Through the unique use of writing mechanics, informative illustrations, vivid storytelling, and a good dose of humor, Jemma (age 9) brings her characters to life in an epic adventure to save the kingdom from a HUGE, hungry dragon.
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The How to Train Your Dragon Arrow highlights “Punctuation and Writing Mechanics as Style” and provides insights into the power these elements lend to writing.
All Arrows foster inquiry and curiosity about how writers use punctuation, grammar, and spelling, as a means to engage readers—not to simply have “correct” writing.
Arrows provide easy-to-understand notes to help parents and their children explore writing mechanics and writers’ craft through the published works of established authors. Over time, children apply these writing tools to original writing, as Jemma has shown in her engaging story.
Thank you for sharing your epic story with us, Jemma! We wish you many days of brave writing ahead!
Writers come in many different shapes and forms. Whether writing fiction, nonfiction or legalese, there’s a place for you at Brave Writer!
Here’s the story of one family who found the perfect niche in our classroom.
Meet Isabelle and Caitlyn!
Talk about multitasking! Homeschooling parent of 5 kids, Caitlyn is an attorney in bright and beautiful California. In the evenings she works as a legal writer and copywriter. In her free time, Caitlyn reads a lot of nonfiction and runs in preparation for her first marathon. Go, Caitlyn!
(Her other main “hobby” is driving her kids all over the Bay Area, doing drop-offs at activities and coops. We hear you, Caitlyn! The chauffeur gig is intense!)
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!
Daughter Isabelle follows closely in mom’s footsteps, being an avid reader and new runner. She dabbles in learning Russian, Mandarin, and coding.
Cool fact: she’s practically started college already—
She was born during winter break, our second year of law school. In utero she attended lectures by Justice Scalia, and when she was a few months old she attended 1 Art Law lecture.
How awesome is that!
Isabelle has been homeschooled since kindergarten, but they came across a stumbling block: writing. Caitlyn knew they needed some different tools.
I think she had it in her, but it seemed intimidating. I didn’t know how to bridge getting it out of her without it seeming inauthentic.
Caitlyn enrolled Isabelle in Middle School Writing Projects where she got to embrace her love for facts and direct her own research. Isabelle wrote to our coach,
Things I know about myself as a writer are 1. sometimes when I’m given an interesting assignment, I want to finish it before it’s due, and include lots of interesting facts and pictures. And 2. I really enjoy researching for facts on the topic I have picked or been assigned.
A match made in heaven!
Middle School Writing Projects is designed to help transform children’s nonfiction knowledge and personal experiences into meaningful writing projects.
Isabelle’s final project centered around the golden jellyfish native to Palau.
Caitlyn tells us—
It was exactly what I was looking for. There was a high level of engagement, tons of feedback from the teacher to my daughter, social interaction with other kids through the forum, tons of scaffolding in teaching structure, and an open line of communication between the teacher and the parent.
That’s what we’ve found too: early writing discomfort can often be helped by adding passion and partnership! Isabelle seems to agree—
I think this writing class has made writing more fun for me. I used to think writing was boring, now I find it fun.
Caitlyn plans on signing Isabelle’s little sister for the same class in 2020. I wonder what she’ll choose to write about!
This Air Force family moves frequently, so homeschooling helps them to keep consistent with their learning. It keeps alive Lydia’s love of all things creative, too! She’s a self-professed eclectic, “flexible but routined” homeschooler who can’t resist a creative, artsy project! We love that!
We were honored to find out that we placed on Lydia’s homeschooling bucket list!
Ever since I had heard of Brave Writer, I wanted to try a class. I mostly tried it to “check off” a style of writing I was not confident in (poetry).
Lydia signed her family up for our Playing with Poetry: Discovery class last winter. (A great choice, since the whole family gets to participate for one fee!)
Isaac, then 8, was struggling to read and write. He hated to even try writing and often refused because it was too hard.
Lydia offered Isaac a lot of support. (We share ways to do that in our video “How to Support your Child in an Online Class”—emailed to you when you register!)
It was transformative.
I never forced him to write or complete anything, but invited him to come along for the ride as much as he wanted, and he chose to work through the fear…
I offered to jot things down. I asked questions to get him thinking and more questions to clarify. The first poem was based on a photograph so he just said words that popped into his mind while looking at his photo.
Lydia helped Isaac gather all the materials needed to create his masterpiece then—
[W]hen he was ready, we read through his list of words and he very thoughtfully chose which words to use and created beautiful phrases that then took on a life of its own and became his very first poem.
Aren’t you grinning ear to ear thinking about a reluctant writer who just cranked out a full POEM? I am!
Writing coach, Susanne Barrett, swooped in to support Isaac’s newfound confidence.
Susanne’s feedback to him completely changed his outlook on his ability. She told him she could tell that he cared about beautiful language and chose each word very carefully, a sign of a true writer. He beamed and took all that to heart and has been writing ever since and now wants to be a writer.
Not only did they have a wonderful experience in that 4-week class (a perfect length, Lydia says, for a deep dive), but the effects of the class have been lasting.
I’m… confident that without partnering with Isaac, and jotting things down for him, he might not have realized he CAN be a writer even while struggling to read, spell, and write.
Since that first poem, Lydia’s kids have taken several of our classes!
I appreciate how the classes have taken some of the pressure off of me to check the box of writing and it’s organized and totally doable! I love how much parents are encouraged to partner with their child in order to grow and succeed.
Thank you, Lydia! And thank you, Isaac for sharing your poetry with us! (See Isaac’s work in the training tip below!)
Brave Writer has two Playing with Poetry classes. Take them in any order! Don’t miss the chance to partner with your kids in a relaxed writing environment.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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