WriteShop {Review}

Thrift Schooling
WriteShop Review
I am extremely thankful to have been chosen to review an exciting and effective writing program called WriteShop. I chose to begin my second grader with book B and received two digital products, the
Primary Teacher's Guide: Book B- Digital PDF ($29.50) and the Primary Activity Pack: Book B- Digital PDF ($4.50).

Writing. Yikes. The second most difficult subject to teach my seven year old. Next to spelling, but I guess the two go hand in hand. Copy work is no problem, writing words to practice his handwriting whether print or cursive is not the challenge. The struggle is CREATIVE writing. To be honest, this was quite a shock to me. My son has quite the imagination and uses it vividly. He is always creating or engineering something. It's just getting that creativity to flow onto paper that the battle would begin. And I mean battle. 
I would ask him to write just a few sentences on a topic, and not have to worry about spelling, and he would just freeze up. And, not just for a minute, but for fifteen to twenty minutes we would be sitting there as I waited for him to finally come up with something. 

The problem?

I realized at that point, he needs to be TAUGHT creative thinking skills to develop into a creative writer! It does not just come naturally. Personally, I have a passion for writing, but someone nurtured and developed that in me.  Sure, I have a long ways to go, but when I look back at my education, I was blessed with several quality experiences that challenged me to develop strong writing skills. 

One memory in particular comes from my elementary school experiences. In fourth and fifth grade I remember what was called, "Writing Workshop." The primary focus of this time was to put aside everything else and simply focus on writing. I recall working on rough drafts, final copies and even sending our work home with the teacher for her to "publish." At that time, all that meant was she would type our story up on a typewriter and bind it with a cover made from wallpaper, (yes, I said typewriter, I'm really showing my age now!) We were so proud of our work and to this day I can remember what I wrote about for that project!

There was something powerful about "publishing" our work that drove us to complete our assignments with fervor and determination. I have now found a program that reminds me of my positive childhood encounters with writing in WriteShop! Depending on the age and ability of your child, you can begin your child in different levels. I began my seven year old in Book B. Book B is geared towards children ages 6 and 7. It is ideal for students in first or second grade or can be successful used with a reluctant third grader. Now that I am aware of this program, I plan to begin my younger kids with Book A as soon as they are ready. Even though it is completely doable to begin in Book B, I think my kids will have a richer experience starting for the beginning.
WriteShop Review
WriteShop Review
I received the PDF downloads of the books. Recently, with PDF's I have been saving the teacher guide's on an e-reader and printing out the student sheets. But with this program, next time I think I will buy the teacher's guide. There is SO much to this guide, that I was constantly scrolling through to read or re-read something that having a hardcopy on hand would be extremely helpful!
WriteShop Review

At first when I looked at the worksheets, I thought to myself, "wow, there really isn't much to this!" I liked what I saw but there weren't many pages. Then, I realized, after reading the teacher's guide, that the meat of this program is not the "worksheets" but the activities involved. This program is very hands-on and involved and requires prep work on the part of the parent. Normally, programs that require a lot of prep work on my part stress me out, but since I am determined to see my children succeed in writing, I figured I might try it out! There are three different tracks you can use for this program and I chose the slower track that has you use WriteShop three times a week. 

First, I went to the store and bought a shoe organizer (as suggested in the teacher's manual) to use in our writing center. I then stocked it, as was suggested with stamps, letters, paper, colored pencils and such. As you can see, there is much room to spare to add more in the future!

 I then created a word wall next to the organizer with just a few words.

The power of the word wall. It is amazing what this wall can do. When my son is presented with a topic to write about, the word wall helps him come up with ideas and it helps him to feel confident that some of his words are spelled correctly. This confidence helps him to more along with his work. He is able to be creative with minimal guidance! 

He also created a binder with flowers that consist of different word families. He really enjoyed making these and it is suggested that he makes more as time goes on. He loved the hands-on aspect of the cutting, gluing and creating the flowers. Then I would write the word family sound in the center of the flower and he had a blast coming up with words to place on the petals and leaves! This is a great tool for him to come back to when he needs help finding words to use, especially rhyming words for a poem.

One of his projects included learning about space. Below is his version of a space ship with a story inside about going to Jupiter! One of my favorite aspects of this lesson was how he was encouraged to diagram his writing. First, you provide the student with stars. Then, you have them write a main idea in the center with supporting ideas within the five points. These ideas are then used to write a story. This helped guide him along with his writing, again, giving him the confidence that he needs!

There are so many aspects to this program that have been very beneficial to my son. One, is the use of picture books. In one lesson he was encouraged to learn about how to write a story simply by looking at a story that he is already familiar with. Another, was when he learned about writing a letter. It was practical and engaging. We posted butcher paper on the wall and reviewed the parts of a letter. By the end of the lesson, my four year old was even able to recite the parts of the letter from the cute poem used in this book!
I look forward to continue using this program with my son and can't wait to start it with my younger ones! My son's confidence in writing has certainly been strengthened thanks to WriteShop!

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  1. I'm so glad to know your son has grown in his confidence just from your short time in the program. Thanks for writing such a helpful review, Heather.

    Kim Kautzer

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