Creative writing is a skill that causes many homeschooling mamas'
hearts to skip a beat, mine included. It seems to come so naturally
to some students and yet so unnaturally to others. How can you
be certain that students are learning what they need to know? Why
do they sometimes take it so personal when mom checks their work?
Why is it difficult to objectively evaluate our own child's writing?
WriteToLearn@Home is a an online writing program that helps students
in grades 3-12 improve their writing skills through a series of
writing summaries and essay prompts. WriteToLearn@Home works with
students on six traits of writing: ideas, organization, conventions,
sentence fluency, word choice, and voice. These topics are learned
independently online as students receive objective feedback on
Account set-up is a breeze. I registered each of my children for
a one-year account and then chose a grade level for each student.
Multiple age levels can be chosen for each child at the same time,
and they are always changeable if a subject proves too difficult
or too easy. One thing I loved about this program is that my children
never saw what grade level I assigned to them. They signed in under
their own names and never saw my account. All they saw were their
After registration, I assigned each student a list of summary
lessons to read on various topics, and then they were to write
a summary of what they had read. There were a myriad of different
topics available to choose from. My fifth grader was especially
thrilled to read several articles on special effects and makeup
in movies. My eighth grader was happy to see essays on Ancient
Egypt, which coincided with our history lessons at the time. Parents
can assign as many or as few summaries as they like. Also available
to assign were essay topics. Students are given essay topic prompts
chosen by mom and guided through feedback to write a proper essay.
After assigning their work, my job was done. I was able to keep
tabs on their progress through my page, but my assistance was not
needed anymore. I did volunteer to type for my younger students
as they dictated to me, simply to save them time and frustration.
But the grading and explaining was left to the program.
When students log on, they see a list to choose from that includes
a few essay prompts and a list of articles to read and summarize.
After reading an article, students type in their summary, save
it, and then click on a box to receive feedback. The program lets
them know what they have summarized appropriately and what areas
still need work. They have six tries to write a summary that is
acceptable. Teachers are able to give them more tries if the six
are not enough, but the limited number helps them focus rather
than blindly write and then check themselves continuously.
The summary writing portions also help students build reading
comprehension. Each article consists of a passage of average chapter
length. By summarizing what they have read, students gain a deeper
understanding of the material.
The essay writing portions help students improve their writing
skills and discover their own voice as they learn to describe things,
defend positions, and compare and contrast topics. Even with these
more complicated topics, mom is not needed for grading. The feedback
portion identifies sentences copied from the original article,
mistakes in spelling, and repeated and unimportant content. It
even helps identify grammar and redundancy mistakes.
The entire program removed so much pressure from me and my children.
I was able to choose relevant material and keep an eye on their
progress while they were able to work at their own pace and receive
objective feedback on writing assignments that they found relevant
and interesting. WriteToLearn@home has been a refreshing change
in our homeschool lesson plans.