Complete Writer Writing with Ease Level 1 Workbook Paperback – Aug 12 2008
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About the Author
Susan Wise Bauer is the best-selling author of the Story of the World series and The Well-Trained Mind, among other works. She lives in Virginia.
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1. The literature selections are from wonderful works, but lose 99% of their value when taken OUT OF CONTEXT. For example, Little House in the Big Woods is a great book. But when you read one random paragraph, and copy the sentence "There were no roads." from it....it loses the effect. It might as well be any random sentence made up by a workbook author. If you are using Little House as a read-aloud, it works well to do copywork from it. But my child isn't familiar with the book, so the literary benefit is lost when he reads and copies a miniscule excerpt. I would rather do this same concept but USE THE BOOKS THAT I READ ALOUD for source material.
2. The samples to copy are printed in the midst of white space. For first grade level, it would be helpful to have it written as a HANDWRITING SAMPLE, ON LINES. I am using Handwriting Without Tears, which uses a different type of lined paper, so I am having him write on that instead of in the workbook anyway. But most people use three-lined paper, and that's what is provided for the student to write on. It would make more sense to have the example written on lines as well, so it works better as handwriting practice. It's confusing to be told "copy this" when it actually looks different from what he is expected to produce; there is an unnecessary mental step of translation that he must do to translate "book font" to "handwriting on lines." Eliminating that step would allow him to focus on the content of what he's writing, which is the goal.
If you want to have someone else choose your copywork and narration passages for you, this is done well. The source material is first rate. But I didn't realize how much I would dislike that since the passages have so much less merit out of their original context. The textbook could be useful to guide your scope and sequence; I think I'll keep it to give me an idea of how to increase the complexity of passages and keep me on track. But I'll pull my own source material from books we are reading.
In case you're wondering, as I was, about the DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TEXTBOOK AND WORKBOOK, here you go:
The TEXTBOOK gives broad scope and sequence for four years, generally grades 1-4. I'm on year one, so this is what it looks like. It basically spells out exactly what to do for one week (including passages), with copywork on days 1&3, narration on 2&4. It provides passages for week one, then for the next 3 weeks it says "follow the same weekly pattern as above", using books of your own choosing. Then it spells out week 5 for you (slight increase in complexity), and you figure out weeks 6-8 for yourself. Follow that pattern for each 4-week cycle. You would use your own handwriting paper or notebook paper. In comparison, the WORKBOOK has passages selected for everyday. They are printed right there in the workbook. Then there is a perforated pull-out page with the copywork sample printed and blank lines for the student to write on. So basically the workbook allows you to follow the textbook, but not have to A) use your own paper, or B) choose your own passages, ever. And those are pretty much the two things I don't like about it.
The repetitive quality of the lessons is counterbalanced by the wide assortment of literature and the gradual changes in the program that mark the student's progress into more challenging tasks. I see no waste in time or thought here. Both my son and I sense the value of the simple but meaningful daily rhythm of the program.
Buy the hardcover text as an overview of the entire program, especially helpful to "bigger picture" people, like me. However, if short of cash, start with just the the workbook. (Remember that it's reproducible for an entire family, too; a great help to those of us with many children, and very cost-effective.)
Thanks, Susan! God-speed on those next workbooks and texts!!!
However, I found myself falling behind on selecting material for my son. Halfway through the school year I went ahead and purchased "The Complete Writer: Level 1 Workbook for Writing With Ease" to accompany "The Complete Writer: Writing With Ease: Strong Fundamentals." I'm so glad I did. This workbook provides narration and copywork material for each day of instruction. For each day of copywork, there is a student page with two sentences to choose from (to match student ability). The narration material is usually something I would not have thought interesting to my son, but he loves it. He remembers the narration passages, and likes to re-read them just for enjoyment. Each day's work is a simple, manageable bite, yet I am already seeing results in just three weeks of consistently using this workbook. Consistency is the key - and that was what I lacked when I tried finding my own material to accompany "The Complete Writer". Having the accompanying workbook with its daily lessons laid out has been worth every penny.
It would have been ideal to start this workbook when my son was in 1st grade. However, I'm glad we went ahead and started with Level 1, even though my son is in 2nd grade. We're electing to do five days a week (the workbook provides 4 days of instruction each week - two days of copywork, two days of narration) in order to get "caught up." Another option would be to cut out certain weeks - such as every fourth week or so - in order to move through the material more quickly. Note that the material progresses in difficulty (it's subtle) from beginning to end of the workbook.
My one criticism of the workbook is that the spaces between the handwriting lines provided for the instructor to record his/her student's narration are huge. It's actually difficult for me to write large enough letters to fit inside those lines.
This workbook has all the literature passages and narration questions in the front; then a large chunk of workbook pages with serrated edges (2 copywork passages and two narration pages per week). I immediately tore out all of the workbook pages, hole punched them and put them in a 1" binder, which made things much more managable. The book grants permission to photocopy these pages for use within your own family, so I photocopy the two narration pages for each week back-to-back before I record my children's sentences. This way, I will be able to use the workbook again for my 4 year old and my 1 year old. This makes it fairly cost effective for our family.
My children are currently 6, 4, and 1 years old. I hadn't anticipated including my 4 year old yet, but she participates eagerly and her comprehension and ability to narrate has really surprised me. She's definitely listening more actively in general than she did before. I plan go back through the workbook with her when she is older.
I did not buy the Writing With Ease textbook. I own The Well Trained Mind and am familiar with the method of writing instruction recommended by Susan Wise Bauer. I have found the workbook to be perfectly sufficient for our purposes. I look forward to purchasing and using Levels 2-4 with my children.
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