Friday, June 25, 2010

An encouraging word

So anyone who has read my blog for any length of time knows that Language Arts is the weakest link in our school chain.  Math?  no problem.  Science?  if anything, we do too much.  History? uh, yeah, everyone here loves history. 

But language arts?  Especially writing?  That is scary.  But maybe... just maybe... I'm seeing a glimmer of light ahead.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a good as new copy of Student Writing Intensive B from IEW drop into my lap.  I've wanted to truly use IEW's materials, but somehow it just hasn't clicked.  But with Andrew Pudewa doing the teaching via DVD?  I had high hopes.  My boys adore Mr. Pudewa.  I was sure that was the ticket.

I started using it with my kids this past week.  And it was a nightmare.  Level B is meant for grades 6-8, which includes Connor and William.  My plan was to find some easier source materials and have Thomas (4th grade) work with this too. 

Instead the kids argued, complained, whined, and nearly came to blows.  Thomas needed more time to think about what he was being asked to do.  William was convinced he couldn't possibly write all that was expected.  And Connor was irritated because he didn't want to drag this out all day long and he shouldn't be forced to wait for his brothers.  We got through a KWO (key word outline) but things started to totally fall apart.  Combining was clearly not going to work.

I posted a question on the IEW yahoogroup asking what to do, assuming I needed to go ahead and purchase easier materials for my 4th and 6th graders.  I was convinced they couldn't possibly all work on the same thing.

Jill Pike came back with an answer detailing how to do it all together.  It wasn't really all that different from what I was doing or was planning.  I have no idea WHY her response made me feel better.  But it did.  We pulled the disk out and started back at the point where they had finished the KWO.

And today was fabulous.  Connor wrote a solid paragraph on his own.  William and Thomas co-wrote a paragraph, with me acting as scribe.  Next week, they will do separate paragraphs.  They begged to keep going.  I had to MAKE them stop.

Reflecting on today, I am so grateful for an encouraging word when I really needed it.  I think our hang-up earlier this week was that I was letting my kids convince me that they couldn't work together.  Sometimes it just takes words from someone who has gone before me -- and survived -- to change my attitude.  That changed attitude makes a tremendous difference in how my kids react, and in how they perform.


Tess said...

I am glad that you had a great day! yay for encouraging words. (And thank you for always giving me an encouraging word!)

Laura O in AK said...

Debra ~ I bought the SWI Level A as my super big splurge at conference last year. We aren't done with it yet. Eldest son loves it, middle son not so much. I sure wish I'd found that Yahoo Group last fall when we started.

Kudos on a good day!

Debbie Burget said...

I am SO glad IEW is working for your family! Drew and Tim also love it and it's the first writing program that has ever worked well for us. We're using SWI A.

Jill Pike is wonderful at answering questions through the Yahoo group.

Have a great day!!

Twisted Cinderella said...

I am so glad that she was able to help you out!

Deb said...

Good job, Debra. It's amazing what an objective, kind word can do for our attitude.

Debra said...

Thanks all! You know, reflecting on it, I think what I needed was the specific permission to offer as much help as they needed. Specific meaning -- "Hey, Debra, scribe for them, have them narrate back from their outline, start the sentences if you need to..." instead of just the generic ones I've read over and over addressed to ALL moms of reluctant writers. I needed someone to tell ME that it was okay to give a lot of help.

And the kids did get their paragraphs typed up yesterday. :)

Wendy said...

Writing is also a really weak area for us. I don't even know what we will use for that subject this fall. I was really glad to read your "success story!" I need some encouragement too. :) Thanks!