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  1. #1

    Default Brave Writer - Do you supplement it?

    I'd like to start off by apologizing for not being super responsive. We (two adults, three children, one toddler, and two dogs) are in the process of moving our entire life into a camper to begin traveling, along with dealing with some weird ups and downs closing our home. So selfishly, I'm only here when I have a question. I'm very sorry and promise to put more in once I learn more about this homeschooling process and actually have two cents to give! As for now, I'm green, but I did create a Pinterest that is full of awesome stuff I found for school to feed my obsessiveness while we are in limbo, and I am happy to share if anyone wants to go sift through my hoard!

    I changed our plans a bit due to a great deal offered through the buyers coop for BraveWriter. I bought Writer's Jungle and Help for Highschool along with a back bundle of ten books, five for my 8 and 9 year old to read together and five for my 13 year old.

    I really like the feel of this program, plus I believe it will be good for my 13-year-old who is a little burnt out on ELA with the public schools. I'm going to let her work as she wishes on it at her own pace as long as she reads and is involved in our shared things like Poetry Tea and so many of the other fun ideas the author gives. I'm going to give her space this year as far as writing is concerned and try to push more poetry and personal writing that she enjoys as opposed to worrying too much about essays. She's also asked to sit through family reading, which she's enjoying thus far. We'll work essential writing into other subjects. I think. Who the heck knows at this point.

    We don't start "real" school until Sept 18 because of the move and will probably delay it even moreso now that our home closing has been delayed, so I'd like to know how you guys use this program before we officially start. I love the laid back feeling of it, but this is our first year and I can't help but wonder if I should stock up with supplemental stuff like Language Smarts (found it CHEAP) for my littles or spelling resources, etc. I'm trying not to spend anymore money if at all possible. I've managed to get all the core stuff, half of it used and lots on discount, for about $500 for all three kids. I know in comparison to many that isn't much, but we're trying to work on a budget, and I still have school supplies to buy. So free stuff would be much appreciated.

    What are your experiences? Was it enough? Should I get more? It's so different than what I'm "used to" through the school system, and while I absolutely love all of what she brings to the forefront, I can't help but wonder just because of the 180 from what I'm accustomed to.

    But I'd love to hear, "yep, don't worry, it's great and my children were all scholars and published authors at 11 years old thanks to BraveWriter." :P

  2. T4L In Forum Oct19
  3. #2

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    I don't know about published writers at 11yo but I've used Bravewriter since it came out, about 10 years or so ago, when my high schoolers and high school graduate were about elementary school age. They all ended up in public school for late middle school and high school but they were all strong writers even my 2E son who was on an IEP for language arts related subjects, his teachers would comment that he was quite elegant with his words and he had great ideas, he just struggled to get them on paper in the traditional way so he had to have an IEP to give him concessions for testing so he had a fair chance to show that he was a great writer, just had some motor problems that required him to have someone transcribe for him or be allowed to type his answers.

    All of them however did fabulously in English in high school, my oldest high school graduate loves to write his own stories but as far as I know he has not tried to get any of them published, lol! I used only Bravewriter after I got it. Before that we had used a hodge podge of things and some things of my own creation that were very similar to Bravewriter. I'm now using the same methodology with my youngest son. I do use a little more structured spelling, I used Spalding method to teach reading writing and spelling but I do sometimes pull spelling words from their Bravewriter assignments when I see they need work on a specific spelling construct.

    Your plan to let your 13yo deschool a bit before diving in is a good one but I would keep her writing. She needs to be able to write a solid essay in high school. Let her take these first couple of months to just do her freewriting assignments and poetry teas and engage her in what Bravewriter calls "big juicy conversations". Then I would start her on either a partnership writing assignment if she's not a strong writer or faltering ownership if she is a fairly good writer. It is a month long assignment where she has specific tasks each week to complete her assignment. If she does well with it, you can step up to the next level, if not stay at that level until she is confident. You want her at the transitioning ownership level by the end of the school year if at all possible.

    Bravewriter is a wonderful laid back approach to teaching writing but, in my experience, you do need to keep up with all the different strands of it to be effective. Just doing the "fun parts" like the poetry teas and freewrites or only doing book studies in The Arrow/Boomerang issues won't give you a complete language arts program. If you only want to implement certain parts and supplement other parts, that's perfectly acceptable or if you want to slowly work up to implementing it all that's fine too but just know if you don't implement it all at some point, you will have to supplement.

