While perhaps time intensive for parents, WriteShop’s many engaging hands-on activities, interesting prompts and approachable style can not only help kids dramatically improve their writing, but will result in a lot fewer tears…from both parents and students.
What We Like
But watch out for…
What is WriteShop
Founded in 2001, WriteShop is a popular homeschool writing curriculum that is designed to help K-12 students learn to write in a more organized and confident manner.
Through a series of books and lessons, WriteShop teaches students (and their parents) to use a particular framework in order to approach writing in a more systematic way.
In general, WriteShop has three programs spread across several age groups. Briefly, these are as follows:
|WriteShop 1 and 2
Being designed as a homeschool curriculum, age is not really a hard and fast rule with WriteShop.
While it does use grades as a rough guide, with WriteShop we found that the focus is more on the skills, attitude and techniques a student has and will develop.
This allows parents to adjust the level of instruction based more on their kids actual needs, rather than being tied to any grade level requirements and standards.
As a result, there’s nothing preventing precocious writers from working with more advanced levels, and because there is less of an overt focus on grade level Struggling writers can start at lower levels and focus on developing their skills without much trouble.
In fact, something we liked is that there is little mention of grade level on the front cover of each book, being labeled Level A, B, C, D and so on.
This can help struggling writers feel more comfortable and less embarrassed if they have to start with a more fundamental or lower level program.
Another thing we liked is that the company provides an online placement tool to help families figure out where to start with WriteShop.
New homeschooling parents may not really know where to begin or which books to buy and a placement quiz can help identify roughly where they should start rather than play a rather expensive guessing game.
The placement quiz is quite short, usually only a few questions, and is asks parents some fairly broad questions about their writing skill and attitudes to writing.
For younger kids, it keeps things pretty simple, mainly asking about age, preferred learning style (hands on or not), desire to write, reading level and so on.
With older kids, it becomes a little more in-depth, asking things like:
- Can your student respond to prompts
- Can they use topic sentences and closing sentences
- Can they write an essay
- Can they produce different types of writing (narrative stories, informational articles)
This quiz is available online for free and comes in addition to a fairly detailed guide and information resource for parents that is available on the company website.
While we would obviously prefer a test-of-skill-style placement test, where students could submit a writing sample for automated review and suggestion (as this would eliminate a lot of parental bias or uncertainty), providing an online quiz like this is still quite useful for giving a parents an overall idea of where they should start.
It also gets new parents thinking about their child, their skills and how they may perceive writing and, frankly, including a quiz goes above and beyond many of WriteShop’s competitors who usually don’t offer a placement test at all.
How it works
Each Writeshop book is made up of a variety of lessons, about 10-16 lessons per book.
Each lesson has a focus or theme to it, for example a lesson might be about how to write a letter with correct punctuation, another may center around how to use strong adjectives to create a haiku, and yet another may be about how to write an opinion essay.
Within each lesson are a variety of sections, or “activity sets”, that guide students through the writing process and help introduce relevant concepts through interactive and often hands-on activities.
WriteShop Lesson Structure
Although each level of WriteShop is geared to students at different skill and age ranges, broadly speaking, WriteShop’s lessons tend to follow a particular format.
This is because WriteShop is ultimately designed to provide a structure or process that students can follow in order to produce a written work.
WriteShop’s process, which we’ll discuss below, guides students through the various stages that a professional writer would follow, i.e. brainstorming, creating a rough draft, editing and then creating a final draft.
The general idea here is to teach kids to approach writing as a systematic and organized process.
This is in contrast to more freewheeling or freeform writing where writers simply write as their ideas come to them, which can lead to disorganized, verbose writing in some kids or totally blanking due to anxiety in others.
The WriteShop Writing Process
As mentioned above, each lesson in WriteShop guides students through a particular series of steps to produce a written work. These are as follows:
|Brainstorming ideas (story planning)
|Writing a rough draft
|Creating a final draft and publishing
Pre-Writing Activities (and Skill Builders)
Before starting the process of writing in any lesson, WriteShop tends to include what they call pre-writing activities and skill builders.
These are a variety of games, discussions, concept reviews and even worksheets that are designed to accomplish different goals but ultimately both help kids prepare for the writing process ahead.
Skill builders are a few short (10-20 minute) focused activities and mini lessons that take place in the first part of the lesson and are designed to introduce particular concepts and writing techniques, as well as practice them, so they can be used during the main part of the writing lesson.
An example might be using a thesaurus to find new and exciting words to describe a pet, or building a spinner that determines a subject and then casting dice to determine whether students write short or long sentences about it.
