After being challenged on it, I sat down and made up this process for a book report. I wish I had put this together for my kids, but basically we did something similar as we homeschooled.
1. Keep the goal in mind: You want the child intelligently interacting with the book. It really isn’t a synopsis, as most seem to be. Instead, it is a summary with analysis / evaluation.
2. Try this simple process:
FIRST: Have your student make a written list of “6 Things I Liked About the Book” & “6 Things I Did Not Like About the Book.” [This is THE MOST IMPORTANT step]
SECOND: Use this ‘form’ to sketch out an outline (just use bullet points)
a. Open with “___________ (book title and author) is a ___________(summary adjective: good, bad, well-written, fantastic, engaging, awful, etc.) __________ (category like adventure, science fiction, historical novel, etc.) that is about ______________________ (summary basics).
Example: The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is a delightful children’s fantasy novel that is about a girl who makes her way through the strange world of Oz to finally arrive back home in the loving world of her Kansas family and friends.
b. Give a short (few sentences) summary of the story. This can be done many ways, but the idea is to give someone who hasn’t read the book the basics
c. What I liked about the book and why (2 or 3 is fine).
d. What I didn’t like about the book and why (2 or 3 is fine).
e. Conclusion- Usually this will be a recommendation or warning about reading the book.
THIRD: Write it!
FOURTH: Get Help (somebody reads it and offers corrections / ideas)
FIFTH: Make it GREAT by re-writing the whole thing with the improvements from the 4th Step included.
ADDENDUM: Younger children could go through the steps above as a list to write, or as an oral exercise with mom or dad.
I know there are other approaches…use what works as long as it is helping your child really learn to
2) Write 🙂
Hope this helps,
© 2015 Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
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My son and I are very happy with your writing and essay courses. As a homeschool mom who dreaded his resistance to do his “writing” for school each day, it is a relief to see him want to write and actually enjoy it. I am learning so much too…makes me wonder if I couldn’t write a book one day….I have forever admired authors for their talents.
Thanks again for what you have given us.
We are looking forward to the videos. Thanks a bunch!
A Private Tutoring Student Testimonial
Thinking that Produces Confidence
I have not really taught my children how to THINK about writing, but rather tried to teach them how to DO writing. But scripture teaches us the opposite. It is the heart and mind that come first and then the actions follow. So, that is what I have loved so far about your course! You have changed my thinking and that of my children as well.
Mom of a 9-year-old (He’s now on full scholarship at The University of Texas)
I discovered shortly after starting to homeschool that I couldn’t do 5th grade A Beka grammar. Yet, somehow I’ve managed to get a post-graduate degree and communicate effectively. We scaled down from that level, but still get bogged down in all those mechanics. I have found your seminar both enjoyable and refreshing. I look forward to going through the rest of it myself, and using it with my kids. Thank you.
Your suggestions are awe-inspiring to a novice (me!) writer. Cooper (my son) has been writing a novel ever since. He just finished it today – love how he’s taken off with his creative side!
Thank you for your writing curriculum. My 12 year old daughter has begun to write without fear for the first time in her life. We are only on lesson 4 and she is applying what she has learned in all areas. Letters,
drawing illustrations, email…
Thanks so much! My almost 10 yr old daughter started yesterday and it went great. My 11 yr old son is in an IEW writing class right now. He has one more class meeting and then I’m going to start him on this, as well. I actually used that with him this morning as we were working on his final draft. I said, “Does this sound better? (what he wrote) or does this sound better? (my suggestion)?”
He said my suggestion did so we changed it. I’m excited about this!
– Mindy M.
From a homeschooling forum:
This is just what I needed to hear to prompt me to
purchase TWC. I say this because like you, I felt a
bit overwhelmed by IEW, though I couldn’t put my
finger on why. I also have a 13 year old son who is a
reluctant writer and needs careful prompting
(though when he does write, he’s good at it!).
Probably why I’ve waited so long, seeing as he seems
to dread it and I didn’t want to make matters worse
by choosing a bulky, mom-intensive program.
You have resolved this confusion for me… and I
can confidently purchase this program which I have
been looking at on and off for quite some time.
How good to hear someone confidently and with such
clarity explain their reason for purchasing this
I was also thinking of Bravewriter, but it also appears
to be mom-intensive! Daily emails for reminders,
and on and on… When you said this TWC program is
much like the RC philosophy of being a self-learning
approach, that was all I needed to hear.
