she’ll be presenting a workshop called Inspiring Successful Writers.

Arizona Families for Home Education (AFHE) – June 14-15

Speaker and author Kim Kautzer will be greeting you at the WriteShop booth in Arizona. If you have a reluctant writer, join her at her workshop, Ten Stumbling Blocks to Writing, for encouragement and ideas.

At BOTH homeschool conventions you can:

WriteShop Writing Curriculum

  • See our full line of WriteShop products
  • Purchase WriteShop materials.
  • Learn how you can teach a WriteShop co-op class in your area.
  • Receive much-needed encouragement about teaching writing.

Whichever homeschool conventions you attend, it’s a great time to stop by our booth to ask questions. Come see what’s new or browse through WriteShop books in person. Visit the convention sites for workshop schedules, exhibit hall hours, and directions to the conferences. We look forward to seeing you there!

2013 Teach Them Diligently and NCHE Homeschool Conventions

In the next two weeks WriteShop will be exhibiting at a couple more homeschool conventions: Teach Them Diligently in Nashville, TN, and NCHE  in Winston-Salem, NC.

WriteShop at Homeschool Conventions

Teach Them Diligently, Nashville – May16-18

Kyra will be our friendly rep at the Teach Them Diligently conference in Nashville this month. With over 10 years of WriteShop experience, Kyra loves to answer your writing questions and explain WriteShop products to you.

NCHE- North Carolinians for Home Education, Winson-Salem – May 22-25

Kyra and Debbie will be greeting you at our booth in North Carolina! These knowledgeable ladies look forward to answering your questions, showing you WriteShop materials, and helping you choose the best level for your children’s and teen’s writing needs.

At BOTH homeschool conventions you can:

WriteShop Writing Curriculum

  • See our full line of WriteShop products
  • Purchase WriteShop materials.
  • Learn how you can teach a WriteShop co-op class in your area.
  • Receive much-needed encouragement about teaching writing.

Whichever homeschool conventions you attend, it’s a great time to stop by our booth to ask questions. Come see what’s new or browse through WriteShop books in person. Visit the convention sites for workshop schedules, exhibit hall hours, and directions to the conferences. We look forward to seeing you there!

Another Birthday Bash Giveaway

Writeshop birthday giveaway

We’re still celebrating WriteShop’s 12th birthday … and that means another great giveaway! This giveaway is open to everyone—even our international friends, with a prize package worth as much as $211!

WriteShop giveaway

Prizes from WriteShop

WriteShop will give the winner your choice of WriteShop Primary or WriteShop Junior curriculum package - includes ebook version of both Teacher’s Guide and related Activity Pack  ($29 to $65 value)

Book A is recommended for kindergarten or first graders. It may also be used with reluctant second graders. The program accommodates pre-writers as well as beginning and developing writers, teaching the skills of the writing process at the very simplest level.

Book B is recommended for first or second graders. It may also be used with reluctant third graders. The program accommodates pre-writers as well as beginning and developing writers, teaching the steps of the writing process in a simple, engaging way.

Book C is recommended for 2nd or 3rd graders. It may also be used with 9-year-olds who learn with difficulty. Students learn to write simple stories, articles, and reports with parent help. The program accommodates beginning and developing writers, teaching the steps of the writing process in a simple, engaging way.

Book D is recommended for 3rd, 4th, or reluctant 5th graders. Students learn to write and publish fiction, nonfiction, and poetry using a variety of pre-writing games, graphic organizers, and self-editing tools. Effective with both reluctant and enthusiastic writers.

Prizes from Friends of WriteShop

Four of our favorite publishing friends are tossing some great gifts into the prize package!

