Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Product Review---The Write Foundation or The Right Foundation?

           Basic     Structured     Creative      Formal

Have a struggling writer?
Does your student just need to learn how to write?
Long for teacher-friendly lesson plans you can quickly prepare and teach?
Desire a writing curriculum your children will enjoy while learning creatively?

  • Complete Lesson Plans: Minimize Preparation
  • Easy-To-Use Format: Minimize Hassle
  • Organization for Writing: Don't Reinvent the Wheel
  • Checklists & Guidelines: Simplifies Instruction
  • Brainstorm & Outline Forms: Teaches Process
  • Creative, Descriptive, Formal: Learn a Variety of Styles

"This innovative curriculum, written by a veteran home educator and tested extensively in individual and group settings, has proven effective in enabling average writers to improve their writing skills, as well as energizing reluctant writers. The entire system will teach your student how to effectively plan and write a quality essay from scratch, developing confidence in their writing ability.

The curriculum is designed with daily lesson plans and grading specifics. It can easily be utilized for average writers, as well as adapted for reluctant writers or the student who loves and excels in writing."

(from the product site)


Shortly after completing our review of Time4Writing, I was asked to review another writing curriculum, The Write Foundation. TWF is a year-long writing curriculum composed of thirty lessons in one of three levels: Level One is Sentence Writing, suggested for ages 11-13, Level Two is Paragraph Writing, suggested for ages 12-15, and Level Three is Essay Writing, which is suggested for ages 14-17. Find out more about the suggested age levels by clicking on the individual links below (each of these links also leads to samples of each level):

Each complete package can be ordered for $100 (plus shipping and taxes) and comes with the following items:
  • Spiral-bound Teacher Instruction Manuals with Lesson Plans for Lessons 1- 30 (about 160 double-sided pages)
  • 1 set notebook-ready worksheets for Lessons 1-30 (about 200 pages)
  • 1 CD with additional resources, including: 
             ◦Grading System
             ◦Grading Record Sheets
             ◦Word Games
             ◦Teacher Presentation Sheets
             ◦Weekly Assignments
             ◦Extensive Reading list

You can also order a half-level for $65 (plus shipping and taxes), if you want to slow down the pace and only need the half-level per year. For more information on ordering this curriculum, click HERE.

Here is a list of additional supplies you will also need to purchase:
  • 3-ring binder (2 – 3 inch)
  • Loose leaf notebook paper
  • 6+ hi-liters (different colors)
  • 8 notebook divider tabs
  • Bible
  • Thesaurus
  • Dictionary
  • Mind Benders® logic puzzles (or a similar product)

The Write Foundation was written by former public school educator, veteran homeschooling mom, and experienced co-op teacher, Rebecca Celsor.  To read more about the story behind The Write Foundation, click HERE.

The Write Foundation was carefully crafted during eight years of successfully teaching homeschooling co-op classes about writing. Check out this introduction to The Write Foundation, which includes the table of contents, scheduling recommendations, and course objectives.

This teacher-intensive curriculum has lessons that are designed to take about 1-1/2 hours per day, with some follow-up work done independently. As a former public school English teacher myself, I appreciated the work that was obviously put into the writing of the lessons, as evidenced by the attention to detail. I did note that the structure of the curriculum (daily warm up activities, then teaching time, which was followed by independent/group work time) was tailored in a way that would possibly work best with families who have multiple students who can work at the same level (otherwise Mom is the obvious partner for any activities that work best in a group setting, which increases her teaching time committment significantly).

While on the subject of Mom's (or whoever the homeschool teacher for writing is) time committment: this curriculum is not for the faint-hearted or time-strapped. It requires dedication and preparation, and plenty of follow-up. I am not saying that it is ridiculously complex or too difficult to accomplish, but it will take considerable energy and effort. However, I do believe that students who persistently and consistently follow the rules and writing tips laid out in The Write Lesson WILL emerge as better writers, and more organized and logical thinkers. It would be an excellent foundation for students, especially if you started with Level One and worked your way through Level Three.

The Write Lesson has many different components that make it interesting and worthwhile for those who are unfamiliar with teaching writing, and wish for someone who HAS taught writing to help them pull it together. From excellent word-choice lists to "The No List," from logic problems to poetry, from brain-storming to practicing organizational skills, from outlining activities to writing exercises, there is something for everyone in each lesson. But don't let me tell you what to think about what The Write Lesson has to offer. I think the best way to see what a lesson is like is to actually see a lesson, so HERE is a link to Lesson 16 of the Sentence Writing course. HERE is a link to the accomplanying worksheets. Or try THIS LINK to Lesson One of the Paragraph Writing course, with the accomplanying worksheets HERE (at least give the Mind Bender a try...these puzzles are a lot of fun and the kids love them).

Since Tex is 13 and just completed the Powerful Paragraphs lessons from Time4Writing, we chose to try the Paragraph Writing Lessons to hone his skills. We recieved our printed materials in a timely manner, and were given the materials usually included on a cd rom as a downloadable file (to save money). I read the instructions in the Teacher's Manual one night. It was a fairly lengthy process to sift through all that was there, match it up with the appropriate printed and printable pages, and get ready for the first lesson, which I planned to do over the course of a week (though they have multiple timelines proposed for each set of lessons and you can choose to go more slowly).

We did our best to stay within the parameters of the given guidelines, but I will be honest and say that I wasn't too fond of the "No List" (if you read my posts, you will see that I use many of them in my own writing: parenthesis, quotations, elipses, exclamation marks, questions, semi-colons, and colons, for example). I understand the reasoning behind limiting students in their use of these things (ie. avoiding improper usage), but to me, using a colon does not equate with using run-on sentences, fragments, or other grammatical or mechanical errors (other elements of the "No List"). I prefer the leeway to introduce my student to these things as I see he has the ability to handle them, and to instruct and oversee his usage of them, but then, writing is my "thing" and for someone whose "thing" it is not, I can sympathize with why the limitations would be appealing.

In any case, we completed the first few lessons, and we walked away from them having learned something positive about organization and editing. Tex LOVED the Mindbenders logic puzzle (I need to get one of those books). I think incorporating both the logic problems and the poetry into the writing lessons was brilliant. I do like much of the remaining lessons and will utilize portions of them, as I find a need to cover a specific area (though right now we are in the middle of participating in NaNoWriMo, and Tex is attempting to write a novel in a month, so formal instruction has been suspended for sheer production of content), but I do not think that we will follow the suggested timeline in any way. It just doesn't suit our more creative, yet utilitarian, style of education (ie. we love to write things we actually use such as letters, blog posts, stories for the kiddos, or reviews.)

Lastly, as far as customer service goes, for answers to questions you have about using this curriculum, you have several options. You may contact the company by calling or emailing Rebecca at bcelsor (at) sbcglobal (dot) net and 281-356-3556, or you may access the yahoo group the company started for program users HERE.
To read more TOS Homeschool Crew reviews of The Write Foundation, click HERE.


Disclaimer: Our family recieved a half-level of the Paragraph Writing course, including the Teacher's Manual, printed Student Worksheets, and a download of the accompanying cd rom files in exchange for my honest review of how we used this product and our experiences with it. No other compensation was received. I hope you have found this information to be helpful. If you have further questions, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me.

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