Last week Jess, Josh and I sat down to talk about the progress with their writing. We use Institute for Excellence in Writing and it had been a while since we completed a lesson, though the children are writing all the time.
The reason I like IEW is that it teaches principles and then at any time the children are writing they have the tools to use. We do a “lecture” every so often when we need to learn a new skill or tweak something that isn’t working well, but other than that the children learn to write by writing, and by writing something that they are either interested in or are studying anyway. It was time for a tune up, things had been unmonitored for long enough.
Writing hasn’t been a big focus this year as we have been doing Speak Up and every 3 weeks or so they are writing a speech and presenting it. I figured that was a fairly good language arts focus for this year. And yet, both Josh and Jess do so much writing with their studies they may as well be improving as they go along.
We looked at the IEW Index of Lessons/Units and discussed which unit we wanted to focus on. Josh wanted to be able to write a research report using more than one resource, Jess was happy to go with that though she generally uses just one resource. We will be revisiting the lecture for this skill next week.
In the mean time we discussed how much writing needed to be done each week and how we will monitor the standard of writing. IEW has a rubric to help both the student and the teacher in writing to a standard. We decided that Josh would write, using that rubric once a week, and Jessica once a fortnight. The rubric needs to be attached to the completed writing assignment so I have it at hand when I want to mark it. The exciting thing is that as they discipline themselves to use these standards the skills and techniques begin to be automatic and we start to see the same standard in their other work. That is our goal.
I was really encouraged by our conversation, though it went on longer than I had anticipated! It is good to see the kids take an interest in how they can improve their skills, how they can work in with me, and how they can take ownership for their learning.