If you are lucky enough to have a few home schooling families near you, this curriculum will prove very appealing. Usually in any support group there is represented a vast array of talents and delights. Not everyone enjoys teaching Writing and that's where Beth and this great program come in. Not only does she make the reading and writing process enjoyable, she has developed a program designed for cooperative use-and it's for boys! I don't know about your boys, but mine did not see the point in doing any English assignment given them. Writing was like pulling teeth Beth is a mother of boys and has tapped into those unique traits that are universally "all boy". This is not stereotyping as most anyone who has had both boys and girls can attest. By and large boys and girls learn on different timetables and in differing ways. Beth has capitalized on this fact in a unique and highly productive way.
This program is so easy to set up and implement; everything is stepped out in such a logical way anyone could monitor and teach it. Even if you didn't have a natural English lover in your midst you could still be highly successful.
Designed in a format where all the explosive energy of a young adolescent male would be appreciated, Beth obviously knows and loves kids. This is actually the written product of a class she designed and implemented for her own 12-year-old son; one that could give his imagination the focus and freedom it needed. CWW seems like so much fun! The kids will learn all different forms of written expression. Poetry included. Famous works are used for practice and imitation. There is even opportunity given for oral reading practice (if the boys wish).
The boys are taught to use a good writing reference book such as Writer's Express. Farley Mowat's classic, Lost In the Barrens, is used for several lessons throughout the book. Beth has included excellent notes for the group facilitator and really makes a group class seem appealing and fun. There are very important points addressed as to respect and courtesy and all the "what-ifs" I could think of were covered well.
Each lesson follows the same format. Starting with "Steam Off" which is usually a word game that gets them all interacting and talking together. Then come a few written or drawn word games. While keeping up the energy level, these draw the kids into a more literary mode. Next up is a Read-Aloud excerpt. The leader, giving a good example of passion and feeling to the group, can do this. If the boys show interest, any of them could also do this. The reading time quiets everyone down and focuses the attention of the group on the literature. Most of the excerpts are from Canadian authors and all are examples of excellence in writing.
After reading comes Writing Practice, usually starting with word usage and feelings related to the reading segment, this area allows the boys to give vent to some of their thoughts relating to the writing of others. It also gets them thinking logically, of cause and effect, or whatever other elements the section touched on. Opportunity is given here for expression by drawing rather than writing all their ideas. Sharing, if desired, is enjoyed here but, again, as facilitator, you are to encourage respect and not to apply pressure to any who don't want to share.
Next comes Brainstorming. A whole group, verbal activity, the boys are encouraged to help each other out, usually thinking out loud about words that relate to the theme from the reading and Steam Off game. In session one, they will use "tree" words to build a poem. The fun part is they won't even know they've written a poem till it's all done!
To finish up a session there is a story starter to take home. The boys are encouraged to do anything with the starter and come next session prepared to share it (hopefully).
This is all such positive, creative fun I wish I had a big enough group in my area to try this out fully next year. I may just convince my two boys to work together on it, just for the fun wordplay activities.
I highly recommend this for any small group wanting a co-operative program. This book provides great assistance and explains the whole set up so well you will slide right into the activities.
(Did I mention they even get to do skits? Too cool!) This program will extend over one semester but could be stretched if you space the classes far enough. I actually had the chance to speak with a twelve-year-old boy who had just finished taking part in a workshop; he was so excited about it, he couldn't wait to do more. I asked his mom later if he was a "bookie" type of boy who liked reading and English before this course. She told me that although he had never totally refused to do his assigned English courses, he never really loved them like he loved these classes. He was just an average boy, not particularly excelling in any area. His testimony sold me- I could tell he was totally sincere.
Beth lives in Canada and sells her program from her home. This is a bonus for you Americans who would like to try a new angle and save some money as well. Drop Beth a note and check this program out-it's great!