If there's one thing Nancy Sanders stresses throughout the WriteShop Primary series, it's that writing is fun, and should be made fun especially for younger students. Book B continues that emphasis, but don't get the idea that kids are just in for a good time—your six- and seven-year-olds (or 4th graders, if they're behind) will learn the building blocks on which all good creative writing is built. This is a teacher-intensive course, but which writing program at this level isn't? Kids need direction, and Sanders provides parents the means to instruct their own children.
How Does This Work?
WriteShop Primary A set the stage for learning about compositionwith basics like how to structure a story and organize thoughts; at this stage kids don't do a lot of actual creative writing. With WriteShop Primary B, students begin implementing what they learned in the previous book. The first lesson revolves around writing (and addressing) a personal letter, with subsequent lessons covering the use of reference tools, writing poems that rhyme, how to infuse humor in stories, problem resolution (in a story), and character and setting.
The course consists of a teacher's guide and Activity Set Worksheet Pack. There are ten lessons in the teacher's guide, which can be taught according to a three-week, two-week, or one-week per lesson schedule. Most students will probably be most comfortable with a two- or three-week plan; the one-week plan is reserved for highly motivated, more advanced, or older students trying to catch up. Lessons are partially scripted and fully outlined for teachers, who will need to prepare for each one beforehand.
There are eight sections to each lesson. With the more relaxed pace, you won't have to complete activities every day, though the one-week schedule requires the completion of one or two activities every day. The eight lesson sections establish a pattern: activity set worksheet, pre-writing activities, brainstorming, writing project, editing and revision, guided writing practice, final draft/"publication" of the finished project, and evaluation of the child's work. Guided writing practice is part of every stage (except the first one), and extra optional activities are included in the final stage.
Activities are largely writing-related, though there are a few that are mostly just for fun (like making a construction paper bird in the section about fairy tales). Parents are encouraged to make a "writing center," in which students organize and keep their work, and to which they can go for assistance. This is part of Sanders' project to make writing fun, and for most kids it will probably work. She also stresses the need to make writing a recurring theme, and to spend lots of time practicing, a point with which we couldn't agree more.
Our Honest Opinion:
This is a good follow-up to WriteShop Primary A and gives parents a better idea where the course is headed. Those following a strictly Classical approach won't like the creative writing aspect and will wonder where the copywork and dictation exercises are, though Sanders does a good job stressing the need for kids to think clearly in order to write clearly. It's a good idea to complete the WriteShop Primary books in order, as the series is incremental and each text builds on principles introduced in the ones before; as a result moving to this from another course may be tricky.
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