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Thread: Middle School Writing Curriculum

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    Senior Member Enlightened atomicgirl's Avatar
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    Default Middle School Writing Curriculum

    I'm trying to decide exactly what to do with writing for my 6th grader next year. I realize that there is a lot of support for BW on here, but I'm having a hard time understanding how the approach compares to other curricula, and to some extent, why a PDF most people admit to reading in 1 sitting is worth $70 (but that's just me being cheap). I'm also considering MCT, The Reader's Odyssey, MBtP, and OM, and am open to other suggestions. What do you use? What is the basic philosophy? What is the emphasis (creative, vs. expository)? How rigorous is the approach? How rigid is the approach? I think I'm looking for something fairly customizable, but with a clearly defined process to learn. My daughter needs a structure to work in that is easy to understand and follow, or else she just shuts down. However, if the process is too rigid the anxiety of getting things "right" will sidetrack her. Last year she was still so stressed about her writing experiences in school that I didn't teach all that much at all. We each did writing exercises from a book of prompts and then read them to each other and had brief discussions about what we liked about each other's writing. TIA
    AtomicGirl--Mom, old enough to know better
    Athena--11, 6th grade, home schooled, 2E, wicked cool
    Monkey King- 6, 1st grade, home schooled, future owner of the galaxy

  2. #2
    valerieanne
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    We don't use a curriculum, so I can't recommend any (or warn you off any). Dd participated in
    NaNoWriMo for the first time this year, and it was wicked fun. The goals are self-defined, but the deadlines are non-negotiable. The focus is on the creative process, and there is no stress re spelling or grammar. Once her story is submitted, she takes a one month breather, then begins revision and editing. It is customizable to age/interest/skill, and it can be a solitary exploration, a group experience, or a competitive one.
    ksb427 and Stella M like this.

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    i'm not a brave writer fan. *ducking for cover now*. I like a more structured program and so we are using WriteShop I for 6th grade this coming fall. my daughter is an average-above average writer, but she needs to learn more style and how to effectively edit her writing. write shop I is mostly descriptive and informative paragraphs that emphasizes mechanics and style, and it branches out when you get to write shop II. I like it because it is clear for the student to understand, has very defined goals, and the teacher support is very good. we are using MCT as a LA curriculum in fall (we love his stuff). I think his writing stuff is excellent, but IMO, MCT is a bit light on the writing and needs supplementation (there are others on here who disagree with that assessment).

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    Senior Member Arrived dbmamaz's Avatar
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    i used MCT for 8th and 9th and liked it. its more structured than BW but not rigid. its rigorous and rich, but you can choose to just do one writing assignment per chapter or more. However, starting on level 4 its pretty dry.
    Cara, eclecticly homeschooling two boys
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    I have two very reluctant writers in middle school. We are trying the new curriculum called Cover Story from the guy who wrote The One Year Adventure Novel. It's pretty expensive, but it's the only big thing I'm buying this year - I'm putting the rest together myself. I can't wait to see it. It's structured so that they will write a magazine over the course of the year on the topic of their choice. I've heard really good things about Adventure Novel. I'll check back in on the forum in a few months and let you all know how it's going.
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    My daughter will be in the 6th grade this year. She is not a fan of writing at all. I have decided to use History Odyssey level 2 Ancients with her. She is interested in the history, so I feel that the writing will come easier. She is also in a writing club through our homeschool group. It is a child led group with very little structure, but she does write in it.

    I too am not a fan of BW. I got a good look at it over the past three months, and just do not see its worth for my child. I do see how it can be a useful tool, but defiantly not what many are looking for.
    If I were ever home, I would be "homeschooling".
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    Senior Member Arrived hockeymom's Avatar
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    We will be getting most of DS's writing in with HO2 and Classiquest biology in this next year as well, his first year of middle school. We will continue with BW style free writes, but we don't do the poetry teas and so forth. Last year BW did help introduce DS to copywork and dictation, though, both of which will be used in his other curriculua.

    A lot of BW is really for the parent, and while I do find it useful (relax, mama, relax!), a lot of it really won't help all kids. I have a hard time evaluating my DS's writing ability--he can write multiple page essays with pretty decent paragraph structure, for example--and I found a lot in TWJ that helped me comfortably stretch him beyond his initial comfort zone. But most of her daily tips make me feel like he's a writing failure; they just don't apply.

    Sorry for all the rambling. I generally think by middle school a lot of writing--especially for our reluctant writers--can come in other subjects other than "Writing class". And that if they are inspired by the subject independently, like history for freedomfamily's child, it makes it easier to swallow and hopefully thrive.

