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Lissa
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Posted: Feb 03 2005 at 4:02pm | IP Logged Quote Lissa

OK, I am so enthusiastic about all the great stuff
Julie Bogart is doing at her
Bravewriter
site. Thanks, Cindy, for posting to CCM about her
email list--we've had such fun here using her ideas.
Kate has done a long Redwall dictation each week
for four weeks now, and you'd think I was feeding her
chocolate cake instead of giving dictation...

I've always been a bit snobbish about writing
curricula...figured that's something Scott and I can
handle just fine on our own, thank you very much.
But I stand corrected, because Julie's stuff has
energized my OWN writing process, not just my kids'.
Kate is reading bits & pieces of The Writer's Jungle
and finding it most interesting, especially the part
about the reluctant 11 yr old boy easing into
freewriting with grumpy one-liners. Hee.

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Posted: Feb 03 2005 at 4:47pm | IP Logged Quote alicegunther

Lissa writes:
>Kate has done a long Redwall dictation each week for >four weeks now, and you'd think I was feeding her >chocolate cake instead of giving dictation...



Dear Lissa,

Is dictation different from narration?



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Posted: Feb 03 2005 at 5:09pm | IP Logged Quote Lissa

alicegunther wrote:
Is dictation different from
narration?


Yes. Dictation is like copywork except I read her the
passage and she writes it down. Great way to see
how her spelling & punctuation are coming along. I
do let her look at the passage ahead of time, telling
her to make note of challenging words. Today she
had "Methuselah" and "tyranny," to name two tricky
ones!


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Posted: Feb 03 2005 at 5:59pm | IP Logged Quote Cindy

Hi Lissa,

I am glad you are enjoying the Bravewriter site and book. I have really enjoyed her new blog and email list as well. Only she posts- kind of like a flylady for creativity and wonderful reminders to stop and smell the roses with your kids. I'm surprised no one thought of this before!

I have hesitated on buying The Writer's Jungle-- I like all the things I have seen on the website, but $75 is pretty high. I wish I could look at it first.

I really like Julie's premise that children need to develop their 'voice' in writing. Curriculum squashes that. I have seen the with my own and thankfully gave up the curriciulum. But, I wonder how we can begin to help the kids (teens?) learn to write with clarity, developing and arguement etc. Does The Writer's Jungle do that, in your opinion? How do they make the transition from getting thoughts on paper to focusing on the audience?

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Posted: Feb 03 2005 at 9:00pm | IP Logged Quote cathhomeschool

I'd like to add a few questions in addition to Cindy's: How does The Writer's Jungle compare to IEW? I think that we still have a year or two to go (or maybe not?) before I address this with my oldest, but I'd like to know which way to go. Writing/grammar are not my strong point at all.

At roughly what age/ability level do you start encouraging development in writing? Nicholas (11 next month) loves to read and narrates well. He is a great speller and does well with sentence structure and punctuation. (Because of the great literature he reads, not because we have followed an extensive grammar program. I use simply grammar with them and Mad Libs.) Zachary (9 1/2) struggles more with reading/spelling/punctuation. I'm sure that he will take longer to be "ready" than Nicholas.

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Posted: Feb 09 2005 at 8:46am | IP Logged Quote MacBeth

Hey Lissa...

As a writer, what do you find specifically in Bravewriter that helps you with the girls?

I always hate to miss a great resource, but I also hate to spend money if I don't need to .

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 12:32am | IP Logged Quote alicegunther

     MacBeth, I just thought I would jump in here and say that I learned long ago that if Lissa recommends a resource, don't ask questions--Just buy it.

     Given this philosophy, you will not be surprised to learn that I ordered The Writer's Jungle about two weeks ago.

     Now for a review from a person who is only on Chapter 5:

     The Writer's Jungle is funny and readable and loaded with common sense advice for teaching children to write. I have always avoided formal writing curricula because the methods and exercises presented never have appealed to me. This book is completely different. The author dispels common myths about teaching children to write and recommends teaching our children, not the way traditional educators often do (bogging them down with mechanics and uninspiring assignments), but the way professional, passionate writers do, by helping them to develop their own voice.

To this end, the author, Julie Bogart, reminds us that good writing begins off the page. She shows parents how to point out great writing techniques to our children as we read to them (for example, if we notice a great metaphor, we should make sure the children see it too) and how to help the children to recognize the qualities of truly "musical" writing--writing that sings rather than snores. In all these years of reading to the girls, it never occurred to me to do this, and the author goes in depth describing how.

The book also shows how to hone a child's powers of observation so that his or her writing comes to life. Just today, I put some advice from the Writer's Jungle to work asking the girls to really look at the snow and tell me about it. Some of the responses I received were:

B (age 5) "Snow feels like a cut when it gets into your boots." "It is white as white paper."

C (age 7) "Snow looks like a cluster of diamonds from a fairy tale. If you leave velvet out in the snow, you will find it covered with little snowflakes, and the points look like Celtic knots. Each one is different from the others, yet they could fit together like a mosaic or a flower. Snow looks like lace on the velvet, like a queen's dress."

