Saturday, April 26, 2008

Teaching Writing

Many homeschool parents find that teaching writing is difficult. Their kids, with a bit too much ego involvement in their writing, don't tend to feedback in this area easily. Kids are proud of what they've written and giving feedback is tricky. At the end of the day, evaluating writing is subjective and requires strong writing skills.

So many homeschool parents look for help to teach writing. Time4Writing provides that help. It's a set of online eight week courses which gives weekly writing assignments followed by indepth personalized feedback on the writing. If a child is not ready to move on, the teacher can decide to repeat that week's unit for that student the next week. Because it's so personalized, classes start almost every Monday.

The course is $99 for the first course for a family. Additional courses, for additional children or for the same students for that family, are only $79.

In middle and high school, a methodology called Four Trait Writing is used.

Four-Trait Writing provides students a framework both to write successfully for today's high stakes test and to discover writing beyond the formal essay. Students have the chance to find their voice when writing for the internet, editorials, and even dialogue.

So, what are the Four Traits of successful writing? They are:

1. Content - Story and Logic

2. Style (Sentence Variety and Structure)

3. Mechanics (Spelling, Punctuation, Capitalization Rules)

4. Media & Voice (Persuasion; Objective Journalism; Internet Writing; Dialogue: Plays and Scripts)

  • Content - Story and Logic covers the flow of a narrative and the organization of an expository essay.
  • Style discusses sentence structure, variety, and fluency and the usage of colorful, descriptive words.
  • Mechanics are the writing basics of capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. Learning to use all of these properly and becoming adept at proofreading for errors in these areas, are an essential skill for the middle school writer.
  • The Media and Voice in the modern world are different from that of the past. Today's writer needs to have a separate voice for the different media available to them. In the same day, a single writer might have to shift between writing a blog article with paragraphs with bolded key works, to a formal structured essay for a school assignment, or to a chatty commentary article for a printed magazine with a headline.
  1. Voice for Media (Persuasion) – Students are introduced to and practice writing to persuade to buy, to vote, to think in a similar fashion.
  2. Voice for Objective Journalism – Students discover the five W's and the H (who, what, when, where, why, and how) of objective article writing for an online or hard copy publication.
  3. Voice for Internet Writing – In today's world, students can create web pages and blog on the internet. This is quite different from any other writing they may have learned in the past as much of it is created in a more conversational tone with subheads and bullet points.
  4. Voice for Plays and Scripts – Many students enjoy using their imaginations and creative voice. Here, they have that chance as they write dialogue and stage directions.

The first first course on Four Traiting Writing is available from Time4Writing, which provides online writing courses.

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