FAQ | WriteShop I and II

WriteShop I and II Books

Should my student begin with WriteShop I or WriteShop II?

We generally recommend that all students in 6th-10th grades begin with WriteShop I, unless they have a solid foundation in paragraph writing and have experience with descriptive, informative, and narrative writing. Even then, motivated and articulate older high schoolers often show dramatic improvement using WriteShop I.

Juniors and seniors should begin with WriteShop II, unless they need remediation.

How long does it take to complete one level of WriteShop?

WriteShop I and II offer different schedules. Each lesson can take one to four weeks to complete. The average 7th-10th grader completes one level per year, while the younger or more reluctant writer in 6th or 7th grade needs two years. Older high schoolers can even finish a book in a semester.

How much time will we spend on lessons each day?

Depending on each day’s activities and factors such as schedule choice, age, maturity, motivation, and attitude, plan to spend from five minutes to an hour or more per day. Most students complete one full WriteShop lesson every two weeks (4-7 hours per lesson). With this flexible schedule, the average student works on WriteShop assignments six days out of ten.

How much parent involvement should I expect?

Prep time is minimal. All the preparation has been done for you, and the lesson plans are laid out in an orderly, step-by-step fashion. Once in a while you will need to gather some simple materials. For example, Lesson 3 asks for magazine pictures of people’s faces. Lesson 5 requires a bowl of popcorn.

Most of the time, the lessons are open-and-go. You will work with your student the first two days of each 2-week lesson cycle, spending about 30 minutes each day. During the second week, plan to set aside two time slots in which to edit and evaluate your teen’s paper. The rest of the time, your student will work independently unless your help is needed.

I’m insecure about teaching and grading writing. Will WriteShop help?

Yes! The program was written with parents like you in mind. WriteShop’s lesson-specific, objective checklists and grading forms are among the most popular features of the program, as they eliminate much of the guesswork. Plus, the Teacher’s Manual is filled with examples, ideas, troubleshooting tips, and more so that you can teach, edit, and grade with confidence.

Is WriteShop a good fit for a reluctant writer who freezes at the sight of a blank paper?

Many kids are reluctant writers, boys in particular! It’s a common myth that people are born with a “writing gene.” In reality, writing is very much a learned skill. By nature some children certainly do seem more expressive. Others, like your son, are totally intimidated by the blank page, groaning, “I don’t know what to say,” or “I don’t know how to start.”

WriteShop helps struggling writers overcome this very real frustration. First, we teach reluctant students how to pick suitable writing topics. Second, with guided direction they learn to develop a topic in an interesting manner. Lessons require students to brainstorm before each composition. As they’re walked through a series of steps to help them gather ideas, they’re also encouraged to use word banks (included) and a thesaurus such as The Synonym Finder [affiliate link]. And finally, when it’s time to write the rough draft, the lesson instructions will carefully lead them through the process. In the end, even the most reluctant of writers feels a sense of accomplishment when he sees an idea unfold and take shape on that once-overwhelming blank page!

My junior higher already writes well. Can she start with WriteShop II?

Our experience has shown that most middle-schoolers need to begin with WriteShop I. Even if students “can” write, it doesn’t always mean they’re writing effectively. WriteShop I helps them refine their writing and pay better attention to content and grammar while teaching them some important elements of writing style. WriteShop I focuses on writing from observation and experience, with a few creative and expository assignments tossed in as well. Once your child is able to write more concretely and concisely, she can move seamlessly into WriteShop II.

My high schooler can write 5-paragraph essays. Does he need WriteShop II?

WriteShop II teaches the basic 3- to 5-paragraph essay. If your older teen’s essays already display clarity and maturity of thought, great organization, wise use of sentence variation, and strong vocabulary, he may be beyond WriteShop II. On the other hand, if his essays are still weak and disjointed, lack supporting details, and contain dull or overly repeated vocabulary, there’s a good chance he’ll benefit from WriteShop II. If he’s in 9th grade, WriteShop I may be the better fit. If he’s in 11th or 12th grade, choose WriteShop II. A 10th grader can go either way.

