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Create Better Writers {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

August 6, 2012

Create Better Writers Logo

For the past three years, my daughter has written a book with a homeschool group to which we belong.  The girls all get together for an hour every week for about a month and hash out their own books, or novels as they like to call them.  For the most part, I can see a strong influence in what she has been reading or watching on television in each of her books, but at least she tries and it stimulates creativity and each book is better than the last.  Moreover, it is something she looks forward to and enjoys.  And aren’t we as homeschool teachers always looking for ways to instill the love of writing in our kids?

This is why I was pleased to review How to Write a Paragraph by Create Better Writers.  Watch a 53 minute informative video to whet your appetite for this program.  In it, David Dye talks about the one, simple trick to get your kids ready to write and he likens it to getting a painting project done.  All the prep work that goes into painting a room (i.e. the cleaning, moving furniture, taping, etc.) is just the foundation, but it is the majority of the work.  This is the same as it is with a paragraph.  All the prep work first and then the easier final product.  Great analogy!

How to Write a Paragraph

At only $7.99, “How to Write a Paragraph” is a comprehensive program for teaching children grades 3 through 12 to write a basic paragraph.  There are 11 steps to teach your child and only 23 pages to read.  The first several steps are just the basics but then David Dye shows you how to improve the parts of the paragraph, too.  For example, step 9 is the paragraph assessment.  The student is to score their paragraph or a peer’s paragraph.  They score on a scale of 1 to 4 based on the basic parts of the paragraph that were taught in the previous steps.  These 11 steps can take a student anywhere from a day to a month to learn.  Case in point, my daughter (age 11) moved much faster than my son (age 8).

This program makes for versatile writing.  In his conclusion, Mr. Dye writes:

The average fifth grader may need to see it done several times before being able to do it alone. After a month of practice, they can summarize stories from their literature books, explain science lessons, or describe a field trip in about ten minutes. They get so good at writing paragraphs, it becomes second nature.

I also got to review the Homeschool Writing Action Plan from the same company.  (Available as an ebook for $15.95)  This was a great tool.  It showed an overview of what to teach at each level (3rd through 12th).  It included a summarized writing plan, a pacing chart, and a road map.  You definitely need to have your own writing program or the one from Create Better Writers to make this work; it is not a stand alone curriculum, just a guide.  It was, however, a comprehensive guide and could be adapted to another writing curriculum.  But…it has page numbers that correspond to this program so it would be much easier to use this program as they work hand in hand.

Homeschool Writing Action Plan

Likes:

  • The simplicity.  The key “trick” was easy to understand and implement and made the rest of the teaching flow smoothly.
  • The organization.  The program has easy references to page numbers throughout.
  • The visual aspects of the program were helpful to my visual girl.  “Seeing a picture” of a paragraph and using drawings to get her thoughts on paper were quite useful.
  • I loved that this program stressed the basics carrying into every aspect of a student’s writing.  If you get the basics of a paragraph down, then you can write anything!  Very encouraging.

My opinion?  Sold!  At one point my daughter took it upon herself to write her very own paragraph without any prompting on our school white board.  WOW!  The paragraph wasn’t the amazing part but it was that she had an innate desire to write one!  That totally sells me on this program!  We will continue to use it with the younger kids and hopefully graduate soon to the next ebook, How to Teach the 5 Paragraph Essay, with my daughter.

Check out Create Better Writers writing bundles.  If you like a package deal and appreciate holding actual books in your hands, the smallest bundle starts at $64.  The one that looked the most appealing to me was The Homeschool Bundle for $99.  It combined everything you could possibly need to know for teaching and planning how to teach for under 100 bucks.  This program is built for children grades 3rd through 12th, so there’s your writing curriculum to get you through high school!  Alternatively, you can purchase the books separately as you deem fit.

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DISCLAIMER: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received complimentary copies from Create Better Writers for the purpose of completing this review. All the opinions expressed here are my own and are offered honestly in exchange for the product. The receipt of the product in no way influenced my honest assessment.
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