Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Create Better Writers, Simply and Affordably


C8 and I have had the pleasure of reviewing How to Write a Paragraph, an e-book for grades 3 and up. In 22 pages, utilizing 11 steps, it fully explains how to teach students to write a paragraph using one simple trick. It also includes practice worksheet pages. This e-book is the first step in an affordable writing system developed by David Dye, M.ED. Mr. Dye has been a teacher for twenty years and writing workshop author/speaker for ten. The name of this full writing system is Create Better Writers.

I was also given an opportunity to read The Homeschool Action Plan which is a 54 page e-book that summarizes The Create Better Writers system. It includes pacing charts and spells out the road map for the entire third through twelfth grade years - whatever your curriculum.
I electronically sent the e-books to our local office supply store for printing and spiral binding. I like physical copies to underline. I also make notes in the margins. Most of the e-books are available as soft cover, physical books.
 Create Better Writers is designed for 3rd graders through adult students.

The following are the steps or pieces in the Create Better Writers curriculum as listed in The Homeschool Action Plan e-book: 
  • Step #1: How to Teach the Paragraph - learn one simple trick to master the paragraph
  •  Step #2: Writing Tricks Plus and The Complete Writing System - learn to write intelligent sentences and learn to use stronger vocabulary
  • Step #3: How to Teach the Five Paragraph Essay - expand on the one simple trick for paragraphs to write the essay ~ reviewed at the end
  • Step #4: Return to Writing Tricks Plus and The Complete Writing System (part II)

Create Better Writers will enable teachers to do the following: 
  1. To teach all their students simultaneously at various learning levels
  2. To teach in an organized step-by-step manner
  3. To teach all the major writing concepts every student requires to attain college-level writing skills
                                               ~ p.5, The Homeschool Action Plan e-book 

Our plan for a new third grader:
According to the Roadmap in The Homeschool Action Plan e-book, our first semester should include teaching the paragraph (two to four months), sentence building (two to four weeks) and vocabulary practice (two to four weeks). Then, during the second semester, achieve mastery through plenty of practice.


All Students ~ Paragraph Practice:
For that practice, Mr. Dye encourages all students to do what Classical and Charlotte Mason homeschoolers refer to as notebooking or narration. In other words, to write paragraphs to "summarize stories you read as well as concepts from social studies, science, math and health" referred to on p.10 in The Homeschool Writing Action Plan e-book. Also in the Homeschool Writing Action Plan e-book, Mr. Dye gives a model of how to summarize stories from literature, step by step in paragraph form! It is so simple and so brilliant! Narration/Notebooking is important in our homeschool and this program is designed to guide us every step of the way!

The following is the Table of Contents in the How to Write a Paragraph e-book:

Part I- The Basics
  • Step 1 - Assessment: Students write a paragraph (p.2)
  • Step 2 - Learning the Five parts of a good paragraph (p.3)
  • Step 3 - Memorize the Five Parts of a Paragraph (p.3)
  • Step 4 - The Paper Set-Up (p.4)
  • Step 5 - Write a Paragraph Together: The Prewrite (p.6)
  • Step 6 - Write a Paragraph Together: The Paragraph (p.7)
Part II - Improving the Parts of a Paragraph
  • Step 7 - Topic Sentence (p.9)
  • Step 8 - Closing Sentences (p.11)
  • Step 9 - Paragraph Assessment (p.13)
  • Step 10 - Practice, Practice, Practice (p.13)
  • Step 11 - The Perfect Paragraph (15)
  • Appendix A (p.17) / Appendix B (p.20)

The video below is an excellent resource taken from an actual workshop. It explains the one simple trick. This video is available on the Create Better Writers website.


The last e-book we were given the opportunity to review is How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay. It's recommended for fourth grade and up. Our oldest is a beginning third grader. I did however read through it. The content is wonderful and simply explained. Section five is entitled Bells and Whistles. I plan to go over this portion with C8 in the near future. It includes how to sections on topics such as Interesting Introductions, Classy Conclusions, Terrific Transitions, and Comma, Comma, and...

This book is 36 pages with an additional 20 pages in the appendix.

Our Thoughts:
There really is one simple trick to paragraph writing and C8 mastered the trick by the end of our review period. We practiced writing paragraphs across the curriculum and followed all eleven steps. I am pleased to say she is doing well. I see a vast improvement in her "notebooking/narration" skills since putting into practice the steps taught in How to Write a Paragraph. For the price, you certainly can't go wrong! 

Pricing for most Create Better Writers products:
  • How to Write a Paragraph e-book ~ available for only $7.99 here
  • How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay ~ can be purchased at the bottom of the page here for $17.95 (e-book). It's also available in softcover. How to Write a Paragraph is included free with this purchase.
  • The Homeschool Action Plan ~ is available for download for $15.95 here. It is also available in soft cover.
  • The Complete Writing Program e-book, which includes the How to Write a Paragraph e-book, How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay e-book, Writing Tricks, and free newsletters with extra worksheets tips and tricks and $50 off a future workshop is on sale for $54.80. It is also available in softcover book form. You can view The Complete Writing Program here.
  • Writing Tricks, Plus e-book is available here for $17.95
     
Lastly, a quote from Mr. Dye:
"The strength to this system is that it all begins with one simple trick for paragraph writing. It's easy to teach and easy to learn. As the teacher and student gains confidence with the paragraph, the system builds on that trick until the essay is mastered. Finally, the trick builds until the three to five page research report is mastered. Over the course of a few years, the students will have learned everything they need to know to become well-rounded writers. They are ready for college, career, and life."
~Hope

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Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are mine.

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