The prewriting activities are more like warm up exercises.
These are designed to get kids in the right mindset to write. Examples might include hunting for specific visual aids from various written media like an encyclopedia, cutting out picture cards and adding various captions and descriptions below them, or even reading a specific book or story that relates to the topic at hand.
We found the prewriting activities to actually be quite helpful during lessons.
It can be hard for kids (or anyone) to simply jump into a writing assignment, and this is especially true when you’re adding WriteShop and Language Arts to a wider homeschool curriculum and may be switching from an unrelated subject, like math or science.
These pre-writing activities help ease kids into the mindset of writing and language arts and can actually be pretty effective at getting them ready to write.
Once students (and parents) are in the proper mindset to write, they begin to plan out the main composition for that lesson.
Like any good writing process, the first step is to brainstorm and write down ideas.
The concept here is to help kids learn to think carefully before they start writing and to create a general plan that they’ll follow as they write, with an important emphasis placed on organizing the child’s writing with a beginning, middle and end structure.
All levels of WriteShop place an emphasis on brainstorming, although as you might expect the depth the program goes into changes as the student progresses, as does the level of student independence.
Very early on in primary, for example, brainstorming might involve making a list of ideas and having the parent play a prominent role in leading the organization of that list into a title, specific sentences and so on.
Later on, under the guidance of a parent, students may use specific brainstorming worksheets more independently, sorting out their topics, characters, setting, plot, arguments, as well as more mechanical and organizational aspects of the writing such as structuring the beginning/middle/end, creating titles, dialogue, figures of speech and more.
Getting kids into the habit of outlining and structuring their thoughts before writing is actually one of the most critical skills that kids need to develop in writing, and the importance placed on this by WriteShop is something we very much appreciate.
Left to their own devices, most students (especially younger ones) tend to want to jump into the writing right away. Kids are usually pretty imaginative and often can’t wait to get all their ideas down.
Unfortunately, more often than not this can be a really bad habit to develop. Without being used to creating and following a structured approach or plan when they write, students may panic and freeze at the sight of a blank page.
Or sometimes worse, they may do something called brain dump where they begin to write their thoughts down chaotically, creating an unfocused, overly verbose and sometimes disjointed and rambling piece of writing that neither reflects their thoughts or their abilities.
By getting kids used to starting every writing process by outlining their ideas and organizing the structure, they’ll have an effective framework to fall back on that they can use for any type of writing and for any prompt.
The Writing Project
Once students have an idea of what they want to write and how it fits together into some kind of coherent structure, they then begin to write a rough draft of their composition, which WriteShop oddly likes to refer to as a “Sloppy Copy.”
This is sort of the core part of the lesson and most directly relates to the overall theme.
If the theme is tall tales, for example, the student will be writing their own tall tale. If the lesson is in writing an ad, then the student will be writing an ad.
Integrated into this lesson and its writing assignment will be a variety of requirements concerning the technique, content, style, and mechanics that should be contained within the piece.
Students and teachers both have checklists for these, and they make sure that students include or use things like:
- Proper story structure
- Strong adjectives, synonyms, similes, etc
- Paragraphs that support the main topic
- Proper formatting
Writing in WriteShop, therefore, isn’t simply a creative exercise where the student writes however they’d like in response to a prompt, but is actually designed to also reinforce and review certain concepts and techniques that lead to improved writing skill overall.
That said, while it does give a lot of mechanical and stylistic direction to students writing, we found that unlike some other structured writing programs out there, WriteShop does do a pretty good job at balancing this with encouraging student creativity.
While the overall work will be structured in a certain way and contain certain grammatical and mechanical elements that are important to the lesson, when it comes down to the nitty gritty of what they are writing there is ample room for kids to add their own ideas, storylines and flourishes.
This can let them find and use their own voice and generally express themselves through writing while still getting them to follow a certain structure and direction that can be evaluated.
For example, while WriteShop may dictate things like:
- Overal topic and style
- Number of paragraphs
- Use of strong intro sentence
- Page structure and formatting
- General tips to punch up the writing
It may leave to the student’s imagination things like
- The exact setting
- particular details of the piece
- Specific vocabulary
WriteShop is a big believer in getting kids to self-edit.
As part of its process, once kids complete their rough draft they use their student checklist to make sure they covered what they need to.
In fact, WriteShop gives students a lot of direction on how to do this with the idea of helping them become more systematic in their approach.
The program will tell students what to look for, offers them tips on how to approach their editing and eventually even gets down to the level of telling them how and what to underline in their own work.
