Apologia Educational Ministries has given us the opportunity to review their new writing curriculum, Writers in Residence. Since we already use an extensive amount of their science curriculum for elementary, middle and high school, I was interested to see their approach to writing.
First, let me start by saying that I used this with my son, David. He is 11 now, and has dysgraphia (a form of dyslexia that negatively impacts writing, but not reading). Therefore spelling and writing are very difficult. As a result, he finds writing painful, tedious, and at times impossible. He’s never happy when he has to write answers (although he handles math and numbers well). SO when I went to review this product, it was with nervousness that he would try it, hate it and I would have to write that in a review. (The downside to being a product reviewer is that you sometimes have to write negative things about very good companies because something simply did not work for your individual student). The GOOD news: He has tried it, and he LOVES it!
Each unit of the book is based around a specific author. Through reading about the author, his or her life, writing style and specific books, the student can start to apply some of those to his own writing immediately. The lessons were short and sweet. Each one had a little reading, and a little writing. Also, grammar and writing rules are taught in the context of the writing, not as separate components. This is very similar to how I taught my older students grammar and have been pleased with the results.
The beginning of the book has a suggested daily schedule for the parent/student to follow. So far the lessons have taken about 15 minutes at the most each day. It’s broken into 5 lessons per week. Even though I require English only 4 days per week, David has asked permission to do 5 since that is what the book suggests. (Sure kid, knock yourself out).
David is suddenly learning and progressing in writing in ways he has not before: He is smiling and laughing during his lessons. One of the lessons had him recalling memories from his favorite place. He was laughing and talking about it as he was writing. This, for David, was quite unusual. Usually writing produced very little actual writing, and a posture of defeat. I am so very glad we tried this for him.
Here is their product description:
❶ A complete writing curriculum that integrates grammar, punctuation, and capitalization
❷ An easy-to-use All-In-One Student Text and Workbook
❸ A helpful answer key with directions, checklists, and evalutation rubric for every writing assignment that takes the guesswork out of evaluating your child’s writing
❹ A detailed lesson plan outline for four days a week for thirty-two weeks, make planning and teaching a breeze
❺ Appropriate content for grades 4 through 8
❻ Lively and engaging tone, written to the student
❼ Visually pleasing page layouts, designed to guide your student through the lessons
❽ Compelling interviews with favorite Christian authors
As a mom to three daughters who have taken college level writing, I am also reviewing it from the point of view of whether this methodology will create an effective adult writer. I have to say, so far, I am impressed. Even though the lessons are short, each one is building in the idea of idea formation, reviewing your own work, editing it, and revising it. These are all skills my teenagers had to master before becoming effective writers at the college level. In fact, there are parts of this lesson David is learning now, that I wish I had taught them.
My opinion: This is a complete, well prepared curriculum that I believe will be effective for teaching writing. I am enjoying it and am appreciating seeing David’s attitude toward writing change.
The only drawback is that the text and student workbook are all-in-one, so I can’t effectively re-use this sizable book with other students. I wish the student workbook pages would have been in a separate volume and the text was reusable for many students. I could have had him write his answers in a notebook, but I really think part of the appeal was the nice, colorful pages with nice lines to write on and I did not want to diminish the experience fro him because he enjoyed it so much.
Here are social media links for Apologia:
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/apologiaworld @apologiaworld