Taken from a homeschooling forum:
The Writing Course – Basic consists of 5 CDs; four contain the 21 lessons and the 5th contains the worksheets for printing,a transcript of the lessons,and charts. Lybrand is a Robinson Curriculum Dad so his process is developed to fit with the Robinson method and much of that philosophy is obvious in his presentations. Each lesson consists of listening to the CD, filling in the worksheet which serves as a bare-bones outline of the talk, and doing an assignment. He talks about secrets to writing which he states really are not secrets at
all. These ideas are simple but freeing for students who struggle with writing. He covers grammar and punctuation very briefly—just enough to eliminate the fear and get the student writing.
Some ideas covered:
Clears out the objections to writing and replaces them with simple truth. Takes the perfectionism out of the writing process. Frees the poor speller to note words he isn’t sure of rather than stopping the flow of thought because of spelling difficulty. Opens the door to the mind that just can’t think of anything to write. Gives tips on style– personal style and how to make your writing interesting. Provides the key to eliminating the “taking it personally” mentality about
feedback and correction.
Mr. Lybrand’s voice is pleasant and his presentations are interesting. We found the lessons to be simple and helpful. The topic ideas were fun and usually relatable for the children (ages 11, 14, 16). The program is not consumable. You print as many worksheets as you need and repeat the lessons as often as necessary. Suitable for ages 9 or 10 and older.
The Essay Course consists of 4 CDs, 17 lessons. This course is best suited for ages 12+ (my opinion). No print-outs except a template, just talks to listen to and assignments (essay ideas) to provide practice. He discusses various templates for essays and how to use them and mentions methods to use on, and practice for, the SAT writing section.
My opinion of these courses:
I found the ideas presented very helpful. I like his presentation style, very conversational. This course did help 2 of my children adjust their thinking about writing. It does closely follow the Robinson philosophy while still providing help and clarifying the writing thought process…
I hope this has been helpful.
Grow in Grace,
Two of my boys, 14 and 12, are very reluctant writers. They really prefer copy work because it is “safe”…
Mr. Lybrand’s way of talking them through the lessons is very reassuring and he makes it sound so easy. My boy’s listened to what he said and then did it. They started writing! I was impressed.
Since enrolling in Mr. Lybrand’s class, she has submitted stories to nationally-distributed magazines with the hopes of being published (for fun!). She is also involved with other children from Mr. Lybrand’s class in writing a weekly newspaper and distributing it around the neighborhood (for fun!) Most recently, while driving all day in the car, I asked my daughter what she was doing, and she replied “I’m writing another story” (for fun!)
– Gary Gould, Petroleum Engineer
The Writing Course covers everything that I have learned about writing, on my own, and more – and will teach it to my children in an organized and exciting fashion – which I couldn’t seem to do.
“This approach eliminates writer’s block”
– Carrie Minor
English Major, Texas A&M
One principle (from The Writing Course) I used with my 4th graders this past school year helped them tremendously in their writing, and made it easier for them to figure out how to punctuate their sentences.
– Jennifer Thompson * Public School Teacher, San Antonio, Texas
“My son did so well with the first course that I got carried away with getting the essay one with out reading your announcement. Thank you for the reimbursement.”
– Best regards, David S[Said after purchasing the Writing Course early on, one of our customers purchased The Essay Course without reading the fact that it was a special bonus with his first course]
The course is great. I’m using it for myself as a prep for college.Thanks for all that you have done putting this together -Robert DeMint
I recommend Fred Lybrand’s course at http://www.advanced-writing-resources.com. If you have students who refuse to (or at least begrudgingly) participate in a writer workshops, Lybrand’s course will be a help. It focuses on getting rid of reluctance and fear in writers, and frees them up to share their work and to grow. It’s about learning by writing, and is a great resource regarding not only how to teach kids to write, but how to relax them about the whole thing, to break down insecurities and other reservations and let them naturally write and share. Good luck!
Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
25624 Lewis Ranch Rd.
New Braunfels, TX 78132
P.S. It is surprising to me how many scams about writing courses are out there, but not about homeschooling writing. I believe all the writing courses for homeschooling reluctant writers really can offer you something useful. However, I still think we alone offer your money back if you are unhappy. This is the best way, once we reviewed our Writing Course and goals, to not scam you at all. You really have nothing to lose and a great future of appreciative kids to gain.
Or…Write us at email@example.com
In a way this is pretty simple. Your thinking (including your beliefs) really influences your actions and reactions in life. As a result, you can then see that your current situation in life has A LOT to do with how you think. Taking time to straighten out your own thinking (using books, media, and wise friends or mentors) is one of the best uses of your time.