Media Angels is giving the winner a ticket to the Ultimate Homeschool Expo.  This year they’re talking about homeschooling methods, teaching styles, organization, making the most out of your holidays while homeschooling, creation science, exceptional children, teen years, and more. Listen to the Expo and each of the exciting speakers in the comfort of your own home! ($89.95 value)

Grapevine Studies offers Bible studies for all ages. The winner will receive the teacher and student download of The Resurrection study ebook. Starting in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, your students will study the people and events of the final hours of Jesus’ life. Great for family devotions, Sunday School, or Bible class. ($23.00 value)

Homeschool Adventure Co. creates and offers resources designed to inspire and equip parents to educate and raise children to be loving, compassionate, strong, and wise. One of their tools is Philippians in 28 weeks, which will help you memorize Philippians in 28 weeks! This streamlined approach uses memory cards carefully constructed to present Philippians thought-by-thought, copywork verses, journal questions, weekly reflections, recitation charts to test your retention, and an optional tracking tool called “The Log.” The winner will get their own copy of this eb00k. ($14.95 value)

Jim Hodges Audio Books has largest collection of unabridged recordings of the G.A. Henty historical novels available. The winner will get to pick one audio book of your choice. ($18 value)

 

Enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below.

  • See my complete giveaway rules
  • No purchase necessary.
  • All giveaways are void where prohibited.
  • Open to all age 18 and older.
  • Winners are chosen randomly, by Rafflecopter.
  • Unless otherwise stated, winners have 72 hours from the close of the giveaway to claim their prize. If the prize is not claimed within 72 hours, an alternate winner will be selected.

 

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WriteShop’s 12th Birthday Celebration!

WriteShop's Big Birthday Bash

This month marks our 12th year of providing quality writing materials to homeschoolers—and we want to celebrate! A number of our friends have partnered with us to offer a fantastic Big Birthday Bash giveaway package worth over $500!

Here are the Birthday Bash prizes:

WriteShop Birthday Bash Prizes

WriteShop will give the winner their choice of WriteShop curriculum. Choose the level you need! ($32 – $100 value)

Jolanthe from Homeschool Creations created a wonderful resource for homeschool parents called the Homeschool Planner. This great planner can be customized and used year after year. ($20 value)

Thirty-One Consultant Kathy Planton is offering an Organizing Utility Tote. See how Spell Outloud used this bag to organize her WriteShop curriculum. ($30 value)

Erica from Confessions of a Homeschooler is offering her Classical Literature Unit Study Pack. Each literature unit study contains educational lessons, activities and a fun lapbook students will work on as they progress through the book. ($18 value)

WriteShop Birthday Bash Prizes

Bright Ideas Press is offering a digital copy of their fabulous geography software called WonderMaps. It’s a customizable collection of over 350 different maps. With nearly endless possibilities, WonderMaps makes it easy to regularly integrate map study into a variety of lessons and make the most of every learning opportunity. ($49.95 value)

Michelle from Hi Mamma Designs creates beautiful fabric banners. She is making a fabric Happy Birthday banner for the Birthday Bash winner. This is a perfect decoration to use year after year as you celebrate the birthdays of your loved ones at home. ($38 value)

Schoolhouse Teachers is offering a 1-year membership to their online classroom, where Kim Kautzer is the writing teacher. With over 25 different “school” subjects presented via teaching videos, ongoing lesson plans, worksheets, lapbooks & unit studies, writing prompts and other assignments to choose from, students can additionally  interact personally with the teachers by asking them questions and gaining feedback. ($64.26 value)

All About Learning Press is offering a $50 gift certificate to their store! Their All About Reading and All About Spelling programs are complete, comprehensive, and based on the Orton-Gillingham approach and the latest research. ($50 value)

Knowledge Quest created A Presidential Scrapbook and is giving a copy to our Birthday Bash winner. Journey back through time and get acquainted with our nation’s presidents, from General George Washington to our current Commander-in-Chief, Barack Obama. Find out about the events that propelled these men into the highest office of the United States of America and what remarkable and memorable deeds marked each of their presidencies. ($18.95 value)

Linda Lacour Hobar, author of The Mystery of History curriculum, is giving a downloadable Mp3 Audio book of Vol I of The Mystery of History. Bring The Mystery of History Volume I Second Edition to life! You can listen to the professionally recorded stories through the voice of the author. ($49.95 value)

Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young is a practical guide to equipping the hearts and minds of boys without losing or breaking your own. The winner will receive their own copy of this encouraging book. ($15 value)

The winner will also receive a 1-year subscription to Home Educating Family Magazine. With its first-rate graphic design and culturally relevant articles, Home Educating Family Magazine has quickly become the most popular homeschool magazine on the market. ($19.95 value)

