Monday, January 19, 2015

Writing with Ease: a little review

Rose and I are finishing up week 8 of Writing With Ease Level 1, so it seems like a good time to do a little review of this program. This is my fourth time (or so) going through this book.  Honestly, I was expecting a lot of complaints from Rose about this program, but there have been very few so far. For whatever reason,  this program has caused much less whining from my girls than my boys. I think it is probably a fine motor control issue? That is not to say that I would not use this program with boys, though - James and I are using Level 3 right now and I will do a separate post on that later in the week. It is just that I have experienced far fewer complaints from my girls when it is time for writing! I think that might be true for homeschooling in general though....hmm.

Most weeks of WWE follow the same pattern. The book is divided into 36 weeks with four lessons per week, making scheduling super easy. Each lesson focuses on a particular literature selection, which I really love. We have had weeks on Little House, Pinocchio, and Alice and Wonderland, to name a few. Copywork and narration assignments are drawn from the book of the week. It is great fun when we get a book we have already read, almost like meeting an old friend. And when it is a book that is new to her, Rose invariably asks to read it as a bedtime book. Those little passages do a good job of piquing her interest in the whole book!

The WWE workbook consists of scripted lessons followed by student pages. The student pages are perforated, so that you can tear them out for the student to use.  Peace Hill Press also sells a PDF of the student pages if you want to keep your book intact.  I do tear the pages out of mine and it is working out great. I have enough stuff to print as it is, and since Rose will be my last to go through this book, I have no real reason to save it. I love that the book is getting smaller as we go along - clear evidence of our progress! Finished pages get hole-punched and filed in her language arts binder. I should mention that Rose is six, and we are using this for first grade.

Okay, on to what the program is like!

Each day of the week is a bit different, which mixes things up nicely. Day 1 is a copywork day. There are two sentences to choose from, depending on the student's ability. I always let Rose copy the shorter one. If she balks at doing it - which is rare - I tell her that she can choose her sentence for the day. Naturally she chooses the shorter one I would have picked anyway, but she feels like she is getting away with something.

The sentence is printed right on the student page, with room for the copywork below.  On copywork day there is often a suggestion or two in the lesson for discussing the sentences. These might include  giving background information about the book or pointing out proper nouns or punctuation.

Day 2 is a narration day. A short passage from the book of the week is included, along with questions to help you assess comprehension.  There is a reminder to have your child answer these questions using complete sentences. At first I felt kind of stupid asking Rose to do this, but I have come to see it as an excellent way for her to practice expressing herself.  After the questions, you ask the child to tell you one thing they remember, which you then record on the student page.  The narration pages are decorated with a drawing based on the story, a nice little touch.

Day 3 is a copywork day again.

Day 4 is a narration day for the first few weeks, then it becomes a narration and copywork day. These student pages have space for you to record one thing your child remembers about the passage, followed by space for them to write the sentence themselves. If the sentence is too long to comfortably copy, you can have them copy just part of it.  I love the little ink drawings on these pages, they add a little fun.

Copywork length increases very gradually in this level. Different kinds of punctuation are introduced as well. This is enough writing for Rose right now - we don't add anything except a handwriting program.  Also, once or twice a week she narrates to me from our science reading and I write that down for her.

 WWE has been very easy to add into our homeschool days. Most days our writing lesson takes only 10-15 minutes. This program is beautifully open and go and very user-friendly. It is deceptively simple but really builds a great foundation for more complex writing.  I love it!

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