Fred Ray Lybrand
Let’s just say it: As it stands, homeschooling will turn out better writers. The reason isn’t as spiritual as it is mechanical. It isn’t necessarily about a writing curriculum, but a writing curriculum that mimics the failed public schooling study-grammar-and-diagramming approach is doomed to fail. The process homeschoolers experience is going to produce a different kind of intellect. They may not be as tech-savvy in the short-term, but homeschool graduates are going to be more powerfully balanced in the long-term. The better balance makes for a better writer, since every fine writer is thinking about living a life rather than tweaking a code. Here are the 10 Reasons I believe you will see a better writer in a homeschool graduate. These are generalizations and represent the larger group, not the disappointing exceptions 🙂
1. Homeschoolers don’t do busy work
Busy work is a behavioral strategy that looks like something productive is being done. But, as in the military where you always need to look busy, busy work encourages both manipulation of authorities and a lack of discernment about what’s important. Learning to look busy means that you are learning to focus on giving ‘eye-service’ rather than real service. If busy work is elevated to a level of value, then it takes on its own importance. In the real world, the 80/20 rule is always in play; 80% of what is really valuable comes from 20% of the material. 20% of your skills produce 80% of your results, etc. Face it, “If everything is important, nothing is important.” Moreover, busy work makes most people HATE education/learning, because it seems so pointless.
2. Homeschoolers learn according to interests
George Washington Carver observed that “Anything will reveal its secrets if you love it enough.” There is something powerful about being able to use reading, writing, and math as a bridge to discovering something you are seeking. Everyone does better when they are interested.
3. Homeschoolers don’t test too soon or too much
We shouldn’t have to have proof for the obvious, but it’s available. Labeling a child based on early testing would be fine if the testing was flawless…but really, how dare anyone tell others what they can or can’t do? Besides giving a child false beliefs about herself, testing also forces mass education systems to make learning and education primarily about the test results. Do we want our students to learn or just to learn how to test?
4. Homeschoolers don’t get easily promoted
Any of us who have been in school systems have seen this unfortunate phenomenon. I personally was moved along from 5th to 6th grade without understanding anything about long-division. Really! In homeschooling you have to actually learn the subject to advance, and that’s based on what you KNOW the student can do. Not getting ‘moved along’ in the system means that homeschoolers are going to tend to actually know what they’ve learned. Also, any delays can easily be covered at home over the summer.
5. Homeschoolers don’t see learning as a compartment of life
When you ‘go to school’ and come home ‘from school’, then you can’t help but see school as the place you go to learn / study / think. They used to make up for that with ‘homework’, but even then school was treated as a compartment. It is hard to learn in the thick of life if you think you have to go to a classroom with an expert to grow your knowledge or skills. Homeschoolers get to see that home and school and life are all opportunities to learn.
6. Homeschoolers are focused on getting ready for life
The goal of most mass education systems is to get kids out into the world with some basic learning OR to filter out the elite learners for advanced education. What isn’t really in play (except for a few precious and rebellious teachers) is to see how all learning relates to being equipped to do life well. This is one of the reasons homeschoolers study government and citizenship, they are being prepared for contribution to their nation; it’s part of the mindset.
7. Homeschoolers are being tutored not taught
When a student struggles in mass education settings, the solution is to get a tutor to help him. Tutoring is the ‘fall back’ because (drum roll here please) …IT WORKS. Teaching deals with a large audience receiving the notes in a lecture. Tutoring allows for an awesome student/teacher ratio. It means that the tutor has the time, energy, and insight to work with the student from where he is in any given moment. We are talking targeted and individualized eduction! Face it, the low student-teacher-ratio just naturally gives a huge advantage to the homeschooler.
8. Homeschoolers get caught cheating
It’s just hard to cheat your tutor (and too, with your siblings around you watching all the time). We’ve had two of our homeschoolers try this approach to school. Both were caught, and both had to start the subject over (our goal was to learn math not to merely get through the book).
9. Homeschoolers are learning how to learn
Except when homeschooling mimics the public and private schools, the implicit focus of school is to encourage homeschoolers to learn to teach themselves. Almost no single parent (or both) can know more about every subject then their students. In the course of time they will pass you in a specific area or skill. Our youngest (Brooks Lybrand) is currently a senior in high school and finished calculus when he was 15 years old. He also made a perfect score of 800 in the math section of the SAT. Sorry, that’s just past us! We encouraged the kids (and designed a system for it) to teach themselves and each other. As of today, it seems to be paying off well for all 5 of them.
