I’ve been really impressed with the quality of products from Apologia Educational Ministries, so I was excited to review their Writers in Residence program when it was offered to us. I was not disappointed!
The books themselves are beautiful, for those of us that are curriculum junkies and appreciate well made materials! The student book is both a text and workbook all in one, so it’s a thick 576 page manual. It’s spiral bound for durability, and so the pages will lay flat as the kids work. The answer key is a more modest 144 pages.
I am still a little intimidated at teaching the writing process in general, and I appreciate how Apologia Educational Ministries walks us through it step by step. They make it fun for the kids too! We are reviewing the Apprentice level manual, but their Journeyman, Craftsman, and Master Craftsman versions are on their way! The Apprentice level is geared for grades 4-8.
I appreciate that Apologia Educational Ministries designed this material to not require a lot of prep work on the parent’s part. I’m not the mom that will spend 2 hours prepping for our homeschool week. Two thumbs up for all of you that love that kind of thing! After the initial time period of familiarizing ourselves with the material and how to use it, the program is pretty plug and play for the kids. They can open their books and get to work on their module. I venture to say that older kids could work through this manual on their own, with parental input as to the quality of their writing. My Super D is still a bit young for that and needs me to sit with him to help him work through it.
One of my favorite aspects of this course is the rubric they give to parents to help evaluate writing quality. Opinions on what makes a good piece of writing can vary (as I learned in my oh-so-frustrating college writing classes), so I LOVE that they provide a checklist to make things really clear. The rubric varies depending on the unit, and naturally increases in difficulty as the kids go along. For a beginning rubric, we evaluate their work on a scale of 1 to 5. 1 point means they need to improve, 5 points means it’s the best they’ve ever done. The questions are things like
Ideas – I wrote about just one place. My memories are specific and vivid.
Organization – My sentences are in chronological or topical order. I like the way the order of my sentences makes pictures in my mind.
Word Choice – All my nouns are as specific as they can be. I have used vigorous verbs to describe the action.
Isn’t that great!? I love how simple they make it!
I also found the suggested daily schedule VERY helpful. They broke down each module into different sections, and spread it over 32 weeks. Thank you, Apologia Educational Ministries, for making planning English easy!