WriteShop I and II FAQ

Where Do We Start?

Teaching WriteShop I & II

What Products Do We Need?

WriteShop I Basic Set 5th edition

Where Do We Start?

Should we begin with WriteShop I or WriteShop II?

We generally recommend that all students in 6th-10th grade begin with WriteShop I unless they have a solid foundation in paragraph writing and 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 jump right into WriteShop II, unless they need remediation. 

For more detailed placement help, see Choose a Level | WriteShop I & II

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

WriteShop is only a 2-3 year program. For example, you might teach WriteShop I in 9th grade and WriteShop II in 10th. Or, maybe you’ll take two years teaching WriteShop I (7th and 8th), followed by one year of WriteShop II in 9th.

Even if you start in 7th grade and take two years to finish each level, you’ll still have some high school years left. Continue to teach and practice writing. When focusing on more advanced writing skills, include literary analysis, longer essays, research papers, poetry, business letters, and résumés.

Is WriteShop a good fit for a reluctant writer?

Many kids, especially boys, struggle with writing. They’re totally intimidated by the blank page, groaning, “I don’t know what to say,” or “I don’t know how to start.” WriteShop helps reluctant writers overcome this very real frustration.

First, they learn to pick suitable writing topics. Second, with guided direction they develop their topic in an interesting manner. One step at a time, WriteShop leads teens through the steps of the writing process. In the end, even the most resistant writer feels accomplished to see an idea unfold and take shape on that once-terrifying blank page!

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

Most middle-schoolers should begin with WriteShop I. Even if they “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. Meanwhile, they’re learning important elements of writing style. WriteShop I teaches teens to write from observation and experience, with a few creative and expository assignments tossed in as well. Once students know how to write more concretely and concisely, they can move seamlessly into WriteShop II.

My high schooler can write 5-paragraph essays. Do we need WriteShop II?

WriteShop II teaches the basic 5-paragraph essay. When older students’ essays already display clear and mature thought, great organization, wise use of sentence variation, and strong vocabulary, they’re probably beyond WriteShop II.

On the other hand, if they still write lifeless, disjointed essays that lack supporting details or contain weak vocabulary, there’s a good chance WriteShop II will save the day. For 9th graders, go with WriteShop I. But if they’re in 11th or 12th grade, choose WriteShop II. A 10th grader can go either way.

Can I use WriteShop I with an advanced 5th grader?

Although many WriteShop I topics are appropriate for bright 10- to 11-year-olds, they’re not necessarily AGE-appropriate.

First, younger kids rarely have the patience, experience, or thinking skills to apply these new concepts of style and structure to their writing. Second, they may not have the vocabulary to fully develop their compositions. And finally, WriteShop’s detailed checklists will overwhelm most elementary kids. For a better fit, choose WriteShop Junior.

Teaching WriteShop I & II

How long does it take to complete a level?

WriteShop I and II offer different schedules. Each lesson can take 1-4 weeks to complete. The average 7th-10th grader completes one level per year, while younger or more reluctant 6th or 7th graders need two years. Older high schoolers can even finish a book in a semester.

How much time will we spend each day?

Plan to spend 5 minutes to 1 hour or more per day. This depends not only on the day’s activities, but on your teen’s maturity, motivation, and attitude, Most students complete one full writing assignment every two weeks (4-7 hours per lesson). With this flexible schedule, the average student works on WriteShop assignments six days out of ten.

What does the program require of parents?

You won’t have much prep time, and you’ll like the orderly, step-by-step lesson plans. Most of the time, lessons are open-and-go. Work with your student the first two days of each 2-week lesson cycle, spending about 30 minutes each day. During the second week, set aside two time slots when you’ll edit and evaluate your teen’s paper. The rest of the time, your student will work independently unless they need help.

I’m insecure about teaching and grading. 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. That’s because they eliminate much of the guesswork. In addition, the Teacher’s Manual contains lots of examples, ideas, troubleshooting tips, and more to help you teach, edit, and grade with confidence.

Do you have videos? I really don’t think I can do this myself.

If you’re still not sure about teaching WriteShop I or II on your own, or you have limited teaching time available, try our supplemental Video Course. Clear instructions, colorful graphics, and practical examples make the videos interesting and motivating for junior high and high school students. Short and engaging, each video clip takes the pressure off of you!

Can we use the videos without the student workbook?

Because the videos were created to supplement WriteShop curriculum, they won’t work as a stand-alone replacement. Your student’s success depends on the workbook, which includes word banks, pre-writing activities, brainstorming worksheets, skill builder exercises, and unique checklists for every lesson. It also has detailed, step-by-step instructions for writing each different assignment. So, while the videos explain HOW to do each activity, they don’t provide the materials your teen will need in order to write.

Your best bet is to skip the videos and get started with the WriteShop I Basic Set. Once you realize how easy it is to teach WriteShop on your own, you’ll find you may not need the videos at all!

What Products Do We Need?

Does each student need a workbook?

Ideally, yes. Although we give permission to photocopy the consumable pages for your own children, this permission doesn’t extend to instruction sheets, word lists, or reference pages. With multiple students, sharing a book doesn’t always work. Sharing seems to work best when your teens aren’t on a strict schedule and can work on their writing at different times of the day.

Do I really need the Teacher’s Manual? Can’t I get by with just the student workbook?

Because much of WriteShop’s structure is built into the Teacher’s Manual, your student will miss many important benefits of the program without it. For instance, the TM contains pre-writing activities not mentioned at all in the student books. These important activities help introduce each writing lesson. In addition, the TM features lesson plans, guided writing, editing and grading tips, explanations, discussions, illustrations, and dialogue, each of which contributes to your teen’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 won’t need this booklet. But if you appreciate the convenience of pre-selected passages, you might want to buy one. The Copying and Dictation booklet contains 16 carefully chosen literature selections offering examples of descriptive, informative, and narrative writing. Passages relate to and reinforce each WriteShop I assignment.

Can WriteShop serve as a complete grammar program?

WriteShop is not a complete grammar program. We don’t teach sentence structure, punctuation, or capitalization per se (though the 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. They also learn to use appositives, prepositional phrases, participial phrases, and subordinate conjunctions. When Skill Builders introduce a grammar concept, practical application comes when students use the new skill in their writing.

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