Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • SPELLING WORKOUT LEVEL E PUPIL EDITION
    SPELLING WORKOUT LEVEL E PUPIL EDITION
    by MODERN CURRICULUM PRESS
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in civil war (1)

Tuesday
Jun282011

Learning writing style, and journal entries

Calvin has been writing for a while now. He started keeping his journal almost a year ago. At that time it was mostly a sentence, or even just a few words, describing an activity from the day, or sometimes a book that we'd read, and I was helping him form his sentences and sound out and spell the words. I got him started on the journal before he could read in part because he was interested in doing so—he'd noticed me keeping journals for some time by then—and also because I thought it might be empowering to be able to share his thoughts with the world at large. He enjoyed it, and I'm pretty sure the process helped him learn to read a few months later, though learning is a very fluid process, and like the proverbial chicken and egg I can't tell which drove the other—the journal the reading, or the reading the journal. And as Calvin gained his own writing legs I slowly stopped helping him with his journal, and some time early this year I left him sitting on the couch writing while I ran on the treadmill, and since that time all the entries have been entirely his—spelling, punctuation, composition, and all.

Recently he and I had a chance to talk about sentence formation and about telling stories with written words. The topic presented itself because after having read all the Oz books by L. Frank Baum we graduated to the subsequent books by Ruth Plumly Thompson, only her writing just isn't as good—it's not as clear, it's not as bright, it's not as enjoyable. We compared some of their methods for story telling, and some examples of their sentence formation as well. From there we started talking more about what makes a sentence interesting in general, and about rhythm and flow in a short work.

We explored Calvin's own journal next, and found that some entries were more fun to read than others—he found that the ones that had been short, quick, and easy to write were the least interesting to read later. Then we tried something: he wrote a quick entry about our Log Cabin Weekend trip, then asked me to help him rewrite it. I helped him by asking leading questions about the day itself, by talking about different ways to phrase the same thing, and by encouraging him to vary his sentence length. He seemed surprised by the difference between the two entries, and excited, too, as though a new window had opened in his mind, or a new door in his life.

Journal entry original:

Journal entry rewrite: