Thursday, April 21, 2016

A TOS Review: Writers in Residence

One of the most challenging subjects for some to teach in a homeschool setting is writing.  What’s more is that generally Languages Arts and Writing are most often taught separately. You have to know I love Apologia Educational Ministries. I have used many of their great products through the years. I just had the chance to review a new one. It is Writers in Residence. This program does the brilliant job of combining writing and Language Arts.

For my review I received the Writers in Residence Volume 1 Full Set. This set includes the all-in-on Student Text and Workbook and the Answer Key. It is intended for grades 4-8.

The Student Text and Workbook is a BIG ole book. It is well over 500 pages long.  There are 6 units in this program.

Unit 1: I Remember
Writing Assignment: “When I Was Young”

Unit 2: I Imagine
Writing Assignment : “Very Truly Yours” 

Unit 3: I Investigate
Writing Assignment: “My Family Hall of Fame” 

Unit 4: I Think
Writing Assignment: “My Favorite Author” 

Unit 5: I Remember
Writing Assignment: “The History of Me” 

Unit 6: I Imagine
Writing Assignment: “Zap! Pow! Kazam!” 

This is a writing program that includes teaches good writing skills, but includes pars of speech, vocabulary, punctuation…all in correlation with meaningful writing assignments.

One of my favorite parts is the “Spotlight on Christian Writers” section. At the beginning of each student the student is introduced to a well-known Christian author.  I love that the student can be inspired by one who is “walking the walk.” I was excited to see some familiar names like Bill Myers (from the McGee and Me books and DVDs) and VeggieTales creator, Phil Vischer. 

There is a daily schedule that is included in the workbook. It is expected that the student can complete the program in a year. However, the Debra Bell (the author) suggests you go at a pace that best suits your child. In fact, Debra provides us with all manner of wisdom; including the suggestion that we not assign letter grades to writing assignments. Instead the student is responsible for evaluating with rubrics. I LOVE THIS! 

How We Used It and My Thoughts

Josiah is in 8th grade and he falls well into the intended grade level. However, he is dyslexic and has dysgraphia as well. Writing and reading aren’t as enjoyable for him as they might be for some.

Our class time become a very collaborative effort. It wasn’t something he could do on his own unless he did it in very short chunks. That being said, Debra writes in such a lovely and conversational way.
The very first writing assignment (“When I Was Young”) Josiah began by reading a passage from. He then started working on sentences about a favorite memory.

I couldn’t believe what he chose to write about! If you follow my blog at all you know that we have had quite the history with clunker cars.  Just a few months away we were blessed to be able to purchase a brand new (to us) pretty red car with air and heat that work and has started faithfully every morning.

Josiah chose to record his memories about all the times we broke down in our clunker cars.
Throughout the unit he learned how to replace weak verbs with vigorous verbs. He practiced identifying nouns and worked on revising fuzzy nouns to focus nouns.

He loved dragging out the thesaurus.

One of his sentences started out something like this.

When we had our old cars I remember breaking down at the Post Office with Mom. It smelled like something was burning. 

Aren't you already intrigued?

He tweaked one of his verbs and focused a noun and the final product was this.

When we had our old cars I remember breaking down at the Post Office with Mom. It smelled as if the white car was blazing. 

Now that adds a little more action, doesn't it! Makes you wish you had been there. 

We did take each assignment a little slower. I didn’t follow the detailed schedule but divided it up into sections that were more manageable for him. I also modified his work assignments. 

Overall, we had a great time with this product. I love that Debra interwove little stories and fun activities. Writing in Residence is more than just a list of instructions and assignments.  I love that Josiah is learning grammar and sentence structure all through writing about experiences and memories that mean something to him.

This program requires very little prep time from you the teacher.  We have used a thesaurus so far, but all the material you will need is within the Student Text and Workbook. There is a FREE 100 + page download (with a free bonus download) available.  I find I like to stare at something a little before I buy.

Check it out!

You can connect with Writer’s in Residence via the following social media outlets. Don’t forget to click on the banner below for more reviews. 

Apologia: Writers in Residence Review

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