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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Teaching Kids to Write Well

TeachingWritingLogoInstructing students in how to write well is often easier said than done.  There are generally three schools of thought along these lines:  1) have the student read a lot in order to get some good writing on the inside of him, thus, it’s believed, he will recognize good writing when he attempts it for himself;  2) have the student copy and rewrite passages verbatim from sources as varied as the encyclopedia to great literature, overlooking the fact that this practice may later lead to plagiarism; or 3) have the student stress and strain over some “creative” topic of his own, usually expending more brain power over what to choose for the subject itself, and how to develop it, than the mechanics of writing itself.

None of the above is ideal.

Our family has found a delightful alternative, the Institute for Excellence in Writing.  Headed by home educatorth afficionado Andrew Pudewa, these materials would make a tremendous, part-time, summer seminar for your son or daughter.  Even if your days are crammed full of activity, a few weeknights each week of 30 or 40 minutes’ worth of writing could pay off in spades for your student.

Here’s how it works.  Mr. Pudewa teaches a class on DVD.  The first steps in writing are both structured and creative.  The uniqueness of the system is this:  he gives the kids a written paragraph and then teaches them to choose three key words from each sentence.  This is the “key word outline” and it’s good for students young or old.  Frankly, I know a lot of adults who would benefit from learning to take notes and distinguishing between essential info and filler.

0Once the key word outline has been written for the six or seven sentences, the child reconstructs the paragraph, not necessarily word-for-word, but he will be able to convey the basic gist of things.  The student is learning to “write”, while not engaging in rote copying, nor sitting for an hour and trying to come up with a topic.

Step by step, Mr. Pudewa instructs the students how to shorten passages, or connect sentences by means of “who” or “which”.  He has them dress up verbs by keeping lists of adverbs to handily “dress-up” their sentences.  His presentation is upbeat, encouraging, and humorous at times.  This is a father-educator who is not so much concerned with what should work, but what does work, when it comes to writing.

As you know, our four teens came from Russia at later ages, and are English as a Second Language (ESL) 335b7def1174e50397acc0dc5c02689fstudents.  When one considers the importance of critical reading and even essay writing for the “new SAT” exams, we could almost kiss college goodbye.  Yet, with Student Writing Intensive, all of us feel that there’s hope.  Most of all, our kids get a smile when it’s time to do our next daily installment of writing exercises, growing in their ability to feel comfortable with the English langauge.

(The Institute for Excellence in Writing does not know me from Joe Shmoe, and this is not a solicited endorsement, just some materials that we have found quite helpful.)

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