Friday, July 22, 2011
Reading and Writing for Ella
This year, I plan on increasing the intensity of Ella's reading and writing, especially writing. Last year, we did a handful of writing exercises beyond Writing With Ease Level One. I DO like the Writing With Ease concept however, we will be doing much dictation and narration with our history and geography curriculum that I decided it may be a little "too much" of the same thing. In addition to that, I wanted her to be more involved with Literature studies, and had a feeling that we'd have to focus our writing alongside whatever literature selections we came up with.
I have to pause and say, before I introduce our chosen reading and writing curriculum that I labored over the decision for the writing A LOT. The variety of writing how to's is mind boggling- there were several options that looked great, and some not so great, or some that would not do well with Ella's learning style. As a fine reader, she excels in this area. Contrary to popular belief, though, being a good reader or excellent reader, as I believe Ella is, as well as an excellent speller do not go hand in hand. I have read studies and read on forums about other students who are excelling at reading but the idea of being a natural speller isn't so. Ella will do excellent with her spelling work and tests, but when it comes to writing on her own, the spelling she knows flies out the window for the most part. So, I have decided to do away with a specific choice of any spelling program and work within the books we read. That means- a lot of extra work for me. That means- Ella is going to really really USE these spelling words and I can CREATE what she needs to do and practice so she can REALLY LEARN how to spell when she writes on her own! To accomplish this, I have taken out spelling words from several different books that we'll start out with and I have made literature units.
One of the first books we will read is Tippy Lemmey. I actually will use it as a "read aloud" so Philip can enjoy it as well. This will not be a complete literature unit, but basic comprehension and spelling. After this book, which will take two weeks, we will begin Because of Winn Dixie. I will have spelling lessons for her, and using the Arrow put out by Brave Writer, we will explore grammar, writing, and literature studies each week for three to four weeks. Every month, we are going to use the Arrow to combine her literature with grammar and learning about the elements of literature. Other books we will use are: Turn Homeward Hannalee (one I loved as a child, and just found in my old book stash, coincidentally), Carry On Mr. Bodwitch (a book we are going to read for history as well in our first unit), Caddie Woodlawn, Thimble Summer, A Door in the Wall, Treasures in the Snow (I loved this book as a child), The Horse and His Boy (C.S. Lewis), Ginger Pye, and Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (which we have already in our homeschool library). Like Philip, we will be using a few Progeny Press PDF interactive guides if time allows. On average, we will be reading one extra book a month beyond what we are reading for History.
Our curriculum for history and geography actually includes writing exercises each week, narration, and dictation. As well as word study, some spelling, reading, science, and a few art projects. But I read the Brave Writer's handbook called the Writer's Jungle and after reading this, felt so encouraged and equipped to handle the teaching of writing to my children. I loved her suggestions for guiding children along the writing path. She stresses not forcing the writing and challenged the mom- the teacher- to really become a supporter, not critic, of the child's work. More on The Writer's Jungle later- there's so much good in there I don't know where to start! I need to outline a blog post for it!