    Heading off for more coffee now. Hope some of that was coherent!
    Mama to one son (11)

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    I agree that a lot of writing can come through in other areas. my DD is also doing classiquest geosciences and astronomy next year, and it's a good bit of writing. she's also doing the classical historian, and that also involves quite a bit of pencil time. I found writing class good for teaching editing and stylistic skills.

    Quote Originally Posted by hockeymom View Post
    We will be getting most of DS's writing in with HO2 and Classiquest biology in this next year as well, his first year of middle school. We will continue with BW style free writes, but we don't do the poetry teas and so forth. Last year BW did help introduce DS to copywork and dictation, though, both of which will be used in his other curriculua.

    A lot of BW is really for the parent, and while I do find it useful (relax, mama, relax!), a lot of it really won't help all kids. I have a hard time evaluating my DS's writing ability--he can write multiple page essays with pretty decent paragraph structure, for example--and I found a lot in TWJ that helped me comfortably stretch him beyond his initial comfort zone. But most of her daily tips make me feel like he's a writing failure; they just don't apply.

    Sorry for all the rambling. I generally think by middle school a lot of writing--especially for our reluctant writers--can come in other subjects other than "Writing class". And that if they are inspired by the subject independently, like history for freedomfamily's child, it makes it easier to swallow and hopefully thrive.

    Heading off for more coffee now. Hope some of that was coherent!

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    Senior Member Enlightened CloverBee&Reverie's Avatar
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    Chiming in here to say to say I'm struggling as well with what to do for writing in middle school. DD is quite gifted in her ability to craft stories and write poems but anything "assigned" and it's just a bother and a wreck. I think the only thing I'm going to try this year are super-wacky writing prompts she can choose out of a jar and give NaNoWriMo a go and have her do selects parts of the free the pdf workbook. I think I'll print and use the elementary one & adapt for middle school, that way if it's a hit and she wants to do it again we can then make the jump to the middle school workbook in the coming years. I actually really like the workbook. Whatever materials we use the last thing I want to do is kill the writing process. My gut this year is saying to stay away from the formal writing-type assignments. So we'll see. She's always taken to our style of "notebooking" (read something, draw an illustration, summarize in your own words) so I know she's at least got decent summarizing skills. And she absolutely LOVES churning out power points on anything and everything. I often think about how certain aspects of the writing process has evolved and changed over the past two decades with the the availability of instantaneous data at your fingertips and electronic means to express your thoughts vs what I grew up with: Hours spent finding resources and taking notes on note cards, outlining, and then typing/word processing. Another discussion for sure... Anyway, just wanted to chime in and say I'm struggling as well. For different reasons, but struggling all the same.
    Amy
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    Senior Member Enlightened atomicgirl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CloverBee&Reverie View Post
    And she absolutely LOVES churning out power points on anything and everything.
    My daughter, too. In her old school they insisted that kids made PP science presentations (like 20 min long PP presentations) as early as kindergarten. I thought it was absurd at first. She started there in first grade and I almost spit my coffee across the desk at the first classroom meeting of the year when this was discussed. However, over the last few years it's become her favorite way of organizing material and presenting what's she learned. She especially loves doing "whoosh-whoosh" (all the animation/special effects stuff). I think about the difference between that and all the "reports" I did in school that amounted to summarizations of encyclopedia entries, hand written on notebook paper and then pasted to construction paper pages that were all tied together with yarn. The process learning, and reporting on that learning, really has changed a lot in the last 35 years or so.

    I'm giving the NaNoWriMo route some consideration. The deadlines might be too much pressure for my overly anxious child, but it might be just what she needs to deal with that fear. Her writing-for-pleasure (mostly fanfic) is really good for a 10 year old. I just have to figure out how to channel that to academic work, and how to get past the anxiety. Part of me says giving more structure, i.e., giving her a clear algorithm, is the way to go, but part of wonders if I have that exactly wrong.

    I believe I'm overthinking this, but not being able to give her a good education in "writing" has been my biggest doubt about pulling her out of her old school. Writing, particularly writing about literature, was their "thing". Kids left after 8th grade writing essays as well as college kids. Now, while the (imo, unnecessary) pressure to perform at that level constantly hanging over DD was the main reason for walking away, I still worry about my inadequacy to provide that experience. I keep hoping I will find the one product/method/plan that will fix this worry for me. Maybe it's not there, and maybe it really doesn't need to be there.
    AtomicGirl--Mom, old enough to know better
    Athena--11, 6th grade, home schooled, 2E, wicked cool
    Monkey King- 6, 1st grade, home schooled, future owner of the galaxy

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