Want to know how to plan simple and successful writing lessons?
There are THREE mindsets I want you to consider as you plan each month's writing lessons this school year.
>> Mindsets that relieve pressure.
>> Mindsets that build your teaching confidence.
>> Mindsets that produce results.
When you create writing lessons for your child that you are proud of, you will watch your child soar to new heights.
But HOW do you do that?
Do you know how much writing is enough?
Is there something credentialed teachers know that you don't know?
Or, what are the crucial steps your child must complete to write well?
Let's get started so you can begin planning your BEST lessons. And, hey, if you prefer to watch this on video instead, here you go!
Watch it here.
Focus on QUALITY over QUANTITY.
Some parents think their children should construct full paragraphs each and every day to improve writing abilities. In my experience, that is the perfect recipe for burn-out. Most students quickly lose interest and produce poor quality paragraphs even though they may have 15 to 20 paragraphs by the end of the month. Worse yet, they detest writing altogether because it has become a tiresome chore.
A daily journal entry is a wonderful idea, but those are hopefully less structured, more expressive, and free-flowing.
Instead of expecting multiple paragraph essays each week, my recommendation is to fully focus on ONE style of writing per month and provide detailed direct instruction while exploring and practicing all parts of the complete writing process.
By the end of each month, you have developed a quality writing piece for your child's writing portfolio. By the end of a school year, you will have seven or eight quality pieces. Best of all, your child's confidence and attitude toward writing will be at a whole new level!
Know Your Stuff
Have you ever wondered what credentialed teachers know that you don't know as a homeschooling parent? Well, nothing that you can't learn yourself. The best teachers pay attention to changes in standards and grade level expectations. You can do that, too.
Familiarize yourself with the core standards expected of students. There are three basic styles: argumentative, explanatory, narrative. You can read all about them - and the many subcategories - at www.corestandards.org.
Taking the time to explore and learn your child's grade-level educational standards will build a confidence within you that you didn't know you had! How great would that feel?
Follow my FOUR WEEK WRITING PLAN.
Over the years, I have learned the value of organization and predictability. This process not only makes my life simpler but students demonstrate greater success.
Each month, my writing courses and styles change, but the process remains the same.
WEEK 1: Students gather information on their topic/style of writing. They read and take notes on any necessary materials. This is the week that brainstorming and outlining take place.
WEEK 2: It's SLOPPY COPY week! This is the time for students to move from bullet points to full-blown sentences and paragraphs.
WEEK 3: Revision and Editing week arrives! These two steps are critically important. Students learn and grow the most during this week when these strategies are done well.
WEEK 4: Time to polish and publish! At this point, students should have an audience equipped to give valuable and authentic feedback.
There you have it! Now it's your turn.
>>Begin working on your quality (not quantity) writing lessons.
>>Study up and learn first what is expected of your child this year.
>>Finally, break your lessons into four-week segments.
Are you wondering if I could just do this for you instead? Well, the answer is "YES!" - and I'd love to help!
Click on over to writeonwebb.com. You will see the courses I offer and the months they are taught LIVE and ONLINE. Choose one, four, or MORE!
And, if you receive Educational Funds to use toward academic material through your school, let me know. I am a proud vendor for many wonderful Charter Schools. If yours is not on my list yet, we can change that.
Together, we can make this your best year yet, and that is a SUPER mindset with which to start.
The predictable and well-oiled routines of a typical school day fall to the wayside once summer hits. That’s a good thing, right?
We can’t all enjoy a summer trip to the Hamptons or travel abroad for cultural education opportunities. And, looking at everyone’s picture-perfect Instagram posts of Disneyland-Days and Concerts-in-the-Park Nights can create some summertime blues. Been there. Done that.
For many moms, the lack of routine can leave them feeling underwhelmed. In fact, did you know, being out of routine can create a depression in people? So, if you have been wondering what is wrong with you - fear not!
SOLUTION: Getting outdoors, connecting with others, and setting up a lighter, but regular, routine may help.
Well, that and ICE CREAM!
A predictable start to a typical summer in my home in 2003, 2010, and 2015.
Eleven Year Old Boy: "I hate reading."
Frustrated Mother: "That's too bad. It is summertime, and you WILL read a book for fun!"
Maybe you can relate.
From a very young age, all of my boys loved having stories read to them; however, independent reading - purely for enjoyment - never blossomed in my home. And, THAT drove me crazy. Books of all kinds bring me immeasurable joy. I still don't get it.
If this sounds like your family, I feel your pain. And, better yet, I have a solution. For us, since I could never instill the individualistic love of literature, our best-enjoyed novels were ones we shared and read as a family. For us, this was much like a Book Club. And, there are many reasons Book Clubs are successful.
"Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and underrated agent of human change." ~Bob Kerrey
According to Webster's Dictionary, kindness is a noun: a person, place, or thing. However, Moms, I think we would all agree it is most powerful when it becomes a common, household VERB! So, how can we increase empathy and compassion in our children? A few ideas come to mind.
Your child learned to write a compelling argumentative essay. He included a persuasive counterargument. In only 30 minutes, his revised paper improved. Finally, he checked all his grammar and mechanics. Great! But how did he do?
