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Thread: Help!!

  1. #1
    I am trying to use Writing Aids and have had more headaches then help.
    I am looking for something that holds my hand through everything and has lots of examples. Writing is not a strong point for me. I have been in tears trying to figure out how to teach my kid.
    I have struggles to fill in the clusters let alone to get them on paper after filling them in.
    Someone please help!!
    Tearfully,
    Angie

  2. #2
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    Villa Rica, Georgia
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    Angie,

    Take a deep breath. Fix a cup of tea or coffee and relax a minute. I have been there, just hold on. Maybe a piece of chocolate?

    What ages are you trying to teach? What writing levels are you on?

    One idea to make it a little simpler for you is try doing everyone on the same level, if they are not spread to far apart age-wise. Something in the middle, maybe?

    Is this the first week of school? Is it your first year with ToG? It will get easier.

    Can you give some more specifics on what you are working with?
    Sharon
    Wife of David, Mom of Nathan (24), Mandie (23), Meg (16), Zeke (14), and Ike (12)

  3. #3
    Sharon,

    Thank you for take the time with me. This will be my second year with TOG.

    My son 12, daughter 10.

    I started out with level 3 and well, have not moved from there.
    Small example the Photo Essay, I read and reread the how to, looked for examples( I am very visual) did not find any. So I read it to my kids and told them just to figure it out. I could not answer their questions on even what it was. Finally I told them just to make a comic book.
    I feel like I am cheating them out of something because of my lack of knowledge about writing.
    I am very afraid of making a mistake, because I am not sure even how to fix it.

    Angie

  4. #4
    Member
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    May 2004
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    Villa Rica, Georgia
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    Angie, please don't feel like you are cheating them. I think a comic book is a very good idea. Even a comic strip is a good place to start. Do not let filling in charts, or story maps, or cluster diagrams side-rail you. The purpose of the cluster diagrams and story maps is to help you organize your thoughts. Not all organizers work for everyone. If it is easier for him to plan just listing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. then let him.

    Start by letting your child narrate a story line to you. What happened first? Then what happened next? And after that? How did it end? Maybe you could take notes as he tells it. Later he can put the ideas into complete sentences. Then have him think of a picture that shows the action or scene. For a comic strip he could draw it; for a photo essay he can cut pictures out of old magazines to illustrate. Maybe he can think of an episode from the life of da Vinci or one of the explorers he is studying? Maybe he would like to focus on some of da Vinci's inventions? He can write a little about who da Vinci was and then something about each of several inventions. Then he can search for pictures of each invention.

    Remember this is a four week project so he can take his time. A few minutes each day, or a longer period a couple of times a week. Just try to have an outline (either graphic or written) the first week. Then let him start making notes about his topic the second week. The third he polishes up what he is saying: are there complete sentences? Does this paragraph talk of only one topic? That sort of stuff. Then he makes his final draft, adds in his pictures, and makes a cover.

    This is supposed to be a fun project, so definitely let them enjoy it.

    This is kind of off the top of my head so let me know if you have more questions. Maybe somebody else has some ideas?
    Sharon
    Wife of David, Mom of Nathan (24), Mandie (23), Meg (16), Zeke (14), and Ike (12)

  5. #5
    Dear Angie,

    Here are a few random thoughts on teaching writing:

    I've taught the Photo Essay to four different children and have not been satisfied with the results a single time. I came to the conclusion that the photo essay is just plain difficult to teach. So my first piece of advice would be to forget about the photo essay.

    In level 3, I simply focused on learning to write paragraphs. No matter what the genre, I concentrated on writing a strong topic sentence, writing at least 3 exact details, and writing a concluding sentence.

    If your children are comfortable writing paragraphs, then move on to level 4 and work on combining the paragraphs into reports, etc.

    If you are working with your children each week on writing, they will improve over time. I know I get so caught up in all the details of writing that I lose sight of the big, long-term picture.

    Have you listened to Marcia's webinars on teaching writing? I found them extremely helpful in getting perspective. Here is a link: Webinars on Tap

    Scroll down and click on Webinars on Tap, then choose Writing, Session 1 or Session 2.

