Friday, 11 July 2014

WriteShop Primary Book B {Review}

Writing around here is like pulling hens teeth!  It is just plain difficult. It's not that I don't know how to write myself (my biggest problem is limiting my words ...)  and I know how to teach writing but what I have on the shelf was just not working for Sir N.  I was beginning to worry as I wasn't sure what we were going to do.

Thankfully I was recently introduced to WriteShop.  I took sometime to read over the author's How to Choose a Starting Level and looked over the sets available and decided that since Sir N is a reluctant writer we would start off with WriteShop Primary: Book B Set.

What we received
  • Teachers Guide (eBook Edition) 228 pages in PDF (30 MB).  I saved it to my Samsung Galaxy Tab.  
  • Activity Pack (eBook Edition) 25 pages.  PDF format 99.12 MB). I have printed these to have on hand and they are stored in a magazine box in the cupboard.
How we used it
After downloading the two eBooks.  I printed all the pages from the Activity pack. Next I took a few days to become familiar with the  Teacher's Guide.  It was well worth taking the time to read this introduction. The how to section is 32 pages with some wonderful hands on ideas on how to create an environment to help your student become a successful independent writer.

There is a really helpful 'Planning Your Schedule' section in which Nancy makes some suggestions with examples of one, two or three week routines for each lesson.   I love the flexibility these plans have provided for me.  Some lessons we have done using the two week plan and some we have used the three and some the one week plan depending on Sir N's understanding of the work presented.  There is even a "How to teach children at different levels" section. 

The program consists of 10 lessons.  Each lesson has a specific focus and theme.  For example Lesson 1 is Writing a letter and Lesson 7 is Humour.

This is Sir N's second guided writing practice and the very first letter he has ever written by himself.  I was his dictionary and I am so pleased with the results.  He was very reluctant to start with but by the end he was happy to write it.

Through out the program we enjoyed doing hands on projects.  These contribute to the learning in  a practical engaging way and Sir N enjoyed making things for the program. Each lesson has eight activity sets to complete.

Here is a sample of one of the "At a Glance" boxes and the reason I so appreciated the Teacher's Guide. I am apt to push through and stay until it's finished which can at times be detrimental to learning. I loved these highlight boxes which encouraged me with how, when and why behind each action.  My guide has really empowered me as the facilitator I have benefited from the scripted lesson plans.

Each lesson uses a short book as part of the program.  The recommended books are an excellent resource in finding books which provide quality literature which in turn benefits your students understanding of producing good writing structure and style.  The list provided is divided up into lessons with up to 12 suggestions per lesson.

One of my favourite parts of the program is that Sir N has not had to do a lot of independent writing.  We share writing duty.  As he has seen his work unfold he has been happy to do a little more each day as he gains confidence and endurance to write more.  The biggest blessing has been seeing him start to write little notes for himself.

Nancy is really good at encouraging me the tutor to separate out penmanship from composition.  The Teacher's Guide is like having her sitting with me gently coaching and encouraging me what to say, what to prepare or what to do next.  She is a tremendously encouraging and her explanations are empowering for me as I understand what I am doing and the purpose behind each step. The best part is that her wisdom is there for me to go back and re-read when ever I need to.

WriteShop differs from other how to teach composition titles in that it doesn't tell you what to write, or copy.  It provides you with specific questions and prompts to help the student to structure their thoughts and accomplish the task at hand.  By the end of the lesson through dialogue your student has gone from a blank page to a completed task.

The final part of a lesson is publishing the work.  This could be anything from writing a letter and mailing it to someone to making a basket of  "Story Loves" (page 119).

The Activity pack contains a handy evaluation chart. Upon completing the 7 activity sets for each lesson you are provided an evaluation of the student in the following areas
  1. Content
  2. Writing Skills
  3. Mechanics
You are not left to wonder what the author means in any of these areas as beneath each subsection there are specific questions pertaining that skill for you to answer using a three letter key provided.  As I used this I gained an accurate view of where my student is at and can see at a glance his progress and where he still needs help.

**Cost of WriteShop Primary Book B
** Prices are current at time of review and can change at any given time at discretion of the company.  Please double check the price before placing your purchase.

Recommended Age Range
  • Ideal for students in first and second grade.
  • May also be used with reluctant third graders. 
This program is an excellent way to introduce composition to reluctant writers and primary school aged students.

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Final Thoughts
We are both enjoying the learning to write journey with WriteShop.  I am enjoying having Nancy tutor me through the guide and Sir N is learning through delightful activities rather than mundane writing projects.

I like doing the projects with him because they are not simply busy seat work they specifically designed to be a creative way to help him remember the new things he is learning each time we do WriteShop. It's ultimate purpose is for Sir N to learn that Writing = Fun! and in the long run also preventing the meltdowns over writing we have had in the past.   The best part is that I don't have to come up with the ideas they are all provided for me.


Thank you to WriteShop for blessing our homeschool with this excellent product.

Click to read Crew Reviews


  1. What a thorough review Chareen. Thanks! I have had this on the shelf for a year now and have been hesitant to use it. We are planning on pulling it out for the middle giggly girl (we bought an older level for the older girl). I am a little braver after reading this. - Lori H

    1. Thank you Lori. I look forward to hearing how things progress for you this new school year :)

  2. Hi Chareen, I can't decide whether to get the eBook or Print Edition for the Activity Pack. Is it double-sided printing in the Print Edition? Did you print the Activity Pack single or double-sided? Thanks!

    1. Morning Kate
      I printed mine single sided. I am not sure if they are double sided or single sided in the Print Edition.


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