Need a Homeschool Writing Curriculum That Is Flexible, Adaptable, and Relevant?

Ya’ll there are probably hundreds of homeschool writing curricula out there to choose from. I’ve probably used at least a dozen. And, to be honest, I’ve liked many that we’ve tried. But I’ve been on the lookout for something that I could use with my middle schoolers or with a middle school co-op class. And when I recently had the chance to try a new-to-me writing curriculum, I jumped at it.

Homeschool writing curriculum review
{I received a free curriculum and compensation for this post. All opinions are always my own.}

We received a writing curriculum is written by Debra Bell: the Writers in Residence™ Vol. 2 All -In-One Student Text and Workbook and Answer Key.  This is the second volume of a (currently) two volume set.

About Writers in Residence™ Vol. 2 All -In-One Student Text and Workbook and Answer Key

The curriculum came with a student text and workbook in one spiral bound book and a book with answer keys and teaching notes. It contains sixteen modules. There is a suggested daily schedule in both the teacher notes and the student text that breaks this down into thirty-two four-day weeks of learning. There are also some suggestions given for how to use this schedule in a co-op or writing group.
The writing assignments in this curriculum focus on and cycle through four main types of writing.
  • Remember– personal narrative writing
  • Imagine- creative writing
  • Investigate– research writing
  • Think– opinion and argumentative writing
Grammar and punctuation skills are taught within the context of writing throughout the curriculum. There are also rubrics given to help students and teachers/parents evaluate writing.
Both of the volumes available so far are intended for students in grades 4-8. Information in the teacher notes indicates that the target age of the first volume is grade 4, and the target age of the second volume is grade 5. However, there is much flexibility in that. And it would be quite easy to adapt this curriculum for older- and possibly younger- students to allow multiple grade levels to work together.
Every module throughout this curriculum has a few key elements.
  • Unit introduction- This section tells the kids and the parent/teacher what to expect 
  • Rubric- Students get a look at the rubric that will be used for grading that module’s assignment; there is a rubric for students and a rubric for the parent/teacher.
  • Writer’s Questions– These are questions that encourage students to focus and think; throughout the module, the questions will be answered, and the kids will discuss them at the end.
  • Sneak Peak– This is a look at the objective students will cover in the module.
  • Assignment– The assignment is detailed for the student early in the module.
  • Expert Model– This section shows students an expert example of the type of writing they’ll be doing for the assignment.
  • Student Samples– Students also get a chance to look at student samples of the writing assignment.
  • Writer’s Toolbox– These are writing strategies that the students are given throughout each assignment.
  • Graphic Organizers– Students are taught how to come up with and organize ideas with graphic organizers.
  • The Sandbox– In this section, students take a break from the longer assignment and have a chance to experiment more informally with some of the writing strategies they’re learning.
  • Word Sleuth– Students get the opportunity to learn new vocabulary related to writing; there’s a glossary in their book where they can reference the words.
  • Module Checklist- This checklist allows students and parent/teachers to keep up with what work they’ve completed throughout the module.
  • Writer’s Workshop– In this section, students learn elements of sentence structure in the context of writing.
  • Review Your Progress, Unit Review, Mastery Tests, and Final Review– Throughout the curriculum, students review what they’ve learned in each module. They also have mastery tests and a final review at the end of the course.
  • Journeyman Log– In this record-keeping section, students can record points they earn on various assignments, tests, and rubrics throughout the course.
Homeschool writing curriculum

Why You Need This Awesome Homeschool Writing Curriculum

So, what’s so great about (another) homeschool writing curriculum? There were several things that I particularly liked about this one.
~ It is very well-organized for the kids and parent/teacher. I am an organizer and planner. I can write my own lesson plans- and I often do- but any curriculum that lays it all out in a nice, organized format for me gets bonus points.
~ Kids can do much of it by themselves. Obviously any writing curriculum will require that kids are getting feedback about their writing assignments. But the curriculum and daily schedule are laid out in such a way that kids can follow along, completing much of it independently instead of me teaching it personally every day.
~ The writing assignments are relevant to real life. In some writing curricula that I’ve seen, the assignments are very contrived. Kids know they’ll never need to write something just like the assignment in the book, so they aren’t very motivated to learn how to do it in a writing curriculum. The assignments in this curriculum, however, are more relatable. For example, in the very first module, the kids are able to research an animal that lives in our local area and write about it. This is something that is very interesting to them. It’s relevant, and that makes them pay more attention, try harder, and learn more.
~ I love, love, love all of the rubrics and checklists. Okay, I’ll admit that I might be a tiny bit of a checklist fanatic. But, in teaching writing, these are especially important. Writing can be very subjective. If I read a research paper written to defend the theory of evolution, I’m probably going to be very critical of that paper. It’s a concept I don’t agree with, and I’m probably going to- maybe not even intentionally- look for every error I can. In contrast, if I read a paper that explains how valuable reading aloud to your kids is, I’m probably going to overlook some errors because I agree with the premise of the paper. 
To avoid that kind of subjective evaluation, we need to use checklists and rubrics. They give students- and teachers- objective points to check off as they’re evaluating a writing assignment. Having a rubric that the students use and then one that the parents use teaches the students to self-edit- an important skill for any kind of writing.
~ I also love all the samples that kids can see of each assignment. Have you ever told a student or a class of students who have never written a research paper, “Hey, guess what, we’re going to write a research paper in this module.” I have. They typically begin to panic. Many of them probably have a concept of a research paper. Some may have actually seen one that an older sibling wrote. But if they’ve never personally read through a research paper- or several- they don’t have much of an idea of what they’re going to write, and they assume the worst.
When this curriculum shows an expert sample and student samples right off the bat in each module, kids don’t have to panic. They see right away what they’re going to write. Best of all, when they see the student samples, they’ll know kids their age have written these things…and survived! Samples are awesome for helping kids to know what to expect and taking away their panic.
~ This curriculum would work well for one student, a family with kids of multiple ages, or a co-op. My middle name is “flexibility.” (Well, at least when it comes to homeschooling.” I want a curriculum that has the basics that I love but that has the flexibility for me to adapt it to our needs. This one fits that need nicely.
One child could easily use the curriculum, partly independently and partly with a parent. Kids of multiple ages could all use the curriculum if you adapt some of the assignments for older or younger kids. A co-op could use the curriculum because kids could do the four days of assignments at home during the week, and the fifth unscheduled day could be when co-op meets and goes over what kids have done so far. I love the adaptability.

Homeschool writing curriculum review

Find Out More

Want to know more? Of course you do. You can find Writers in Residence™ Vol. 2 All -In-One Student Text and Workbook and Answer Key here. And you can watch the video below to learn more.

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