Thursday, April 12, 2012

Write with World: A TOS Crew Review

This month I have been blessed to have the opportunity to review a new product by WORLD Magazine.

Their new writing program, Write with World, is written for middle-schoolers, so it was a perfect fit for our home school.

 Write with WORLD is a two year writing program, with separate student and teacher book, one set for each year, and additional on-line resources to correspond to the year you are using. They plan to keep the website updated so that the writing prompts will stay relevant and interesting for the students.

WORLD knew you might wonder why they decided to create a writing curriculum, so the created an answer page: Why Another Writing Curriculum?

From their website, "Write with WORLD is the middle school writing curriculum developed by education and media professionals. Use it to inspire and train your students to become proficient communicators who can meet educational requirements and navigate today's growing new media and conflicting worldviews.

"Write with WORLD exposes students to:
  • reading and critical thinking that develop discernment
  • contemporary subjects and professional guidance to pique interest
  • flexible exercises to build confidence and skill for using today's new media
  • a thoughtful and meaningful Christian worldview"
If you click HERE, you can read an article from WORLD magazine about this new approach to teaching writing.

The Year 1 program is laid out with four Units. Each unit contains four Lessons. Each Lesson contains five Capsules, to be completed one per day. So, theoretically this curriculum could be completed over a 16 week period. 

Looking through the various lessons, it is clear that this curriculum has been laid out in a systematic fashion, with great care to cover the important areas the student needs to develop to become a good writer. There are sections covering the different parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, adverb, etc.), sentence structure, paragraph structure, topic sentences, etc. It looks very thorough. The time we had been given to use the material before the review was due did not allow us to get very far through the curriculum, but I can't wait to continue on my way through the material with my son.

Now, just to add some balance here, my enthusiasm for this product does not infer that my son likes it. I am the one who likes it. It looks thorough; it looks systematic. It looks like something my son needs. My son doesn't like it. Don't take it personally. My son hates school. My usual disclaimer is, "My son doesn't like it. He hates everything." I've had to adjust that statement because we recently stumbled across something that he liked... But I will save that for another review.

First of all, I have long liked WORLD Magazine and God's WORLD News.  I had never been to their website, and now that I have seen it, I am amazed by all it offers. Learning more about Write with WORLD, I really like what I see. This curriculum has a lot of potential.

I personally share for my son the goals WORLD sets out as reasons for creating this writing curriculum.  Again, from their website,  "Write with WORLD aims to produce young writers who love writing, can write effectively, and intelligently share ideas, beliefs, and their worldview. We hope to support a generation of young believers who aspire to use their writing skills in the service of God's Kingdom and explain effectively the reasons for their beliefs."  I love these goals! And I know, from personal experience, that a lot of homeschooling moms really need help to provide this type of education for their children.

So, I love that this program seeks to:
  • teach critical thinking;
  • use advertising the student is familiar with to teach this critical thinking;
  • teach writing skills to a level that prepares the student for college;
  • teach a Biblical worldview;
  • remedial where student skills are lacking.

This is a new curriculum. The copy I received is part of a pilot program, so the comments I make here may enable WORLD to address the areas I am having problems with. So, knowing that these issues may be corrected before you receive these materials as a purchase, this is what I found fault with in these materials:
  • I am not finding a Table of Contents to help me on my way. There is a TOC on-line, but I want it in my book, and I don't want to have to print it out myself.
  • I do not see a section in the Parent/Teacher book for "Getting Started" to tell me things I need to have available for my student, no "Teacher Overview" for the year. Lesson 1 tells the student he/she will need for the lesson his "Writer's Journal", a dictionary, a thesaurus, a timer, a high lighter, magazines with photographs and advertisements. Is the entire curriculum laid out this way? Will I have to pre-read the entire book, lesson by lesson, capsule by capsule, to make sure we are not scrambling at the beginning of writing class to find the required items for each lesson? It would be nicer if there were a schematic in the Teacher book telling what items to have ready for each lesson.
  • In spite of the list on the bullet above, Lesson 1 then instructs the student to write questions down in his "Conversations Writer's Journal (CWJ)". I have no idea what that is. Am I supposed to buy an additional book? Or do we start a plain book and give it a name? I am finding many things unclear. In fact, I think they merged "Conversations:" with the previously mentioned "Writer's Journal", and without transition started calling it the "CWJ".
  • avid, read the definitions, and then "read through the sentence where avid appears again. Choose the meaning that best defines the word..." I really had to search more than necessary to locate the word. It would have been helpful if the sentence had simply said, "Now read again through the paragraph on the previous page where avid appears..." (italics added to show the added words, and I changed where "again" is to make the sentence flow).
  • This is supposed to be a "Year 1" curriculum (as in a "one-year" curriculum), but at quick glance I only see 16 weeks-worth of assignments. I have not yet determined what the assignments are to be for the additional 20 weeks of the school year. [It might be in there. I might just be missing it. I also don't see it in the TOC, and as I mentioned, there is no Teacher Overview for me to look at.] 

This program seems best suited to students who already like to write. However, it is probably most needed by students who do not like to write. It is not Charlotte Mason style learning (my normal educational style). I suppose it may lean more towards a Classical style of education, but I'm not sure.

The program does not require a lot of teacher prep, but it is wise to read through the days work in advance, know what is coming, and make sure you are prepared with all the little things that each capsule asks the student to have on hand, such as colored pencils, thesaurus, etc.

This publisher is most certainly Christian in orientation. This program most probably would offend secular educators.

You can see a sample of the student book for Write with World, Year 1, HERE.

Write with WORLD [Ordering Here] Year 1 costs $95, and includes the Parent/Teacher book and the Student book. The Student book can be reused if your student understands to not write in it. My son did not understand that. Before I could explain that to him, he had already written in the book. ::sigh::

WORLD is the same publisher that brings us WORLD Magazine and God's WORLD News, which you can also get to from the above ordering link.

I received printed copy of  Write with WORLD, Year 1, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. I receive free products in exchange for a review. The review is honest. If I like it, I say so; if I don't like it, I say so.

This has been a TOS Homeschool Crew Review.

To see more reviews of this product, click on the above Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew banner.

Let me know what you think. Throw me a comment. Thanks!

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