With 25 years of experience in the home educating community, Media Angels  has developed an online EXPO addressing a wide variety of topics for today’s homeschool moms! Each year we line up an impressive speaker list with topics that are relevant to your every day life. This year we are talking about homeschooling methods, teaching styles, organization, making the most out of your holidays while homeschooling, creation science, exceptional children, teen years, and more. The winner will receive an Ultimate Homeschool Expo ticket! ($89.95 value)

Starting a  Micro Business for Teens by Carol Topp will help teenagers earn money while learning a lot. A micro business is simple to start, usually home-based, low risk, educational, and easy for a busy student to run. This book offers ideas, a business plan, pitfalls to avoid, and resources to get a teenager started making money running their own micro business. The winner will receive their own copy of Starting a Micro Business for Teens. ($9.95 value)

Enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget below.

  • See my complete giveaway rules
  • No purchase necessary.
  • All giveaways are void where prohibited.
  • Open only to U.S. Residents, age 18 and older.
  • Winners are chosen randomly, by Rafflecopter.
  • Unless otherwise stated, winners have 72 hours from the close of the giveaway to claim their prize. If the prize is not claimed within 72 hours, an alternate winner will be selected.

International friends, there will be a special giveaway open to everyone later  in the month!

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Free writing games! {and a WriteShop coupon}

IT’S BLACK FRIDAY weekend, and WriteShop has some goodies for you!

1. FREEBIE: Writing Games and Activities

First, we want to bless you with a special freebie to download and enjoy with your children!

They’ll love this assortment of writing activities, including:

  • “Where in the World” pre-writing game helps children plan an exciting setting for a story
  • 30 kid-friendly writing prompts for both older and younger children
  • A fun sentence-building game

Grab your download from the pop-up window by visiting WriteShop’s shop at Homeschool Block!

 2. WriteShop Coupon: Save 20%!

While many shoppers are fighting crowds, others prefer taking advantage of online specials from the comfort of home. How about you?

We love our customers, so we’re offering a rare 20% discount on WriteShop products, valid through December 2, 2012. If you’re looking for the next WriteShop level for the new semester, or you’re thinking ahead to next year, now’s your chance to get those books at a great price!

The coupon code is included in the free Writing Games download.

 

Have you ever been RAK’d? | Kim’s birthday giveaway

My heart in your hands

creative commons

“Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more.” ~Anthony Robbins

Have you ever been RAK’d?

I have!

  • A stranger shared her umbrella with me as we found our cars in the rain.
  • My neighbor slipped a homemade cinnamon roll into my mailbox.
  • A sweet friend cleaned my house while I recovered from surgery.
  • When I ran a bit short at check-out, a smiling grocery clerk pulled twenty-seven cents from her own pocket and tossed it into the cash drawer.

Each of these simple gestures presented itself in my life as a Random Act of Kindness (RAK).

I can’t begin to remember all the ways I’ve experienced the goodness and generosity of both friends and total strangers. Some cost nothing more than a bit of common courtesy; others meant a greater sacrifice of time or resources.

These blessings happen every day, all around us. I wonder how often we miss the gift?

Smallest Gestures

Just last week, a woman invited me to go ahead in line at the grocery store checkout. I know this seems like such a small thing, but it was a hectic day, and those few precious extra minutes meant a great deal to me.

Secret Blessings

Once, when my husband asked our server for the dinner tab, she told us our bill had already been paid!

As we left the restaurant, we spotted a young family in the corner whose children had been in our toddler Sunday school class over the years. Were they the givers of this sweet gift? We’ll never know for sure, but we certainly left that restaurant with lightness of heart!

The Kindness of Strangers

Perhaps the most striking act of kindness calls to mind a November night many years ago when our new dog, whom we recently rescued from a shelter, got into some snail bait and became seriously ill. Her treatment costs were mounting by the hour, and without my husband in town to help make decisions, I told the vet how much I could afford and asked him do what he could for Casey.

As I stood in the office, a man approached the counter and said he’d seen my son crying on the steps outside the animal hospital. He couldn’t bear to see a boy grieving so, and he proceeded to tell the receptionist that he’d cover the difference in the bill, whatever the cost. Whatever the cost!

