Learning to write well has been a struggle at my house so I was excited to try this new writing program, Writers in Residence from Apologia Educational Ministries. We received the All in One Student Text and Workbook plus the Answer Key. Writers in Residence is a new writing focused language arts curriculum from Apologia and Debra Bell! Writers in Residence volume 1 is designed for grades 4 and up. There will be more volumes in the Writers in Residence series by Debra Bell coming out in the future. Writers in Residence is designed to be used by the student independently with a checklist for the student and parent to go over together for each assignment which leads to discussion and feedback.
I have been using this writing curriculum with my 13 year old son. Writing is something that he dreads so I am always excited to try new ideas. Instead of focusing on the more traditional forms of writing like this curriculum focuses on combining several forms of writing for the intended purpose, most specifically to connect with the reader.
Each unit features a professional writer to act as a model, most of them christian authors that we were familiar with. The author is interviewed and we are able to learn about specific aspects of their craft that we used as inspiration for my son’s writing assignment. One important thing that my son picked up on through these interviews was that the authors spend a lot of time revising and editing to make the story the best it can be.
There is a suggested daily schedule that we went by, included in the book. The schedule covers 32 weeks of study. The Writers in Residence curriculum is designed to be used independently by the student, for the purpose of writing this review we worked together. The schedule is easy to follow and includes just enough activities to feel like you accomplished something but not overwhelming for the student. We were able to complete unit one and half of unit two for this review period.
In unit one we:
- used our memories to put together sentences about a certain place. My son chose to write about his grandma’s kitchen. We used When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant as a model.
- We learned from her descriptive sentences how to craft our own. We were encouraged to dig into our memories, look at pictures, and ask siblings about their memories.
- After putting together the sentences we learned how vigorous verbs can make our sentences more interesting. This was all broken down into sections where we studied the author’s sentences to see how she used vigorous verbs, replaced verbs in given sentences with vigorous verbs, read more examples of the use of vigorous verbs in writing and then finally included them in our own sentences.
- We did fun things like close our eyes and list who and what we see in the place we chose to write about.
- We changed some of our common nouns into more specific nouns.
- Learned about common and proper nouns and when to capitalize.
- Learned about Chronological order and Topical order and arranged our sentences.
- We also learned about parts of speech and why they are all needed to make a good sentence.
I liked how everything was broken down into sections where we were slowly building up to what he would be assigned. We learned about each topic by example in writing, how it is accomplished, practice work, and then revising our own work. We liked that we were able to complete the assignments in the consumable book so we could look back and continually revise our work. My son has learned about parts of speech and capitalization in the past, but find it is very beneficial to have the opportunity to review them and apply them to his work.
In unit 2 we are learning how to craft a letter. This may sound pretty basic, but it is much more involved than it sounds. He is writing a letter to his future family. We are 1/3 of the way through this unit and he hasn’t written the letter yet. We are building ideas, making lists, using adjectives and learning by example to develop characters we want to know more about. On top of all that we are reviewing how to format a personal letter and envelope.
I love how everything in the Writers in Residence curriculum works together to make a better writer. All the things that he has learned in the past are coming together here and helping him realize why they are important. The thing that I love most about this entire curriculum is that my son is writing things that he will someday cherish. He chose to write his memory sentences about my mom’s kitchen. My mom passed away last January. She was in that kitchen often and my son has written down the memories of this special place with all it’s smells, tastes, activities, and people. And who wouldn’t want to find a letter that you wrote to your future children someday. One that described you as a child. These are writings that I will carefully pack away and keep for him to read someday. Which by the way, are carefully edited, neatly written and kept in a 3 ring binder.