Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Writing Progress

I've posted before that we've been using Institute for Excellence in Writing's Student Writing Intensive this year. I've been very pleased with their progress. I have required writing in previous years in the form of journaling, creative writing, and narrations from history readings, but we have never had a systematic writing curriculum until this year. Several years ago I listened to a Jessie Wise conference tape, and she suggested not doing a formal writing until the logic stage, especially creative writing. I remember her suggesting to simply fill their minds with great literature and well-crafted stories. I breathed a sigh of relief at the time, and took that as my license to lay aside writing until another year, as I felt really inadequate in teaching it. (I'm not sure that's what she meant, but that's what I did!) Last spring, after much research and a couple of years of prayer about IEW specifically, I walked into our HUGE homeschool curriculum fair and bought the IEW curriculum. That's all I bought at the curriculum fair, and it has been a wise investment for us. I bought the general dvd's for me, and the Student Writing Intensive levels A (for my 5th grader) and B (for my seventh grader.) I downloaded the weekly lesson plans which accompany the dvds here. I watched the teacher dvd's last summer, and they really refined how I view teaching writing. I am planning to implement what he said in future years of writing as we integrate it into our content areas (science, Bible, history, etc.) but I've been glad I had the student writing seminars for the kids. They have really been something I would concretely use, rather than just ideas or techniques for the teacher. Knowing me, I might have abandoned some of it or would not have been consistent if I didn't have weekly plans and curriculum.

My seventh grader has always been an apt writer, but this year she has gotten some specific techniques for strengthening her sentences and paragraphs. Last week, in her final week of report writing (before finishing the year with creative writing) her assignment was to apply the "dress-ups" she's learned so far to a paragraph she wrote in the first week of school. She read me the "before and after" sentences today, and I just wanted to share them to show the difference in her writing as a result of what Mr. Pudewa teaches in the program. The first paragraph was from an exercise in doing a key word outline and then rewriting a paragraph from the outline. The second paragraph is a rewrite of the first paragraph, using the dress-ups, clauses, and techniques she has learned:

Before:
(no title)
The heart is the most important muscle in our body, since it carries oxygen to all of our cells. Its frequency of beat is controlled by both the brain and a small patch of cells called sinoatrial node. It generates an electric signal which turns off and on around 100 times a minute. When the electric signal is on, muscles contract. When it is turned off, the cardiac muscles contract. When it is turned off, the cardiac muscles relax. The brain monitors the body's need for oxygen. When our body is resting, it decreases the electric signal in the sinoatrial node, which slows down the heart rate. Things such as nervousness or activity increase the electric signal.

After:
Your Amazing Heart
The heart, delivering oxygen to all of our cells and pumping blood throughout our body, is by far the most important muscle in your body. Its frequency of steady rhythm is kept so by the brain, and is also contributed to by your sinoatrial node. This tiny patch of cells generates an electric signal, turning off and on nearly 100 times per minute. Once off, your cardiac muscles relax. The brain, one of the most complex structures in your body, is constantly monitoring your body's need for oxygen. It will also decrease the electric signal of your sinoatrial node and take it to a slower pace while your body is resting. Likely, it will increase its activity and begin pumping harder once your body is active, or when nervousness or worry is present. The heart is truly one of the most important and amazing muscles in your body.

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Her favorite writing is creative writing, so this isn't a sample of her "best" (nor is it meant to be) but simply an example of progress from September to April. In the past couple of weeks they have learned how to synthsize research from more than one source into a cohesive report using techniques I wish I would have learned when I was in school! It's been extremely helpful, and I just thought I'd share, in case you're thinking about this curriculum or it's being offered at a co-op near you.

Happy Writing!

2 comments:

Jen and family said...

A very interesting post
thanks
and she has improved keep up the good work all of you
Jen at http://jenz.wordpress.com/

Jenny in Ca said...

thank you for sharing this. I will be looking into this for next year perhaps, it is nice to see such a strong recommend.

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