I have never forgotten the kindness of this man, this complete stranger, because Casey, now quite elderly, has been the sweetest pet we ever could have asked for—and he helped save her life.

Kim’s Birthday Celebration

Today is my birthday, but I’m much more in a giving mood than a receiving one: I’m in the mood to pay it forward!

Ever since the lovely Jenn at Daze of Adventure posted about how she celebrated her 36th birthday by performing 36 Random Acts of Kindness, I’ve been looking toward my own special day with similar thoughts fluttering around in my mind.

Providing clean water to millions of peopleSo when my husband asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I remembered a blog post from my friend Ann Voskamp and told him I wanted someone to have clean drinking water. For just $55, our gift will provide fresh water for 68 people for their entire lives!

Next, I invited friends and family to join me in performing one RAK on my birthday to help me celebrate.

My original goal was 58 RAKs, but in harnessing the power of the Internet, with its amazing viral capabilities, I’m believing that—with your help—my mundane 58th birthday will be a vessel to impact hundreds of people, if not thousands, in our communities and around the world.

Random Acts of Kindness Ideas

There are limitless ways you can bless someone with a RAK—and they don’t have to cost a penny! Whether you have change to spare or not, here are some places to gather ideas for ways you can pay it forward.

Will you join me by doing one kind deed to help celebrate my birthday? My blog gets thousands of visitors each week, so it’s my prayer that our collective Random Acts of Kindness will rock our world!

WriteShop Giveaway

To add to the celebration, I’m giving away a gift package to one lucky winner! Each person who comments below by sharing how you “RAKed” someone this week will be entered into a drawing for your choice of one of the following WriteShop curriculum packages:

What if you already have the WriteShop books you need, or you’re not homeschooling or teaching? Choose a $25 Amazon gift card instead!

I can’t wait to see how this takes off! Are you ready to RAK someone?

Photos: Louise Docker and DFID, courtesy of Creative Commons

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Choosing a writing program for teenagers

In choosing a writing program for teenagers, look for lessons that walk students through the writing process from brainstorming to final draft.

Recently, we peeked at WriteShop Primary and WriteShop Junior for elementary ages. But if you’re homeschooling for junior high or high school, you’ll want to consider WriteShop I and II, a writing program for teenagers.

WriteShop I and II – Middle and High School

The flagship WriteShop program sets teens on a course for success, guiding them through each step of the writing process.

I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful your program is. The improvement in my daughter’s writing is phenomenal.” —Sandy, North Carolina

Teacher’s Manual for WriteShop I & II

Award-winning WriteShop takes the guesswork out of teaching writing. The Teacher’s Manual helps you teach writing with confidence.

Containing daily lesson plans and schedules for both WriteShop I and II, the Teacher’s Manual offers tips for editing and grading, answer keys, student samples, and supplemental writing activities, as well as dozens of essay topics for WriteShop assignments.

I love WriteShop. I used to feel so inadequate teaching writing but now I am confident they are learning all the tools they will need for High School level writing.” —Heather, Montana

Student Workbooks

Assignments give students a chance to practice various kinds of writing, including creative, expository, and narrative.

  • WriteShop I gives your 6th-10th grader the basics of descriptive, informative, and narrative writing.
  • For grades 8-12, WriteShop II introduces descriptive narration, point of view, narrative voice, persuasion, and essay writing.

Lessons focus on clarity, conciseness, colorful vocabulary, and sentence variety, with a strong emphasis placed on the editing process. With each lesson, students learn and practice new skills, apply them to their current writing project, and edit and revise the composition several times.

The consumable workbooks contain Skill Builders, word banks, detailed lesson instructions, editing checklists, and grading forms. TM required.

First-timers should begin with the Basic Set or Starter Pack.

Someone asked me what I didn’t like about the program, and I couldn’t think of anything.” —Lynée Ward, iCHED

WriteShop also makes a great writing program choice for homeschool classes, co-ops, and private schools. As you consider curriculum decisions for the upcoming year, let us know how we can help!

Photo credit: Karah Fredricks. Used by permission.
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