Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: Write with WORLD

I have a houseful of pencil-phobic boys.  Trina doesn't seem to have inherited this tendency, but most of the time the review products that come through our door aren't appropriate for her.  Especially writing.

I love the idea of finding programs that will click for my guys.  So I was excited about the thought of reviewing the latest offering from World Magazine -- you know, the folks that bring God's World News to us.  Their newest endeavor is Write with WORLD, which will be a two-year middle-school writing program.

Why yet another homeschool writing program?  World Magazine had an article in February (Be Specific) that explains some of the "why" behind this program.  Near the end of the article, they say, "They have produced Write with WORLD, a new writing curriculum for homeschools and schools that requires students 'to think and make choices, not just follow a formula. We don't want to tell students always to combine sentences [or] start a new paragraph after five sentences.'"

The website also talks about what makes them different. One thing I appreciate is that they incorporate critical thinking.  Another is the idea that these kids can be contributing to social media in a way that intentionally incorporates their worldview.

The TOS Homeschool Crew had the chance to view the pilot program, so what I had to review doesn't completely reflect what will be out there for purchase.  For one thing, the regular program is supposed to have some online component, which William has been wishing we had. 

Anyway... I chose to use this program with William, my 7th grader.  We pulled it out, dug in, and immediately were drawn to a few things.

The biggest is that this program uses a lot of images.  The early lessons involve looking at a picture and figuring things out from that.  Considering that photography is one of the (very few) academic types of things that William is truly interested in, this was a huge deal for him.  Plus, this section dovetailed nicely with what we've been doing in Logic (informal fallacies) and I always love when one program supports what we're doing in another!

In one lesson (each lesson consists of 5 "capsules," or daily assignments), William had to find a photograph in a magazine.  World magazine, of course, is suggested, but William had a stack of World, Boys Life and some duck hunting thing or another.  Once he chooses a photo, he then has to work through the parts of speech, coming up first with a couple of descriptive nouns, then with a list of quality adjectives, then some lively verbs, etc.

William is familiar with parts of speech already, but putting them into terminology relating to the photograph (the picture has a subject, and your sentence needs one too) seemed to do a lot to make things stick differently.

Overall, William really enjoys this writing program and has asked that we continue using it past the review period.  He was having a hard time verbalizing it, but mostly it seems to boil down to liking the manageable chunks of work, and he really appreciates the news magazine angle.

One thing I appreciate is that the materials give plenty of real examples, and the students have the chance to evaluate for themselves, and to see how to improve (edit) someone else's work, and ultimately their own.  From the Teacher's Edition:
Unfortunately, many young writers learn the opposite lesson. Too many students are taught to dislike writing. They learn that writing is a trivial, rules-based skill that has little impact on their learning or future calling. They learn that writing is an either-or proposition: writing is either good or bad, right or wrong.
Some of the early assignments have the student reading two different phrases (or sentences) about a photo and evaluating which is better.  I love that the Teacher's Editions notes that students could prefer the wordier sentence or phrase, and that "they are not necessarily wrong."

The teacher's materials encourage dialogue about what makes one phrase better than another.  I believe this dialogue about words is particularly helpful for my less-than-enthusiastic writer.

For instance, one assignment had him coming up with ten adjectives to describe himself.  Because of this assignment, William started noticing the adjectives used to describe people in some of the news stories.  That prompted a conversation. 

We already had a list of adjectives about William, so we crafted a basic sentence (The boy volunteered at the food pantry) and then discussed how we could change our adjectives and noun in order to help make whatever point we were trying to make.

Were we wanting to emphasize that today's youth care?  "The young teen..." helps to do that.  "The homeschooled youth..." might help to bring out that homeschoolers are able to be out serving their community in a way public school kids can't.  "The Christian boy..." could help to point out that many of these charities are religious in nature.  So it isn't a matter of one adjective being better than another, but that different adjectives help to bring across slightly different messages.

This conversation wasn't part of the curriculum per se, however, it came about because of what we were learning.

Since this is a pilot program, my materials aren't exactly what you will get if you purchase the program.  What I have is a teacher book and a student book (non-consumable) which contain 16 lessons.  The early lessons can easily be completed in one week, but later lessons will require more time -- two or even three weeks each. Ultimately, as I mentioned above, this is to include some web-based materials as well, including the opportunity to have student work published on the website, and more current events assignments.

I'm sure there will be more information on the website as the final version is ready!  The current pricing for preorders is $95 for the first year of the program, which includes the teacher and student books and online access.  You can view samples at the website.

Our bottom line: This is a program we will continue to use. 

To see what my fellow crewmates had to say about Write with World, click the banner here:


Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive the products mentioned above for the purposes of a review.  All opinions are my own.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

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Love ya!