Monday, September 7, 2009

Review: WriteShop

This is our first year using WriteShop and 5 weeks into it, I'm very pleased and impressed.

Last year, our writing program left something to be desired. That's because we had no writing program. I foolishly thought that I had the time to make up my own assignments and figure out how to grade them. I didn't. Our end result was that there wasn't much writing done last year - except for some fun poems and some wonderful journal writing assignments at Small World (Thank you by the way!!)

So, this year I decided that I had to have a writing program for me to follow - for my own sanity and the sake of Ellie's education. :) I ordered WriteShop in hopes that it would be the answer. I think it has been!

What I like:
1. It is very structured with a checklist for Ellie to check off for the first revision of her assignment. She now knows to skip lines, where to add her name and date, how to leave space in the margins, etc. Little things that I was not thinking about last year. The first few lessons, she was having a hard time remembering all of this little things and thought it quite tedious having to go through the checklist. Now that she has finished lesson 5, I have noticed that the correct format of her paper is becoming a habit and she is able to whiz through the checklist. Yeah!

2. Not only is there a checklist for her, but I have 2 checklists!! One is for me to give her specific feedback on her first revision. The other is a grading checklist with points for mechanics, style, and content. This has made it a breeze for me to grade her papers!!!

3. I like the content and assignments. For WriteShop 1, the assignments are as follows:
* Describing an Object
* Describing a Pet
* Describing a Person
* Describing a Circus Performer
*Describing a Food
* Describing a Season
* Describing a Place
* Explaining a Process
* Writing a Factual Paragraph (Focus on Informative Reports and Avoiding Plagiarism)
* Writing a Concise Biography
* Introducing Journalism (Focus on Writing a News Article)
* Writing a Narrative of an Emotional Event
* Writing a Narrative of Another Person's Experience (Focus on Conducting an Interview)
* First-Person Point of View (Focus on Point of View/Personification)
* First-Person Point of View (Focus on Limited Ominiscience/Tenses)
* Third Person Point of View

The program says it is made for grades 6-10 (for the first level.) Ellie is technically in the 5th grade, but I really feel like she is going to be able to finish both Writeshop 1 and 2 this year school year. Her strengths are definitely in reading and writing. It's what she enjoys and what she excels at.

Here is an example from her last writing assignments:

Lesson 5: Describing a Food
Precious Ruby

A ripe, ruby pomegranate, its luscious skin hard but smooth to the touch, seems to glow. As I cut it open, thick pulp dyes my fingers blood red. Its small juicy morsels melt in my mouth. I scoop out some more, my hands dripping with sweet, sticky juice. I grab a spoon, its enchanting bubbles of juice robbing my train of thought. I look sadly down, seeing that my bowl of goodness is gone.

Lesson 3: Describing a Person

Video Game

My little sister Lexie squints her chocolate colored eyes in concentration as she plays a video game. She brushes muddy brown high-cut bangs out of her face and moves the nunchuck expertly with her small, clean hands. Chipped green nail polish covers her nails and shines in the dim light. Lexie's red t-shirt makes her look happier. Her tight jeans stretch over her skinny legs. Her usually talkative face is hardened with thought. "New high score!" she yells at the top of her lungs. Squealing with triumph, she finishes her game.

I am so happy to have found this program! I think it is going to both challenge Ellie and keep me sane. :)

Click here to try a sample lesson.

1 comment:

Deb said...

Are you telling me that a 10 year old wrote those paragraphs?!?!?

I am very impressed! So descriptive - I saw the pomegranite in my mind. Beautiful writing. I think you might have a talent on your hands, mom.

I will definitely keep this writing program on my list for the future if it gives results like this!