Learning to write well has been a struggle at our house for the past few years. I have always loved writing, but my nine-year old has never been overly excited about it. Actually, I did good to get him to write two sentences before we started Writers in Residence from Apologia Educational Ministries. This program has been nothing short of amazing. For the first time ever, my nine-year old actually looks forward to writing.
Writers in Residence Volume 1 created by Debra Bell is an easy to use, all-in-one writing curriculum recommended for grades 4-8. It includes writing and grammar using a four day a week schedule. Not only do you get this hefty 576 page student text and workbook, but it also comes along with the Answer Key when purchasing the full set.
Writers in Residence is divided into six different units where the student will look at different writing samples from famous authors which then in turn inspires their own writing. The four types of writing tasks in the Writers in Residence series are:
I Remember: These writing prompts ask students to think about different experiences they have had in their life and write it down as a narrative following the format used in When I Was Young in the Mountains, written by Cynthia Rylant.
I Imagine: With this, students look at fictional work to see how the author pulls inspiration from their own lives. They will also learn that a narrative arc is an important strategy that writers use to keep their reader’s attention.
I Investigate: These writing prompts introduce research skills and writing with a twist. The research project mirrors the world of investigative journalism. They learn how to detect bias in their sources and even their own writing as well as learn how to include their voice in what they write.
I Think: These writing prompts teach students about argument writing. This final section in the book is the first step to more formal arguments in later volumes.
Throughout this curriculum, you will also find six different Christian writers in the spotlight. It begins with Bill Myers and his spotlight story really impressed my little dude. I love that he mentions that as a child he never had any interest in writing and even talks about some of the projects he did that weren’t that great. This to me shows kids that it’s alright if at first it isn’t perfect. If they keep trying and asking God for guidance, eventually they’ll get there.
We follow the four day schedule as written in the book. I choose to do this program along with him due to his age and for the fact that prior to starting this program, he cried if he had to write one sentence. This curriculum has completely changed his outlook on writing and it makes this mamma very happy. We have had so much fun with this program so far. From acting out our vigorous verbs to brainstorming about his story. Even his little five-year old brother chimes in while brainstorming.
I love how this curriculum gently introduces them to writing and gives them fun topics that interest them. One of the short story prompts that they were asked to write was using the vigorous verbs they had been learning about. This writing activity was so much fun for my nine-year old. They were asked to invent a story in which one character is a fictional version of themselves with a superpower and another character was the archenemy. He was super excited to write this story and even asked to put the finish project on his own blog. Here’s his story:
“One morning in my New York City apartment, I was working on an important project. Suddenly, I heard a thundering noise and looked out my window. To my surprise, I see the annihilator destroying the city. People were cowering in fear and building were crashing to the ground. Me, being the Invincible Man, had no choice but to defend the city that I loved. I jumped up and scurried to the closet to change into my SUPER SUIT! When I did, the annihilator and I battled for what seemed like hours….and in the end, I annihilated the annihilator and saved the city.”
I was pretty impressed with this little story considering he has always dreaded writing. Sure, you can tell that it’s written by a nine-year old, but this little story along with others he’ll be doing is going to be placed inside his writer portfolio for him to have for years to come.
Along with the short story, the first of the book focuses on a writing assignment titled “When I Was Young”. They are asked to write down some of their favorite childhood memories and as we go along, it ends up in a story format similar to the book, When I Was Young in the Mountains , by Cynthia Rylant. Here’s the story my little guy wrote:
“When I was young at Edisto Beach, my Grandmother and Granddaddy always traveled with us.
When I was young at Edisto Beach, we always dined at Whaley’s our first night there.
When I was young at Edisto Beach, my dad and I would have a blast running and jumping in the waves.
When I was young at Edisto Beach, we would stroll along the sound and gather spectacular angel wings.
When I was young at Edisto Beach, we would spend every evening walking along the beach in search of carvings that can be found on the logs.
When I was young at Edisto Beach, my entire family would go on awesome bicycling adventures. We never knew where we would end up.
When I was young at Edisto Beach, our family always looked forward to heading down to the sounds to enjoy the breath-taking sunsets.
When I was young at Edisto Beach, we were always sad when it was time to say good-bye.
When I was young at Edisto Beach, our family made memories to last a lifetime.”
As I mentioned earlier writing has always been a struggle in our house, but something about this curriculum has completely turned that around. He is right now writing a story outside of this curriculum. While I can’t say if this curriculum would be a great fit for your family, I can say that it’s been amazing for ours!
You can go HERE to receive a 100-page sample of this curriculum along with BONUS resource.