TOS Review: Write with WORLD
Over the last several weeks Turtlegirl, Tailorbear, and I have been working through a new writing program from the publishers of WORLD Magazine. Write with WORLD targets middle school students (approximately grades 5-8).
I wanted to try Write with WORLD because it concentrates on “developing young writers who can think and express their thoughts through writing.” Though Turtlegirl is 9th grade and slightly outside the suggested age range, I think she is benefiting from the different angle that this curriculum uses. There is a strong emphasis on critical thinking and discernment. I encourage you to read the Intro to the Teacher’s Book. The introduction details an overview of the program and lists several distinctives. You can view a sample lesson as well. The Full Year Curriculum includes online access in addition to the Teacher Textbook and Student book. This is a two year program. We reviewed Year One which retails for $95.00. For purchasing options including a Year One and Year Two combo click here.
I received the pilot version which included a Teacher Book as well as Student Book. The online website was not yet available at the time of this review. There are 4 Units and each unit is divided into 4 lessons. Each lesson is divided into four “capsules”. I like this division. The capsules are bite sizes pieces appropriate for one day’s assignment. For those on the younger side of the age range it seems a good pace. For those on the older side, it would be easy to double up on some capsules to either move at a faster pace or allow more time for another elective in the school day.
I like the incremental approach of the capsules. Assignments in the Conversations: Your Writer’s Journal Section (CWJ) build on each other throughout the lesson. For example in one of the lessons in Unit 1 the students learn how to build a strong sentence. Each capsule focused on a different aspect. In one capsule the student made a list of ten descriptive nouns to describe herself. In another she made a list of ten strong active verbs. In the last capsule she had to pick the best words to write a sentence to describe herself. Turtlegirl wrote: “A 14 year old scholar quietly dreams of the day she becomes a scientist.”
Thoughts from Tailorbear (age 13, grade 7): “I don’t really like writing. I did like the lesson about paragraph writing because it taught you how to write a paragraph. It told you what made a good paragraph and what made a bad paragraph. It taught me how to evaluate paragraphs. I didn’t like the first lesson which was about advertisements. I didn’t like the assignment to look for brands around the house. I thought it was dumb. I’m glad the other lessons haven’t been like the first one. I still don’t like writing but this program is teaching me things like writing a paragraph.”
Thoughts from Turtlegirl (age 14 1/2, grade 9):”It’s ok. I already to know how to do sentences and paragraphs but they did have some ideas on to discern a good paragraph from a bad one. Some of the discussions the program sparked were very interesting. For instance Tailorbear and my mom discussed how one paragraph might be better with a few changes. I like the fact that they talk about thinking before you write. I’m learning that less is more meaning using one strong adjective instead of a couple weak ones.
Over the last few weeks with using this program, I’ve noticed that Turtlegirl has become more choosy with her adjectives and adverbs and consequently her sentences, though shorter are far stronger than before.
Turtlegirl has a natural affinity for writing. This program seems to speak her language. She grasps it. She understands it. She’s becoming a better writer. Tailorbear and I do not share that same affinity and we seem to speak a different language. It is harder for me to always grasp the purpose of the lesson. Tailorbear is learning. She is getting something from these exercises but she also doesn’t instinctively get the point the way Turtlegirl does.
My Thoughts: Though the approach doesn’t match my learning style I really like the bite size pieces of the capsules. I like the theory of the approach and I love how well this seems to suit Turtlegirl. I’m not sure how well this would work for a parent/teacher who does not have the confidence nor the experience to teach writing. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly is missing but I can’t help feeling that I am missing a step in the process. The writers and contributors are all professionals. I think sometimes the program leaves out tiny bits that more natural writers or more experienced writers do not need but for those of us who struggle to write meaningful sentences we can be left scratching our heads. For example in the lesson I referenced above, on the day the student learns about choosing adverbs, Write with WORLD instructs her to “insert the best adverbs into her sentence.” Huh? What sentence. This was particularly bothersome for Tailorbear but didn’t seem to bother Turtlegirl. This is the pilot program and the actual program will be released this summer so perhaps some of these little details will have been resolved.
Final Thoughts: There is enough about the program that I like and I love the results that I am seeing to motivate me to finish the program. We’re wrapping up Unit 1 this week and after our spring break we’ll come back and pick up with Unit 2.
Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received the pilot version of Write with WORLD 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.