Sometimes, as a homeschool mom, we are left wondering if our child's final writing product is good enough. We certainly do not want to criticize his hard work and diligent effort. Considering the fact that he has never worked this hard also tugs at our heartstrings. What is a mom to do?
Well, for me, finding Grammarly.com made a world of difference. Let me tell you why.
#1. Grammarly is easy, so easy to use! Who does not want a little easy in her life? And, did I mention it is FREE?! Grammarly has a free online text editor. Derek learned to copy and cut his typed text and insert it into the Grammarly text editor. With the click of a button, his whole story or essay quickly scanned for grammar and spelling errors. Not only did Grammarly detect the errors, but the program explained the mistakes as well. Also for free is a "Browser Extension" which flags any written errors in emails I send or posts I make on Facebook or Twitter. Quite quickly, Derek and I both fell in love with this writing enhancement platform.
There is a premium edition as well. Watch for the sale prices, and you will get a steal of a deal! With premium, it gets even better with over 400 types of grammar, mechanic, spelling, wordiness, and style checks. Plus, Grammarly will also provide suggestions to improve the writing, and it will detect plagiarism! As a writing teacher, all of these bonus features make it worth every penny!
#2. Grammarly's "eyes" do not tire like mine! After a long day or week, it can be exhausting both mentally and physically to spend time searching through a student's writing assignment and combing over it three to four times making sure to catch all the mistakes. It is enough to get a girl to gripe! But, Grammarly does not complain as I do. Nope. Grammarly gets the job done faster and more efficiently.
#3. Using Grammarly regularly truly improves both students and parents English grammar. Imagine that! This program is not only an outstanding tool but a teacher, too. There have been many times I have read the corrections or suggestions on a student's paper and thought, "What a great way to explain that!" It is no surprise to me to read that Grammarly is the #1 Rated Grammar Checking Tool according to Forbes. Millions of students and professionals now use the software. As well, it has been proofreading for a decade which makes it a trusted product.
Now that I have my own writing business up and running, I am in contact with even more homeschooling parents. After telling another large group of moms about my favorite online editor, I realized Grammarly and I should become partners. So, I reached out to Grammarly and applied to join their affiliate program. Afterall, I am one of their biggest fans. Here is the best part - they said, "YES!"
Now you need to decide if Grammarly is right for you. Do you want an easy fix to your busy grading and scoring schedule? Would you like someone else to give grammatical and structural feedback to improve your child's writing ability? Is it possible that you, too, could grow and learn along the way? Well, if you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then Grammarly is worth your time. So, give it a try and let me know what you think. And, if you are at all like me, you are wondering, "Did she use the online text editor to proofread this blog post?" You bet I did!
The first thing I tell new homeschool moms is to embrace the love of learning! Be open to learning and exploring topics that interest your child.
First, start with conversation. Ask your child what interests him most. Perhaps it is a particular sports car or maybe a certain sport intrigues him. Or, of course, it could be SQUIRRELS.
Well, that was what Derek said at the beginning of his fourth grade year. And, so, squirrels became our THEME. We stayed on this topic for three weeks! Who knew there was so much to learn about these little mammals?
All of my lesson planning centered on the theme of squirrels from that point forward. Sure, we kept moving along in our math textbook, but I even incorporated some "fun" math to tie in with our squirrel lessons.
READING (30 minutes a day) - Books from the library (fictional and non-fiction), Ranger Rick magazine, Discovery Education, BrainPop, and other various internet support sites.
WRITING (15-20 minutes a day)- We added words to our spelling dictionary, we took notes on index cards, and the project learning culminated with an expository essay.
MATH (30-40 minutes a day) - Graphing. We gathered information on all things squirrels. Later, we sorted our information. We used the information to create bar graphs, circle graphs, and line graphs.
SCIENCE (30 minutes a day) - Life science, of course! External and internal parts of a squirrel: respiratory, digestive, and circulatory system. Habitat and biomes also made it into the lesson plans. Derek created an interactive notebook with drawing, sketches, definitions, and more questions.
SOCIAL STUDIES/HISTORY/GEOGRAPHY (30 minutes a day) - We located the five continents where squirrels inhabit. We looked at the terrain and resources available to these little critters. We read, discussed, and wrote about various cultures and their interactions with squirrels.
VAPA (Once or twice a week.) - Tying in science, Derek learned to accurately sketch and draw a squirrel.
My point is simple. If you can entice your young learner to want to learn, you are more than half way there. Consider all the possibilities and work together to make your homeschooling memories true treasures.
Need a good lesson plan book? The Ultimate Homeschool Planner (Orange Edition)
So much to do and so little time. And, to add to the challenge, the kids are already bored! What?! Winter break just started!
Do not fret. Here is a simple idea to keep the kids busy while buying you a little extra time to finish up your projects, wrap those presents, and bake the last batch of cookies.
When our boys were younger we would use their artwork to make personal and, quite honestly, precious "Thank You" cards.
In my experience, getting children to write during the holidays is both fun and easy. December lends itself to imagination, curiosity, delectable delights, and heart-warming stories.
Whether your child enjoys writing narratives, descriptives, or expository assignments, I have a little of each to offer you.
May these ideas not only increase your child's writing skills this month, but make your December merry and bright!
Author: Melissa Webb
CA Credentialed Teacher