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I teach writing to a couple of classes of high school homeschoolers. Anyone else out there doing this? I think the biggest challenge is that my students come with such varied writing backgrounds.

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Hi Margie!
I am teaching high school and elementary writers for our homeschool co-op. I agree, there is a challenge with the varied writing backgrounds. In our group, there are differences even in what parents expect from the program. I guess it depends on the needs of the group and what you, as a teacher, are willing to put into it. Are you a homeschooler? I am starting my class with a 7 week course in the fundamentals of the 6+1 traits of writing. I know that this approach has not been used in the group before, therefore the students need to learn this method of writing and assessing. We are doing a trait per week (we meet once a week) and doing an assignment that allows them to hone in on one skill at a time. I love the literature connections used on the NNWP website, although I wish they had more for high school. Are you doing mainly creative writing or are you doing essays and research paper as well? I've already taken a poll, and I know my class prefers the creative writing genre, but I am requiring that they learn the 5 paragraph essay model and be able to apply it narrative, descriptive, persuasive and compare and contrast essays. A research report is also required in the MLA format. I would love to pick your brain and see what you are doing.
Thanks for the reply! Yes, I homeschool. I know what you mean about the preference for creative writing, but the writing I teach is mostly expository. My thinking is that students need to be able to write clearly, first and foremost, so that's my emphasis. The year's program focuses on word choice, complex sentences, organizing one's thoughts, essays, and a research paper, but we do spend a few weeks on fiction writing (setting, plot, character) and some on poetry. I've only recently become acquainted with the 6 + 1 traits, and I really like what I see so far. I think the hardest thing about teaching writing is the evaluating. Since writing brings so many skills together, it's hard to sort out which are the important ones to look at in any given paper. I like the book Writing for 100 Days by Gabriel Arquilevich, and I use it for most of the year. It's not great on the essay, however, so I pull materials from other sources for that. Recently, I've started using The Elegant Essay from Institute for Excellence in Writing. I, too, would love to see more literature/writing lessons for the high school student. Are there sources that you have enjoyed using?
Yes, I have the book, Writing for 100 Days, and it has some good things. I have done a lot of research over the summer to prepare for this class and have found the NNWP website and lessons to be far above anything else out there. However, there isn't much for expository writing....have you looked at this website? http://www.thetraits.org/lessonplans.php
It has some prompts, some examples and teaches how to score using the 6+1 method. As far as assessment goes, I think the NNWP website's lesson plans do a fabulous job of showing how to teach for specific traits and then have the students self-assess through the checklists for each given trait. You can get the checklists on their website.
Another resource I am using for teaching the essay part is called Simply...Writing: The Five Paragraph Essay. This is a very straightforward method. It teaches the kids how to write a thesis statement, introduction, body with supporting evidence and conclusion. It is the "canned" essay method, but useful for kids who need to do a timed essay for standardized testing. You can always branch out from that method, once they have it down. I wanted to have several already written essays that students could read and study so they could mimic the style and form. I am having a hard time finding these.
Here is another link that has some resource ideas for the 6+1 traits http://www2.scholastic.com/browse/article.jsp?id=7699
If you are a Christian group, here is the one website that I found essays worthy of having my students read and respond to:
http://www.summit.org/resources/essays/
Here is a link for a gold mine of information related all kinds of writing...
http://www.gc.maricopa.edu/English/writing.html
I'm glad to have someone to share things with! Pass any ideas along my way. :) I will write more later...
cite>Margie Watkins said:
Thanks for the reply! Yes, I homeschool. I know what you mean about the preference for creative writing, but the writing I teach is mostly expository. My thinking is that students need to be able to write clearly, first and foremost, so that's my emphasis. The year's program focuses on word choice, complex sentences, organizing one's thoughts, essays, and a research paper, but we do spend a few weeks on fiction writing (setting, plot, character) and some on poetry. I've only recently become acquainted with the 6 + 1 traits, and I really like what I see so far. I think the hardest thing about teaching writing is the evaluating. Since writing brings so many skills together, it's hard to sort out which are the important ones to look at in any given paper. I like the book Writing for 100 Days by Gabriel Arquilevich, and I use it for most of the year. It's not great on the essay, however, so I pull materials from other sources for that. Recently, I've started using The Elegant Essay from Institute for Excellence in Writing. I, too, would love to see more literature/writing lessons for the high school student. Are there sources that you have enjoyed using?
What a goldmine of information you are! Thank you, and let's keep talking...
Margie

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