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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review of Writers In Residence #hsreviews #middleschoolwriting

Apologia: Writers in Residence Review

We have been searching for a writing curriculum for my 7th grader so we were excited to learn about Writers in Residence published by Apologia Educational Ministries.

This curriculum is an extensive Language Arts curriculum with a writing focus written by Debra Bell. Ms. Bell is certified in English education and has taught writing composition and literature to students of all ages for thirty years and AP English to high schoolers for a decade. You may recognize some of her books - The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling Teens, and The Ultimate Homeschooling Planning system (see our review of one of the planners).
Apologia: Writers in Residence Review
We reviewed the complete set of Writers in Residence which includes an over 500 page all-in-one student text and workbook in spiral binding. It also includes the 144 page Answer Key. The set sells for $89 or you can purchase each item individually. This is the first volume also known as the Apprentice level and it is the only volume available at this time. The suggested grade level for volume 1 is 4th through 8th grades. Upon completion, there will be a total of four volumes.
The How To Use section has 18 pages worth of information to help you understand the philosophy behind the curriculum, how it is set up, and how to teach it.

The answer key provides the teacher with answers to questions that are fill in the blank or have a limited range of answers but not to the open ended questions or writing assignments. However, there are are sample student writing texts included in the student text and workbook.

This course is broken into 6 units that contain 24 modules. If you follow the suggested 4 day schedule this amounts to 32 weeks of lessons.

Each unit contains repeated elements through out the curriculum. Some of those include checklists rubrics for the student and teacher, expert samples of writing from published authors, student samples of writing assignments, expert strategies to aid in writing, graphic organizers, vocabulary terms with a glossary in the back of the book, word collection chart to add words that a student may struggle to spell, mastery tests to review terms taught, and so much more!

Writers in Residence is written to the student and designed for the student to complete independently but parent review and feedback is a necessary portion of this curriculum. Younger students may need even more assistance. Students are taught new concepts and given the opportunity to practice their new skills with their own writing exercises as well as using the samples from experienced authors.

Some of the language arts skills taught are parts of speech, sentence structure, capitalization, punctuation, and prepositional phrases. Some of the writing skills taught are complete sentences, creative writing, research writing, short story, and opinion essay.

The curriculum uses the six traits writing model that students will refer to over and over again during their writing process. The six traits are ideas, organization, sentence structure, voice, conventions, and word choice.

All concepts are taught with a Biblical worldview including why we are to even write in the first place.

In Our Homeschool
I used this with my daughter, Sarah, who is currently in 7th grade. She lacks confidence in her writing abilities so we've been on the search to find a curriculum to help boost her confidence. We used the suggested 4 day schedule.

One of Sarah's favorite assignments was putting her story in order using sentences she had been working on through the modules of Unit 1. She wrote each sentence on a slip of paper and then placed them in the order she wanted for her story. This was a great visual activity for her to make sure her sentence structure made sense.

We found this to be a pretty rigorous curriculum for Sarah. We decided after a few lessons, to answer some of the questions orally because she was feeling pretty frustrated about it taking her a while to finish. Early on in the how to section, I had read this may be needed for younger students so I adapted it to fit us too. She did complete all the writing assignment sections, however. The checklist rubrics included were very thorough and helped her to makes sure she completed her assignments.

I also found the teacher rubrics to be very helpful when we discussed her finished papers too.  They helped give me ideas for feedback and opened discussions about improvements and successes.

In order to learn to write, you must practice by writing! I loved the way this curriculum connected language arts concepts with writing because they do go hand in hand yet most of the time they are taught separately.

Check out this 75 page sample to help you decide if this will be a good fit for your student.

We love Apologia Educational Ministries and everything we have ever reviewed or purchased from their company. They offer curriculum in Bible, Science, encouragement, planners, and much more! You can also find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Apologia: Writers in Residence Review
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