Write Well

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About the Founder of Write Well

  • Teaching for High School and Homeschool

While writing has remained a life-long passion of mine, I have developed practical methods for teaching writing over the years. Before kid #3 (of five) arrived, I oversaw the Western Civ curriculum at Middlesex School (in Concord, MA) for about eight years. My approach was interdisciplinary in content and diverse in skills development. Reading thoughtfully, thinking logically, and writing clearly were the goals; mastering the five-paragraph essay formula was central to this work. In addition to my years of teaching high school, I have taught a variety of homeschool classes over the 10 plus years I have homeschooled on various topics in history, literature, writing, and science.

  • How Write Well Has Evolved

For the past five years I have worked with the Excellence in Writing curriculum in conjunction with a family-centered, homeschool writing club. I have been amazed at how successful this program can be for teaching children of all ages and writing (or non-writing) temperments. I began offering classes at the Voyagers Homeschool Coop, which led to offering these classes through the Voyager Resource Center. With the help of the simple-to-implement, amazingly sophisticated Lifewerks software, I have branched off into the world of on-line classes. See http://www.lifewerks.com for details.

  • Methodology for the Write Well Approach to Writing

While I borrow some parts of this curriculum from the Institute for Excellence in Writing Curriculum (see http://www.iew.com), I have also developed my own approach, which combines my years of high school teaching experience with my more holistic homeschooling ventures. By teaching key word outlining, one learns how to structure one's thoughts; the outline also provides the writer with ready prompts to prevent writer's block. By introducing--with the help of EIW checklists--specific "dress ups," "sentence openers," and more advanced "decorations," the students develop an impressive toolbox of techniques to increase the clarity and sophistication of their writing.

  • Educational Philosophy

The focus in this course is unleashing the student's confidence in writing while giving them practical tools to ease the process. I do not emphasize the details of grammar and spelling, but I will comment, in a supportive and low-key manner, on these details when looking at their individual papers and when "teachable moments" evolve in our classroom work.

I encourage the students to set the goals for this class, in consultation with their banker/parent, rather than to just follow the assignments lock-step. Developing confidence as a writer can be a fragile and laborious process. Sometimes assignments with forced deadlines drive one toward high achievement, and sometimes it leads to anxiety and brain freeze. No one can write under excessive stress. I try to empower students by remaining flexible and sympathetic, while maintaining high standards and encouraging lofty goals.

Some students also need more help than others. Do not hesitate to model or help your student, as he/she needs such help. Moving toward independence evolves gradually.

  • Practical Advice

I always encourage my students to get help from parents, especially at the brainstorming process, while they are developing their key word outlines. Thinking it all out is usually the hardest part. Once they have a key word outline, the writing is quite simple. If students are not adept at notetaking or need other help, a parent is welcome to attend to lend support. Students will do the bulk of their outlining and writing at home while our class time will be spent modeling the task at hand. Each week,younger students will hand in a paragraph-length paper, longer selections for more advanced students, on which I will comment extensively and return at the next session. By focusing on engaging writing topics as a class, students learn the techniques in an enjoyable, relaxing manner. For younger students, I frequently incorporate hands-on activities to add variety to the learning experience. I have a deep sensitivity and respect for the diverse individuals in my class. I encourage parents to give me as much background information as can be helpful in ensuring that I am mindful in how I approach, engage, and encourage each child.

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