Following the self-editing process, students then turn in a revised copy that the parent can further edit with a Teacher’s checklist, using the same symbols and editing techniques as the student copy (for easy comprehension), as well as offering feedback to the student.
Like the student checklist, WriteShop offers parents tons of very detailed tips and techniques for editing, which really makes the process as simple and easy to do as possible.
This is great for parents who aren’t that experienced or comfortable with editing written work. Amusingly they even include a variety of suggestions for offering helpful and effective praise to the young writer, in case parents can use some help there as well.
Like brainstorming, we like that WriteShop puts a strong emphasis on student editing.
Not only does the program give them a framework for doing so, but it makes self-editing a key component of the overall process.
Critiquing their own work is not something that students naturally want to do, as the process tends to be tedious and a blow to their egos.
Too often, then, students submit a rough draft as a final copy, making careless and obvious mistakes that end up costing them and causing their writing to not reflect their actual potential.
Getting students in the habit of looking over their own work systematically, teaching them to look for specific and common mistakes and errors along the way, can really give them the skills and know-how to dramatically increase the quality of their submitted writing over time.
Publishing the Project
What WriteShop calls “publishing the project” is really what we might refer to as creating a final draft.
This is pretty straightforward – based on their edits and the feedback from their parents, students rewrite their rough draft into what they will submit for evaluation.
Evaluating the Student Work
Once the final draft is handed in, parents use another more detailed, intensive and evaluation-oriented, checklist to go over the student’s work.
Designed solely for the parent’s use, this checklist goes over their writing with points assigned for content, style and mechanics, as well as for the process the student used to get there.
For example, points are awarded if the student used their own checklist, followed all the steps, and so on.
At this stage there are also suggestions for further learning and exploration concerning the concepts and material introduced, which we thought was kind of fun and helpful for parents who want to go deeper into a subject or want extra practice.
WriteShop and Guided Writing / Modeling
One thing that stood out to us in this process is the fact that WriteShop emphasizes, particularly at the younger levels, modeling writing.
Early in the lessons parents will encounter sections called Model and Teach (or Guided Writing Practice in Primary) and in these sections parents create a dialogue with their students, leading and prompting them and then working together to create a very short written piece.
The idea here is to not only show students how to properly use various writing techniques and mechanics, but also show them how to approach writing logically, demonstrating the thought process and actions needed to create written work.
Modeling is an excellent approach to take when teaching writing because it shows, rather than tells, students what the “right” outcome looks like, what is expected of them and the process to get there in all its steps.
We liked this aspect of WriteShop quite a bit and feel they do a good job at adhering to best practices for teacher modeling.
The Guided Writing and Model and Teach sections are brief, providing a general idea for students to follow, and require intense interaction between parent and student, which prevents kids from robotically copying their parents.
The guides provide a lot of direction for parents, spending time highlighting what to do as well as what not to do, which is perhaps equally important.
Finally, they lead into the WriteShop writing process, which makes a more natural connection between what the parent is demonstrating and what the student will be doing.
One thing we felt could be better is that WriteShop leans heavily on parent writing as a model.
While they do make it an easy, step by step process, the overall outcome does depend on the parents ability to write .
Students might benefit from more examples of professional and sophisticated writing to model their writing on as some other programs, like IEW, do.
These professional texts could easily be broken down and the process for creating them explained.
Differentiating the WriteShop Process and Lessons
Another thing that we really liked with WriteShop’s lessons and process is that they have a lot of suggestions to help parents differentiate their learning, tailoring activities and writing to particular student needs.
Throughout the lessons there are little highlighted boxes with suggestions for modifying the lesson entitled “Smaller Steps” and “Flying higher” – activities for differentiated learning.
These are tips and suggestions for parents to help them modify what they are doing for advanced students seeking enrichment (Flying Higher) or for struggling students who need to make the activities a little more accessible (Smaller Steps).
By weaving these sections into lessons, not does it make WriteShop more broadly accessible to homeschooling families than some other competitors (being able to be used by struggling and gifted students), but it also gives parents a lot more flexibility.
Using these suggestions, parents can tailor the learning in real time, giving them the ability to slow down or go more in depth at the individual activity level depending on how the student is actually responding.
Help for dyslexia and other learning difficulties
While WriteShop does not offer specific accommodation for dyslexia and other learning difficulties as part of its standard programs, it does use a good number of mindmaps, organizers, structured charts and other visual aids that can help students organize their thoughts and writing in a more graphic and less text heavy way.
How Easy is WriteShop to Teach
Despite the rather difficult nature of teaching writing, we think WriteShop makes it extremely easy…once they get the hang of the process.
