5/21/12

TOS Review: WriteShop Primary Level A

WriteShop Oval For the last several weeks, Supergirl and I have been using WriteShop Primary Level A as part of our LanguageArts Studies.  Or rather as part of her studies. As part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, we received the E-book version of the Teacher Guide and Student Activity book.

 From the Website: Book A is recommended for kindergarten or first grade. It may also be used with reluctant second graders. The program accommodates pre-writers as well as beginning and developing writers, teaching the skills of the writing process at the very simplest level.”

Primary Level A is available in both e-book ($24.25) and print formats (softcover with plastic coil binding $26.95).  You’ll also need the reproducible student activity pack which also available in both e-book ($4.50) and print ($4.95) formats.  For this level, I prefer having the e-book for the activity pages but I think I might have preferred the print version for the teacher guide, however, I am not unhappy with the e-book version and it has worked well for me to have it on my laptop to my right while my daughter sits to my left.

Included in the Teacher Guide is a section about scheduling.  I’m using the 3 week plan which means I will complete 1 lesson every 3 weeks, working at 3 days a week.   The 10 lessons in this level should last about 30 weeks. This is a good pace for Supergirl, who is developmentally challenged and is working at roughly a first grade level. 

Each lesson contains 8 activity sets and a section entitled “want to do more”:

  • Guided Writing Practice (Activity Set 1): This is not a separate activity set but rather is included in every activity set.  This is, in my opinion, the greatest feature of the program.  Activity set one only has the guided writing practice
  • Pre-writing activities (Activity Set 2): This section always includes reading a book or story to your child.  It may include an additional activity or two. 
  • Brainstorming Activities (Activity Set 3):  In lessons 1 and 2 this is just a list of words you create but I do see graphic organizers in future lessons.  This was easier than I thought it would be, though Supergirl did need some prompting. 
  • The Writing Project (Activity Set 4):  My favorite aspect is the Guided Writing Practice, but I think Supergirl’s favorite is the writing project.  There is one major writing project for each lesson.  There are additional suggestions for advanced students or if you want to do more. 
  • Editing and Revising (Activity Set 5): Just like what it says.  It starts out very simple and becomes more complex.  The teacher guide gives specific things to talk about and look at. 
  • Worksheet: (Activity Set 6): This is from the student activity book
  • Publishing  the Project (Activity Set 7):  For Lesson 1, we turned her “story” into a kite.  In Lesson 2 we made a paper plate book.   I see in a future lesson that we’ll make a caterpillar pull toy.
  • Evaluating the Student’s work: Included with the program is an evaluation check list that you can use to evaluate progress. 

WriteShop Primary has three levels A, B and C.  But WriteShop isn’t just for early elementary.  There is WriteShop Junior as well as products for grades 6-10 and grades 8-12.  Be sure an check out the website: www.writeshop.com

Cons (or things I didn’t like):

  • Some activities require advance prep (these are clearly marked) using magazines or catalogs.  I don’t usually have magazines or catalogs lying around so getting pictures to cut out was extra work for me.
  • I could not find instruction or suggestions on what to do with extra practice pages in the student activity book.   The pages are cute but I found them unnecessary and did not print them out.  (We are using the pages that are assigned in the lesson.)

Pros (or things I loved):

  • The daily guided writing practice.  I have seen so much improvement in my daughter’s ability to give a one word answer, to a phrase to stopping herself and creating a complete sentence.
  • The flexibility.  I loved that I could go as fast or as slow as I needed and that if my student was more advanced or needing more work that it included suggestions.
  • The encouragement to have my student physically write as much or as little as we were comfortable with.  Ms. Kautz encourages the parent to share the marker with the student.  This isn’t a technique that works for us but I loved how she gave suggestions and didn’t imply that the student would do all the writing or imply that a young student should only dictate.
  • That one of the activities for each lesson was to “revise” the work.  This lays the foundation for writing and re-writing and editing.  For Lessons 1 and 2 this was very simple but looking ahead I see that it gets more and more involved.  I like that.

My Bottom Line: Supergirl is really enjoying the program.  She is so proud of herself and her two projects.  She looks forward to the daily guided writing practice and she has gone from giving me a one word answer to phrase to a complete thought to slowly telling me each word so I can write it down.  Some of the more crafty type activities are not as successful here as the guided writing practice, however, I will adapt or modify as needed so that we can continue with the program.  I like that the actual daily sessions only take an average of 15 minutes.  It’s easy to fit this program into our day.  I like that even within Primary A the lessons get incrementally more complex and difficult.

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Some of the Crew reviewed different Primary Levels and some reviewed the Junior level. Click on the banner below to read what my fellow crew mates had to say about WriteShop!PhotobucketAll information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received this product free of charge to review. I am required to write a review but I am not required to write a positive review. This review contains my and/or my daughters’ honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I/ we liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.

1 comment:

  1. Tess: It was fun to meet you in person at the WHO Convention. So glad you stopped by to introduce yourself!

    Thanks for such a nice review of WriteShop Primary! I love the photo of your daughter holding her projects. She looks so proud of herself. :)

    Hope I can shed light on the lined-paper confusion. These pages give kids a chance to practice writing skills independently. Each lesson has a different suggestion for using these pages. You'll find general instructions for the lined pages in the Introduction under Activity Set 6 (page 19). They're referred to as "the back of the worksheet." (Because you used the e-book version, it may not have been as clear that there's actually a front and a back!)

    Also, there are specific instructions for the "back of the worksheet" in each lesson (Activity Set 1:6, 2:6, 3:6, etc.). I'm so sorry that wasn't clearer to you as you worked through the lessons, but hopefully this will help someone else who may wonder the same thing!

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