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“The proof is found in our kids”

The proof is found in our kids

Brave Writer mom, Kim, writes:

What a difference Brave Writer has made for us! It is not just a writing curriculum, but an entire language arts philosophy and routine, one that we plan to stick with all the way through.

We found Brave Writer after our daughter’s first grade year. In first grade, we followed the language arts recommendations of another curriculum we were using and were sorely disappointed. Our daughter, who loved to read and didn’t mind handwriting, began to hate language arts. It was her least favorite subject. We knew something was wrong and began searching for an alternative.

We are so grateful that we found Brave Writer! We have used it for 2nd and 3rd grade now, and will use it for her upcoming 4th grade year along with the Quiver of Arrows for our son in 1st grade.

Over the years, we have purchased the Writer’s Jungle (fantastic resource!), Jot it Down (really helped me get the feel of an effective language arts routine & writing projects for lower elementary), many individual Arrow guides (we typically use 9 per year), and new this year, the Quiver of Arrows for 1st-2nd graders.

Being a speech therapist on the side when I’m not teaching my kids, I know a thing or two about speech and language development. I know that kids learn to speak well when they are exposed to good speech models and a rich language environment. And so Brave Writer’s natural approach to writing makes so much sense to me. Children will learn to be great writers when they are regularly exposed to models of great writing and a language rich environment.

Reading great writing (exemplified by the book titles chosen for the Arrow of Boomerang guides) and following the routines of copywork, dictation, French dictation (copy work that is fill-in-the-blank style in places to target tricky spelling words or punctuation), and reverse dictation (unique editing exercises), weekly Freewriting exercises to get their ideas flowing on paper, monthly writing projects, and our favorite, weekly poetry tea times, are the backbone of this approach.

Julie Bogart has so much wisdom to impart, and what makes her approach unique is that she herself is a professional writer. She gets what it takes to be a great writer in the real world, and rather than bogging kids down with worksheets and endless grammar exercises, each Arrow guide comes with grammar notes for each copy work/dictation passage, so you can address grammar naturally as it comes up, and each Arrow guide focuses on a key literary element that makes great writing—similes and metaphors, imagery, viewpoint, alliteration, etc.—and has a writing exercise to allow kids to practice it in their own writing.

But the proof is found in our kids. This will be our second child’s first year with Brave Writer, but all 3 of our kids have benefited from our language arts routine—even our youngest, having just turned 3, has been known to wander the house reciting bits of poetry she heard during poetry tea time. Language Arts may not be our daughter’s favorite subject yet—she loves history, science, & art—but she still loves to read, willingly participates in writing, and is able to effectively express her ideas through writing. And she’s learned to love poetry and even write some original poems on her own just for fun.

I’d call that a success.

Kim


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“I am writing!”

I am writing

Dear Julie and Brave Writer Gang,

I just found this note on the dry erase board in our school room. Thought you might enjoy it.

Golly gee – doesn’t she know it’s summer break??? Tee hee hee. 😉

Thank you for helping to restore my daughter’s love of writing!

~Kathleen

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Help with Dictation

Fitting Dictation Into Your Homeschool

A Brave Writer mom asks about her 11 year old daughter who has a low tolerance for schoolwork and struggles with spelling:

I want to start dictation with her but am not sure where and how to fit it in.

Hi! I think it is a good idea to use a passage she knows well for dictation. Initially she may even need you to offer to verbally spell words she is unsure of as you dictate. This is still great experience for her as she will have to listen and write what you say (another way to encode the spellings). Exaggerate your pauses for commas and make a strong finish sound when you get to periods. Help her in all the ways you can. If she needs some words written in advance on a notecard to copy when she hears you say them, then do that too!

You might try our practice of French-style dictation. This is where you choose which words will be written. You type the entire passage, then you omit some of the words and replace them with blank lines. Print the whole thing. Read the passage aloud and she reads along with you until she gets to a blank space. When she hears the word that goes there, she will write it. This is a wonderful, gradual practice for kids who are just struggling to write and spell. You can isolate words she knows well the first time you do it so she has success. Then gradually include a word or two she doesn’t know well and prep her before the dictation by orally spelling them together.

For freewriting: spelling doesn’t matter AT ALL. It doesn’t matter if she misspells every word. You can help her if she calls out to you in the middle of a freewrite by spelling it back to her, but remind her that all spellings can be cleaned up later. That’s not the goal of freewriting. If there are words she can’t even attempt in freewriting, then write them for her on a white board or note pad before she begins so she can copy them exactly.

Always use Spell Check on the computer (it teaches kids a lot) and offer her the opportunity to correct her own work against the original so that she is the one making the connection between where she missed the spelling and what it should be.

Keep ALL these sessions short. She will tire easily (it’s an enormous amount of work for her). Give her shoulder rubs and light candles. Eat treats after she finishes. Use pretty paper and flowing pens—let her write in colors other than blue or black.

Make this a nourishing experience, not just school work. Remind her of how smart she is and how you know that she is capable of growing in this arena. Keep her first dictation in a file and compare it to one six months and then a year from now so she can see her progress.

Good luck!

Want to learn more?
Check out our Copywork and Dictation webinar!

Facilitating Play with Words: More Wacky Revision

More Wacky Revision

Dear Julie,

My kids and I have not had any experience with utilizing Brave Writer materials in the past, so I decided [your Wacky Revision workshop] would be a fun experiment for us all. It is always exciting to approach writing in new ways and learn new techniques for Re-Vision (I liked your word), or seeing our words through new eyes.

