Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Write Foundation TOS Product Review

I received the following writing curriculum, for purposes of review, from The Write Foundation:

Level 2: Paragraph Writing  /  Suggested Ages: 12-15

- Lesson plans formatted in an easy-to-follow system
- Begins with steps to writing the basic paragraph
- Improves sentence structure with basic grammar and figures of speech
- Teaches different styles and techniques each week
- Teaches the organizational process of  brainstorming, outlining, rough draft and editing
- Progresses to writing two-, three-, and four-paragraph paper
- Introduces the five-paragraph formal essay
- Creative poetry writing
- Guidelines, checklists and correct structure
- 15 lessons with lesson plans
    As stated by the author, this level is designed for the student who can write a single paragraph, can follow directions and is beginning to work independently. It teaches how to move from simple paragraph composition to quality multiple paragraph writing.   More structure and mechanical requirements are introduced and encouraged, to develop more complex paragraphs, using the writing process.

    For ordering and pricing information, click here. Please understand that only one student may use the consumable worksheet pages. Pages cannot be copied even within the same family. Additional sets of worksheet pages may be purchased for an additional $25 plus tax and shipping.

    When I received the Paragraph Writing Instructions and Paragraph Writing Worksheets (covering lessons 1 through 15), I sat down and spent quite a bit of time going over the Step by Step Lesson Plans. Since I didn't seem to be "getting it" I decided to walk away and try again a couple of days later. This time as I went through the information, I took notes. As I look back upon them even now, "1 1/2 hours per day" is double underlined. Another thing I took note of was a Reading List which explained that students need to read several books per semester from the book list. They must select a book they have not read on their own previously. The curriculum also suggests using Mind Benders which are to help develop the student's organizational processing.

    Honestly, I'm not really sure I understand why a writing curriculum includes a reading list (or Mind Benders for that matter), but since my 12 year old daughter just finished reading Pride and Prejudice (a book she was reading just for pleasure), I guess it's worth 20 points toward a 48 point goal for the semester.

    I spent hours going over the teaching materials which, for me, invalidates Lesson plans formatted in an easy-to-follow system. I didn't find anything easy about it. I was very confused and actually, it made me feel just a little bit crazy at times. The flow of the teaching materials did not go along with the order of the daily schedule and worksheets.

    I read instructions on assembling an 8-tab notebook and buying an assortment of highlighters (which reminded me of an Inductive Bible Study). Between acronyms with which I am unfamiliar to the grammatical errors and typos, I kept running into difficulties. Right out of the gate, Lesson 1 says to highlight in the sample paragraph four supporting sentences with four different colors (next four sentences). There are six sentences. I don't know what we're supposed to do with the other two sentences. Do we delete them? Do we rewrite them? Do we need two more highlighters?

    Honestly, I just don't have the time nor the patience to try and read in between the lines. It's supposed to be very straight forward and simple to understand. Actually, it's touted as a grab-it-and and go writing curriculum. It wasn't for me.

    The curriculum appears to be written for a co-op setting although it is supposed to transition well for individual homeschoolers. As I read through many of the website testimonials, most, if not all of them, were from students who attended the author's (Rebecca Celsor) class. I don't recall reading one testimonial from an individual homeschooler who used the curriculum.

    I have no doubt that a huge amount of time and effort was put into creating this writing curriculum. I am sure that if Rebecca is teaching the class, it is a fantastic curriculum that gives great results. However, from an end-user point of view, there are many things which need corrected and/or revised in order to make it user-friendly. I am sorry to say that I cannot recommend this curriculum in its current printed form.

    I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews.  My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences on the products and services that I receive.

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