December 11, 2013

Curriculum Review: The Write From History Series

Last week on my Facebook page I hinted that I was going to be sharing a new curriculum review with you this week...and today is the day!

I was eager to be a part of the Write From History curriculum launch team and review this program for you. I love all things history, so I jumped on a chance to try out this new Charlotte Mason writing curriculum.

Students learn writing from models written by authors such as Nathaniel Hawthorne, Benjamin Franklin, Hans Christian Andersen, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Shakespeare, and many others. With Write from History, students develop essential writing skills while absorbing the artistry and style of those they imitate." (taken from Brookdale House site)

Following the method designed by Charlotte Mason, students will read historical narratives, poetry selections from some of the brilliant poets of our time and cultural tales each chosen for their writing style and literary value. By reading these pieces, the student will get a grasp on proper grammar, sentence structure, and spelling as well as being introduced to literature from and about history.

Here is how the curriculum works...

There are four books in The Write from History Series: Write from Ancient History, Write from Medieval History, Write from Early Modern History and Write from Modern History. Each book in the series is divided into a Level 1 and  Level 2 ( except Write from Modern History which only has Level 2 at this time; Level 1 to come Summer 2014) and sells for $22.95 as either a print or e-Book copy.

Level 1 is geared to elementary students in grades 1-3 and is focused on basic writing and grammar skills with copywork models. Level 2 is directed towards elementary students in grades 3-5 with emphasis on higher level readings and paragraph writing models. There are two books in each Level: Cursive Model and Manuscript  Model. This allows you to choose a book based on the type of penmanship you prefer for your student as the only difference between them is the handwriting style. 

I chose to review a Write from Early Modern History Level 1 Manuscript Model. This book covers early Modern History from 1600 AD- 1850 AD from Pocahontas to Kit Carson. There are also exerts from Grimm's Fairy Tales, works by some of the great 18th and 19th century poets, and a few cultural tales.

A portion of the table of contents where each passage is listed along with it's place in the timeline of history
This book in the series was ideal for us as we are currently studying the late 1700's in our history right now. I enjoyed having all the information I needed about using this book laid out for me in the first few pages including on how to get started with a sample schedule and explanations on the different parts of the curriculum.
Here is the sample schedule for using this curriculum--SOOO helpful!
The introduction includes different ways to use the method Charlotte Mason promoted (using narration, copywork and dictation simultaneously) with the book. There is even a page of "reminders and helps."

Each passage begins with the narrative to read. This is followed by the first writing exercise the written summation. After the story is read, the student is asked to write their own summation of the story. Younger students can narrate their summary to the parent to write down for them. The second writing activity is copywork. A passage from the reading is to be copied with lines under each word to allow for easy copywork. The next writing exercise uses a second passage from the reading and this time the lines are placed after the passage itself. There is one final grouping of blank lines which can be used for the optional dictation exercise.

The reading passage, the line-by-line copywork and the second level copywork with dictation lines beneath. 
 An additional grammar activity that can be used can be found in the appendix of the book.
This is a great addition for older or more advanced students wishing to focus on the parts of speech within each of the models.

There is a monthly grammar guide in which to teach the student about the parts of speech...including having them color code the parts for identification.

By the 8th month you can see that the student will be able to identify all the primary parts of speech within the writing models. This can be done in place of dictation on the second writing copywork exercise.

Here is a sample of one of the weeks we added in the curriculum to our schedule.
Doing the first copywork exercise...

This shows both the second copywork exercise but also the grammar identification. I had him identify the parts of speech that we had already learned in our English work. Because we already do dictation as part of our regular English work, I opted for the grammar study in it's place.

So what do I think?

*I frankly love it. It is so easy to use! You do NOT have to start at the beginning of the series, nor do you have to start at the beginning of the book. I simply opened it up to the table of contents page and looked at the selection and their timeline--choosing the ones which fit our current studies the best. 

*They do NOT take up very much time. We finished each of the activities easily within about a 15 minute period a day. Because it was short, Little Britches never complained about having to do it. He especially enjoyed the reading and narration.

*I like having the grammar guide at the back of the book to assist me since I'm not extremely strong in that area. I can quickly flip to the back and remind myself what an adverb or preposition is!

*I enjoy not having to have a lesson plan and just using the suggested schedule included in the book.

BUT...there are a few things that I wish were different...
*I wish there was an answer key for the grammar identification. I am NOT strong in grammar and as I said above, I have to flip to the guide at the back to look of definitions...having an answer key would save a lot of time. Is it a deal breaker for using or purchasing more of this series? No! It's just an extra that would be great to have...and rumor has it, there will be one coming! (woot!)

*I wish the pages were perforated. From what I understand the book was originally GOING to be that way, but with a change of printing company and binding, it ended up in it's present form. It is hard for the student to write on the LEFT side pages because they do not lie down flat. I ended up photocopying each of those pages when they ended up being one we needed to use for copywork. This is also true of all the appendix pages at the back with the grammar guides and dictation models. It would be nice to be able to tear them out for reference.

HOWEVER--this book is ALSO available as an e-Book which would eliminate this problem since you could print out whatever you needed.

Now some questions I can answer for those who want to know more:
*Is this a stand alone writing curriculum?
I'm going to depends on what you are looking for! With my son's strong dislike of excessive writing, this is PERFECT for him. Though he is dictating to me his written summation, at a point in the future he can easily start writing the sentences himself. If your student enjoys writing and you are looking for something challenging, this might not be for you. This IS a Charlotte Mason inspired writing course so it's going to be more gentle in it's writing approach.

*Does it need any supplementation?
Again, I say that it depends on what you are looking for! If you want a more challenging grammar program then you can easily supplement that. If you want more than the Charlotte Mason version of spelling (to learn spelling through reading the words and then copying them and then writing through dictation), then need to find a spelling program. 

*Does this work for a history curriculum?
Not as a stand alone. I see this curriculum as a SUPPLEMENT to a history curriculum.

*Will this take you through high school?
No. This is geared towards elementary students in grade levels 1-5.

*Is this strictly copywork or are the students asked to produce original works?
All the writing in this curriculum revolve around the reading. There is a writing summation activity that is not copywork, but that still is just an "in your own words" writing of the reading. Everything else is copywork or dictation.

So the big question...will I continue to use this program in our homeschooling?
Absolutely! It is a good fit with what we are currently doing. I love that there is a second level for each of the books and that there is the option for cursive models. I can use the book as it fits and then set it aside when it doesn't. My reluctant writer enjoys it and it helps us review our grammar lessons. It adds additional stories/narratives to our history lessons and at times sends us off on rabbit trails or even ties in a rabbit trail we've already been on.

All in all, I highly recommend this curriculum and will be considering purchasing copies of the other books in the series to use as well.


1 comment:

Adena (aka cre82learn) said...

I just won this curriculum and did a quick search for any reviews to find out more about it. Now I'm very excited to receive it and get started! Adena F