Write Shop Review

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It seems time and life conspired against me when I attempted to use Write Shop for this review! Time was the biggest factor, but I also let myself get intimidated by the teacher involvement required and my own insecurities about writing. Don't get me wrong! I asked to do this review and have heard such wonderful reports about Write Shop. So, I was very, very eager to use Write Shop Junior ( Book D) with my 3rd and 4th graders.

This particular level is a new level and recommended for 3/4 grade or hesitant 5th graders. Included in the purchase price is a Teacher's guide and Student Activity Pack. The Student Pack has worksheets and also grammar guides that are assembled by the teacher or student.

Write Shop is a teacher intensive, hands on writing program which is NOT to be used by the child alone. This concerned me and caused me to drag my feet a little in the beginning. However, there really was nothing to fear!! The teacher's guide very clearly spelled out what was needed for each lesson, what work should be done ahead of time, and even provides a written script to follow- if you choose to- for the modeling section. My knee jerk response is to ask my husband to teach and correct writing assignments because I know he is better at both of those things than I am and is a much better writer as well.

My children love hands on projects, but I don't like the mess. So, in the past, we tend to only do lapbooks and projects like that with groups. I always *intend* to do crafts and other projects with them, but it just never seems to happen. Be assured, my children are very creative and do plenty of projects outside class time! Several of my children are kinesthetic learners. So, the grammar books to assemble were great for them.

We didn't use this book in the traditional manner, but I did look through all the lessons and chose out the areas my children needed to work on. They have written lots of letters, but none have been formal letters- for instance. So, we talked about and practiced the correct method of letter writing.

The whole book is 266 pages long and here is a list of what is included in the Student Activity Pack from Write Shop's website:

Student Activity Pack: This 2-pack contains the Student Worksheet Pack plus the Level 1 Fold-N-Go™ Grammar Pack.

Student Worksheet Pack: Activity pages your child will need to complete portions of each lesson. These worksheets introduce your child to writing skills such as brainstorming and self-editing. The Worksheet Pack contains:

Level 1 Fold-N-Go™ Grammar Pack: Fun reference tools with simple exercises that introduce or review grammar rules and essential writing skills. Printed on brightly colored paper, pages are assembled inside a file folder to form 10 large flipbooks, one for each lesson in Book D.

If you are unsure what level to place your child in? Help for beginners, sample lessons, and a list of each skill covered is listed by book. I received the ebook which came as a PDF download. The price for the teacher's guide ebook is $34.95. There is an option to purchase the physical, softcover book in a coil binding for $39.95.I should have read through the material thoroughly before printing right away. I printed the entire student guide - double sided - and then realized very quickly this wasn't going to work! Since I needed 2 copies, I printed the entire Student handbook twice this way and then needed to reprint single sided (though I am cheap enough that one child will have double sided pages- but 2 sets- and the other was given single.) I also thought I was being so "organized" by punching holes in the pages and putting them in a 3 ring binder, but I SHOULD have read through the whole teacher's guide first- and I would have known better. The Student packs are sold separately and are $29.95 for the ebook (1 per family) or $39.95 for the hard copy (one per student).

At first I was disappointed this was not something we could just open up and start. Yes, we should have clear packing tape, a stapler, and colorful folders available. There was a time I knew where those things were exactly, but… I couldn't seem to locate them at the same time. When I found one item, the other 2 kept disappearing, etc. In spite of my current major attempt to be organized and in spite of having all my school materials more or less in one area, we still had issues with this.

Honestly, considering what little price difference there is, I would have purchased the bound book. However, to save some printing, I only printed the material for my children and read the Teacher's manual online. Then again, having the option to print from the PDF makes it a lot more convenient for my large family. Plus, if one of my children "lost" a page, no worries! I can just dock them some tickets (our system for "allowance") for the waste of time, paper, ink and then print another page. Physical books do have the oddest tendency to grow legs around here. (We can't find one of my 7 yo's workbook anywhere right now- for instance. The last I saw it, it was on the dog crate, but now it has disappeared! The dog doesn't appear any smarter, so I don't think she was involved in the "crime")

We really, really loved this program- even though the set up and preparation time took some getting used to and work. I hoped to go through many more than the 2 lessons we did, but this is something we will continue to use. I will not skip around, but rather start from the beginning and definitely use this with my 7 yo - when it comes time- since she has no writing experience. I am considering getting the earlier levels to start her in. This program is balanced and would be helpful to a variety or learning types, to either reinforce or learn skills. By the end, the children will have writing they are proud of and you will have proof they have learned something! That is always nice! In the future, Write Shop plans to offer tutors to grade work- if that is intimidating. Currently, they already offer a list of forums and resource links for their customer's to get support through. There is a complete list of contact information on the Write Shop site, but their phone number is (909)989-5576 and physical address is: 5753 Klusman Ave. Alta Loma, CA 91737 and email is info@writeshop.com .

Disclaimer: As part of the TOS Review Crew, I received a copy of Write Shop Junior, Level D in exchange for my honest review.


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