Last year I went to the homeschool convention to do two things: 1. attend as many high school workshops as possible and 2. Pick a new homeschool writing curriculum for high school. I walked up and down every aisle, and by the end of the first day, I had narrowed my picks down to Writeshop and two others. I was leaning towards Writeshop curriculum, but I sent the information off to the kids with a “Get back to me by lunchtime with your opinions, and then I’ll make a decision.”
(I am being compensated for this review, but I actually bought Writeshop curriculum almost a year before I agreed to write this, and already had this post half-written because I like to review what I use on my blog, and I am an affiliate for Writeshop)
TLDR: I LOVE Writeshop and I’m giving away a copy at the bottom.
Why I wanted to use Writeshop Writing Curriculum
As I said, I narrowed it down to three choices, they all were comprehensive, and they probably would all get the results I’m seeing with Writeshop, but I liked Writeshop best.
After looking at the physical books (which is why I like going to conventions so I can sit there and flip through the books and I can ask the vendors questions, and that poor lady at the Writeshop was so incredibly patient with my questions and we had such a great discussion).
- I liked Writeshop introducing a new skill each lesson with several days of practice before you are expected to use the skill in a paper.
- It has a nice robust teacher edition with lots of great suggestions for expanding the lessons if you want to. I spent quite a while paging through the teacher edition
- I liked the suggested writing topics, but it wasn’t “you must write this specific topic” type of writing curriculum. It was helpful for the kid who can’t come up with a topic, but not so restrictive for the kid who has an idea they want to run with (I have both of these kids at different times).>>>>> This was one of the big reasons I picked Writeshop curriculum, one of the others had a much more structured write this topic in this specific formula, and I knew that would not work with my child.
- I loved that I could get a digital edition of the curriculum. NONE of the other curricula I was looking at had that as an option. This alone made it my favorite. More on this later.
Ultimately, I loved the whole setup and philosophy behind the curriculum.
What you get with Writeshop Curriculum for high school
I have been aware of Writeshop for years. It’s always been there in the background of my mind as something to get, but until this past year I thought, “Oh, I didn’t start using it earlier, I can’t start using it now.”
That was stupid on my part.
I can totally start using it now, as evidenced by my doing so now.
I bought (and was also sent a copy to review, so now I have 2) a Writeshop 1 Starter Pack. This includes:
A Student book
That’s perfectly set up for all of us homeschool moms who want to use it with multiple students, or if you’re like me, has a student who may lose their notebooks regularly and have to get their assignment reprinted. I LOVE that they allow you to copy pages.
Permission is granted to copy worksheet pages and rubrics for single-family use only (i.e. pages with blank lines or other fill-in options).
That’s an exact quote. Writeshop KNOWS what homeschoolers need and love.
A Teacher Edition
This includes a One Year Track or a Two Year Track schedule. So, if you’ve picked up Writeshop when your student is about to graduate high school, you can go through at an accelerated pace to complete Writeshop 1 and 2 in one year.
Since I started Writeshop1 with freshmen, I didn’t need to use this option (more on this later).
From there it gives you a lesson by lesson (and again your lessons will either take 1 or two weeks depending on what schedule you picked) detail of what to talk about and how to teach it.
Side note: Why is it, I look at teacher’s editions and say when I pick it up, “Wow this has so many amazing things in it!” Then I get into the nitty-gritty of the school year and I don’t use all of these amazing things? I’m 3/4 of the way through the year and I found so much great stuff. Notice this time I refound the cool samples of what the kids are working on. I’ve put them into our updated Writer’s Notebook. As you get further into the school year there are so many tricks they are expected to use, it can be easy to forget what exactly that type of sentence is (Seriously, I’m relearning stuff I know how to write, but haven’t used the proper name for it since I was in high school myself, do you know what an appositive is? I do now, again.).
Copying and Dictation for Writeshop 1
A great way to get more practice in, and for those of you using Charlotte Mason, this fits in perfectly. I’ll totally say, when I saw this I thought of how awesome it could be for handwriting practice.
Seriously, my boys’ handwriting is STILL terrible. Unless I actively work on it all the time, it devolves to this. Also, I have to laugh at the drawing they did for poor Thomas Hobbes.
Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation
Such a great resource to use, and one I still need to work on using better. Y’all there is so much I could be using, so if your student needs extra help, this writing curriculum has you covered with all it offers.