WriteShop is a very structured program and can really carry parents through the process of teaching writing with a minimum of prep time and experience required.
It provides very detailed daily lesson plans that can fit multiple schedules, highly detailed and step-by-step instructions on how to teach concepts, various activities and prompts, checklists and grading/evaluation frameworks for student writing.
In addition, parents get instructions and tips on how to effectively teach certain ideas, how to edit and provide effective feedback, look for and correct common mistakes, and even suggestions for how to integrate other subjects into writing activities.
The program even goes so far as to provide exact scripts that parents can fall back on and use to help guide and prompt student responses.
All of this makes WriteShop an excellent option for parents who may not have a lot of experience teaching language arts at home, or even a good option for experienced homeschoolers who are a little less certain of their ability to properly teach writing.
On the other hand, this very structured approach can be a bit of a double edged sword.
Parents who prefer more freedom in the way they teach, or for more experienced homeschoolers who have a particular method of teaching they like, may find all these instructions, checklists, tips, suggestions and scripts to feel a little bit like micromanagement.
And because lessons and concepts build on each other incrementally, it can become very challenging to skip, alter or move activities and lessons around on the fly.
So while it is easy to teach with and effective, WriteShop may not be the best fit for all homeschools.
Does WriteShop Teach Grammar?
Writeshop doesn’t really have much in the way of formal grammar teaching and we don’t really consider it a complete language arts course.
To be fair, there are some basics. At the Junior level kids can use a grammar supplement, Fold-N-Go Grammar, which goes over some basic grammar rules. These are touched upon here and there over the course of the lessons.
Overall, however, WriteShop is more focused on writing and the mechanics thereof (hence the name), emphasizing parts of speech, dialogue and the functional/stylistic use of elements, rather than sentence structure, tenses and punctuation.
Consequently, parents will need to supplement WriteShop with a more formal grammar book or course.
Write Shop Lesson Pace
If this sounds like a lot, well, that’s because it is.
WriteShop takes a very structured and thorough approach to teaching writing.
Generally speaking, at a comfortable pace most homeschools will go through a WriteShop lesson in about 3 weeks.
That said, recognizing that not all students and homeschoolers will go through the material the same way, each WriteShop lesson offers several different suggested lesson plans, including plans for completing lessons in 3, 2 and even one week.
We would be cautious in recommending a lesson/week pace, since the amount of material and activities would create a very intense schedule, but the option and schedule is there.
For Primary and Junior levels, programs can be completed in anywhere from 10-30 weeks, and with WriteShop 1 or 2 in 1-2 years each.
All this really makes it quite easy for homeschooling families to fit WriteShop into their particular calendars and around their student and family needs.
WriteShop and Independent Learning
Overall, WriteShop is designed as a partnership between parents and students.
This means that it is designed to be taught to students by parents, using the teacher’s manual, so parents should be aware that this isn’t an independent learning program.
Now WriteShop 1 does have video lessons that you can buy, which can help students by explaining various concepts and such and can make learning a bit more independent.
But overall the program still requires a significant amount of parental oversight and input.
Many sections and activities, for example, include scripted dialogue between parents and student, and the writing process itself is dependent on feedback and editing from parents.
As such, if you have a busy homeschool and can’t really devote a lot of time each week to really sitting and working with your child on their writing, or you prefer a more self-directed, student-led explorational curriculum, then WriteShop may not be the best option for you.
A Brief Look at Different WriteShop Programs
|Lessons per Level: 10
|Number of Levels: 3 (A,B,C)
|Estimated length: 10-30 weeks
Skills taught and practiced include:
|Verbalizing a story idea
|Choose a topic for a story
|Create a basic plan (story web)
|Retell a story they know
|Write down letters, words
|Come up with ways to improve a story
|Group words into phrases
|Identify the parts of a story (beginning, middle, end)
|Capitalize first letters
|End a sentence with a period
Designed for Kindergarten to Grade 3, the WriteShop Primary series is designed to teach writing from the very first steps to early readers.
The series broadly follows the WriteShop methodology, going through pre-writing activities, brainstorming, composition, editing, publishing and evaluation.
Because its audience are a mix of pre-readers and early readers, the exact format of teaching is modified to fit their needs and abilities.
For example, there is a greater emphasis on hands-on activities and parental involvement is far more intense than even other WriteShop levels.
Because kids at these age levels don’t have developed reading and writing skills, oral discussions and parental prompting take a more prominent role.
There are also far more opportunities for Guided Writing Practice, as at this age it’s critical that students be shown the proper approach rather than told.
