Teaching Writing

Writing Skills and Processes from PreK to Twelfth Grade

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Curriculum Uses
Reading Skills
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  • Lesson Plans & Teaching Tools for Parents
  • Lessons Correlated to State Standards

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Teaching Writing

Teaching Writing is an ongoing process, which Time4Learning facilitates in a number of ways.

Most people agree that writing skills are increasingly important and often not adequately taught. When writing is taught in schools, writing instruction often takes a backseat to phonics, handwriting skills, and reading comprehension.

Many homeschool parents find that teaching writing may be more challenging than other subjects where there is an answer key. Children can challenge their parent's feedback.

Effective writing is a vital life-skill that is important in almost every subject in school as well in the work world. Additionally, standardized tests increasingly contain a writing component - - in some cases this includes a requirement to write an essay on a timed test!

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Writing Skills - What are they?

At first, many parents think that “learning to write” is primarily a question of grammar. They first think of teaching proper sentence construction, appropriate use of tenses, and punctuation. It is true that grammar is an important component of teaching writing. The Time4Learning system includes a superb set of lessons for teaching punctuation, vocabulary, word choice, spelling, paragraph structure and other components of "correct writing". Try these demos.

But after a little thought, we find that while grammar is an important part of writing, effective writing requires much more. When a writing process is used to teach writing, students begin to understand writing as a form of communication. Furthermore, writing helps students recognize that they have opinions, ideas, and thoughts that are worth sharing with the world, and writing is an effective way of getting them out there!

There are many types (or modes) of writing such as descriptive writing, persuasive writing, informative writing, narrative writing, and creative or fiction writing. Many students are familiar with the basic writing assignments such as book reports, social studies reports, short stories, and essays on topics such as: "What I did on my summer vacation". But these writing assignments should be thought of as applications of basic writing modes. For instance, a book report is usually a type of descriptive writing, and an essay on dinosaurs might include both informative and perhaps persuasive writing.

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Part 1 -
Background/Story:
  • New vocabulary is introduced
  • Story is presented in various ways based on skill level
  • Activities focus on phonemic awareness & comprehension
  • Printable worksheets accompany most activities
  • Chapters conclude with Q&A
1st grade language arts
Part 2 -
Sounds, Letters & Words:
  • Alphabetic principles are taught & developed
  • New words are reinforced through rhyme and story
  • Phonics is taught through discovery and recognition
  • Writing skills are developed with "Story Creator"

The Writing Process: Prewriting, Writing, Revising, and Proofreading

The four steps of the writing process are: prewriting, writing, revising, and proofreading.

  • PreWriting - Whatever type of writing a student is attempting, the prewriting stage can be the most important. This is when students gather their information, and begin to organize it into a cohesive unit. This process can include reading, taking notes, brainstorming, and categorizing information. Prewriting is the most creative step and most students develop a preferred way to organize their thoughts. Stream of consciousness writing, graphic organizers, outlines, or note cards are popular techniques. Many of these tools are already accommodated through Time4Learning’s Odyssey Writer program. Often this stage is best taught by a parent modeling the different methods, perhaps a different one each week until the student finds which one works best for him.
  • Writing -The actual writing stage is essentially just an extension of the prewriting process. The student transfers the information they have gathered and organized into a traditional format. This may take the shape of a simple paragraph, a one-page essay, or a multi-page report. Up until this stage, they may not be exactly certain which direction their ideas will go, but this stage allows them to settle on the course the paper will take. Teaching about writing can sometimes be as simple as evaluation good literature together, and exploring what makes the piece enjoyable or effective. It also involves helping a student choose topics for writing based on their personal interests. Modeling the writing process in front of your child also helps them see that even adults struggle for words and have to work at putting ideas together.
  • Revising , or editing is usually the least favorite stage of the writing process, especially for beginning writers. Critiquing one’s own writing can easily create tension and frustration. But as you support your young writers, remind them that even the most celebrated authors spend the majority of their time on this stage of the writing process. Revising can include adding, deleting, rearranging and substituting words, sentences, and even entire paragraphs to make their writing more accurately represent their ideas. It is often not a one-time event, but a continual process as the paper progresses. When teaching revision, be sure to allow your child time to voice aloud the problems they see in their writing. This may be very difficult for some children, especially sensitive ones, so allow them to start with something small, such as replacing some passive verbs in their paper with more active ones.
  • Proofreading - This is a chance for the writer to scan his or her paper for mistakes in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Although it can be tempting for parents to perform this stage of the writing process for the child, it is important that they gain proofreading skills for themselves as this improves a student’s writing over time. And because children want their writing to be effective, this can actually be the most opportune to teach some of the standard rules of grammar and punctuation. When students learn the rules of mechanics during the writing process they are much more likely to remember to use them in the future. Odyssey Writer’s built in spelling checker and self-assessment rubric are wonderful tools to aid in strengthening a student’s revision and proof-reading skills.

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Teaching Writing Skills in Preschool to Second Grade

Young students sometimes find it difficult to making the transition from speaking to writing. Speaking is so immediate, so detailed, so easy. When writing becomes part of a child’s world, there are conventions that suddenly come into play - - punctuation, spelling, grammar. It can be a struggle to explain things without hand gestures or intonation. They must find a way for their voice to come across on a piece of paper or a computer screen. The easiest part of teaching writing to young children is by continually reading to them. Have discussions about what you are reading together. Let them try to figure out what it is the author does to make his or her story compelling. Pick one of your child’s favorite stories and make a game of picking out punctuation marks, proper nouns or multi-syllable words. Breaking down a section of a story this way helps children to make the connection between reading and writing.

Time4Learning includes tools to make learning writing fun and engaging for the youngest writers. In the kindergarten curriculum, students use the Writer’s Corner software to backgrounds (settings), characters, and objects from the stories and activities in the chapter and use them to build their own stories. They can even print out the stories they have created!

Story Creator is the final writing activity in each chapter of Odyssey Reading/Language Arts Levels 1–2. It is very similar to the Writer’s Corner in the Kindergarten Curriculum in that it allows the writer to set the backgrounds, characters, and objects in the story. Students move from picture-writing to scribble-writing to the random letter phase to invented spelling, and finally to conventional writing.

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The Time4Learning Program Structure

Time4Learning has been refined through years of feedback from educators, parents, and students. Subjects are organized into chapters composed of interactive lessons, printable worksheets, quizzes and tests. Students are guided through the activities at their own pace by an automated system.

When students log in, they choose a subject, select a chapter, pick a lesson and complete the activities. A bright green arrow tells them where they left off, and completed work is clearly labeled with a check-mark or a gold star. Visual and auditory prompts guide Students through the lessons making them easy for young learners to follow, and an online playground (controlled by parents) rewards and motivates them to finish their lessons.

Parents get access to printable lesson plans, teaching tools, detailed reporting and parental support through our online Parent Forum.

Does your child have different achievement levels for math and language arts? No problem. Time4Learning lets you set each individual subject at the appropriate graded level, making this program great for special needs and gifted students.

program structure

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