As is mentioned on The Unlikely Homeschool Curriculum page, Sweetie Pea has been working her way through BJU Press English 3 for her grammar/writing. If you are not familiar with BJU English, it is set up so that one unit will focus on a particular grammar skill and the next unit will use that skill along with previously learned skills to focus on a particular kind of writing. A writing assignment is given and then broken up into smaller increments over the course of a week or so, making a larger writing project much more manageable.
English 3 is a fine example of how our "whys" of homeschooling spill out into our "hows". Over the last few years, Sweetie Pea has shown such a passion for writing. In an effort to cultivate that natural enthusiasm, I sought out a curriculum that would help develop her skills. Although we've only been using BJU's English program for less than a year, I have been greatly impressed with its format and technic for developing not only good grammar skills, but also a working use of those skills with numerous writing projects.
A few weeks ago, Sweetie Pea was introduced to the concept of quotation mark placement. The very next week, the writing unit focused on creating a fictional story using dialogue...using quotation marks, of course.
Each type of writing brings on a few different steps of implementation. For a fictional story, Sweetie Pea first read an example story that featured some dialogue. Then she brainstormed an idea, made a word web of her main character to help develop him/her, planned the main problem and resolution of the story, planned the setting, planned the plot using a plot pyramid, and then sat down to write a rough draft. She, obviously, did not do all of this in one day. Each one of these steps was done in a separate lesson.
As is our custom, after her rough draft was written, she called up an adult friend or relative to conduct a "writing conference." She read the story out loud to them and then asked the following questions...
- Did the story have a clear beginning, middle, and end?
- Did the beginning sentences make you want to hear more?
- Did the story have a satisfying ending?
- Did the story use colorful words?
- Do you have any additional thoughts about the story?
These simple "conferences" make for a great critique and evaluation from an outsider other than Mom.
Then came the revising/editing. Her English 3 includes a very handy grammar/proofreading checklist for every type of writing. She has to read through her rough draft and check off each element on the checklist or make edit marks on her draft (which she learned in one of the first writing units of the year).
Part of her revising process was to use a dictionary and a thesaurus to correct any spelling mistakes and add "color" words to replace commonly used words.
Although I certainly do not do this with every writing assignment...To encourage excellence in her writing, I told Sweetie Pea that once she was done with her final draft, I would type out her story and take it to Office Max to be bound into a book. This "professional" quality definitely inspired her "best." And as promised, her efforts were published.
At Office Max, a cover and back were printed on card stock, pages were made with plenty of space for pictures, and the entire thing was bound together with a strip of spiral rings. The whole project was relatively inexpensive to produce and came to just under $5.
She is currently working on the illustrations and eagerly awaits an opportunity to share her "book" with family and friends.
That was one small attempt to fortify a love of writing. Do you have any tricks up your sleeve to share?