10. Homeschoolers learn to write by writing
To the point of the article. I hope you realize that writing is the hardest of all subjects. Do you? Honestly, just think of the number of decisions being made in writing a mere paragraph; with word choice, grammar, spelling, punctuation, strategy, sequencing, etc., it’s staggering! Additionally, writing is more self-taught than any subject. One’s own voice and style are individually discovered as we play around with words.
Homeschoolers are going to be better writers because of the previous 9 reasons…better and balanced self-learners make better students of anything. Writing is no exception.
But, there is an even greater reason homeschoolers are going to be better writers: THEY LEARN TO WRITE BY WRITING. Yep, that’s it. Writing is what grows writers, just as working math problems grows mathematicians. Learning about math isn’t learning math. Learning about writing isn’t learning to write. Mass education settings simply do not have students writing much at all. Moreover, the writing they do is grammar obsessed, which only leads to a growing hatred of writing (see Reason 2 above and The Wrong Way to Teach Grammar in The Atlantic Monthly).
If you want a child to grow as a writer:
1. Minimize obsessing on grammar and correctness (please don’t put faith in formal traditional grammar/punctuation curriculum, they mostly hurt your young writer)
2. Have them write some everyday
4. Have them learn grammar, etc., by reading their writing aloud
3. Give them a little feedback about what you liked (especially)
4. Have them share their writing with others (dad, grandma, friends, etc.)
Unless they follow mass education practices, homeschoolers will turn out better writers. Homeschoolers actually have to write, so they naturally have the best shot at improving. As Malcolm Gladwell pointed out, they’ll need to put in their 10,000 hours to become great. Now, what will they do with this skill in the head-to-head competition in life when writing matters? Well, we’ll just have to stay tuned.
Off to learn,
Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
Creator: The Writing Course
P.S. Would you do me a favor right now? PLEASE share this online somewhere (tweet / facebook / pinterest / etc.). OR (and) PLEASE post a comment below. Thanks so much!
(c) Fred Ray Lybrand, 2014
So, we’ve been pointing this out for years! Kids will learn to love writing (and grammar) if you
focus on good literature and lots of writing practice. Studying Grammar is deadly. Don’t take
my word for it. Read the Atlantic Monthly Article…
A century of research shows that traditional grammar lessons—those hours spent diagramming sentences and memorizing parts of speech—don’t help and may even hinder students’ efforts to become better writers. Yes, they need to learn grammar, but the old-fashioned way does not work.
This finding—confirmed in 1984, 2007, and 2012 through reviews of over 250 studies—is consistent among students of all ages, from elementary school through college. For example, one well-regarded study followed three groups of students from 9th to 11th grade where one group had traditional rule-bound lessons, a second received an alternative approach to grammar instruction, and a third received no grammar lessons at all, just more literature and creative writing. The result: No significant differences among the three groups—except that both grammar groups emerged with a strong antipathy to English.
Off to learn,
Fred Ray Lybrand
P.S. Clearly this is why we developed our homeschool writing curriculum. We wanted a writing program that helps kids love to write.
SO, WHEN ARE KIDS READY TO START WRITING ESSAYS?
I posted this on the Facebook Robinson Curriculum Group Page, but realized it fits in our group nicely:
OK…so…I’m not the standard person out there, so these are MY thoughts.
Basically, I accept that the maturity of the frontal lobes is not adequately developed for abstract thinking until 14-ish (finally matures around 25). Essays are discussions about one’s own thoughtful view.
So…in our homeschool writing curriculum we simply never had the kids start writing essays until they were 14 or 15. Our goal was to get them to master the sentence…and spelling…and punctuation…and how to get themselves to write…and how to come up with ideas.
I can say that all of our kids turned out to be really fine essayists (always excellent grades on essays in college).
Part of the trick is for them to build confidence…much easier when the brain is ready and when a homeschool writing curriculum encourages the right approach. In the classical model…12 to 14 is when kids work on logic (by arguing)…which is really what they need for essays.
Now…book reports are different, but our homeschool writing curriculum covers that too. Why? Well, because everything in writing is still about writing a good sentence!
Here’s Where Our Group Meets: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheWritingCourse/
Why You Shouldn’t Teach Writing Like Math
It’s pretty simple. Math is learned by understanding a mathematical concept/principle and working problems that apply the principles. The working on these problems gives feedback and depth to making sense of the concept. Once you have it you are sort of done (though there are always more concepts to learn and combinations of principles to apply).
