I get asked from time to time about how we've used Writing With Skill and what we think of "it".
This post has been sitting in draft mode for months so I thought I'd toss in a few pictures and hit post ... then I can just refer anyone who may ask us about WWS here ☺
(J is currently 1/2 way through Writing With Skill 2).
Sorry, my post is a little long.
This is not an intentional advertising post for Writing With Skill - I don't feel motivated enough to want to write affiliate posts or reviews for return , whatever that means ☺ - this is just a type up of J's experience using book one in the series Writing With Skill (WWS) by Susan.W. Bauer during 2012 and 2013.
I'd suggest definitely backing up and getting 'that' writing skill working well first, and before I get into talking about Writing With Skill, I'll have to start back a little bit and chat about the style of narration being taught in Writing With Ease (WWE):
We use two styles of narration: a more creative, freer style, of narrating, along with a directed and chronological style of narration outside of WWE's lessons .
(Daisy prefers the less directed, freer style of narrating as this gives her the freedom to be very creative, and verbose ☺, about minor details that have caught her attention. I digress.)
The progression from using the 5W guide lines in WWE and then employing them in WWS was less of a stretch, for J, than if I’d only taught with a less “directed” style of narration.
J employs those 5W’s as a check list with many of the writing assignments in Writing With Skill.
Sometimes one of those "W"s is not included in the portion of literature being studied.
He mentally crosses it off and moves on.
Writing With Skill is/was not an easy program to use, as in effortless and light - it's a good solid writing course that requires the student to think and work. I like it, and I appreciate the results this writing course is helping J to achieve.
During the first half of 2012 the ongoing effort was to write with more fluidity; often that aspect remained at the *almost* level. (grrr, says J!)
So to be sure my son was getting a fair chance in WWS, away from the influence of my inability to write well, and to ensure he’s safe from my knee-jerk streak of perfectionism - I relied on the rubric Susan Bauer provides to go with each WWS 'assignment' which helps me ascertain whether J has met the writing requirements, or not.
Sometimes I was requiring more than was being asked for, or J was submitting less than the rubric required.
We worked slowly, steadily, and solidly through WWS1 as I was in no rush to have J complete book one, just so we can get to the next book (which was not out, when I started typing this review).
We took our time using the instructions in WWS1 as solid lessons in learning to write, not just inside WWS but across our other subject areas too.
We kept the lesson times shorter than the hour most would use with WWS – I required that J work for up to ¾ of an hour diligently or complete one lesson (which ever comes first).
Before we started, I did pre-read what Susan writes about her intended/hoped for outcome from using this book/course. Having those outcomes clearly laid out helped to settle my anxious feelings, a lot. I am not a writer, which is glaringly obvious in my post here, so I appreciate some hand holding when it comes to 'teaching' a student to write.
(SWB's write up is detailed inside the Teacher's guide .. I'm not sure if it's part of the sample.)
Another encouragement for me was listening through Susan's, very help filled, audio lectures on The Plan for Teaching Writing. (available over at Peacehill Press)
WWS, in our home, is being used as instruction time, not as a semi test – so if a lesson seems way too hard we’ll refer to the rubric Mrs. Bauer gives to go with each lesson, together. Definitely not what Mrs. Bauer intended, but I like to use teaching tools the way that will work for my student and me ☺
This approach ensures J has less of that dread feel that some students may start to generate when they hear the words writing assignment ;)
It's now 2014, and we have long since finished WWS1 and the end research assignment.
J chose to write on The Beginning of the Periodic Table.
I was really happy with the end result - which J does not want me to share online - and the skills he learnt while using WWS1 - J met the rubric, writing in a clear and engaging style, citing all his reference tools correctly, typed his assignment up in double spacing, and didn't complain too much at the 'need to fix' side notes I scrawled on it before he handed in his final pieces of paper.
For our family, using WWS, at an older age has been a good fit for us: the student is able to work, mostly, more independently and the level of writing being produced, for my student, is of a more pleasing quality - and doesn't feel like a tooth extracting session which it may well have been if we'd used it during the pre-teen years. Your experience may differ.
WWS is not the only writing 'course' J is using for his highschool years, we are also using Greenleaf's literature study/writing guides as well, and really enjoying Cyndy Shearer's teaching style.
Susan shared a pdf over on TWTM about progression scenarios/options for those using WWE & WWS; we seem to fall into the 3rd option category :D
2016 Update: I'd still like to take Daisy through outlining the WWS way, and we are going to do a very condensed wwalk through bk 1 with her. She has been using Matthew Stephen's Essentials in Writing, and, Essentials in Literature and his courses are a excellent fit for her but the EiW levels we've used do not take the student through a solid go at outline writing from text like WWS does.