Write More Writing Program
|Publisher: Write More Education Resources
Author: by Alma A. Hoffman
Review last updated: October 2009
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Write More Writing Program
Racking your brain for interesting composition topics for your children? Looking for ways to make writing more fun? If so, then Write More might be your solution.
Write More offers three writing packages for homeschooling families for three different levels. They are designed to offer writing practice and skill development, but they are not comprehensive programs that teach all types of writing and structural elements.
The "Ranger" set targets children in grades K-3 according to the publisher, although I would judge it more appropriate for second and third graders who have already developed sentence-writing ability. The "Explorer" set is for grades 3-6, and the "Quest" set is suggested for grades 6-12, although I think tenth graders are more likely the top end of the spectrum for that level.
The key ingredient in all three sets is a 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" comb-bound book. The content of this book shifts from level to level, but common ingredients are story starters and writing prompts. Some ideas are silly, some are serious. The titles for the three books are Ready Writes! (Ranger), Writing Works (Explorer), and Write Now! (Quest).
There are 100 activities in Ready Writes!, and some of these might be used more than once. Some might be completed in five minutes while others might take much longer. For example, one activity directs students to, "Think of the story The Three Little Pigs. Write three sentences or draw three pictures showing what happened at the beginning, middle and end of the story" (p.7). The parent/teacher will often need to provide additional instruction for some of the activities. Some activities assume students can identify verbs. Another activity asks students to write two analogies after reading two examples. Yet another asks students to use quotation marks. Even if you restrict use of this level to second and third graders, students are not likely to have mastered all of the skills and knowledge referenced in the activities. Rather than omitting the activities, you might use them as "teachable moments."
Writing Works for the Explorer level serves up 300 story starters and writing assignments suitable for the grades 3 through 6 target audience, and these assignments might easily be used for older and younger students. In this 100-page book, three activities with a common theme (like fruit, dogs, teachers, books, self-image, cereal, and animals) are presented on each page. The first activity is a "quick thinking activity" that might be completed in 5 to 10 minutes. The second can be used for journaling and might take 10 to 15 minutes. The third is a lengthier, creative writing assignment that might take 20 to 60 minutes or more. These different activities might easily be assigned to children of different ages in home educating families, with the briefest assignments given to the youngest students and lengthiest to the oldest.
Write Now! for the Quest level targets three general areas. Sixty-five "Skill Builder" activities serve primarily for review and reinforcement of grammar with activities such as, "Write six pronouns and beside each write a proper noun that it might represent" (p.70). Another sixty-five "Write Now" activities provide a broad range of writing assignments, tackling poetry, movie reviews, essays, and organizational skills, along with many other forms of practical and creative writing. The third group of assignments is "Revision Activities." There are 14 revision activities, and each of these might be used a number of times. For example, "List all the adjectives in your writing. Pick five of them to improve with more precise and creative words" (p.77).
These three books are the "sparkplugs" of the Write More writing program. You could even use these books alone without all the rest of the program components. Especially with Explorer and Quest levels, it takes no advance planning to pull one of these books out in the morning, give everyone an assignment, then compare results later in the day.
However, there are so many extra "tools" in the homeschool sets, you are likely to want those rather than just the books. Each book comes in a large box within a reusable totebag along with a dozen or more other items. Each set also includes a teacher's manual, two portfolios printed with items that will be helpful in the writing process (and are essential in the lesson plans provided), two posters, a pad of "Everyday Organizer" sheets to be used primarily for outlining, and pencils. Many of these items are customized differently for each level. The pads mentioned above as well as the other pads in each of the sets described below are 8 ½" x 11" and have 50 pre-printed sheets in each.
Additional items in the Ranger set include an evaluation rubric (photocopiable), two types of writing/conferencing recording forms, pad of decorative border pages, two Ranger bandanas, Ranger stickers, and pencil grips. The Explorer set adds a pad of rubric pages, two types of writing/conferencing recording forms, a pad of decorative border pages, two Explorer "passports" with lanyards and sleeves to hold them (passports record progress in various forms of writing), pencil grips, and a 10" square spinner/game board. Both Ranger and Explorer sets also include "Woody," a stuffed, toy pencil and a set of 18 heavy-duty cards with assignments relating to Woody that might be completed orally or in writing. (The Woody cards, in effect, add a an entire new set of activities.) For example, the Ranger cards include one that says, "If Woody was your brother, what fun things would you do together?" An Explorer cards directs, "Imagine you are Woody. Tell about a writing adventure you might have if you spent the day at the zoo with a student."
The Quest set adds three more pads: 5-Paragraph Essay Organizers, Problem-Solution Organizers, and Quest/Series II Rubric pages. The Quest set also has four, large (3"x3") dice upon which you write words/terms to play various games.
Each of the homeschool sets is designed for two students, but you could stretch to use them with a few more by sharing portfolios for reference as needed and omitting use of the items like the bandanas and passports (which are not critical).
The teacher manual describes each item in the set and how it is to be used. (One exception seems to be the spinner/game board in the Explorer set for which I could find no instructions.) There are ten sample lessons that walk you through possible lesson plans for the first ten activities in each of the small books. Once you've done these lessons, you should have a sufficient understanding of how to use the materials without having lesson plans provided. Although some adaptations have been made for homeschoolers, teacher's manuals and some of the activities are written for classroom situations. You might have to adapt when it directs you to have students interact with each other. Game ideas at the back of each book also might need adapting or might not be usable in your situation.
All of the components are designed to work through the entire writing process with students. The organizers (pads) play a critical role in helping students learn to plan before they write. The rubrics help students focus on key items for accountability and make it easy for parents/teachers to evaluate their work.
Even though it is clear that Write More was originally designed for the standard classroom, and some adaptation is needed even with the homeschool sets, these are great tools for parents who want their children to write more and learn to enjoy writing. I think they will be easier for parents to use than some of the other writing programs since there is no set schedule or workbooks that need to be completed. You can do as much or as little as you like whenever you please.
- Learning Styles: best for Sociable Sue, but also good for others
Suitable for: independent or group use
Need for parent/teacher instruction: moderate to high
Prep time needed: 0 or minimal depending upon how you use it
Need for Teacher's Manual: optional, but included in set
secular but "Christian friendly"
Write More Education Resources
901 Paverstone Court, Suite 8
Raleigh, NC 27615
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