In terms of Primary’s lesson themes and material, these are selected to both be understandable and keep a young child’s interest.
They incorporate a lots of hands-on work, such as drawing, crafts and artwork, and typically use easily understood poems, rhymes and familiar stories as a base for writing
The emphasis at the Primary level is mainly on introducing the concepts of writing and basic grammar, such as very basic structure, punctuation, sentence construction, formating, settings, etc.
As students progress, however, they gradually shift from relying on parental transcription of their thoughts to starting to write their own words down into sentences.
Pieces taking on increasing length as the student develops the ability to both write and keep their ideas structured and organized, preparing them for Junior level coursework.
|Lessons per Level: 10
|Number of Levels: 3 (D,E,F)
|Estimated length: 10-30 weeks
Skills taught and practiced include:
|Organizing and planning a story
|Components of a story – characters, setting, and plot
|Multiple Paragraph writing
|Formal writing structures (introduction, body, and closing/beginning, middle, end)
|Basic and compound sentences
|Adjectives, adverbs, figures of speech and other ways to strengthen writing
|Nonfiction writing – reports, persuasive essays, response and argument, summaries
|Voice and evoking emotion
|Grade level punctuation, grammar
The goal for WriteShop Junior is really to introduce, develop and strengthen the foundations of the writing process.
Students at the Junior level start getting deeper into the WriteShop process and at this level students begin to take on more responsibility in their own writing.
Students are expected to construct their own sentences and paragraphs, as well as providing more unprompted ideas for brainstorming, developing their own plots, characters, settings, arguments and more.
At this stage, students also begin to take a more active role in editing their own work, for example by using checklists for the first time to edit in a more systematic and logical manner.
That said there is still a lot of parental involvement and interaction at the Junior level, with parents modeling proper writing and ensuring that students keep their writing development on track.
In Junior students are introduced to a broad variety of writing styles, such as letters, adventure stories, science fiction, expository writing, science fiction, and historical fiction.
We feel this provides a lot of variety to the curriculum and prevents kids from getting too bored as they go along.
Like Primary, WriteShop Junior also uses a great deal of creative learning activities and crafts throughout its process to maintain student interest.
As students progress, these naturally become more challenging.
Students might, for example, use spinning wheels to pick a story topic, play cards to select strong verbs, learn writing structure with hopscotch and more.
It’s with WriteShop Junior that WriteShop starts adding grammar elements to its teaching.
During the lessons, students and parents are prompted to cross reference and use Fold-N-Go interactive lessons.
Fold-N-Go is a colorful lapbook style workbooks that involve a variety of interactive games and hands on activities to teach simple grammar rules.
Its pages are put together into a kind of flipbook by kids and is then used as a reference guide during the writing process.
Fold-and-Go sections are helpfully highlighted in the teacher’s manuals, making it really easy to weave them into daily activities.
While certainly a lot more interesting than typical grammar worksheets, as we mentioned earlier, the grammar that’s taught isn’t as deep as you might find in a full language arts program.
Considering how important grammar instruction is at the Grade 3-6 level, we certainly recommend adding a more formal grammar supplement to WriteShop at this point.
WriteShop 1 and 2
|Grades: 6-12 (WriteShop 1 – Gr. 6-10, WriteShop 2 – Gr. 8-12)
|Lessons per Level: 16 (I), 13 (II)
|Number of Levels: 2 (I & II)
|Estimated length: 1 -2 years per level
Skills taught and practiced include:
|Using concrete writing
|Creating a personal narrative
|Creating a thesis statement
|Creating topic and closing sentences
|Active vs passive voice
|Essay writing (argumentative, compare and contrast, narrative and descriptive)
|Effective use of transition words
|Writing for conciseness
|Identifying, writing first and third person points of view
|Creating a descriptive narratives
WriteShop 1 and 2 is aimed at pre-teens and teens as they make their way through a middle school and high school curriculum.
In general, students begin with WriteShop 1, where they work on more of the fundamentals of proper writing. They’ll create topic sentences, learn to use similes, create different narratives, learn to distinguish between and create concrete vs descriptive writing, and more.
Following these lessons, they can continue to WriteShop 2, where they will learn to add sophistication to their work and begin to tackle more advanced concepts in writing, such as different types of essay writing, timed writing, developing a narrative voice and so on.
Taken together, WriteShop 1 and 2 applies the WriteShop methodology to the more advanced topics in writing that kids at this level will need to learn, such as essay writing, report writing, descriptive and concrete writing, timed writing and so on.
Overall, then, students cover most of the writing they’ll encounter in (and out of) an academic setting.