M (age 9) "Snow feels like a very cold chick--a chick with hypothermia." <G> "When you step on it, it sounds like baked taco shells."

A (age 11) "Snow looks like frosting on a cake, with jagged peaks here and there, although it is soft in most places. Where you have walked, it is flat, and greenish brown grass peaks out. As you look ahead of you, all the ground in front of you is level and very wide, almost like a flat plain. If you pick up a scoop in your gloved hand and look closely at it, it seems to have tiny craters, almost like a sponge."

    Anyway, you get the picture. The girls really enjoyed telling me all about the snow, and, frankly, they didn't even look upon it as an exercise. I had begun by saying, "My friend Cay Gibson lives in Louisiana where it doesn't snow. How would you describe the snow to her young daughter who has never seen it?" This made it seem more like a regular conversation(but with Mom taking notes!). It certainly was a helpful practice of the art of bringing thoughts and ideas to life for a reader. These descriptions are so much more than "Snow is cold. Snow is white. Snow is fun."

     Above all, Julie Bogart writes with a respect for children that permeates her method. She is a mother who sees children as precious individuals worthy of being heard. I found her attitude very uplifting. Once again, I am only five chapters into the book and have only scratched the surface, but 11 year old Allie is almost finished reading it on her own (I never suggested to her that she read it, but she couldn't resist when she saw the title) and was interested enough to mention several of the points she'd learned to her sisters. (They were cracking up talking about one boy's humorous account of "how to make a peanut butter sandwich.") This speaks volumes in itself!


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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 6:34am | IP Logged Quote Mary G

Alice:

I'm not MacBeth, but I sure appreciate your "review" of Bravewriter -- I too am looking at it for my kids and $75 sounds a lot more reasonable after your input....

THANKS!

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 10:31am | IP Logged Quote Lissa

Oh, Alice, I'm so glad you jumped in! Hmm, I see a danger to always clicking "Active Topics"...it's possible to lose track of posts you read and meant to return to, once the topic is no longer active. Thanks for picking up this thread!

And wow, those snow freewrites knocked my socks off. What rich imagery and language! Beautiful.

Janette, you asked how Bravewriter compares to Institute for Excellence in Writing. I can only give a partial answer because the truth is, I ordered IEW for review and didn't care for it. I sent it back. It's hard to compare the two programs because they approach writing so differently. IEW is highly structured and assignment-driven, and many of the assignments struck me as the kind of writing I myself dreaded to do as a student. Writer's Jungle takes writing out of the assignment book and weaves it into real life. It approaches writing with such exuberance and energy that you walk away from the book feeling like you're tripping over opportunities for writing. I guess the best way I can describe it is that all the other writing curricula I've looked at making writing seem like a bowl of plain oatmeal, something you have to eat because it's good for you; Writer's Jungle makes writing seem like a fried-chicken dinner with all the trimmings and lemon pie for dessert—something you can't wait to dive into. When I compare them, I know which one my kids are more likely to want to eat...

MacBeth asked for specifics, so here are a few: the detailed explanation of "keen observation" and how to fill your writing with rich sensory detail; the discussions of of funneling, opening hooks, freewriting, expansion, editing, writer's voice, "top ten writing elements," to name a few; the fabulous "growing a writer" chapter; the approach to dictation (drawing from sources the child is already enthusiastic about). These are things I haven't seen elsewhere in children's writing curricula--but many of them are articulations of ideas that were understood in my graduate writing workshops and in the way the writers I know approach their art. Julie approaches writing like a writer, not a teacher, and she's the first person I've seen do this for kids.

Writer's Jungle is a living book about writing, which is not something I can say about the other writing programs I've reviewed. (I think Julie is really on to something when she describes Bravewriter as a *lifestyle*--it's not a program or a curriculum or a system; it's a method, as we CMers are so fond of saying, a method dripping with good, rich atmosphere.

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 10:34am | IP Logged Quote Lissa

Cindy wrote:
   I wonder how we can begin to help the kids (teens?) learn to write with clarity, developing and arguement etc. Does The Writer's Jungle do that, in your opinion? How do they make the transition from getting thoughts on paper to focusing on the audience?


Cindy, this is a great question--I'm sorry I missed it before! I can't take time to write a thoughtful response right now, but I'll come back to it. Anyone else care to jump in?

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 11:57am | IP Logged Quote cathhomeschool

Lissa wrote:
Writer's Jungle takes writing out of the assignment book and weaves it into real life. It approaches writing with such exuberance and energy that you walk away from the book feeling like you're tripping over opportunities for writing.


Thank you, Alice and Lissa for your thoughtful responses! One more concern: I am not a good writer. Grammar and English in general are not my strong points! Do you think that I could still use this program effectively with the children, or do you already need to know what you're doing to get the most out of it? (I suppose it could help me improve my writing too!)

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 12:02pm | IP Logged Quote MacBeth

alicegunther wrote:
      

M (age 9) "Snow feels like a very cold chick--a chick with hypothermia." <G>


Please tell Mary that I know exactly what she means.

Alice and Lissa, thanks for the review and the specifics...I agree that trusting Lissa is always sensible , but my concern is that I might be spending money for someting that tells me to do exactly what I am already doing. Honestly, I think your posts confirm that this may be the case.

