Writing With Ease provides easy-to-use materials for introducing this comprehensive writing approach to young students; an approach that understands the need for one-on-one instruction and focuses on copywork (putting words on paper) and narration (putting ideas into words) then ultimately combining the skills (Years 3 & 4). Complete Writer: Writing With Ease Strong Fundamentals - the text (recently revised and with new information) for Levels 1-4 is a program overview. The first section - Understanding the Program - describes the three stages of writing instruction and why most writing programs fail as well as a four-year scope and sequence concluding with a segment on where/how to begin. Included are some short diagnostic exercises to determine if an older reluctant-writing student will profit by some portions of the program. Next is a short but practical section outlining preschool and kindergarten language instruction. The bulk of the text provides the weekly lessons for each level (year). Each year is divided into segments with a varying number of weeks. Each of these segments starts with a detailed lesson plan for the first week; then "tweaked" plans for the rest of the segment's weeks (i.e., use slightly longer sentences for copywork; look for sentences that contain the proper names of days of the week and months of the year). Each year concludes with a mastery evaluation. Copywork sentences and narration excerpts are provided for each of these "first weeks" but not for the remaining weeks. There are several valuable appendices at the back of the Text - what to do after program completion, troubleshooting (wise advice on student's writing problems), frequently asked questions, and resource lists.
The Workbooks provide all the needed teacher preparation for each level making the program very user-friendly. The first half of each book is the teacher's portion. This comes close to being scripted with all lessons carefully detailed. Copywork and narration excerpts for each lesson are included with background information provided and comprehension questions (with possible answers) that lead the child comfortably into narration. The last half of the books are the Student Pages. Grade-appropriate writing space is provided on these pages along with copywork models. Occasionally, pen-and-ink illustrations brighten the pages. It is suggested that these be removed and given to the student but they are reproducible for family use (schools and co-ops need to make other arrangements with Well Trained Mind Press). You can also purchase the pack of Student Pages separately if that is more convenient for you. These come 3-hole punched and ready to place in a binder.
Throughout Writing With Ease, the author suggests repeating the dictations three times. Some students may be able to hold the dictations in their heads after three repetitions and that's great! However, many students will need additional repetitions. And, as you get into the more complex dictations, the author has found that most students will need you to say the dictation sentences additional times - maybe a number of additional times. Don't worry about repeating - it's best not to frustrate your young writer. However, the author suggests two rules - 1) always ask the student to repeat the sentence back to you before he goes back to writing and 2) always repeat the dictation assignment from the beginning (don't allow the student to write one word at a time as you "dictate" word by word.
There is a relationship between Writing With Ease and First Language Lessons (from the same author). Both share the same philosophy and while these writing skills are presented in FLL they are extensively developed and practiced in WWE. The WWE Text could be used independently of the WWE Workbooks with the parent/teacher selecting all their own copywork excerpts from other school material. Criteria for selection are provided with each lesson segment. Likewise, it might be possible, although perhaps not desirable, to use the Workbooks independently of the Text. They are designed to be used together and there is material in the Text that is not repeated in the Workbooks (at the beginning and end of the Text). However, all lesson material is carefully repeated in the Workbooks and often expanded in terms of teacher instruction. The Workbooks also provide the needed copywork models and narration excerpts for all lessons making them very comprehensive. ~ Janice
Susan Wise Bauer has an opinion about how writing should be taught to children. Not surprising! With years of experience teaching writing at the college level, she knows that The Complete Writer is the one who has mastered the three stages of writing - Writing With Ease (combining the two distinct mental steps of putting ideas into words and putting words onto paper), Writing With Skill (learning to organize sentences into short compositions), and Writing With Style (the persuasive expression of ideas). Seven years ago, Peace Hill Press started publishing her writing courses that have an emphasis on this progression of skills. Now that The Complete Writer sequenced writing program (Writing With Ease and Writing With Skill) has been used by thousands of parents/students, Mrs. Bauer has gathered excellent feedback about their experience with her program. And, to her credit, she's "tweaking" her recommendations a bit to conform to that feedback. For instance, although the Writing With Ease series was designed to be used for four consecutive years, she is now suggesting that many - perhaps most - students will be prepared after the first three levels to progress into the Writing With Skill books. Likewise, she now suggests that fifth grade is probably on the young side to begin the Writing With Skill series.
It's easy to see that these recommendations mess with the previous neat symmetry of the program (four levels of WWE, then three levels of WWS). Not to worry! Mrs. Bauer suggests you can 1) slow down WWE-3 and cover that course over two years, 2) continue narrations and summaries across the curriculum, or 3) insert another writing curriculum - maybe creative writing - into the 1-2 year gap. [See our website for a chart listing four possible progressions.] And, if you're not certain if your student is ready to progress, she provides mastery evaluations for each level (in the WWE Text) that will help you make that determination. These diagnostic evaluations are also very helpful if you have an older student that you want to integrate into the program at an appropriate level or if you have an older, reluctant writer that needs to "go back to the basics" and acquire some necessary beginning skills.
The Writing With Ease and the Writing With Skill programs make it possible for any parent to become a writing teacher - no experience needed! The beginning levels are scripted with later levels focused on the student becoming an independent writer; the parent functioning as a writing mentor. Although each level is designed as a year long course, they are flexible and you can use your own discretion as to the speed at which you progress through them.
These materials offer complete coverage of both writing and grammar.
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