WriteShop I & II

Reviewed by Debbie Dena

WriteShop is a user-friendly, incremental writing curriculum targeted for middle and high school students. Combining creative development without sacrificing mechanics, WriteShop guides the student through weekly assignments, each with a very specific objective: conciseness, informative writing, or personification, for example.

A typical lesson, to be completed over two weeks, includes: clear and complete instructions, a brainstorming sheet, and skill builder exercises. At this point the student is ready to begin the actual writing assignment, consisting of a paragraph or two. The authors believe that if the student can master the concept in a paragraph, then he can implement that concept in a longer composition. One of the most effective aspects of the program is that the student is responsible for editing his own work through the use of a “Writing Skills Checklist.” The teacher then uses her own “Writing Skills Checklist” to guide the student in making revisions.

WriteShop also takes the mystery out of grading compositions. Each writing assignment includes a composition evaluation form with points allotted for content, style, mechanics and general neatness. The student knows exactly what is expected and why he received a particular grade.

Bonuses in the teacher's manual include: editing helps, common errors, and even a list of positive teacher comments to use on the student's paper. In addition to each lesson, the student manual includes a 22-page word list to assist in the writing exercises. The list includes over 100 synonyms alone for the word “said.”

This curriculum is by far the most organized and easiest to follow of all the writing programs that I have used. Both the teacher's manual and student workbooks are formatted neatly in sturdy three ring binders with a layout that is clear and uncluttered.

WriteShop I is designed for the average 7th to 10th grader. WriteShop II, which contains persuasive writing and essays, is best for 8th-12th graders. Both books can usually be completed over the course of two years. An older, motivated high schooler could complete the entire course in one year, while the curriculum can be adapted for younger students (6th-7th) to use over three years.

I highly recommend this curriculum for the busy mom who needs a boost in the writing department, the mom who thinks that she can't teach writing, or anyone looking for an incremental, clear-cut program with specific goals and objectives.

Information and availability subject to change without notice.