Archive for the ‘Email’ Category

Passion and Partnership

Isabelle and Caitlyn

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! 

Middle School Writing Prompts

When It All Comes Together

When It All Comes Together

Brave Writer mom Caitlyn writes:

Hi, I promised Julie on Instagram that I had a big ole testimonial coming, and this is it!

First some background:

We have been homeschooling since 2012, when my oldest was about to enter Kindergarten. We are a super eclectic homeschool family, borrowing wisdom from various approaches including: Montessori, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason, Classical, etc. On writing, however, I always had this sense that it would come as the kids get older. Even though I work as a freelance copywriter/editor, I still struggle to figure out how to transmit my knowledge into an age appropriate approach for my kids. Due to frustration with unappealing writing programs and a lack of clarity of where to start, I considered writing as something that we would figure out eventually. Apparently “eventually” has a tendency to creep up on you.

Last summer (2019) as my oldest was about to embark on middle school/sixth grade, I really wanted to start focusing on writing, but I didn’t really know where to begin, and I really needed some help. We had attempted to take a Brave Writer class in the past, but it wasn’t the right fit at the time. This time I happened upon the middle school writing projects class in a Brave Writer email and I polled some friends on facebook to see if anyone had taken it. My good friend EG said that her daughter had taken it, but that it had been very intensive so to make sure to enroll when we had the time to really focus on it. This was perfect advice because with 5 kids we are chronically over scheduled during the academic year. Based on her counsel, we decided to enroll her in Middle School Writing Projects over the summer.

The weekend before the class began, as a family we visited to the California Academy of Sciences. Now we have been to Cal Academy many many times, but on this particular trip there happened to be a docent walking around and my kids happened to be interested enough to start asking him questions. The following Monday, the class started, and the kids (from around the world) were asked to pick a topic. My daughter chose jellyfish! Like the ones we just saw at the museum! I rejoiced to feel like finally a fieldtrip made a lasting impression.

The class itself was absolutely fantastic. It was highly organized, had weekly deadlines (which daughter wrote in her planner and followed religiously), extensive and immediate constructive feedback, and lots of peer back and forth. In addition to completing the course with a finished PowerPoint presentation about Golden Jellyfish (her refined topic), my daughter left a very positive review for the class and said that she used to hate writing, but now she liked it and understood how it could be fun. Amazing!!

But the fabulous class experience itself is not what I am writing about. What blew me away was what came some months later.

This is the first year that we are participating in the Arrow Brave Writer experience. One of my goals for this homeschool year was to boost our read aloud game, and the Arrows seemed to fit that bill. We have also had the stroke of luck of being invited to join a local Arrow book club that hosts monthly parties!

When September rolled around and we first started reading The Wild Robot, my kids were like meh, not a fan. As the story went on, however, they were all hooked. Even my 5 year old couldn’t wait to hear the next chapter.

We are enrolled in a very stringent homeschool charter program, and one of our teacher’s requirements is that oldest completes at least two grade level book reports a semester. Considering that my oldest has the capacity & drive to read up to one full book a day, I figured she would have plenty of options and it wouldn’t be a big deal. However, I was concerned about how boring a typical essay format book report would be, so I bought a bundle of 15 different creative book report formats on a popular curriculum website. I was very inspired by the webinar episode Julie put out about writing assignments versus writing projects. (I may have to write another post about how this has played out with my 8 year old son, reluctant student turned timeline enthusiast). It helped to shift my mentality of finding ways to meet requirements in a manner that would support the love of learning we are trying to cultivate with our children.

Anyhow, I gave the printed out options to my daughter, and told her that she could do whichever one she wanted, and that it could be on any book she wanted.

Guess what she picked?
The Wild Robot !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
PowerPoint Presentation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She worked diligently for several hours each day over a period of several days and wrote the most thoughtful, comprehensive and gorgeous book report presentation I could ever have imagined. She took it very seriously and did her best work. The capacity to put the project together was a direct result of her participation in the Middle School Writing Projects class, and her selection of The Wild Robot is a testament to the quality of the literature and its ability to pique the interest of an 11.5 year old girl (as well as her younger siblings). This kid read a children’s version of the Odyssey when she was seven or eight years old, so she is not easily impressed.

I am so so satisfied and thankful that we happened to fall upon this path, and I wanted to share my gratitude and testimonial for the Brave Writer classes, Brave Writer Arrows, and Brave Writer approach to writing.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Kindest Regards,
Caitlyn O.

Middle School Writing Prompts

From Tears to Young Author

From Tears to Young Author


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.



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,

Jot It Down

I Would Do It All Again

I would do it all again

Brave Writer Mom, Kim, writes:

Hi Julie.

My two daughters didn’t attend a public school until they attended our local community college at age 18. During my years of homeschooling them, figuring out how to teach writing challenged me. I have no recollection of how I first heard of your program but they were in their very early elementary years when I purchased The Writer’s Jungle, and it became the only writing program (maybe lifestyle is a better word?) I ever used.

This note is a thank you for your instruction, encouragement and hand-holding via that program and your blog. Over the years, we covered a lot of ground: poetry tea time, freewrites, copywork, revision on some pieces, nature journals, read-alouds most of the way through high school, etc. They took one online Brave Writer class (the essay class) and really appreciated the format; I continued to provide feedback on their writing in the same way they got used to seeing it in that class. I learned to trust the process without knowing exactly where it all would lead.

It led to a bounty of fruit. During their high school years, they each had an article published in a magazine (one daughter bought a small herd of sheep with her earnings). When the girls attended college and took the required introductory writing courses, they both consistently scored in the top of their class.

My favorite comment came from my youngest daughter when someone asked her how I taught them writing. “Well, Mom gives us feedback on what we write by highlighting in different colors (maybe yellow for spelling issues, maybe green for punctuation, maybe purple where she’s commenting on awkward phrasing or more effective ways to organize the writing). So after doing that a bunch of times, you learn how to write better. Then, you go to college and see that other people need help with their writing, and you do the exact same thing for your fellow students!”

Thank you, Julie! I would do it all again given the opportunity!


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