Archive for the ‘Students’ Category

A New Model for Teaching Writing

A New Model for Teaching Writing

Meet Vincent and Shannon! 

Even Language Arts teachers get the writing blues! We wanted to share this enchanting story with you of a loving mom—a former teacher—and her son in our The Writer’s Jungle Online class.

Vincent and Shannon

Once upon a time, this Disney-lovin’ mom was a Language Arts teacher. You’d think that Shannon would ride off into the sunset with the traditional school system, but not so! 

The typical brick-and-mortar school system was not working for her neurodiverse son, Vincent, so they embraced homeschooling.

Shannon certainly had the know-how to teach Language Arts. Except one thing. She’d always taught to the test, and now she didn’t want to do that. 

[I]t’s difficult for me to hold back my “teacher training”… I was afraid to correct, afraid to comment, and afraid to help him add any details for fear of crushing his passion.

High five, Shannon! In fact, Shannon was doing many of the things we recommend to parents when students are finding their way.

My son started dictating stories to me from a very young age. I was his “secretary.” We had only tried one formal writing curriculum and it was not for us. I was determined to keep writing enjoyable for my son. 

But she started to feel like it was not enough.

We literally did NO writing unless he decided to do so… His writing was all over the place, but he did have the content and original ideas.

The balance between teaching mechanics and preserving the fledgling voice of a child is a hard one to walk. Many parents struggle to grow their child’s writing skills without ruining their desire to write at all.

Enter Brave Writer! 

Shannon signed up for our The Writer’s Jungle Online class. This is our flagship course where the parent is the student! 

Brave Writer coaches

  • Model gentle, constructive feedback to writing
  • Show parents how to spur growth in writing, without harsh tactics
  • Validate the mind life of the student and help them find their voice
  • Provide tools and practices you can use when class is over 

Shannon learned a new model for teaching writing. One she knew would work for them. 

I learned HOW to support his writing in a positive way without ruining his spirit. Learning how to support him was the most important aspect because I saw how quickly he could grow. My biggest fear had been conquered and he had been supported in a positive and honest way.

It wasn’t long before Shannon noticed the effect this new writing experience was having for Vincent. 

[T]he best part about the online course was that my son was getting feedback from someone else other than myself. He was actually excited to see what his teacher had thought of his writing. He’s a pretty confident writer and really wanted that feedback.

Perhaps one of the biggest surprises was how many of Shannon’s concerns began to improve on their own. 

Over a short time, I watched his writing expand and become more ordered. He used new vocabulary and actually planned before writing. It was a dream come true.

How’s that for win-win?

Vincent is 12 years old now and looks forward to writing more and more! His creativity gets to shine. Shannon tells us he loves to make up stories and write about his passions in a humorous way. What a guy!

Here’s one thing I’ve noticed over the years. It’s not just writing-averse parents and children who need a hand with writing instruction. Our established attitudes regarding writing —whether positive or negative, whether from our own schooling or professional experience—can hold us back.

Bottom line: even if you know how to write well, even if your child loves to write, it’s okay to get a helping hand. We’re here for you!


Check out our upcoming sessions of The Writer’s Jungle Online. And save $20 on each enrollment while you’re at it. Sale ends December 15!

The Writer's Jungle Online

A Storyteller with a Passion for Music

Brave Writer Songwriting Online Class

When our Songwriting class debuted this fall, we were acting on a hunch that teens were searching for a new and unique outlet for their biggest ideas and deepest longings. 

Even we were surprised by how true that was!

Below is the story of one family from our inaugural run of the class. Plus a songwriting inspired training tip.


Meet Roz and Telle! 

“When I saw the Brave Writer songwriting class I knew it was the best way to kick off the school year. I hoped it would engage her passion and put her creative soul to work in her writing. I know you aren’t shocked to hear this but it worked!” ~Roz

Roz is a veteran homeschooler but when Telle came through the ranks of their family, it was clear that Roz wasn’t going to be able to follow the same routine she had for her son.

