Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Write Source Review

This review is in response to the many inquiries I have recieved since mentioning Write Source on Painted Lady's thread on The Well Trained Mind's Curriculum Forum.

Write Source is a language arts program published by Great Source Education Group.   This review will focus on the writing portion of the program as I have no experience with the Skillsbook, Assessment Book, or the Daily Language Workouts.   The part of the program that concentrates on writing is the Pupil Edition which is  written directly to the student.   I am writing about the 2005-2007 edition, specifically the Write Source 7 with this review.  My experience is that levels 4,5,6,and 7 follow this format with small variances.

Write Source is divided into several sections.  The first section, The Writing Process, introduces the student to the five steps of writing: prewriting, writing, revising, editing, and publishing.   It also introduces the concept of evaluating one's writing using a rubric.  Next, this section introduces the six traits of writing :  ideas, organization, voice, word choice, sentence fluency, and conventions.  This section is a brief introduction to these ideas as the ideas are reinforced within each form of writing.

The next section, The Forms of Writing, is the meat of the program and covers the forms of writing taught in Write Source: descriptive, narrative, expository, persuasive, response to literature, research writing, and creative writing.   Each form of writing is introduced  by way of creating a paragraph.   Next detailed instructions on following the steps of writing are given for constructing an essay.  Each form of writing focuses on a specific trait of writing, and a rubic is included in the book to allow self evalution.   After the essay comes writing across the curriculum.  This provides more practice using that form of writing in social studies, math, science, and standardized testing.

Speaking to Learn follows the section, The Forms of Writing.   This is a brief section which addresses listening in class, participating as a group, speaking in front of a group, and delivering a speech.

The fourth section, Writing to Learn, is a short and yet informative section on how to take notes and tests.

The final section, The Basic Elements of Writing, is a section that reviews parts of speech, constructing sentences, and a proofreader's marks.   This section is meant to be used as a resource when writing.  

The strength of this program are the steps of writing, the traits of writing, and the rubrics.   Each of these enable the student to know exactly step by step how to complete a well constructed piece of writing.   The rubrics allow the student to own his work.

This program is not written for the homeschooler.   It does include things, such as standarized test prep, that many homeschoolers will not wish to utilize.    The progam is full enough that without using these portions of the text most will not be able to complete the entire program in a school year.   This is a full program that can be used for more than one year's instruction.  

Creative writing is very briefly covered.   This area almost seems like an after thought thrown in at the last moment.   If creative writing is to be a focus in your writing instruction,  this program is not for you.

Write Source uses models to teach.   Each book is crammed full of examples of paragraphs, essays, stories, reports, ect written by real-life children.   This was one reason I was initially drawn to this program.   I did not know what a fourth-grader's paragraph should look like.   I didn't know what was a reasonable amount of writing to expect of my children.   Throughout the writing process the models show mistakes.   The first draft written by the model student shows the mistakes he makes along the way.   The final drafts aren't always perfect.   This may bother some people.   Also, occasionally some models may use topics that some wish to shelter from their children.   I am a Christian and have not found anything that bothers me, but I can not speak for any other Christians in that regard.  

FairProspects made a point on an excellent thread on The Well Trained Mind Forums that this program does not follow the writing suggestions for grammar students that are espoused in The Well Trained Mind.   I agree.   I would not use this program for younger children.   I think this program is wonderful for the late grammar/logic stage student, but would not use it for younger children.   I have not looked at any of the books lower than level 4, so I can not comment on the lower levels.  

Write Source is a program that I am comfortable recommending.  With its step by step teaching and many models,  it fits the bill for the moms out there who are not comfortable teaching writing.   It impowers the student to understand the writing process.   I grew up thinking that one had the talent of writing or one didn't.   I'm glad to have found a program that proves that belief wrong.

Be sure to check out tons of other reviews at Homeschool Curriculum Review Round-Up


  1. thanks for posting this...My girls are going into 7th and 9th grades next year, do you think I should order Write Souce at grade level or start one grade lower. Do you find the teacher's manual (which is quite pricey) necessary?? I was going to go with Writing Strands, but now not so sure, WS sounds straight forward and teaches writing in a no nonsense way,

    Love2Smile @WTM boards

  2. I don't know about going back a grade. I do think that both girls could easily work from the same level. Perhaps you might think about using level 7 or 8 with both of them. The teacher's manual is not necessary, but I did find it nice the first year I used Write Source. It has the student book page by page with teaching suggestions around the student pages. It also includes lesson plan suggestions. I found it useful for the suggestion pertaining to struggling and advanced students. Using those suggestions, I was able to teach from the same level to my three children--all at different levels. That being said, the teacher's manual is not at all necessary. The student book is self-instructive and includes everything you need to teach writing.

  3. Thanks for getting back to me!

  4. Thanks for this review -- I'm sourcing things for the upcoming year.


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