Friday, April 13, 2012

Review: Write with WORLD


I imagine many of you may be familiar with the Christian news magazines for Pre-K through adults from God's WORLD Publications.  These magazines present relevant, current events from a Christian worldview.

Now, imagine this same approach with a writing curriculum.  The result is the soon-to-be released Write with WORLD.


Write with WORLD is a two-year middle school writing curriculum from the publishers of God's WORLD News and WORLD Magazine. I received the pilot Year One materials, consisting of the Parent/Teacher book and the Student book, which is scheduled to be available in its final form this summer.  The final version will also include online content and a website for updated examples, writing prompts, teacher forum, and published student work.

Rather than a single author, Write with WORLD was developed by education and media professionals who recognized the need for a solid, middle school writing curriculum focused on producing strong writers who were also discerning, critical thinkers. Read more about the authors and their professional backgrounds here.

Write with WORLD does not focus on mechanics and remediation of writing.  Instead, it is a combination of learning writing skills, honing critical thinking, and analyzing worldview wrapped up into one curriculum. Grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary are interwoven into the lessons.

The first year's curriculum is divided into four units, each containing four lessons.  The topics for each lesson are listed below.

Unit 1- Reading Images and Advertisements, Comparative Reading: Sentences, Comparative and Critical Reading: Paragraphs, Developing Critical Readers: Essays

Unit 2 - The Paragraph, Composing and Linking Sentences, Creating Focus and Arrangement, Linking Paragraphs: Transitions and Logic

Unit 3 - (Writing Autobiography) Reporting Facts, Creating Character, Developing Ideas, Composition

Unit 4 - (Crafting Narratives) Developing a Point of View, Showing Versus Telling, Narrative with a Purpose, Writing a Fictional Narrative

Each lesson is broken down into five "capsules".  In order to complete the lessons, the students will need a good dictionary, a thesaurus, a "Writer's Journal", and various household items (e.g. note cards, glue stick, photos, colored pencils).  The Writer's Journal can be a simple notebook used to record thoughts and written work from the lessons.

A sample lesson is available for viewing on the website.

I found Write with WORLD well structured and visually appealing.  With the Capsule breakdown, there is no question of where to begin and end an assignment or lesson. Consistency among the lessons with reoccurring features, such as The Professor's Office, The Right Word, World Wisdom, and Style Time give structure to the varying topics.  I appreciate the use of writing examples, thoughtful discussion, and the focus on critical thinking throughout the text. The tone is conversational and directed at the student, but not at all dumbed down or juvenile.

The Teacher/Parent book is a copy of the Student book, with notes and guidance in the margins. Low-stakes grading is encouraged in order to keep the focus on the process of writing.  While the lessons in the book are directed toward the student, a key part of the program is regular conversation with a guiding parent. Although the instructional tips in the Teacher/Parent book were very relevant and helpful, sufficient knowledge in the area of writing is needed in order to best utilize the suggestions.  Many of the exercises focus on the process and thinking skills. However, a parent who struggles with writing may have some trouble recognizing weak areas in the mechanics of a struggling student's writing since that is not a focus of the program.

While it is not live yet, I really like the idea of a website (launching in September) for students and teachers.  A website provides the opportunity for students to publish their work and will also offer support for teachers. I think such a site will add much to the program by keeping it current and giving students an outlet and purpose for their writing.

I have two very different students with very different needs when it comes to writing instruction. One uses writing as a method to connect, explore, and share thoughts. The process of writing is natural and enjoyable.  The other views writing as a necessary evil and painful alternative to doing and speaking. Write with WORLD is definitely more suited to my natural writer, now in high school, because it encourages students to go far beyond the mechanics of writing. The program hones critical thinking skills as much as it does writing skills; therefore, students that are fairly comfortable with the writing process will get the most out of the program. I think my natural writer would have enjoyed this program in middle school.

My reluctant middle-school writer is not yet to the point where he can focus on the process of writing and critical thinking skills at the same time.  He is still working on structure and how the pieces go together. I liken it to learning how to build versus learning how to design.  He does not yet have the mechanics needed to use the style techniques and keep up with the pace of Write with WORLD.  I do, however, think this may be a suitable program for him in a couple of years, perhaps as an early high school writing curriculum.

Write with WORLD will be available for shipment this summer, but can be ordered now at the Learn with World website for $95 per year when ordering the Year One and Year Two curriculum individually, or for $165 when purchasing both years together.  In addition to the Teacher/Parent and Student books, online access is included with your purchase.

Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool. You may read more reviews on this product by visiting here.

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