Telle listened to read alouds, played games, and loved all our creative activities but was completely unwilling to read, write, or do more traditional learning.

Thus began a search to find out what would work best for Telle.

Roz leapt out of the box with gusto—

[We were] identifying the letters with flyswatters, [would] build words with Playdoh and even dig letters out of our sandbox to spell words but learning could never feel like anything but fun… She taught me that interest-led learning was going to be our jam and I have pretty much followed that route since.

Telle remained a reluctant writer. Academic exercises were intimidating.

However, Roz knew that the mind life of her child was dynamic and alive—a storyteller with a passion for music!

I knew we needed to grow her confidence and writing skills… and so the songwriting class was the perfect fit.  I also knew from past experience with my son in Brave Writer classes that is an ideal opportunity to employ partnership writing to get through the “tough” stuff.

Enter Brave Writer’s Songwriting class!

Music and lyrics serve as the entry point for teens to:

  • engage their critical thinking skills,
  • to harness the power of syntax and diction,
  • to explore poetic devices such as metaphor and powerful associations. 

Enticed, Telle jumped in with both feet, completing writing assignments, analyzing songs and poetry with joy.

Their family commemorated the 1919 Standard Steel Car Strike during the class time frame. Telle chose to focus on the impact of the strike on her family history. She writes,

Labor rights… are very important to me because my great-great-grandfather was shot and killed in the 1919 Standard Steel Strike. He was fighting for better working conditions and the 40-hour work week…. We learned that the family was kicked out of company housing. My great-great-grandmother never remarried and went on to raise her kids alone. She did this without the help of a union because that is what they were fighting for and it wasn’t in place to help widows. 

Telle was so inspired by her family history that her final song for the class is a wistful, yearning love song, inspired by how her great-great grandmother must have felt at the loss of her husband.

Roz shares the impact on Telle:

I love it when learning comes together in a meaningful way…. We collaborated on writing in ways that we have never before accomplished.  She drafted, edited, and wrote music effortlessly. Can any mom ask for more?  

We don’t think so!

At Brave Writer, we know that there are lots of different kinds of writers out there just waiting to be spoken to in their own love language. For Telle, it was music and a connection to her family’s past.


Songwriting Training Tip

What’s your teen’s passion? 

Brave Writer offers a variety of classes, because we know our students are

  • diverse,
  • imaginative,
  • and one-of-a-kind!

We find it fruitful to engage your child in the realm they’re most comfortable in, be that movie making, fantasy books, or the outdoors! Join us! 

Brave Writer Songwriting Online Class

From Tears to Young Author

From Tears to Young Author

Julie,

I’m writing to thank you for the role you’ve played in our educational pathway. I’ve homeschooled my kids in some form or another for their entire schooling. When Kenny, my oldest had reached 9 years old I realized we had a problem. He hated writing. I’m not just talking about not enjoying it. . . we’re talking weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth kind of stuff. I would look for fun writing prompts online and pick something that I thought would only require a little paragraph and there would be tears, and yelling. So I started looking for a different approach.

Call it revelation or providence or maybe just luck. . .but I came across your programs. I ordered the Writer’s Jungle and Partnership Writing. I loved the gentle, hopeful approach and decided we’d try it for a year. If my notes are correct that first year we completed just 4 of the writing projects. But it was just the change he needed. At the age of 10 we did Secret Codes, Imaginary Continent, Lapbook on a Greek Myth and Mail Order Catalog. That was in 2013.

From Tears to Young AuthorA year or so later (I can’t remember for sure) Kenny went to a book launch and met a new author. When he realized she was about the same age as he was he decided he would write his own novel. We spent an entire year working on his novel which was based on his maps and some of the groundwork he laid with his imaginary continent. The writing was not too bad for an 11 or 12 year old but a major change had happened. Now he is an author. He had completed his own book.

