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Write On: The Kid-Friendly, Mother-Pleasing, Gentle Way to Learn to Write

By Karen K. Newell
Learn for Your Life

308 Prowell Drive
Camp Hill, PA 17011

I am very impressed with this program1 I love Karen Newell's method. She gradually leads the student from writing sentences to paragraphs to essays and then compositions. Eventually your student will write a thesis. Even though there are only 100 different lessons, this book has more than enough to last a year or two. You could even repeat the book every year or so.

The course is divided into four skill levels. In Level 1, the parent/coach works together with the beginning student to complete an activity or assignment on a topic that is very familiar to the student. The student and coach discuss how to approach the topic and the coach can even suggest things to write. The coach can write down whatever the student dictates (if necessary); then the student will copy it. This level builds confidence so that the student can move on to Level 2.

In Level 2, the coach helps write down clues or prompts as the student and the coach discuss what to write, but the student does the actually writing. The topics in Level 2 are common topics but not as familiar as Level 1 topics.

In Level 3, the student becomes more independent. The coach still discusses ideas with the student but does not write them down. The topic will be even less familiar, and the student may have to do some research. The coach can give suggestions for improving the writing piece, but the student does all the brainstorming and writing independently.

When a student reaches Level 4, he enters a new phase--Writing to Learn. The student has mastered the skill and is now completing the project largely on his own. He is also writing about academic topics that tie into his studies.

The general idea is to have the student move through all four levels for most of the projects in the book. It may take even more than four tries to completely master the skill, or your student may not need to go through all four levels. You can decide which assignments need to be mastered and which are for fun. You may only want to get to Level 2 or 3 the first time around, and that's fine too. This curriculum is very flexible.

I love this concept of the doing the same project multiple times with different topics to achieve mastery. It makes sense and builds confidence in the student. Such a gradual approach is truly a gentle way to learn to write.

Projects include fun things like picture stories, riddles, reports, paragraphs, and essays. Some assignments are preparation for the following lesson. Write On is for multilevel teaching. This non-consumable book can be used from third grade and up. You could even use it with a younger child if you take it slowly. The beginning assignments are fun and low-pressure--a great way to get any writer off to a good start. At $29.95, Write On gives you a big bang for a small price tag!

Product review by Dawn King, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, February 2007

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