A point of concern is that the writing exercises included tend to be a bit short, and high school students in particular may need to supplement the activities to get used to longer form writing.
Despite being aimed at an older audience, WriteShop 1 and 2 still offer a variety of multi-sensory, hands-on activities and games to help promote learning, creating and engaging and multisensory experience that can be particularly helpful with reluctant writers at this age group.
Continuing the trend towards more independence in writing, although the role of the parent is still prominent (;eading the lessons, assigning activities, creating dialogues and, of course, editing), with their developing academic skills, students are able to be far more active participants in their learning.
At this level not only do students start taking more control and responsibility over their writing process, for example taking the lead in brainstorming and editing, but the student manuals are written far more to the student.
WriteShop 1 and 2 student manuals include far more information and in-depth explanations to help students get a better understanding of what they’re expected to be doing.
In fact, WriteShop 1 offers a variety of optional video lessons aimed at the student that help walk them through the various activities in the course and give them a little more independence when it comes to learning. .
Overall, these videos do a good job at covering the main parts of the course, matching up easily with the printed material, and they are relatively engaging and aren’t too long.
They also use a good deal of visuals and they’re pretty straightforward, explaining things simply and in a commonsense way.
We’ve included an example of one of these videos below:
WriteShop Pros and Cons to Consider
Like anything else, WriteShop isn’t a perfect solution for every homeschooling family.
Given that writing courses can get expensive, parents need to weigh the relative pros and cons of each program against their students’ needs and their homeschool philosophy and preferences.
Teaches Students To Write In A Structured, Organized Way
A problem that most students have when approaching writing is simply jotting down their ideas as they come in the order they come in.
This can lead to disorganized writing and poor performance and anxiety when faced with prompts should students suddenly draw a blank and not be able to write at all.
WriteShop teaches kids to approach writing in a far more organized and structured way. It teaches them to first organize their thoughts before writing, and then systematically edit their work afterwards.
In this way it can give kids a professional framework to help reign in their torrent of thoughts and fall back on if they begin to panic when faced with an empty page.
WriteShop is An Excellent Resource For Teaching Parents (To Teach Their Kids Writing)
Teaching someone to write well is not the easiest thing to do.
Writing is a multifaceted skill that draws from a broad range of rules and techniques in language and not all parents have the experience to know where to start.
WriteShop pretty well eliminates the guesswork and uncertainty of teaching writing.
It provides parents with a resource bank of tips, instructions, checklists, scenarios, lesson plans, schedules and even scripts of what to say to a student and when to say it.
As a result, the program really carries parents through the process of teaching writing, with little prep required and very little left to chance.
Lots Of Hands-on Activities At All Levels
All levels of WriteShop tend to involve hands-on learning to help students learn writing skills and techniques.
Aside from the physical act of putting text to paper, most people wouldn’t think of learning to write as being amenable to hands-on creative activities.
However, from card games to treasure hunts to arts and crafts, WriteShop has found very interesting ways to take learning to write from simple transcription to creative, physical exploration.
This makes WriteShop lessons far more engaging for kids of all ages, particularly for those who struggle with writing or find it intimidating, as these activities can reduce some of the pressure they feel.
It also makes learning multisensory, which can strengthen learning pathways and increase knowledge and skill retention in the long run.
It Can Teach Writing To A Broad Age Range Of Students
Many writing programs out there don’t tend to include younger students in their recommended age range, as writing tends to require a certain skill at reading and reading comprehension.
WriteShop, on the other hand, spans the entire K-12 age range with its programs and methodology.
By modifying how they teach to fit early and even pre-reader abilities (emphasizing verbal storytelling and using lots of modeling, for example), kids as young as 5 can get in the habit of structuring and organizing their thoughts, as well as understanding the basic structure of sentence and story.
This can help them develop the skills they can use to get a better head start in school.
Writeshop Makes It Very Easy To Differentiate Learning
Teaching kids from a course can sometimes be a little tricky since kids tend to absorb and understand material at different rates.
Teaching writing is no different.
Some kids are quite talented and have an aptitude for language arts, quickly understanding and integrating things like structure, grammar, style and so on into their writing.
Other kids struggle with writing, finding it hard to put words to paper and even becoming easily intimidated and reactively negatively to the process, even if their reading skills are advanced.
Adding to the challenge, in many cases the same child can absorb lesson material in a very uneven way throughout a course, going through some sections quickly and struggling with others.
WriteShop very helpfully provides built-in recommendations and instructions in each lesson, letting parents tailor activities and instructions around the student’s needs in real time.
Parents can simplify and slow down the learning if a student is struggling, or intensify it if a student requires enrichment.