Alice, I hope you won't mind if I take a peek at your stuff next time I visit??? Please?

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 12:09pm | IP Logged Quote Lissa

MacBeth wrote:
I agree that trusting Lissa is always sensible


Ha! You guys are too funny. I can think of more than one occasion on which I've picked out some duds...that music program I tried out, the one with the off-key singers, comes to mind. I just don't write long chatty posts about the stuff I don't like.   

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 12:14pm | IP Logged Quote MacBeth

Lissa wrote:
I can think of more than one occasion on which I've picked out some duds...that music program I tried out, the one with the off-key singers, comes to mind.
Hey did you ever get your money back on that nightmare? That was sooooo bad.

Thanks for checking it out and warning us.

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 12:16pm | IP Logged Quote MacBeth

One more question, and maybe I missed tha answer and ought to go back to the coffee pot for a refil...

Does Bravewriter address argumentative writing, or is it all creative?

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 1:11pm | IP Logged Quote alicegunther

Lissa wrote:
Writer's Jungle is a living book about writing, which is not something I can say about the other writing programs I've reviewed. (I think Julie is really on to something when she describes Bravewriter as a *lifestyle*--it's not a program or a curriculum or a system; it's a method, as we CMers are so fond of saying, a method dripping with good, rich atmosphere.


     Exactly. I've spent my whole life striving to create this type of atmosphere in our home, but Writer's Jungle shows not only how to achieve this, but also how to take advantage of everyday opportunities to grow great writers.

     I also appreciate Julie Bogart's references to children's "quirks" in writing--only, for her, quirks are something to be encouraged because they make the writing individual and charming, a concrete representation of a living person's voice.

     A couple of weeks ago, if one of my children had told me that snow felt like a chick with hypothermia and sounded like baked taco shells, I might have laughed, but I wouldn't have looked upon it as something "worthy" of inclusion in a written piece. Now I see that these descriptions are not only accurate in their funny, offbeat way, but they also represent my own daughter's voice. Besides, these comparisons are infinitely more interesting and would make much better reading than so many dull descriptions I've seen ("The snow was white and cold"). They are also superior to something phony, written just for the sake of putting words down on paper. These descriptions reflect my daughter's personality and I credit the Writer's Jungle for helping me begin to recognize those diamonds in the rough.

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 5:14pm | IP Logged Quote Elizabeth

Well, my copy of Bravewriter went west . Chari has it. Chari, would you be so kind as to cmpare editions with Lissa? I just want to know if I 'm thinking of the same product...

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 6:01pm | IP Logged Quote Elizabeth

MacBeth wrote:
Alice and Lissa, thanks for the review and the specifics...I agree that trusting Lissa is always sensible , but my concern is that I might be spending money for someting that tells me to do exactly what I am already doing.


This is what I thought when I read it--maybe three (?) years ago...but now I wonder...do I really do those things or do I just think those things? I write; I write emails and board posts and columns and essays and letters and speeches...I love to turn a phrase and to play with language. I see Michael doing the same thing. Lissa does all of the above PLUS she writes fiction and she's a far better editor than I am. Still, she thinks Writer's Jungle has made her a better writer. If she can be improved, I have no doubt that I can be imprved. Furthermore, Michael does seem to take to writing the way I do, but I wonder if the younger children are getting the same osmosis effect. Perhaps I do need to take a more direct (formal?) approach to the teaching of writing. Clear as mud?

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Posted: Feb 22 2005 at 8:16pm | IP Logged Quote teachingmom

Wow. Thanks Alice and Lissa for starting this topic up again. I have been enjoying the Bravewriter yahoo group immensely and was seriously considering ordering the book before reading your reviews. Now I think I'll have to budget for it.

And rats, Elizabeth. I was assuming that you probably already owned it and was going to ask you for a look before I ordered, but now I learn that Chari has it . . . . I'll just have to trust the reviews!

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Posted: Feb 23 2005 at 12:27am | IP Logged Quote Chari

Elizabeth wrote:
Well, my copy of Bravewriter went west . Chari has it. Chari, would you be so kind as to cmpare editions with Lissa? I just want to know if I 'm thinking of the same product...


In what way shall we compare? Julie said she left it in the ring-binder format so we can add to it, as she adds more...........so, I am not up to date that way....yes, it is the same product

I have been reading and rereading it this winter......I think Lissa is write (pun intended! )......I really like it.

Like Elizabeth, I write, too.......just not as much or as public    ..........my oldest is like me, like Michael.......and has learned to write very well by osmosis........not really, I think it was her favorite authors (Austen, Wilder, LMMontgomery and Wiley.....oh, there it is! that author I have been trying to remember ) and copywork that taught her......anyway, I have revamped our schedule (that we do not really follow ) and have included a family writing time.......kind of like Willa's....but based on the Bravewriter recommendations.....we plan to starts this Thursday, when we actually will all be home

I have also signed up for Julie's The Arrow........see it at her website. It has been good here.........though we are way behind HER schedule. And, I had never read any of the Just So stories......so that has been a treat!

In beautiful Mount Shasta, California

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