    I also made myself a checklist to follow each week:

    Before the week begins:
    • Read the week’s Writing Assignment Charts.
    • Read the Teacher Notes in Writing Aids for the genres.
    • Look over samples of student writing for the genres on the Writing Aids website.
    • Print out any Talking Points, Supplements, or Grading Strategies from the Writing Aids disc.
    • Decide on which days the pre-writing, first draft, revised draft, and final draft are due.

    Day one:
    • Introduce the genre carefully and thoroughly. Use Teacher Notes, Talking Points, and Samples.
    • Give the student any graphic organizers they may need.
    • Show the student the Grading Strategy and give them their copy for reference.
    • Make sure the student is clear on expectations for each day as well as deadlines: when is the pre-writing due? the first draft? the revised draft? the final draft?

    Day two:
    • Students read and think about the week’s history topics.

    Day three:
    • Students do pre-writing.
    • Check and require students to re-do their pre-writing, if necessary.

    Day four:
    • Students write first draft and do their self-correcting.
    • Check the first draft and mark any changes.

    Day five:
    • Students revise their first draft and submit their final draft.

    Here are a couple websites that have writing projects that are similar to Tapestry's:

    iWrite

    Student samples from Write Source

    Well, I've probably overwhelmed you even more. I hope not! You can do a great job of teaching writing. Just work on it little by little every week: paragraphs, then reports; later on, essays and research papers.

    Blessings,
    Susan in La
    Mom to 18yods (ToG graduate), 17yods (R), 15yodd (R), 13yodd (D)
    Redesigned 2

  6. #6
    Thank you Sharon and Susan!

    The pressure can be very over whelming at least for me. I want to make sure that I give my kids everything that I did not have in my education. Then the responsibility can swallow you whole. Homeschooling at times can be lonely.

    I am going to reexamine Writing Aids and see what I can bite off that is chewable for me:} I know that I was impressed with what I saw that is why I bought it in the first place.

    Thank you once again!
    Angie

  7. #7
    I too have struggled with teaching writing. We did great for basic fact sentences/paragraphs/reports but fell flat on our faces for anything else. I also now have a very reluctant writer. I decided to buy Institute for Excellence in Writing so that I can learn a process, learn how to teach it and then I will merge it into my TOG writing. It was very expensive so I hope it works but my understanding is that they stand behind it 100% and if it doesn't work, I can get my money back.

    Diane

  8. #8
    Diane,
    I am sorry to hear that. But it really feels good to know that I am not alone.

    I looked at IEW this spring. The kids enjoyed it very much. I on the other hand did not make the time to sit down and watch the 10hr instructional video. I started it then got board and found other things to do. I did think about looking at it again - a friend has the videos.

    Thank you for the encouragement,
    Angie

  9. #9
    Member
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    May 2004
    Location
    Villa Rica, Georgia
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    Angie and Diane,

    One of the best things I ever did with my older kids was something very simple I learned from The Robinson Curriculum many years ago. I had a very hectic year that year, they were UG/early DI level at the time, though I had never heard of ToG, and with a new baby, toddler and my hubby out of the country frequently on business I just couldn't do anything elaborate.

    Anyway, the idea is they wrote a simple, one page (at least) essay every day on any topic they wanted. That was the entire assignment. I checked for spelling, complete sentences, and basic paragraph form. They could write about anything their little hearts desired. My daughter wrote a series of stories about a talking cat, The Adventures of Mr. Potato Sprout Down the Garbage Disposal, an essay about lizards, etc. My son had received a subscription to Aircraft of the World for his birthday and for months I got daily essays about all kinds of airplanes. None of this had anything to do with what they were studying, but they thoroughly enjoyed it and the next year were able to move into a more formal writing program. The really great thing was it didn't cost a cent.

    The important thing about learning to write is to write. So don't worry too much about it and just get them to write.
    Sharon
    Wife of David, Mom of Nathan (24), Mandie (23), Meg (16), Zeke (14), and Ike (12)

  10. #10
    I completely agree with Sharon. The important thing is to write. The projects listed in Tapestry (newspaper, journal, photo essay, play, etc.) are simply vehicles used to practice writing interesting, well-organized paragraphs, reports, and essays. The topic and vehicle don't really matter all that much.

    I also try to view myself as the coach - correcting errors while at the same time encouraging my children to grow and improve their skills.

    Blessings,
    Susan in La
    Mom to 18yods (ToG graduate), 17yods (R), 15yodd (R), 13yodd (D)
    Redesigned 2

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