  4. #3

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    Maple Hill Academy, thank you so much! It's wonderful to hear that your kids have been successful using this program, as I do have high hopes for it!

    I guess I'm a little confused as to what is considered a full curriculum with BW. So basically what I bought is:

    Writer's Jungle (supposedly aimed at the littles and should cover all writing, grammar, spelling, punctuation, vocab, etc.)

    Help for High School (looks like a self-teaching program working majorly on essay writing with a few reference books for her to refer back to, etc., and I got the impression this would also be working on her grammar, punctuation, etc., as well). For her, I will definitely keep her writing but just not forcing the essays on her too much at this point. I want her working through this program because, from what I can see so far, it gradually works its way from more personal writing to expository essay. I just want to let her self-pace at first and see how it goes. She loves to write (she just hated the expository essays and all the comprehension for literature in school).

    I also got the backorders of Arrow and Boomerang to see how they work with the kids. 40% off special. Lol. If it's a fit, we may subscribe the year-long program. OR, I may just throw together my own lessons based on this format because it is a lot like what I was planning to do anyway. My biggest burden was having time to read everything in order to really dig deep into the literature with them. So I like that it's done for them. I also wanted to mix nonfiction into their reading to integrate other lessons, so I was going to try to split the fiction and non. Another reason for going light on the lit orders so far.

    So if I want to keep the BraveWriter program for entire ELA, is Help for Highschool and Writer's Jungle sufficient on top of the Arrow/Boomerang or should I invest in more?

    Thanks and sorry for all the questions!!

  5. #4

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    With Brave Writer, you're always talking about a program that's very flexible. Like, I don't think using something else with Brave Writer is even really "supplementing" because BW is a total philosophy of teaching language arts, one that allows for using different things that are responsive to your own needs.

    That said... BW is absolutely very complete on its own, especially if you're doing all the components. So, for a kid that age, that would look like...

    Boomerang (or DIY Boomerang style work) - this would cover grammar, mechanics, and literature
    Help for High School (or even Faltering Ownership beefed up or just doing the projects suggested in The Writers Jungle) - this would cover writing
    Regular freewriting, poetry teas, movie discussions, etc. - all the pieces of the "BW Lifestyle" that are discussed in TWJ. I don't think you have to do these weekly necessarily, but having a routine can really help with this stuff

    So, in a word, yes. Help for High School with the Boomerang (or a DIY version - this is also how we do it) and some added in freewriting and the like would absolutely be plenty. Don't add anything to that - especially not with your desire to deschool some more. Concentrate on getting it right in the first place instead.
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  6. #5

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    We have enjoyed our bravewriter time! For us, its really more of a philosophy than a curriculum. I havent bought any arrows this year - or last year - but the philosophy of nurturing the little ones voices, and learning grammar and writing in context, has really resonated with me.

    The point of it, though, is that you dont supplement with artificial grammar and spelling books, with contrived writing prompts.... those run contrary to the philosophy.

    And I still get begged to do Poetry Teas... but at the same time, my son enjoys reading poetry, even if theres no snacks and pomp involved.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.

    Atheist.

    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  7. #6

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    It sounds like you have a really good plan for your eighth grader. Deschooling is important especially if they had negative experiences in some subjects.

    The Writer's Jungle is a guide book for you to put together your own complete language arts program. When I first started with Bravewriter, The Writer's Jungle and Help For High School were the only two books/products they had at the time. The Arrow and The Boomerang came out shortly after as a way for parents to see the grammar and mechanics side of Bravewriter as it was meant to be implemented and became so popular that it was made into a subscription. I made most of my own book studies because like I said, I've been using Bravewriter since before the other products existed. Plus it was very close to what I was already doing anyways.

    So you will need to either use the Wand/Arrow/Boomerang issues or come up with your own book studies that include examining grammar and mechanics of the work and engage in conversations about literary analysis. Eventually, they are going to learn how to put these things into a literary analysis type essay but it starts with the conversations over books you read. If you need some help for how to ask the bigger questions, look up "Bloom's taxonomy question stems" on Google and you'll find lots of ideas for getting your kids to look beyond surface at the bigger picture. Sometimes you might have them make a written response but it is fine to just have deep, meaningful conversations as well.