These recommendations and instructions are often highly detailed, with lots of tips and tricks for parents to use.
This ultimately makes WriteShop very easy to differentiate on the fly.
It is an extremely structured and scripted program
WriteShop offers parents lots of directions, tips, recommendations and even scripts to follow.
While this is great for parents who are less experienced at teaching writing or don’t mind a heavily structured program, those that chose homeschooling for maximum independence and flexibility in teaching may find the program a bit controlling.
Similarly, as the learning is incremental, it can be hard to significantly learn lessons to fit your own needs, particularly if you want to skip segments or move lessons around.
It Does Require A Lot Of Parental Interaction And Oversight
WriteShop requires a good deal of parental involvement in its program.
At all levels parents are heavily involved in the learning process, whether leading activities, initiating dialogues and explorations, imparting information and offering explanations, or editing and evaluating.
This will take a lot of time and a good deal of sustained effort from parents to go through each lesson properly.
This is something that can be a problem if a parent is leading a busy homeschool, working or is otherwise constrained for time.
In terms of the student, WriteShop also doesn’t really promote independent learning as much as some other programs.
Although WriteShop’s various programs do encourage more independence and responsibility from the student as they progress, even at the higher levels the student manual still relies on information from the teachers manual and interaction with another person.
While this is fine for younger students, at the upper high school levels many students can be perfectly capable of learning independently and this might be something that some parents prefer to encourage.
It Can Be Intense…For Everyone
Each WriteShop lesson is designed to take about 3 weeks.
They are made up of a number of activities, including pre-writing activities and skill builders that occur before you even start brainstorming, Writing, editing, proofing and creating a final draft for evaluation.
All this adds up to a lot of work for students and parents to go through in each lesson.
While WriteShop’s methodology is certainly an effective and professional way of approaching writing in the long run, kids (and time poor parents) may get frustrated by its incremental and time intensive approach to writing.
Who is WriteShop Ideal For?
Parents Uncertain Of How To Teach Writing
With its highly detailed, instructive step by step teachers manual, WriteShop is an excellent choice for parents who may want a lot of help with teaching their child to write or who are uncertain of how to do so.
The program will guide parents through the process, from beginning to end, leaving very little left to chance, and as such is perfect for those who are complete novices in language arts.
Struggling Students and Reluctant Writers
WriteShop provides students with a framework that they can use to write effectively when prompted, drawing it out of them in a step by step process through the use of targeted activities and parent-led prompts.
It also provides them with a framework that will get them started when faced with any given prompt.
Homeschools That Value Parent-Child Interactivity
If you’re a homeschool that enjoys or values taking a cooperative learning approach, with a lot of parent and child interaction throughout lessons, then WriteShop is probably the right choice.
There are a wide variety of activities, dialogues and modeling activities that require parents and students to spend time working together to maximize learning.
Parents of young children who want to develop writing skills early on
WriteShop Primary is aimed at K-3 students and does a good job at teaching them the essentials of writing and story organization from a very early age.
It helps develop early writing skills and a structured approach that will help them in future grades.
Even pre-readers can benefit from the program, as Primary uses a lot of pictures, verbalization and oral recitation to explain concepts in a way young kids can understand and produce stories that they will enjoy even if they can’t read.
Those Who Want To Incorporate Hands-on Learning Into Language Arts
If your student is more of a tactile learner who enjoys exploring and physically interacting with their learning, and maybe even has a hard time sitting still for an hour or so, WriteShop’s lessons and activities may be right for you.
These lessons are replete with hands-on learning activities that demonstrate and integrate various concepts, techniques and writing tips through arts and crafts and a variety of physical games and activities that kids will enjoy.
As a plus, most of the materials for these hands-on activities are included in a relatively inexpensive (or included) Time Saver add on book, which is convenient since you won’t have to run out and buy art supplies as often.
Who is WriteShop Not Ideal For?
Parents Looking For Independent Or Explorational Learning
WriteShop is not a self-teaching or independent learning program for students.
It does require significant and consistent parental involvement and there’s no real way around this fact.
Many of the activities require dialogues or discussions beforehand, and include step-by-step modeling of writing with real time explanations of steps and concepts.
Parents who are looking to encourage their children to learn on their own, or those who simply don’t have the time to sit with their child and slowly work their way through writing lessons, may need to look elsewhere for a writing curriculum.
Homeschools that desire a lot of freedom in teaching
Some homeschooling parents are happy with a structured, well-laid out curriculum that takes them comfortably from A-Z.