My younger child is fairly advanced. Can I use WriteShop I with a 4th or 5th grader?

Although many of WriteShop I’s topics are appropriate for bright students in the 8- to 11-year-old range, they’re not necessarily AGE-appropriate. These children cannot (and should not) be expected to have the patience, experience, or thinking skills to apply all the WriteShop concepts to their compositions. In addition, they may not have the vocabulary to fully develop their writing. Also, most elementary children are simply overwhelmed by the demands of the detailed checklists. It’s better to put them in WriteShop Junior, which is more fitting for this age group.

Do students need their own WriteShop workbook?

Ideally, yes. Although we give you permission to photocopy the consumable pages for your own children, this permission does not extend to instruction sheets, word lists, or reference pages. This can pose a problem for families with multiple students, since sharing a book doesn’t always work. If Student A needs the lesson instructions, then Student B has to wait till Student A is finished. If Student A is working on revisions and wants to refer to the Word Lists, but Student B is using the book, it can put Student A in a bind. Sharing a book seems to work best when students are not on a strict schedule and can work on their writing at different times of the day.

Are there separate Teacher’s Manuals for WriteShop I and II?

No, WriteShop I and II share the same Teacher’s Manual. One purchase is sufficient.

I’m not a “teacher’s manual” kind of parent. Can I get by with just the student workbook?

Since so much of WriteShop’s structure is embedded in the Teacher’s Manual, your student will miss many important benefits of the program without it. For one, it contains pre-writing activities that are not mentioned at all in the student books. These activities are an important part of introducing each writing lesson. In addition, the TM also contains lesson plans, guided writing, editing and grading tips, explanations, discussions, illustrations, analogies, and dialogue, each of which contributes to the student’s understanding of the lesson.

Do we need the Copying and Dictation Exercises for WriteShop I?

Copying & Dictation Exercises
If you have copywork resources at your disposal, or you enjoy gathering or providing your own materials, you will not need this booklet. But if you appreciate the convenience of pre-selected passages, you might want to purchase it. The Copying and Dictation booklet contains sixteen carefully chosen literature selections offering examples of descriptive, informative, and narrative writing. Passages relate to and reinforce each WriteShop I assignment.

Is there any religious content in WriteShop I or II?

WriteShop encourages godly communication through discussions on appropriateness, character studies, and examples. While not overtly religious, WriteShop I and II do contain occasional religious references. They are minimal and can easily be skipped or even changed to suit your own needs. Learn more here.

Can WriteShop serve as a complete grammar program?

WriteShop is not a complete grammar program. Sentence structure, punctuation, and capitalization are not taught per se; however, the student and teacher checklists require careful attention to mechanics. On the other hand, there is a strong focus on introducing, practicing, and reinforcing parts of speech. Students are encouraged to incorporate strong nouns, verbs, adverbs, and adjectives in their writing. Also, they are taught to use appositives, prepositional phrases, participial phrases, and subordinate conjunctions. New grammar concepts are introduced via Skill Builders, and practical application comes when students use these grammar skills in their compositions.

A grammar supplement such as The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation should be sufficient, though you certainly may want to continue teaching grammar alongside the writing—especially if your teen is weak in this area.

Can this program be used all the way through 12th grade?

WriteShop is only a 2-3 year program. You might teach WriteShop I in 9th grade and WriteShop II in 10th, for example. Or, you might take two years teaching WriteShop I in 7th and 8th grades, followed by one year of WriteShop II in 9th.

Even if you start in 7th grade and take two full years to finish each level, you’ll still have some high school years remaining. Continue to teach and practice writing throughout high school, focusing on more advanced writing concepts that WriteShop does not teach (such as literary analysis, longer essays, research papers, poetry, business letters, and résumés).

Also see WriteShop I: Help for Beginners

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