Saturday, January 18, 2014
Don't Forget to Write
This is our new writing curriculum, which I am using for both kids: ages almost 8 and 10.5, 2nd and 5th grade. Don't Forget to Write: for the Elementary Grades is 50 lesson plans, meant for classroom use, and focused on making writing workshops fun (or enthralling according to their website).
It is quite different from our last writing curriculum, which was Writing Strands. Writing Strands had a good reputation, and I was impressed with some aspects of it. I don't doubt that my son's writing was improved by the exercises in Writing Strands, and the method is very ... methodical. That has much to recommend it.
And it's a big BUT ... my son really hated doing the exercises. And they frequently seemed so completely divorced from the reality of our lives that I had to adapt them, change the subject matter, think of some way to make them relevant and fun.
Not so with Don't Forget to Write; this one my kids love and it is full of fun themes that seem to have been designed by someone who knew what they love.
It was a hit with the kids from Lesson One: Tragedies by Six Year Olds. The workshops have some directions for teachers - a bit of introduction of the subject, maybe a recommendation to show a video clip or read an example of this type of writing. Then there are reproducible pre-writing exercises, and then you could expand from there.
We've done "Tragedies" (my son wrote a great pithy little tragedy about a man who never felt full no matter how much he ate).
We've written "stories for your pets".
We had a "Fort Party Writing Workshop" which involved building a fort and then sitting in it and writing stories about forts and the exploring you could do from a fort.
And we've done "Paraficticious Science" and created whimsical science fiction.
They love these lessons, and they have created some fun and funny stories. What this method may lack in technical skill building, it seems to more than make up for in creative fun. We are doing other language arts programs (Language Lessons, Easy Grammar Plus, Explode the Code, Reading Detective, Root Words, and of course just reading literature together), so my priority here is that they love to write and they are being creative with it. For that, I really really love this curriculum.