This past summer, I spent quite a bit of time trying to decide what LD would do for 9th grade writing. Last year we used Cover Story and the kids continued doing a lot of independent writing. They also had to do some writing for history, but we hadn’t delved much into formal essay writing. It was time for LD to start writing more polished pieces, but I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to do that. I got some materials from IEW, a well-known writing course. And, I also purchased quite a number of essay writing courses/curriculum/books that I browsed through this summer. What we ended up doing is pretty different and it’s working well for LD so far.
I came across a resource that covers a lot of different themes… topics that one can easily “take a side on.” These include things such as animal experimentation, conscription/the draft, crime, paranormal phenomena, and tons of other topics. The book I have covers the topic and also lays out arguments on both sides of the issues. Unfortunately, it’s not available here in the U.S. I got it from a friend of mine who lives in Europe this summer.
I’m having LD write an essay each week — first arguing on one side of an issue, then the next week arguing on the opposite side of the issue. He’s written 5 essays so far this semester.
This is a huge milestone! For those of you who have not been reading our blog for a long time, writing did not come easily to LD when he was younger. For a long time he didn’t know what to say – and he was often worried about the mechanics of writing… so much so that he didn’t want to write anything at all. That was why we switched to the Writing Workshop model. It did wonders for him and for his self-confidence in writing.
What I like about the resource is that it has quite a bit of background information as well as arguments on different sides of these issues. LD is not doing research on the topic, he is just spending time pulling the arguments together and working on the skills of essay writing in general.
What I want him to learn this year is
- to be persuasive
- to be able to use specific examples to support his thesis/arguments
- to write a polished essay with an introduction, supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion
- to start to edit and polish his own writing (before turning it in!)
- to have to write to a deadline (having something due each week)
- to start building a portfolio of writing that he can look back on and see his improvements over time.
We’ve talked about writing good solid introductions and conclusions. We went over some different non-fiction writing techniques for “hooking” the reader:
Make sure you connect with your reader right from the beginning. Draw your reader in perhaps with an unusual fact, a question, an emotion. You might want to “share a secret” … Many people know that xxx, but did you know that also yyy? Start with a rhetorical question (a question that everyone will answer yes or no to.) Use some of the facts you’ve learned to create a scene. Set the scene — describe the environment, place or time period in detail.
He has impressed me with the quality of some of the writing he is doing this year. I’m glad I gave him the time to build his confidence as a writing with our years of Writing Workshop. This year, he really *wants* to improve the quality of his writing. That is something that just had to develop naturally (internally for him). It’s one of the great joys of being a homeschooling parent — watching your kids grow and mature and reach those new milestones. This has been one of those! His writing needs work, but seeing him work hard to build that skill and working to reach those weekly deadlines (without pestering from me)… Wow! It’s amazing seeing that self-discipline and growing independence.
So, I’m not sure how much this is helpful to you all, but wanted to share!
Meanwhile, the girls have still be working on their NaNoWriMo materials. I talked about this a few weeks ago. They are really enjoying that process. Again, you might want to check out those free resources.
NaNoWriMo stands for national novel writing month. They have several really wonderful FREE workbooks that help students create characters, build settings, and hatch plots. My girls both wanted to start with these when we started back to school. ED is doing the NaNoWriMo Elementary level and DD is doing the NaNoWriMo Middle school level. There is also a NaNoWriMo high school level. They have been using the workbooks to help them develop their characters and have been enjoying the exercises. Definitely check those out if you haven’t already!
Better go for now! Is writing going well for you this year? Do you have any resources that you really recommend?
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P.S. I’ll paste in some of our other Writing posts. We have a lot on this topic here on the blog. It’s been a journey, for sure!!
Homeschool Writing Workshop
How and Why We Started Using a Homeschool Writing Workshop and Other Writing Workshop Resources:
- Creating a Homeschool Writing Workshop – Post #1 — How/Why we needed a change in our writing program
- Creating a Homeschool Writing Workshop – Post #2: Creating a Writing Workshop Area and Materials to Have on Hand
- Creating a Writing Workshop Post #3: This post is about Mini-Lessons during writing time, mentor texts and includes reviews of 8 or 9 writing books that you might find helpful.
- Writing Resource Pack: This is a post about the 30-page pack I made for our writing workshop. Reference pages on the 6 +1 Writing Traits, Mini-Lessons, the types of writing, creating a powerful beginning, techniques for ending a story/paper, and so forth. (These writing resources are free to download.)
- 40 Journal Writing Prompts: Free Printable
- Writing Resource Discussion Questions
- Writing Workshop: What we’re doing for writing this fall
- Wonderful Free Writing Resource for Kids
- Biography Research Paper Resource Packet (Free)
- Animal Portfolio Project: writing, art and geography activities that go with any animals… With many activities to choose from. Writing activities include both fiction and non-fiction suggestions such as
- Write a speech or a letter to the president on why your animal needs protection in the wild.
- Menu: Create a humorous menu at a restaurant where your animals would like to eat.
- Writing Workshop Mini-Lesson: Rules for Writing and the Story Writing Process — Have your kids read the Plot Chicken? We started our Writing Workshop this year off with this book. What a great buk, buk!! In fact, I liked it so much that I created a chicken writing rules printable to go along with the book!
- How do I Help the Kids to Start Writing?! 5 Lessons Ideas for the Writing Workshop (Day 1)
- What makes a good book or story?
- Make your story come alive with details and description.
- Creating Interesting Characters
- Story Openings: Set the mood or feeling of your story
- Gathering story ideas from your own life
- Alliteration and more
- Adding Details Exercise Don’t miss this one, the kids LOVED this activity!!
- Writing Workshop: Conflict in Literature (Man vs. Man, Man vs. Self, etc)
- Writing Workshop Discussion Questions
- Writing Workshop Mini-Lesson: Rules for Writing and the Story Writing Process