I know I have mentioned it before but Lauren is my kid who likes stories. Reading, writing, hearing…she just likes stories. She has started quite a few stories but unfortunately hasn’t finished a one yet.. She was actually as excited as I was when I told her she got to try out Writers in Residence from Apologia Educational Ministries. Apologia is what we have been using for our science curriculum and it was great news when I heard they were coming out with something for writing!
What comes in the set is an All-In-One Student Text and Workbook as well as an Answer Key. Now, you have to be prepared at the size of the student book. It looks overwhelming, but it totally makes sense once you open it up. It is spiral bound and that has worked well for us. Just don’t drop it while only holding on to the cover or anything.. 😉
What I love about the Apologia products we have used is they have a section that mentions what to do each day. They use a four day week which also works well for us! This section is in both books too, so if you let your child do the work on their own they will know what needs to be done each day. They check off in the square on each box when they are done with that days work. Our Mondays are super busy so we worked on this Tuesday through Friday. It is meant to last for 32 weeks if you use the four day a week schedule.
Each day only has a few things listed to do, none of which take a huge amount of time. It is meant for grades four through eight and Lauren knows quite a bit of these things already, but I am loving the way they are teaching these things and it is different than the way Lauren learned them in the past. They make it more fun! Early in the first module they had a list of action verbs and they suggested to walk like the words shown. This was so fun because we got the boys to join in and they each took a turn walking like the action verbs I told them. Some of the words were creep, dodge and prance. hehehe…I wish now that I had taken video. I will remember for a long time though..
We’ve been doing it for about five weeks now and it has just flown by. It doesn’t seem like work really, if that makes sense? The first part of Unit 1 is an interview with Bill Myers, a best-selling author. Lauren immediately liked him just because of the bird on his shoulder..hehe. I like some of the questions and answers in the interviews. If kids at all felt that they wanted to write book or something else, I think they could get a lot of inspiration from these author interviews. There is a different one at the beginning to each unit.
Also at the beginning of each unit is an introduction about that unit. It kind of gets you going as to what is going to be learned and uses inspiration from books, so for this first unit the book was When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant. All of the modules in this unit keep using the way this book was written for the projects they want you to do. I like that they build on new things in each unit. Even though the first one was quite easy for Lauren, it builds to where sentences just aren’t simple, but full of descriptive words and nouns.
So, in using the When I was Young in the Mountains as inspiration, Lauren was able to write about when she was young and playing outside in Arizona. At first she just wrote a couple words for each memory. Throughout the unit she turned those memories into sentences and then made those sentences even better with the vigorous verbs. Lauren then organized them using the Topical method since she thought it worked better than the Chronological that she also learned about. In the end, she came up with a short little batch of sentences that honestly remind us all about our time in Arizona.
I would definitely suggest reading the twenty or so pages at the beginning of the student text. It is so full of information and it explains why and how the book is used the way it is. There is also a small section in the answer key on how to use that book, but I almost think that is self explanatory. It does explain the rubric system and how each assignment should be graded, which is quite helpful. It has a section for the answers, which, there aren’t that many questions that need answers, but sometimes it is helpful to have. It also has a section for the daily schedule as I mentioned as well as a section for the rubrics and checklists.
I think this is a thorough writing curriculum. I would say that if you used it with a 4th grader, you may need to be a little bit more active in their learning than say if you were using it for 7th or 8th grade. Some of the items were kind of repetitious for Lauren, but she still is looking forward to doing it each day. I like that everything she learned before using Writers in Residence was explained in a way to really get her to understand why they are important, not just saying they are important.
This is volume one which is Apprentice and I am looking forward to when the other volumes come out. It will be nice that they can grow with her. Who knows, she just may finish a story sooner rather than later! 😀
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