    The next strand of Bravewriter is what they call the Bravewriter lifestyle. This is the "fun stuff" that I have seen a lot of moms implement as their "Bravewriter language arts" and then complain later that it isn't a full language arts program like they were told it was. The Bravewriter lifestyle by itself is not a full language arts program, these are the fun extras that kind of tie all these language arts ideas you're learning about to the rest of your curricula and your life. The Arrow and Boomerang will cover some of the lifestyle elements but there are lots of other ideas like the poetry teas, movie nights,art appreciation, nature journaling... lots and lots of great ideas but don't try to do it all at once! Work up to it until it becomes part of your lifestyle, that's the whole point!

    The third part, and what I consider to be the meat and potatoes of the Bravewriter language arts program, is the monthly writing assignments. They are outlined very vaguely in The Writer's Jungle but she has since come out with full guides that correspond to each level of teaching a writer, Jot it Down is for the very youngest beginning writers, Partnership writing for children who are just beginning to put their own ideas on paper themselves, Faltering Ownership for young writers who are ready for doing more of their own writing, Transitioning Ownership for young writers who are ready for more and finally The Great Conversation for high schoolers who are ready to write high school and college level essays. The only one I didn't get to teach my children so far is The Great Conversation but getting them all up to Transitioning Ownership had them well prepared for high school and college level writing assignments.

    Usually, the part that most people miss in the Bravewriter language arts program is the monthly writing assignments. They get so overwhelmed trying to implement the entire Bravewriter lifestyle at once or they only get The Arrow and The Boomerang and wonder where the writing instruction is. I chose to teach spelling, handwriting and learning to read with another program but I certainly could have used Bravewriter as my only language arts resource. Oh, I also never used the online writing courses, they were always just a bit out of our financial reach whenever I had a child at the right level to give it a try. I would have loved to try it, I've heard people rave about them but I did not personally use them. HTH

  8. #7

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    I have a 9 year old who has a lot of anxiety about writing. We use a mix of Bravewriter with some other stuff added in mainly for her interest and sometimes my lack of time to be working with her and discussing stuff.

    I have never read the Writers Jungle. I watched a webinar about it, and then found there is a much more palatable (to me) summary at the start of the Jot It Down/Partnership Writing files. A friend lent me the Writers Jungle but it just lingered on my bedside table for months and did not get read. Hopefully you have better luck than me, being an editor I have to read so much for work that other reading rarely happens. If you don't get to it, you can refer to the other files for a shorter summary of the gist of it all

    I found it easiest for me to split our routine into a tools for writing section (grammar, spelling, vocabulary, literary elements). I also include digital skills in the tools for writing section (touch typing and coding). Then we have an actual writing/understanding writing section (copywork, narration, freewriting, writing project, comprehension, writing poetry). So in my daughter's routine she does one of each of those each day.

    For spelling we just discuss spelling of words she has been having trouble with or she had not come across before in what she has read. We tried a separate spelling curriculum but it never really got off the ground as it petered out from every second day, to once a week, to 'I can't remember when we last did it'. She is very good at spelling and just picks it up from reading. Just the other day I was having a moment with blanking on how to spell prairie and she could spell it for me because she had just been reading Prairie Evers.

    For vocabulary, we just do that when she comes across words she does not know the meaning of, and she looks them up and writes down the definition.

    Grammar we use the Arrows sometimes or come up with our own book studies or find stuff online. We supplement grammar with her going through Khan Academy grammar on her own as it is something she enjoys. I am an editor, and pretty happy with explaining most of the grammar she encounters. So, if we don't have an Arrow, they get expensive!, I just get her to pick a copywork paragraph with something interesting in it that she has not seen before or likes the use of a particular element, and then we discuss it.

    Literary elements we just discuss.

    Copywork, narration, free writing, and writing project are Bravewriter, or Bravewriter-ish if we don't have an Arrow for copywork. We use Jot It Down for the writing project, and are moving on soon to Partnership Writing. The writing projects are monthly but you do something each week for them.

    Comprehension I usually find some questions online to discuss.

    Poetry writing my daughter follows a blog by a children's poet who runs a monthly themed poetry competition, so she writes one for that each month.

    I just try to keep a good mix of these things in week by week. We use a brief written daily checklist, but its very flexible. If I write down grammar and she finds some words she wants to do vocab on, she changes it. Or if I had planned to do Arrow work and she wants to do Khan Academy grammar, that is what she does.

    For the fun Bravewriter stuff, we fit in when we have time, movies, poetry teatime, nature studies.

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Brave Writer - Do you supplement it?