Here to Help Learning Writing Programs

Off we go! And, trust me, it's going to be a grand trip! Parents/teachers will be able to fasten their seatbelts, settle in and enjoy the flight. Your young student will be transported to a land where writing is exciting and fun. Essentially a video instruction course but coupled with guidance and direction for the parent/mentor, as well as extensive worksheets/exercises for the student, there are specific goals in mind - writing projects for the student to complete. Designed for elementary students with an airplane theme, there are six courses that cover all aspects of paragraph and essay writing. Utilizing all sorts of airplane terminology, Mrs. Mora, a homeschooling mother of eight, has bottomless energy and a seemingly endless quantity of aviation analogies. She also has a tremendous grasp of how to teach writing (actually, I suspect she could teach practically anything) in a thrilling, creative, captivating way. There is a thoroughly Christian orientation to this program; lessons are presented from a biblical worldview, character qualities are emphasized, and there's a course memory verse. So, buckle up! Your flight is ready for take-off!

A Flight is one year of writing curriculum - 32 weekly lessons - that covers five different types of writing: narrative, descriptive, expository, persuasive, and poetry. Weekly lessons are basically two days a week, approximately one hour per day. Day 1 is watching and completing the lesson from the filmed instruction. Day 2 is completing the independent student work (Flying Solo). Estimated time to complete Flying Solo work is 30-60 minutes for Paragraph Flight assignments and 60-90 minutes for Essay Flight assignments. There are three Flights in Launching Paragraph Writing with another three Flights in Launching Essay Writing. Technically, Paragraph Writing is designed for Grades 1-3 with Essay Writing designed for Grades 4-6. However, any Flight can be used for multi-level instruction and the Flights within either Paragraph or Essay can be used in any order. The important thing to remember is that at least one Paragraph Writing Flight (or comparable skills) should be covered before starting the Essay Writing Flights. Frankly, it's easy to see the Paragraph Writing Flights being used through 4th or 5th grades and the Essay Writing Flights through 7th-8th grades if students haven't had good writing instruction previously.

Each Flight is a masterpiece of user-friendly scripted lessons corresponding to energetic, engaging, and enthusiastic video instruction; featuring lovable writing projects. And yes, I did just use "lovable" and "writing" in the same sentence. Flights are organized around these writing projects with five or six lessons per project and usually six projects per Flight (Essay, Flight 3 has only one project). Here's a summary of the Flights and their projects:

Launching Paragraph Writing

  • - F-1: All by Myself (narrative), Heroes Today (descriptive), Good Books Make Me Hungry (expository), Poetry Walk: In the Mountains, Once Upon a Fable (persuasive), and My Own Book (narrative).
  • - F-2: Oh the Places I've Been (narrative), Potato People (descriptive), Little Help (persuasive), Poetry Walk: In the Woods, Dear President (persuasive), and Story Box Fiction (narrative).
  • - F-3 Thank You for Your Business (descriptive), Reporting Live (expository), May I Have Your Attention Please! (persuasive), Poetry Walk: By the River, Drop Into my Time (expository), and My Ten Mile Day (narratve).

Launching Essay Writing

  • - F-1: Trusted Tutelage (expository), Monumental Heroes (narrative), Change it Up (expository), Poetry Walk: By the Lake, Canterbury Tale (narrative), and Playwright (narrative).
  • - F-2: It Happened to Me (narrative), Porcelain People (descriptive), Dear Father (persuasive), Poetry Walk: By the Ocean, Tall Tale (narrative), and Sci-Fi Story Box Fiction (narrative).
  • - F-3: Write a Book Project (32 lessons) with Writing Process Zone and Meet the Authors features.

The high quality, professional video lessons (a.k.a. filmed instruction) are packed with creativity - everything from a flight attendant giving precisely articulated instructions to all sorts of "on-the-scene" teaching segments to a talking, assignment-giving dog. The five, distinctly different teaching segments have a consistent pattern - not surprisingly labeled using airplane flight terminology:

  • - Pre-Flight Checklist - list of supplies for each lesson
  • - Flight Check-In - character trait for the project; memory verse
  • - Take-Off - writing warm-ups, writing process coverage, literary technique game
  • - Full Throttle - main lesson, discussion, hands-on crafts
  • - Flying Solo Assignments - instructions for assignments

Even though some segments are done weekly (the flight attendant checklist, for instance), there are subtle differences in each that keep things lively. Mrs. Mora deserves high praise for not only her creativity but also her dramatic abilities, her wardrobe designs, and her clever parodies and puns. And, we haven't even started talking about the superb content, yet.

You don't have to worry that this series is all glitz and no growth. The content has depth and breadth; cohesiveness and comprehensiveness. There is a strong emphasis on the writing process; it's featured in every lesson enabling the student to understand exactly where he is within the process. Mrs. Mora has developed a series of mnemonic hand gestures to correspond to each step in the process (she's tweaked the steps just a bit for her purposes as well): Brainstorm, Make a List, Webbing, 1st Rough Draft, 1st Input, 2nd Rough Draft, 2nd Input, Final Recopy, and Publish. Defining, illustrating, modeling, and constantly reiterating this process is one of her review techniques. But the amazing thing is you won't feel that she's repetitive. There is so much variety and so much creativity embedded into every presentation that you'll find yourself eagerly waiting to see what she's going to be up to next.

Every teaching segment receives the same organizational attention as well as detailed presentation skill. Gifted in making learning fun, she proceeds to do so project after project, lesson after lesson. She shares her secrets willingly - provide a BIG picture; model the skill for the student; provide pictures and diagrams; talk about it; practice, practice, practice the skill; and engage all the senses. She wants you to see the joy of learning on your child's face.

The Teacher's Guide which includes the six DVDs is the heart of the program. Included in this Guide are a complete writing overview, a set of 32 scripted lessons, and a number of quick reference language charts (comma rules, capitalization/punctuation, editing marks, and many, many more). In other words, pretty much everything you need to teach this course to your own children or to a co-op group. Colorful, spiral-bound pages make up the bulk of the Guide but the lessons themselves are black and white.

The Student Workbook provides the worksheets and various other materials needed by the student. These correlate with the lessons and provide writing space for assignments and exercises. They also provide some specialty items such as color sheets to be used as covers for published books. A complete Language Helps Booklet in included with each Workbook and serves as a ready reference for the student which is especially helpful during the "input" portions of the writing process. Each student will need his own Student Workbook, although a few worksheets are reproducible.

The Teacher Kit includes the Teacher Guide, the DVDs, and one Student Workbook. As mentioned above, Launching Essay Writing, Flight 3 has a one-year write-a-book focus. All 32 lessons work toward this end but also include a four lesson segment specifically on the writing process as well as on-going Meet the Authors. During these segments, Mrs. Mora interviews well-known Christian authors (Bill Myers, author of McGee and Me; Brock Eastman, author of Imagination Station books; Nathan Hoobler, Focus on the Family writer; and Pat and Sandy Roy, creators/writers of the Jonathan Park series.)

This is an exceptional writing course from a new source. Developed for homeschools and co-ops and from a Christian perspective, it is user-friendly, encouraging a mentoring relationship between parent and student and utilizing quality video instruction. Teacher books are 112 pgs, spiral-bound. Student workbooks are about 200 pgs, three-hole punched, pb. ~ Janice

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