The kids cut and stapled their freewrites last night, and wrote new versions from those cut up lines this morning. I’ve copied them below, since the kids were excited to hear that you wanted to read their results.

Emma, age 8

Freewriting

I got out the game while my sister told me which game to get. We picked the color of our pieces and began to play. I went first and I drew a double purple. My sister went next and got a single orange. A little while later, one of my other siblings who was not playing accidentally knocked over the deck of cards. Then I got mad and chased him. When we got back to playing I was winning but I drew a card that said I had to go backward! After a few more turns, I lost.

Wacky ReVision

My sister and I picked the siblings who were not playing to knock over the deck of cards. Then I colored our pieces and began to play. I went first and I drew a double purple. Then my sister got mad and tackled me and we had a “lovely” wrestling match. After a few more turns, I lost. A little while later, one of my other sisters wanted to play…

Haha! Love that change! I’d love to see a “lovely” wrestling match! Wonder what that would look like! Have you thought about it? I’d love to read a description if you think of one. So funny! Now I’m wondering if the two of you will have a lovely wrestling match! Such a fun piece! Thanks for sending it to me! —Julie

Joshua, age 10

Freewriting

When I got the game out, I tripped over a sibling. Emma and I rolled to see who would go first. I went first so Emma placed her settlements first. When I rolled, I got an 8. After a while I had 4 victory points left. I bought 2 cities which boosted me to 8 victory points. Next turn I bought a road to make my road 5 segments long. I got the longest road card and won. Emma demanded a rematch, so we played again. We had excellent settlement placements so the game took a lot longer. Eventually I won again. We have a fun time playing Settlers of Catan.

Wacky ReVision

Emma and I rolled to see who would boost me to 8 victory points. I bought a road to make my road 5 segments long. Eventually I won. We played again. I got the longest road card. I won again. Emma demanded another rematch, so we decided who would go first. I went first so Emma placed her settlements first. When I rolled, I wanted to go again. We had excellent settlement placements so the game took a lot of time. Eventually, I had only 4 victory points, while Emma had 7. I bought 2 cities which gave me more resources. I won for the 3rd straight time. It was much closer.

Nice twist! That your opponent through a roll might boost your score! Inventive, right? And who doesn’t want to go again after rolling? Too funny! And true! Very good! Though I’m wondering now how you won with fewer points! That’s what’s funny about the scramble! Enjoyed this very much. Thanks for sharing it with me! —Julie

While this technique was delightful in a freewrite narrative format, it seems counterproductive if one had written a more logical or non-fiction piece. Is that true, or do you still use a similar wacky revision exercise? My son in particular usually likes things in their proper place and all very regimented!

Thanks again for facilitating our play with words!

Amy

Wacky Revision only teaches the technique of revision—that is, looking at the writing closely and making changes. Each of the techniques I showed you cause kids to engage in revision (to look at the words and reconsider what’s there). We are drawing with big crayons on a big sheet of paper without lines! This is the chance to explore what it feels like to look at your own writing and consider that it is not in finished form. It also allows kids to make connections they wouldn’t be able to see without the techniques. So they get to see what happens when you rearrange order, or contradict a commonly held belief, or add a new element, or change the tone of voice. All of these have real world value in more careful revision practices. But most kids don’t want to do revision! It’s too subtle and it feels like a violation of their original intent.

To help them over that hurdle, sometimes it’s good to simply play with the language and see how that feels (what new discoveries can be made!).

Then, as I shared in the workshop, you might try the serious revision practices for another piece. You might see how it goes to be intentional about adding an opening hook or expanding the writing for a couple of elements or revising a certain repeating term. You could also play with the wacky methods too and see what emerges.

Revision isn’t only about systematizing the content. It is about bringing power into the writing. Both styles of revision help to get you there. 🙂 —Julie

Free Writing Workshop: Wacky Revision

Wacky Revision by Jesse

Wacky Revision by Brave Writer student Jesse

Hello Julie,

We enjoyed the writing workshop. Only my eight year old has something to share with you because my older two are ill. The five year old just waved at you and was convinced that you could hear him talking to you. Jesse insisted that I send the art work that goes with his story. He illustrates everything! He also wanted you to know that he thinks you are fun. Because of the November Alliance topic math is on everyone’s mind.

Jesse’s original

When I get up I do math before I get breakfast sometimes. I get out of my bed find where ever I threw my math. I do CLE math* a Torcherwhepen!!! This time I had to do two lessons of math. Now I’m thinking it’s an altimatekillerweaponn and I couldn’t figure out 20 X 24 and I threw a hissy fit and then figured out that it was 480 which was on Fact Focus. The LAST Question I got finished with. TORTUREweaponputitaway!

*Crappy Little Education

Wacky Revision

Before I eat dinner I do math. I did not know 24 X 1,000,000,000 and I was so frustrated. I said “Crappy Little Education!” The answer I did not know. I skipped it. So I went and built a portal machine and I went in it. It brought me 480 years into the future. But what more math?! I have to find wherever I through my math. Hey! A CLE math store. It is against the law NOT to do math. Now I have to do two lessons of math–it is an ultimatekillerweapon! I wonder if there is a way to get away from doing math. No? Then I found a tunnel under ground. With math?!

Mom’s note: CLE actually stands for Christian Light Education

Audria

Audria!! Thank you so much for sharing with me! I love seeing the pictures with the writing. Such explosive powerful words—creative, funny, smart. He’s adorable! Please say hello for me! –Julie

Free Writing Workshop: Wacky Revision