Judith Darling’s Homeschool Writing Blog

March 27, 2009

This blog has moved

Filed under: Uncategorized — by judithdarling @ 4:41 pm

You can now find Judith Darling’s Homeschool Writing Blog at http://rdlco.com/blog.

February 25, 2009

Writing Tip: Emphasize Content Rather Than Mechanics

Filed under: Writing Tips — by judithdarling @ 3:15 pm

The empahsis placed on grading a student’s paper directly reflects on how much writing they will do and on the quality of the writing they produce.  If what is being said in the paper becomes more important than the mechanics, the student will be much more willing to write and the key is to get the them to write.  Take the empahsis off of the mechanics and spend more time working on elaboration, and content.  Help by providing a good dictionary and thesaurus and discussing how the student can make their writing more interesting and understandable.  The student will feel more comfortable about writing and want to write more, which translates into a better writer.  Practice really does make a difference.

February 10, 2009

Writing Environment Is Important

Filed under: Writing Tips — by judithdarling @ 8:51 am

Students will respond more positively to writing if the atmosphere/surroundings/environment is conducive to writing.  How can you set up an area that makes the young writer feel like thinking and writing?

  • Have quiet music playing that goes along with the theme of the writing assignment.  Use music with a faster beat for exciting adventure stories.  Use soft classical if the story is poignant or sad.  Funny stories work well with upbeat fun songs such as “Yellow Submarine”.
  • Make sure there is plenty of lighting and have as much natural light as possible.
  • Have a comfortable area for thinking.  The student should be able to pre-write in this space.  A bean bag or soft cushion by a window or the fireplace in the winter and even outside when it is warm enough.
  • Once the pre-writing is completed the student either sits at a computer, desk, or table to do the actual writing.  Make sure they have all the materials needed for the job.  Paper, pencils, pens, eraser, markers, crayons, etc.
  • If there are several students or a classroom, encourage quiet discussion and peer editing.  Feedback is a very good thing.
  • Young brains need nourishment and a healthy snack, readily available, keeps the neurons snapping.

The more comfortable, inviting, and conducive to writing the environment is, the more successful the young writer will be.

January 9, 2009

Fun After Holidays Writing Activity

Filed under: Writing Activities — by judithdarling @ 3:01 pm

2008 Holiday Memory Book

Time Frame:  A least a week, but could be even more.  Do not worry about getting writing project finished in a specific amount of time, just let the child work at their pace and enjoy it.

Materials:   Notebook paper, a tablet, a spiral notebook, or a composition book (whatever material you have to make a book out of), markers, colored pencils, crayons, and pictures

1.  Pre-write:  Brainstorm all the fun activities and things done over the holidays including the funny things, happy things, poignant and exciting moments, surprises, special foods, gifts given and received , and people involved.  Be sure to add as many details as you can remember.  Colors, smells, how things looked, how they felt, special sounds, how you felt.

2.  Begin first draft:

  • Write introduction:  Begin with an interesting anecdote or memory such as:  When my cousin arrived from New York we flew into a screaming ball of joy hugging and yelling, until my father finally had to make us quiet down so the adults could regain their hearing.  That started the fun of the whole family coming together for the holidays.
  • Continue writing a paragraph for each special thing that happened to you over the holidays.  The more information put in the story the more it will be enjoyed when read later.  Be sure to add ALL the details including what people said, what pets were doing, how good the fudge tasted, how you felt, etc.
  • Write a conclusion that sums up the whole holiday experience such as:  I think that even though my cousin and I did have a few squabbles we really did have a wonderful holiday.  When her family left it felt quiet and empty at our house and I can hardly wait till next year’s holiday season.  I just hope it will be as good as 2008.

3.   Instructor or parent edit the paper.   This is best done by noting where mistakes were made on a separate piece of paper rather than writing on the students paper.  Note things  such as where punctuation, capitalization, grammar, paragraphing, spelling errors are. Try not to find so many errors that the child becomes overwhelmed and shuts down.  Once the paper is edited give it back to the child and ask them to find the three errors in capitalization, or the spelling error in paragraph two, or take a look at the second paragraph and tell me where you think you could add a new paragraph.  This way the student is finding their own mistakes which will eventually enable them to do the editing themselves.  This can be done by peer editors too.  It is difficult at first, but they will become more and more proficient as they do it.   THE KEY TO DEVELOPING A GOOD WRITER IS TO NOT MAKE THE EDITING OF MISTAKES THE PRIMARY FOCUS, BUT TO LOOKING AT THE CONTENT AND ENCOURAGING THE CHILD TO ELABORATE AND MAKE THE STORY INTERESTING AND THE EXPERIENCE OF WRITING FUN.

4.  Student writes second draft or final paper, correcting mistakes and adding even more interesting information as they think of it.   (Parent or instructor decides how many drafts need to be written before writing the final paper.)

5.  After writing the final paper student may then do all of the artwork to make the book colorful and exciting to read.  If you have pictures, they may be included to make the book even more fun

6.  Put the book together by whatever means available

7.  Enjoy

October 3, 2008

Writing Tip #1 – Picking a topic to write about.

Filed under: Uncategorized — by judithdarling @ 5:03 pm

Picking a topic that is within a child or student’s bank of knowledge is key in motivating them to write.  If there is not a bank of knowledge, then the parent or teacher ends up doing all the thinking for the student and that is not the goal.  This is especially crucial when working with elementary students or a reticent writer, so you must try to think of topics that the child knows something about and is interested in.  This alleviates the “I don’t know what to write, or I can’t think of anything,” response when the student is asked to write.  If you are having trouble coming up with topics or prompts and don’t know quite how to proceed once you have the prompt, it might be worth your time to take a look at our creative writing book.  It is designed to make writing an independent and fun experience that does not require parental guidance, because the entire writing process is explained to the student in such a way that it is easy to understand and do.

September 26, 2008

Welcome to homeschool writing blog.

Filed under: Uncategorized — by judithdarling @ 8:42 pm

Hello to all home school parents teaching writing.  I want to offer support to anyone that has a need.  I know teaching writing is difficult and students are resistant, so I have a few ideas on how to do a better job.  I have had 30 years of experience teaching writing under my belt that includes kindergarten through eighth grade in public school, many hours tutoring students that needed help in writing, and now home schooling my own granddaughters.

Weekly I will offer a writing tip that can make your life easier,  plus answer any questions that you might have.  If I don’t know the answer to a question I will research it for you and see what I can come up with.

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