For the past few years, I’ve been using Susan Wise Bauer’s Writing with Ease to supplement my children’s English Language Arts work. Our school system has embraced such techniques as “journaling” [sic] and Daily Oral Language (or, as I call it, practicing errors – see some interesting points of criticism about that here).
I’m unimpressed by what the school system plans for middle school, and I’ve been somewhat panicked in my search for instructional materials to take my children beyond the fourth grade.
I remembered reading that Bauer was working on a writing curriculum for the middle school years. I’ve been checking her website for a while and was beginning to worry that she might not complete it in time for me to use with my kids.
I was relieved when I checked her blog and found this recent entry about Writing with Skill. In her blog post, she offers generous previews of both student and parent materials. The downloadable pdf versions of the full books should be available for purchase in the fall.
I like Ms. Bauer’s focus on organizational skills for writing. I believe that learning how to write is learning how to think.
I was curious to see what approach the prestigious Scarsdale, New York school district applies to middle school writing. Their website states:
"The Writing Program offers students a variety of writing experiences arising from the study of literature and includes both creative and analytical writing. As students move through the grades, greater emphasis on expository writing prepares them for the demands of their later academic lives."
My early impression of the Writing with Skill approach is that it will meet, and probably exceed, Scarsdale’s express goal of solid preparation in expository writing.