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Writing Strands, Level 3 Paperback – March 1, 2007
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About the Author
Dave Marks, the founder of National Writing Institute and the author of the Writing Strands and Reading Strands series of books, graduated from Western Michigan University. He then received a Masters of Arts degree from Central Michigan University and did 45 more hours of graduate work in English at Eastern Michigan University and Michigan State University. Dave retired after 30 years of teaching writing in college, high school, junior high and grade school.
When their son was in the fourth grade, Dave and his wife Lea realized that he was not being given the training they felt he needed and elected to homeschool him in language arts. To prepare him for college writing, they designed a series of lessons, which he completed by the age of twelve. That summer, they enrolled him in freshman English at Lake Michigan College, where he received his first A in college work. He is now a poet and university professor.
Dave and Lea later turned these lessons into the Writing Strands series of books. While Dave never maintained that the series could create poets for other homeschooling parents, he felt that if children worked successfully through the Writing Strands series of books, they would have the skills needed for the challenge of any writing assignment in their undergraduate college work.
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We didn't start this curriculum from the beginning and dove into Level 3, so Maybe if you start with Level 1 it Might help?
Also, it seemed that the instructions were a bit... sarcastic? Or, maybe it seemed that the author was "talking down" to the student. For example: [Not a direct quote, because I swapped it on PaperBackSwap.com...] "Now, if you didn't get that, go back and re-read the last paragraph 3 times till you do."
1) There are very few FULL examples of the assignment. If you are supposed to write about what you see outside, they may give an example of an apple tree, mailbox, and swing-set. When they show you how to expand the description of that object, they use a whole other object, describing how the chain has worn the grass of in front of the dog house. I don't know how to tell my son that, really, 'dog house' should have been on the list. It's just never 100% helpful and that leaves a lot of room for error. This is especially a problem if I have an appointment and someone else has to help him with his assignment (Nana and myself are both college graduates, but it doesn't seem to help!).
2)There are no clear-cut directions for assignments. It will say, "think about," "you'll write," "make a," or "try to." Not simply "Write xyz today." I agree it's more like a conversation, but sometimes black and white is helpful. Directions aren't highlighted, numbered or even set apart in a box. You get to Day 2 (or 4 or 7) and it tells you exactly what I mentioned. "Think of a....explain why...try to...don't..." You could assume that it's all to be written, but that approach doesn't work either. For a few weeks, I highlighted the directions so he knew what to do, but now that papers and stories are longer, the lack of examples leaves him more flustered than educated.
I don't hate this book and for the artistic child and parent, it may be perfect. I didn't buy the teacher's manual because I was told I didn't need one. That was my mistake. However, I feel like my son needs to be able to go back to the directions and the examples as a reference, which would still be an issue even if I had the teacher's manual.