Thursday, February 17, 2011

Adapting IEW for our family

We've been using the Level A of the Student Writing Intensive for two months now.  Writing is still my son's least favorite subject so we have to break things down into small bites to keep him from getting frustrated by the whole process.  One point that stuck in my mind from listening to Mr. Pudewa's lecture "Reaching the Reluctant Writer" is that the skills of spelling, penmanship, and forming sentences all use different parts of the brain.   Schnickelfritz  actually does quite well in spelling (we're working through All About Spelling Level 2) which uses letter tiles as manipulatives.  He's also quite adept at what Charlotte Mason refers to as "narration,"  having a child retell information in his own words.  This is essentially what IEW accomplishes when students form their own paragraphs based on the key word outlines.  By deduction then it must be the penmanship portion that leave such a sour taste in Schnickelfritz's mouth. 

The first two units of IEW are creating Key Word Outlines--choosing 3 words from each sentence to act as memory aids on the content of the sentence.  Unit 2 reviews the Key Word Outlines and the child rewrites the sentence in his own words (it is OK if your child rewrites the sentence exactly like the original--we're not worried about plagiarism at this stage.  He will be learning "dress ups" that will automatically alter the sentence down the road).  For Fritz, we read the paragraph together and he underlines the words he wants to use in his Key Word Outline.  Then he can use the marked up paper to transfer his words to the outline paper, just like copy work.  We don't have to worry about spelling because he's simply copying.  In the videos Mr. Pudewa makes the point that it is more important to be fast than neat on these outlines.  He's working with a class and trying to accomplish a lot in a set time.  I'm only working with one child who is still learning to write legibly (and we've really drawn out the lessons) so neatness counts in our home.

When it comes to writing sentences, I act as Fritz's scribe.  I write just as Mr. Pudewa directs, skipping lines and crossing out rather than erasing.   Before our next writing lesson I will rewrite the paragraph on a sheet of Fritz's Handwriting Without Tears lined paper.  Then it becomes a copywork exercise with him mimicking my capitalization and punctuation.   It's still his least favorite part of writing, but at least we're getting through the learning syntax and sentence structure without it being tainted by his lack of enthusiasm for putting pen to paper.

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