Last summer I picked up an older version of the Wordsmith writing program for $5 (and that was the teacher book and 2 unused student workbooks). I figured for that price, I might as well give it a shot. I'd planned to take it slowly, which is good, because we got a late start on it. But so far, it seems to be working well for Austin.
The book features exercises that work with words, which has been very helpful for Austin. For some reason, his spoken vocabulary is better than his written vocabulary. His writing style is immature, to say the least. Couple that with horrendous spelling and writing that has gone downhill for the last 4 years, and it's not a pretty picture.
But, so far, it's been successful for Austin. We're in the "word play" section which means he has been knee deep in a thesaurus, which is excellent for a kid with a limited written vocabulary. And so far he has written 2 paragraphs, both of which we have edited together and then I had him type for a final assignment. Yesterday, he was actually excited about the writing assignment which was to use interesting, meaningful adjectives to write a restaurant review. We had just been to Pizza Hut on Monday, so he decided to use that experience (however he did attempt to convince me to take him out for lunch so he could have a 'fresh' experience to draw from! LOL).
He was excited to write... that in itself was worth the $5.
Today we edited. I asked him to go through the paper and underline any word that he was unsure if he spelled correctly. He got every single misspelling, which shows me that he is aware of what he cannot spell, so that is good. Since this was a writing lesson and not a spelling lesson, I wrote the correct spelling under the incorrect ones and put a check mark under the couple that he had misidentified as incorrect. Then I asked him about his opening sentence which was unclear (and wasn't actually a sentence at all) and we reworked it. Then I suggested that we wrap up the paragraph with some sort of closing. And off he went to type it out - reluctantly, being the only teenager in the 21st century world who doesn't like to type. @@
He looked at the typed out version and sort of shrugged. "I bet Reece could write something better."
"Doesn't matter," I replied. "You are you. She is Reece. You write differently than she does. And the other thing that matters is that you are getting better in your writing, which you are. I think this is the most mature, varied, and interesting paragraph that you have written so far!"
And I meant that. His first paragraph for Wordsmith was 1 long, run-on sentence. This one still had a few clumsy sentences but that will be covered later in Wordsmith. I personally believe that the clumsy/run-on sentences come from a brain that wishes to convey the sort of sentence structure he reads every day in his lessons but that gets tripped up in the language processing disorder.
I'm hoping to finish Wordsmith with Austin next year so we can move into Teaching the Essay by the Analytical Grammar folks. Writing will really require our focus in high school!