Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Apologia Educational Ministries

I recently had the opportunity to review Writers in Residence, from Apologia Educational Ministries. Writers in Residence is a unique writing course in that it goes beyond teaching the basic four writing forms: personal, expository, persuasive, and narrative. This curriculum combines the forms of writing in order to help the student produce writing that will allow the student to engage their readers in school and beyond. This curriculum is targeted for grades 4th - 8th. 

"Progress, not perfection" should always be the goal.
~ Writers in Residence ~

The Writers In Residence Teaching Philosophy
  1. Writing must be authentic
  2. Writing should be purposeful
  3. Writing is an apprenticeship
  4. Writing requires risk-taking and experimentation
  5. Writing is cyclical, repetitive, maddening, and inspired
  6. Readers are paramount
Each of these points is explained in the Writers in Residence workbook. These six guides help the student move from novice to expert.

There are four major writing tasks:

  • I Remember
  • I Imagine
  • I Investigate
  • I Think
In "I Remember" the student, using writing prompts, writes about their own personal experiences. In "I Imagine" the student focus on creative writing. Through the use of a narrative arc, the student learns how to write in order to keep readers, reading. In "I Investigate" the student is introduced in the essential skills in research writing. And finally, "I Think" gives the foundation of fundamental elements of argumentative and persuasive writing.

Ever wonder how to take the mystery out of writing. Your student will learn the Six Traits Writing Model. Each of these traits are fully explained and practiced throughout the curriculum in order to help the student write and evaluate their writing. The six traits are:
  1. Ideas
  2. Organization
  3. Sentence Structure 
  4. Word Choice
  5. Voice
  6. Conventions
Students will learn the writing process and the 5 stages that they will go through as they learn to write, from planning to polishing.

Within the introduction, How To Use This Book, both the parent and the student will be well guided in the understanding of using this curriculum along with helpful charts, outlines, and schedules. Writers in Residence has six units with a total of 24 modules. At the end of each unit the student will get a glimpse into the lives of published writers in, Spotlight on Christian Writers. At the end of the workbook there is a Final Review section that reviews everything learned as well as reflecting on the finished works in the students, Writer's Portfolio. 

Who used it and what we thought

I used this curriculum with my 4th grader. 

I appreciate the fact that grammar skills have been incorporated into Writers in Residence. 
The grammar is sprinkled into the lessons at just the correct amount so that the student 
does not really feel like they are getting a grammar lesson.

According to Apologia Educational Ministries, Writers in Residence is geared for 4th grade
through about 8th grade. In my opinion, the program is geared more toward junior high level 
as for the writing skills. As for the grammar, I feel that it is more appropriate for the upper 
elementary level.

 My daughter is currently in the 4th grade so she is a the lower end of the suggested grade level spectrum. I have a 7th grader, and I think that Writers in Residence is more in line with were she is at. I chose to us this as a supplemental writing curriculum. 

I felt like the lessons moved way too slow. My daughter often became bored with the 
slow pace and repetition. For the younger student, I think that too much time is spent on developing one story or paragraph. I understand the
 reasoning behind what Apologia Educational Ministries is trying to accomplish with this
 particular curriculum. For the younger student I feel like there needs to be more in the 
way of variety to keep them engaged.  

The student workbook is great but I feel that the answer key (teacher’s manual) is definitely 
lacking. At times there is not enough information in the answer key to follow along with the 
student’s lesson. On some lessons there is no information for the teacher. I had to leaf 
through my daughter’s book to see where she was and how to teach various concepts. I definitely feel like there needs to be a 
separate teacher’s manual in addition to the answer key.

In my opinion, younger students want to be challenged 
on different topics, not just one subject for many lessons. My 4th grader lost her desire and focus. For an upper junior high or high 
school student I think this would most definitely be a better fit.

With that said, I am excited about Unit 6, Zap! Pow! Kazan!. In this unit the student gets to write about superheroes and their archenemies. Using their imaginations, and with skills learned in previous units, students get to create their own story. They will have to decide what the central problem their superhero will solve, and what dramatic event they will use in order to get their readers hooked. Using the Story Arc Chart Model they will complete their story. 

Apologia Educational Ministries is are currently working on their next three volumes in the Writers in Residence series. 

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To read more reviews click HERE.



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