Monday, August 6, 2012

Create Better Writers

I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review many homeschool products over the last few years. The only compensation that I receive for my review is the free product. I feel truly blessed to have had the opportunity to participate in review groups and I have enjoyed trying out these products and giving you my honest opinion.
My dad gave me a typewriter.  It's sort of a shame that these things don't still exist, because there was something very satisfying about pounding away on those keys.  Click, click, click. Ding.  Of course, there was no delete button.  I really didn't need one though.  I had a bottle of white out. 

My first short stories were born on that typewriter.  I was nine years old.

These days I bear babies instead of stories and its my job to pass along the love of writing to the next generation.  In case you were wondering, that's a really daunting task.  Thank goodness there is help available.

I received three ebooks to review from Create Better Writers.  Each of these books can be purchased separately, but they are also included in their Complete Writing Program. 

 The first of these ebooks was The Home School Writing Action Plan ($15.95).  Basically, this is the Teacher's Guide for the Create Better Writers Writing Program.  I appreciated that it was very simply laid out and easy to read.  The 3 parts of this book include:

Part I - Summary of the Steps:  An overview of the program.
Part II - Pacing Charts: Helps you to decide how fast to move your students through the program (depending on age and ability.)
Part III - The Road Map: This section not only provides directions in how to implement each step, but also gives sample worksheets and lesson plans.

I read through Part I and II rather quickly, but have really only dipped my toes in to Part III.  This program stresses that students should move through each step slowly at their own pace.  I am working this program with my 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grader.  My 6th grader could move a little quicker, but my younger ones have definitely needed to take it slower. 

The Home School Writing Action Plan suggests to first teach your students how to write a paragraph.   You can use your own writing curriculum or you can purchase How to Write a Paragraph ($7.99 ebook) from Create Better Writers.    

We've been working our way through How to Write a Paragraph for about the past month and are just now ready to move on to the next book.  Once again, this book is very easy to use and includes simple lesson plans and worksheets to help your students write good paragraphs using one simple "trick".  Once your students have learned this "trick", they will master paragraph writing with just a little practice.

Each of my students have enjoyed writing paragraphs using the method laid put in How to Write a Paragraph.  As they practice paragraph writing, they are always excited to share them and read them out loud.  Each one of the kids have improved their paragraph writing in the past month.

The five-paragraph essay is the next step in following The Homeschool Writing Action Plan and Create Better Writers says this about the importance of the five-paragraph essay...

"The ability to organize one's thoughts and communicate ideas clearly is the backbone of good writing. This is why many states are beginning to test students as early as fourth grade on each student's ability to write multiple paragraphs on a single topic. The five-paragraph essay is considered the foundation of good writing."

They offer "How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay" for just $17.95.  We are just beginning to move into this curriculum, but it looks to be set up just like the others.  You can see samples of this book on the Create Better Writers website.

Simply put, we will continue to use this writing program.  It is easy to follow and most importantly it is not in the least bit intimidating...for me or my young authors.

You'll find more reviews of Create Better Writers on the TOS Crew Blog.

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