But wait, there’s more! Writeshop has a video component
Now this isn’t included with the Writeshop Starter Bundle that I bought this is an extra component I didn’t know about.
Actually, let me rephrase that, when I first looked I didn’t understand just what it was.
There are two options to the Writeshop video course:
- Videos only
- Videos AND grading
I didn’t catch the videos only was an option (silly Ticia didn’t read everything possible). When I agreed to the review, I got to try out these videos after having completed most of a semester without them.
So, if you don’t want to get the videos you can totally use Writeshop without them.
But, if you want a little extra help, OR you want to hand off most of the teaching because you’re also teaching a bunch of younger kids and it’s a big help for your high schooler to be more independent, then pick up the videos.
Or, if you need high school writing taken completely off your plate because you’re teaching your youngest how to read right now, get the videos and grading.
There is no RIGHT answer for how to homeschool, there is only what is right for you.
For me, these videos make a great addition to our writing lessons. Each day we watch a 5-10 minute video explaining the new skill, or talking about that specific step. Let’s say your kids is working on editing their paper, they give a step by step example of what that looks like.
The one downside for me with the videos, you have to watch them all in order. Since I was starting with the videos when we were already on lesson 5 that meant I had to “mark complete” each lesson for the kids.
Now, for parents starting these videos at the beginning, that’s a big benefit, your kids can’t randomly skip a lesson, because you have to complete the first lesson before you can check off the second. You also get an email letting you know when that lesson has been completed.
So no more, “Of course Mom I did it,” and really they haven’t done it, and you don’t find out until the end of the week when you sit down to grade their work. Nope, you get that email right away.
Which, for a forgetful person like me, is super helpful.
Brass Tacks: Why I LOVE Writeshop
Writing was my boys’ weakness started this year. I knew I wanted to improve their writing, and I’ve seen their writing make leaps and bounds this year.
They can now self-edit their paper thanks to the specific writing checklist in each Writeshop lesson. They know what to look for. They know where to find it. They know how to fix it.
How we use Writeshop now
At first, when we started Writeshop 1 the slow 2-week schedule was perfect. The kids were stressed starting high school and having a full two weeks to complete their assignment helped them space out what to do. Especially in those first weeks as they worked step by step to complete each lesson.
Seriously, those step by step lessons are awesome.
About December, I noticed they weren’t using the full two weeks.
Actually, they were getting their work completed in a few days of frantic writing.
So I switch to the accelerated schedule of one Writeshop lesson a week. It’s been awesome. We’ll finish up Writeshop 1 at the end of February. I’m trying to decide if I’ll start Writeshop II (I bought the digital edition this time back when it was on sale in January, if you get my newsletter I told everyone about that awesome sale, you can sign up at the top of the sidebar) next month, or wait until next year.
Update on the starting Writeshop II
While getting some pictures, I looked through the schedule and weekly lessons for Writeshop II, and by the end of Writeshop II they cover Timed Essays, and that’s one I want to cover soon, so we’ll be starting Writeshop II as soon as we finish Writeshop I. I’m still trying to decide if I’ll leave in the review weeks. I guess I’ll be adding another update once I’ve made that decision.
Back to how we are using Writeshop Curriculum
For the most part, I am fairly flexible in our lessons. In a moment of serendipity, we reached the journalism unit just as we read Hidden Figures, for that lesson I limited their choice of topics to events covered in the book. The tears flowed as I made them write such specific topics, but they picked topics I wouldn’t have thought of from the book, and they wrote good papers.
Papers they wouldn’t have been able to write before we switched to Writeshop.
I mentioned I love the digital access to Writeshop. Rather than have multiple notebooks to keep track of, I make the kids a monthly notebook. It has everything they need for the month, as well as a weekly schedule, so I don’t constantly get asked “What’s happening today?”.
Each month as I put together their monthly notebooks I open up Writeshop digital edition and print off the specific lessons we are doing.
At the beginning of the week we sit down and watch through some of the videos. We usually will watch the skill builder video and the brainstorming video on the first day, since my kids tend to finish both of those parts at the same time. Then slowly over the week, we watch the rest of the videos for the lesson (about 4-5 videos per lesson).
Win your own copy of Writeshop Curriculum
More Writing fun here at Adventures in Mommydom
- How to describe characters writing lesson
- How to interview someone
- How to make a portable writing center
- Write your own Ninety-five Theses
- Write your own Declaration of Independence