Language arts, writing, and grammar often present themselves as completely separate subjects in our homeschool. You can find us working out of several different workbooks at a time to get all these topics covered. I’ve always thought it was kind of ridiculous to have a writing curriculum and a separate language arts workbook, too. Why not combine the two?
I’m so pleased to announce that Apologia Educational Ministries just released Writers in Residence, which does just that. No more need for separate writing and grammar programs. Writers in Residence is everything I’ve wanted in a writing program and a language arts program, put together. I’m pretty excited about it!
Writers in Residence
Writers in Residence is a writing program that includes language arts elements. Instead of using a separate workbook, students using Writers in Residence will learn about punctuation, parts of speech, capitalization, vocabulary, paragraphs, and more while they work on their writing assignments. By blending language arts with writing, students are better able to grasp how the two correlate and how using good language directly affects their writing quality. Because the conventions of the English language are best taught in context, it’s a brilliant and meaningful way to learn.
I was generously given the Writers in Residence Volume 1 Full Set, an $89 value, which includes the Student Text and Workbook (all-in-one) and the Answer Key. This curriculum is geared towards grades 4-8. If your child is reading chapter books independently, then this curriculum is probably right for your student.
The All-In-One Student Text and Workbook is a large colorful book at 576 pages. It is spiral bound and sturdy. The text is divided up into six units.
Unit 1: I Remember
Writing Assignment: “When I Was Young” (sentences)
Unit 2: I Imagine
Writing Assignment : “Very Truly Yours” (creative writing)
Unit 3: I Investigate
Writing Assignment: “My Family Hall of Fame” (research writing)
Unit 4: I Think
Writing Assignment: “My Favorite Author” (opinion essay)
Unit 5: I Remember
Writing Assignment: “The History of Me” (autobiography)
Unit 6: I Imagine
Writing Assignment: “Zap! Pow! Kazam!” (short story)
Each unit starts out with a “Spotlight on Christian Writers” section. It’s a neat way for students to be inspired by a well-known Christian writer such as Bill Meyers, Irene Howat, or Amy Parker. The end of each unit includes a unit review where students recall what they learned and retained from that unit.
A detailed daily schedule is included in the student text. I love this feature! The schedule follows a four day a week schedule for 32 weeks. Most students are expected to complete the program in a year but Writers in Residence recommends using a pace suitable for your child so that the writing process is enjoyable.
The writing assignments in Writers in Residence are relevant to students and meaningful to them. Different from the traditional personal, expository, persuasive, and narrative forms of writing, Writers in Residence uses these four types of writing instead: I Remember, I Imagine, I Investigate, and I Think. Writers in Residence has created these types of writing forms to more closely resemble real life writing that adults use on a regular basis in their work and leisure.
The Answer Key is much smaller than the student text at just 144 pages. It contains the answers, or sample answers, to all the student text activities. It also works as a guide in knowing how to grade and evaluate your student’s progress with sample rubric charts and an explanation of the rubric point system.
Usage and Thoughts
I used this curriculum with my 5th grade son. On our first day of reviewing this curriculum I read the letter from the author, Debra Bell, that was included in the front of the Student Text and Workbook. My son’s eyes lit up after I read this letter to him!
In her letter, Debra states that learning to write well is important because God gave us the gift of language and we should use and develop our gifts for Him. The other reason we should learn to write well is to demonstrate our creativity because we reflect God when we are creative, like He is. In closing she states that although this curriculum is technically considered “school” it shouldn’t be thought of as boring or as a chore. This curriculum is different – it’s fun! Debra even provides her email to students who want to ask her questions or send her their stories.
My son has always found writing a chore, so he loved his first introduction to this program! He was excited and ready to start at once. We decided to use the suggested schedule included in the student text. A four day a week schedule worked great for us.
Each day’s activities were easy and doable. We probably spent 30-45 minutes a day on any day’s assignments. I would read aloud the text and directions and then help my son along with the assignments. The assignments were fun and definitely appealed to my son.
The student text is consumable, so my son wrote right in the book. There was always plenty of room and space to write. The pages are simple, not too busy, and laid out well. The colors made it especially appealing, too.
The assignments each day were creative and varied, so my son wasn’t bored or bogged down with anything. Most grammar workbooks make my son go crazy. Not this one. This one actually was fun! It’s filled with beautiful writing samples, kinesthetic activities, research activities, and encourages word sleuthing – collecting new words students want to try out in their writing.
So how does Writers in Residence incorporate language arts into their writing curriculum? Well, in the first unit my son worked on collecting sentences about a favorite memory. While he was working on this writing assignment he was also doing assignments in his workbook like replacing weak verbs with vigorous verbs, identifying nouns, revising fuzzy nouns to focused nouns, categorizing common nouns and proper nouns, learning about chronological order versus topical order, and much more! As my son was doing his writing assignment he had the opportunity to incorporate these vigorous verbs, etc. into his drafts and in the end come up with a much more polished product.
I thought the student text was a bit large at first, but after awhile I became accustomed to it and actually enjoyed having everything together in one place. And, being that it is a large book, it doesn’t easily get misplaced!
My son and I both enjoyed Writers in Residence so much and look forward to continuing our way through the program. I’d definitely recommend it, especially if you’re like me and want a thorough language arts and writing curriculum all-in-one!