WriteShop teaches secondary school students writing skills in an incremental, analytical approach. With detailed instructions, clear writing plan, and objective editing lists, WriteShop gives teachers and students everything they need to improve composition skills.
WriteShop is appropriate for most senior high students, though highly-motivated middle school students with strong grammar skills can also tackle the program. The course can be used effectively for one-on-one or co-op teaching.
WriteShop I guides students repeatedly through the writing process, setting important habits for future academic and creative writing. Students carefully document the brainstorming, “sloppy copy” or rough draft, first revision, editing, and final draft of each writing assignment. The course also teaches a variety of approaches for each step of the writing process, increasing student confidence and capability. Brainstorming techniques include lists, mind maps, and graphic outlines. Student editing is completed with checklists and multicolored pencils. By the end of the course, the student has developed strong habits for confident writing.
WriteShop I trains students in important elements of structure, including topic and closing sentences, varied sentence structure within paragraphs, and varied paragraph styles (descriptive, informative, narrative writing). Each element is focused on separately and practiced throughout the remainder of the course. The result is increasingly complex and confident writing.
For specific writing improvement, WriteShop includes “Skill Builder” exercises with each lesson. Skill Builders cover such topics as descriptive adjectives, modifying phrases, composition titles, and sequencing. The exercises give students the opportunity to further understand the concept needed to write that lesson’s new sentence structure or paragraph format.
Also included in the WriteShop plan is regular copywork and dictation. A separate copywork booklet provides examples from classic and children’s literature exemplifying the lesson’s writing technique.
Homeschool moms Kim Kautzer and Debra Oldar, authors of WriteShop, designed their product for flexible teaching. The program can be taught in as little as two semesters or as long as three years. The teacher’s manual outlines the different components of each lesson (writing, editing, skill builders, and copywork) and the various planning schedules utilized to teach the course in one or more years. Scheduling and pacing, however, are left completely up to the parent, making this a flexible and self-paced course. I find the best plan of attack for my students is a modification of the one-year plan, but I appreciate the flexibility for our busy lifestyle.
WriteShop demands a little teacher preparation time. Teachers using this in a co-op, as well as those less comfortable with writing mechanics, may spend thirty minutes to an hour preparing for the lesson presentation. However, since the material was generally familiar to me, I found that after the first couple lessons I could glance through the lesson examples and goals for a few minutes before teaching my children. To master the material in one year requires at least 1-3 hours of class time (including lesson presentation and one-on-one coaching) each week.
Though prior writing experience is not required to teach WriteShop, it is definitely a plus. The teacher should have a firm command of grammar rules and be confident editing for style and content.
There are several advantages to the WriteShop plan:
- The varied writing assignments challenge confident writers to further improve their skills.
- Weekly checklists for student editing and teacher grading help objectively analyze work.
- The analytical design motivates and encourages those students who dread writing to accomplish necessary tasks each lesson.
I had just a few difficulties with the curriculum:
- The curriculum is set up in a two-binder system, one for the teacher and another for the student. When studying the program in an intimate home setting, we found ourselves constantly juggling the two large binders and often looking in the wrong place for the information we needed.
- The teacher’s binder, while full of helpful information and tips that would greatly benefit a co-op class, was distractingly full for one-on-one tutoring. I wished, after a few weeks into the program, that it was available in a slimmed-down Home Teacher’s Edition.
- Grammatical proficiency on the part of teacher and student is assumed. Though I am accustomed to discussing clauses, complements, and modifiers on a daily basis and my students had completed several years of grammar studies, I am concerned most parents and students would need a little more support on the mechanics of sentence structure.
All in all, WriteShop is a good value for a high-quality writing curriculum. Because the program allows for worksheet reproduction within the purchasing family, the curriculum can be easily used for multiple siblings. The flexibility of the program makes it ideal for both serious writing study and semi-formal instruction. Though not blatantly religious, WriteShop encourages godly communication through discussions on appropriateness, character studies, and examples.
Last Updated: January 1, 2013
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student's manual binder: lesson content and word lists
supplemental resources available
incremental development of writing style
teacher's guide may induce information-overload
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