Other parents, however, may have begun homeschooling because they wanted more control over their child’s learning or wanted an alternative to the more highly structured traditional classroom setting and teaching methods.
These latter parents may not find WriteShop to be ideal for them.
It is not only a highly structured program that needs to be followed in a particular sequence, but it also offers a high level of lesson scripting, precisely detailing the process of teaching.
The teacher’s manual may include instructions on how to teach, what to teach, when to teach and even sometimes what to say and how to say it.
While this can be great for those new to teaching writing, those seeking more freedom in their child’s schooling may feeling it overly governing.
Parents That Value A Freeform And Highly Creative Writing Process
At its core, WriteShop is about teaching students to approach writing using an organized and structured framework.
Ultimately this is a very useful and professional approach to writing that can be extremely beneficial students in all aspects of their academic life.
Unlike some other writing programs, despite telling students what to write, how to write it and what to include, we think it leaves students with enough room to develop their own voice and add their own unique style to their writing.
Yet, some parents may prefer to take a more freeform approach to writing. They may feel that frameworks can stifle a student’s creativity by forcing them to write in a certain way and adhering to various steps rather than their intuition.
In this case, too, WriteShop is probably not a great option.
Note: Prices correct as of writing, all prices are in USD.
Like many other homeschool writing curricula out there, you can buy WriteShop courses as complete packages or as individual books.
You can also buy copies of most books digitally as ebooks or as physical copies. Digital versions usually cost a few dollars less.
Where available, when there is the option between digital and physical copies, we marked the price with “from.”
Primary Sets include a Teacher’s Guide and Student Activity Pack
Junior Sets include the Teachers Manual, Activity Pack, Fold N Go Grammar and Time Saver. Levels E and F also include a digital writers notebook.
Supplements for WriteShop Junior
Fold N Go Grammar – From $12.50
Time Saver Pack – $8.50
Writer’s Notebook – $3.50
WriteShop 1 and 2
|WriteShop I Basic Set
Includes: Teachers manual, student workbook for 1
|WriteShop 1 & 2 Bundle
Includes: Teacher’s Manual, Student Workbooks for I&II and a calendar with writing prompts
|WriteShop 1 Starter Bundle
Includes: Teachers manual, student workbook for 1, Blue Book of Grammar & Punctuation, Copying & Dictation Exercises and a post
|WriteShop I Video Course Bundle
Includes: Video courses, Teacher’s Manual, WriteShop I Student Workbook,, and Poster
Teachers Manual (I&II) – $55.00
Student workbooks – $39.50 each
Video Instruction – $139.95 (video only)
Blue Book of Grammar – $19.95
Copying and Dictation Exercises – from $4.50
Is WriteShop Worth The Price
As a writing program we believe that WriteShop is well worth the money.
WriteShop provides students with a professional and organized way of approaching writing, which can be very helpful in any writing situation or assignment throughout their academic careers.
Followed correctly, we feel WriteShop’s materials do an excellent job getting students to learn and implement this structure for writing and can help them develop the mindset and techniques to better edit their work themselves.
In addition, the teacher’s manual and student books are filled with content.
The manuals in particular are filled with detailed tips, directions, scripts and more that can really help make teaching the material a snap, while the student books include worksheets, visual aids, and their own instructions to help get them writing and editing.
There are also tons of hands-on activities that parents and students can put together to help teach writing techniques and concepts in a more engaging and multisensory way.
It is true that WriteShop isn’t the most technologically advanced writing program out there. While they do have some video instruction and ebooks, you won’t find any AI-driven software as of yet, for example.
That said, in addition to the main materials, the company does provide a huge library of resources to help both parents and students with the program and their writing.
Being a very popular program, there are also numerous support resources online that can be found with a simple search.
Writing isn’t always the easiest skill to learn or teach at home.
WriteShop can help homeschoolers with both these issues, giving kids a systematic framework to use when writing, while giving uncertain parents a clear, thorough and highly structured way of teaching it.
While perhaps time intensive for parents, WriteShop’s many engaging hands-on activities, interesting prompts and approachable style can not only help kids dramatically improve their writing, but will probably result in a lot fewer tears…from both parents and students.
About the Author
Anne Miller is the editor of The Smarter Learning Guide and is a passionate advocate for education and educational technology. A mom of two, she majored in English Language and Literature and worked as a substitute teacher and tutor for several years. When not writing she continues to root for the Yankees and the Giants.
Jennifer Keenes is a writer and a new mom living in Florida. She studied education and, prior to becoming a freelance writer, worked as a substitute teacher at the elementary and middle school level. She is a big fan of the beach, working out and homeschooling her two daughters.