Frequently Asked Questions
about teaching WriteShop in Co-ops and Classes

General Questions

Does WriteShop work well in a co-op setting? 

WriteShop was originally developed for a home school co-op, making it a natural curriculum choice for anyone seeking to teach a small group of students. Whether you do all the teaching, editing, and grading or share these responsibilities with others, WriteShop will help you with lesson planning, classroom management, and teaching suggestions.

Since the WriteShop program entered the curriculum market in 2000, dozens of WriteShop classes have sprung up all over California as well as around the country, in such states as Nebraska, North and South Carolina, Indiana, Florida, Texas, Nevada, and Massachusetts. Others have taught WriteShop classes with success---you can too!

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I teach language arts in a small private school. Would WriteShop work for my junior high class?

If you teach a daily class, your schedule would be much the same as for a home school parent. Since you see the students every day, follow a daily schedule (see Teacher's Manual) rather than one of the weekly or biweekly schedules found in the Handbook. Use class time for student writing and self-editing, and send home Skill Builders and unfinished compositions as homework.

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Am I qualified to teach a class?

If you are a fairly confident writer with a good eye for grammar, spelling, and punctuation, you can teach a WriteShop class! You don't need to be an English major or have a teaching credential to successfully guide a small group of students through the basics of writing simple compositions. Because of its step-by-step approach, the WriteShop Teacher's Manual will walk you through the process and provide helpful instructional and grading tools.

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Whom will I teach?

Teachers may certainly adapt WriteShop for use in the traditional classroom. However, home schoolers also have many opportunities to offer specialized classes to other home schooling families in their community through independent study programs (ISPs), support groups, and co-ops.

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What grade levels should I teach?

For optimum results, we recommend WriteShop I classes of 7th- to 10th-graders and WriteShop II classes of 8th- to 12th-graders. Determine the best age range for your own situation.

Some 11th- and 12th-graders may not be ready for WriteShop II at first, never having learned the basics. We have found that these older students function well in mixed-age WriteShop I classes.

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Why is WriteShop not a good choice for 3rd- to 5th-graders?

We have been teaching WriteShop classes since 1997. Our experience with over 160 students has shown us that the younger they are, the more they struggle. Though we have never attempted to teach 3rd- or 4th-graders, we did take on a few 5th-graders during our first year. They labored dismally to keep up the pace and demand of the program, mostly because of their cognitive immaturity. For that reason, we only take junior high and high school students, with rare exceptions made for an occasional advanced 6th-grader.

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How many students should I teach?

WriteShop classes have been taught to as few as three students and as many as 20. We recommend an assistant, a parent helper, or even a team teacher when the class number goes above ten. For your first class, you will probably want to start smaller, especially if you are teaching the class alone. Consider beginning with the manageable number of four to eight students.

Another factor to weigh is the amount of time you have for grading student papers. For each composition you edit or grade, plan to set aside up to one hour. If you are teaching a group of six students, for example, you will probably need roughly six hours a week to edit and grade. Some papers will demand more of your attention and others will require less. It usually takes less time to grade a final draft than to edit a first revision. Also consider how quickly you plan to move through the program. Covering one WriteShop book in a semester instead of a year will obviously require more editing hours per week.

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When you teach a co-op, do you "do it all"?

Many co-op teachers, including us, do all of the teaching, editing, and grading. Others choose to spend class time on pre-writing activities, lesson instructions, and a Practice Paragraph, but they require parents to edit their child's first revision. And while some teachers will prefer to grade final drafts, others would rather have the parents do this.

Something else to consider: If you plan to charge a class fee, consider charging more if you do all the work and less if the parents take on the time-consuming tasks of editing and/or grading.

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I have questions about recruiting students, knowing how much to charge, and deciding how to organize my class time.

The Handbook for Teaching in a Group Setting has the answers to these questions and more! You'll find it an invaluable resource for sorting out the nuts and bolts of a class.

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If I use the Handbook for Teaching in a Group Setting, do I still need a Teacher's Manual?

Absolutely! The handbook helps you with the details of organizing a WriteShop class and putting the curriculum to work in a class setting---schedules, parent handouts, classroom management ideas, etc. The Teacher's Manual contains the lesson plans, answer keys, and editing/grading helps you'll need to carry out your plans successfully.

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Do the parents need to buy a Teacher's Manual?

If you do all the teaching, editing, and grading, parents will not need a Teacher's Manual. However, if they will be editing and/or grading their students' compositions, the Teacher's Manual will be an invaluable resource, especially if they feel at all insecure about taking on those tasks.

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