In writing, you actually need to write to make sense of or discover ‘principles’…and yet, the principles are so stylistic that it is hard to reduce them to anything hard and fast. In this way, writing is clearly on the ART side of the conversation.
Imagine trying to learn to swim by studying concepts on a whiteboard. Swimming itself is the means of learning to swimming; and, of course, it involves a lot of apparent splashing about!
Writing is much the same…writing a lot…getting feedback of various kinds…paying attention…writing more: Now, that’s a plan to learn to write!
Honestly, we can’t teach writing like we can teach math. However, we can share insights along the way.
HOW DO YOU WORK WITH DYSLEXIA?
You may not know it, but Jody (and most of her family) has struggled with dyslexia. Nonetheless, she also made straight A’s in her Masters program (Education). That certainly helped us believe a different kind of homeschool writing curriculum could make a difference.
So, also having a couple of borderline dyslexics in our homeschool, here’s my response to a note from Kimberly—
In the final analysis, most Dyslexia will leak out from time-to-time even if a person has mostly conquered it.
So…first…you have to accept that fact. It isn’t necessarily a big deal. Jody still makes some mistakes in writing, but she also can catch them, admit it, and move along.
It is important to recognize that the challenge has to do with brain processing. A dyslexic brain just looks/organizes things differently. This is valuable to remember because it invites you to learn how to put information in so it comes out as you want
Dyslexia can be an advantage too…especially in the realm of helpfully looking at things from a different vantage point (a hallmark of creativity). Most “Dysfunctions” are simply a dysfunction in a particular environment & and a strength in another environment. People who don’t ‘focus’ well and are easy to interrupt…are GREAT in emergency settings (people who hyper-focus usually stink because they can’t easily triage). Boys who can’t sit still in class may very well make a fortune ‘running around’ a football field
In my experience here are four things that seem to help dyslexics deal with the orderly world of reading:
1. Read out loud. We had our two border-line dyslexics do this everyday. Even reading alone is great. Reading out loud includes more input (hearing)…so the brain has more to work with. When you have your child read a sentence out loud and it isn’t read correctly, then stop and have her read it again (and again) until it is correct. Your student really needs to see what ‘right’ looks like to hook up his brain correctly for reading.
2. Write, and then, read what they wrote out loud. Again, more opportunity to make sense of language in their brains. Here too, they should write AND read a sentence (out loud) until they get it just right. You just have to show a brain what ‘right’ looks like.
3. Do more phonics. Phonics cracks the code for reading. In some studies it seems that using a whole-language (or other non-phonics systems) can actually generate or increase dyslexia in some people. Really learning phonics can take your child a long way.
4. Use handedness as an analogy. Only about 7% of people are lefties…and they figure out how to get along in a right-handed world. The key is that you sort of have to learn how to run your own brain / handedness…in your own way. Oh, and lefties are often valuable (example: pitchers and hitters in Major League Baseball).
That’s a start; hope it helps.
Fred Ray Lybrand
The Writing Course Homeschool Writing Curriculum
Angel wrote recently, “How do I get my children writing?”
……………………………Getting Them Writing……………………………
This is one of the common things The Writing Course homeschool writing curriculum addresses. Usually it is a combination of issues…largely about fear related to writing correctly and if one’s writing suggests the person is bad / weak / etc.
The key is to get focused on the three stages:
2. Get Help
3. Make Great
Normally people think that what they are writing has to be great at the very first pass. This simply never happens (one person in 100 years, maybe). You want him to write something that is OK…tell him if he writes something that is really good you’ll probably throw it away
The aim in writing is just to get the words on paper so you can begin to learn about writing as a student…like splashing around in the water in order to learn to swim.
As a practical matter…I think you can have him make a choice every day for two weeks:
1. He can write something original (even if it is just a description of a pickle jar or what a bird is doing outside in the yard).
2. He can do copy work that you pick out (pick some passage that is written well and will take about 1/2 an hour to write).
Even if he just does copy work for 2 weeks…he’ll be in a better place. Be sure and say, “It’s your choice…do you want to write copy work or an OK description of something outside today?”
Hope this helps,
P.S. If you own The Writing Course homeschool writing curriculum (I don’t keep a list in my head), then going through it again should help a lot…almost every lesson affects a child’s freedom to write lots and lots.