Last year as I was talking with another homeschool mother I discovered that she has a small publishing company. I shared his novel and she has taken on the project. Now my nearly 15 year old son, the Author, the Wordsmith has re-written his book to something much more grand. He is planning a life as an author and we are excitedly planning a book launch this spring. I am so excited for his achievement and so very grateful to you and the gentle nudge in the right direction. Honestly I consider this to be a huge win in my corner as homeschool mother, particularly knowing where we started.

Thank you for your beautiful messages, for Poetry Teatimes, for shared journals and for a view that invites parents to work with students in a gentle and nurturing way. Thank you for the Partnership Writing curriculum and for being a pivotal part of our writing journey.

Sincerely,

Deanna

Proud mother of Kenny, soon to be published author of The Middle Lands: The Castaway Hero.


Partnership Writing

Connecting with Kids’ Authentic Voices

Brave Writer Connecting with Kids' Authentic Voices

Brave Writer Mom, Melissa, writes:

Hi, Julie! I just had to share our work from today.

This morning, we completed our first writing assignments using the Jot It Down method. (Kids just turned 7 and 5 this summer.) We are doing the BYL shark unit study, inspired by the fact I was bit by a (tiny) shark on our trip to Galveston last week. (Between that and having given birth in a car, I’ve got some humdingers ready for “2 Truths and a Lie.”)

I am blown away by the ideas and amazing writing that is inside of them! I’ve attached pics and hope you can read my chicken scratch. I swear on my homeschool planner that these words were 100% their own. I just transcribed.

Kids Authentic VoicesClick image to enlarge

The “edits” were even my 7yo’s own changes as she read aloud the finished story. She let her ear be her guide on verb tense agreement. No sentence diagramming needed!

I am eternally grateful you showed me such a simple and effective way to connect with their authentic voices.

THANK YOU for sharing your methods and insights. You are a homeschooling hero!

Much love,
Melissa


Jot It Down

Don’t be a Perfectionist & Other Advice for Young Writers with Millie Florence

Meet Millie Florence

Millie Florence is an enthusiastic homeschooler and a published author – and she’s only 14-years-old! Her debut novel, Honey Butter, was published in August 2017, and she’s currently working on two more books: a collection of poems and a fantasy novel.

Participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, was a life-changing experience for Millie. It gave her permission to write the first draft of her novel without worrying about perfection, and that’s an incredibly freeing.

Listen to the Podcast

Show Notes

Millie’s Tips for Young Writers

  • The most important part of writing is getting the words out of your head and onto paper.
  • A lot (if not most) of what you write will get left on the cutting room floor.
  • Although revision isn’t always the most exciting part of writing, it’s necessary and it’s where a story comes together – and that can be really satisfying!
  • Feedback is critical. Millie solicits feedback from beta readers, who are other writers and friends willing to provide constructive criticism. She actually finds many of her beta readers online, and she says beta reading with people you don’t know as well “will change your life and will change your story.”
  • It took Millie a long time to find a supportive community of young writers, but she eventually stumbled onto TeenAuthorsJournal.com, a small but strong community of diverse writers.
  • Homeschooling can give young writers unprecedented freedom to write when inspiration strikes and focus their education on other things that benefit their writing.
  • If you want to get better at writing, you just have to keep doing it – even if you don’t realize it, you’re always getting better.
  • Think about stories! Don’t be afraid to dream, wonder, or come up with wild ideas. “Your mind is more powerful than you can imagine. You can affect so much of the world around you just by thinking. Your own thoughts can teach you, without you even realizing!”

Millie Florence

Resources:

Millie’s novel Honey Butter

Teen Authors Journal


We are hosting a free Brave Writer classroom for all of the young people who want to write as part of NaNoWriMo, and you can sign up your kids for FREE!

  1. Visit the Young Writers Program and sign up for an account.
  2. You will be prompted to join a classroom by entering a code. Our classroom code is: CKXQFLWR
  3. Our classroom name is NaNoWriMo for Brave Writers!