Monday, August 27, 2012

Schoolhouse Review: Time4Writing High School Paragraphs


We held our very first graduation in May for my oldest child.  She moved into campus housing a few weeks ago and has had a bit of an adjustment to college schedules and classes.  She has always been a procrastinator (I can't imagine where she got that trait), but has always managed to get things done even if under much last-minute stress.  She's finding the college pace a different thing altogether.  As a result, the MainMost and I have been discussing that we want to present our other three children with more opportunities to "fail" than she had and we want to make sure that they experience more in the way of time constraints than she did.  This will allow us to help them help themselves and hopefully will make their college transition (when the time comes) a little smoother.  {You know that first child is always the guinea pig.}

Our latest review item has done both of these things for our Junior.  She is currently working through the High School and College Prep Paragraph Writing course offered at  Offering online writing instruction for elementary through high school students, Time4Writing teaches 8-week writing courses in a one-on-one format for the beginner, intermediate and advanced level student.  Monitored by a certified teacher, all Time4Writing courses are designed to allow students to strengthen their skills at their own pace and level and to encourage students through positive feedback.

Here's the Course Description from the website:
This eight-week course focuses on the fundamental unit of essays and reports: the paragraph. Students will learn the parts of the paragraph (topic, supporting, and concluding sentences) and the types of paragraphs (narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive). Through guided online writing ideas, a tutor provides writing homework help that increases the students’ skill in using this foundational unit of composition. 
I have to be honest and tell you that my first reaction when I saw that an 8-week course was $99 was "You've got to be kidding me!"  but . . .

Now that I've watched my Junior take this class, I've realized what a very thorough course it is. With multiple assignments each week and quick feedback (promised within 24 hours, received in less than 12), Time4Writing offers great benefit for your money.  It's been nice to let someone else do the correcting for once and let me be the support personnel.  Her teacher, Mrs. Gardner, has been very kind in the comments that she sends with graded work -- telling my Junior that her ideas and thoughts are most interesting all the while pointing out her grammatical errors.  (That's her biggest problem -- good content, silly mistakes.)


When our review began, a quick and easy setup had my Junior starting to work within minutes. She watched the Orientation video and did the first two assignments -- stopping only because she had to wait for teacher feedback.  She has been slow to complete the assignments, but she is getting them done.  I appreciate the time schedule that is placed upon her as she works although she HATES it.  I am insisting that she complete all of the work during the review period which means she has to organize her schedule and make an effort to get all of her work done as requested.

As she has worked step-by-step through a properly functioning paragraph, there have been quite a few times when she proclaims that the teacher is "too picky" and "opinionated."   She sailed through the Topic Sentence portion of the course, but struggled when writing her supporting sentences.  The gentle corrections of Mrs. Gardner gave us opportunity to discuss the rules of grammar.  I was able to explain to her that the rules are not opinions and that her instructor wanted the very best for her.  When my Junior understood that her instructor's correcting things like comma splices and compound sentence structure was simply helping her  write more clearly, she was a little less anxious about the whole thing.  I am also seeing areas where we need to focus on more in our everyday studies.

The Time4Writing website is full of invaluable free resources that we printed and hole-punched to make a grammar notebook.  Now all of those tips are right at her fingertips for use in any subject's assignment.  This will continue to build confidence for future writing.

For the most part, the Time4Writing course has been a valuable addition to our schoolday.  A little bit of "safe" pressure is a good thing.  There have been a few things we didn't like about the program.  When asked to write a paragraphs of her own, my girl had six topics from which to choose. She didn't like ANY of them -- her actual comment was "I feel like they are stuck in the 80's with these topics, Mom."  The topics themselves were fine.  The problem was that they just weren't relevant to her.  She doesn't have her driver's license so trying to write that getting it was the highlight of a teenager's years just wasn't plausible.  She does not like Stephen King so could not claim his imagination as her own.  She actually likes her siblings so didn't want to write about them being annoying.  She's never stepped foot inside of a high school so couldn't even begin to write about it being tough.  She finally chose to write spending time with her two best friends as it was a topic to which she could relate.

This has not been an easy course for us.  My Junior is having to learn some self-discipline (and that's not a bad thing) and is being stretched in places she doesn't enjoy.  She'd rather just barrel through and finish the course, but instead is finding herself being forced to slow down and make corrections as needed.  By the time she completes this High School and College Prep Paragraph Writing course, she'll have shown great stamina and learned patience.  She's realizing that all teachers are different and that she must simply give her best in ALL things.  I think this is a great lesson in preparation for college . . . and life.

There are many writing courses offered at and I am sure you can find one for any need that your student might have.  The website will even help you choose the right course for your students.  You can peruse the different course offerings and pick what is best for your child.  Classes start daily so you can register at any time.  I'm thankful that we've had the opportunity to see our weaknesses and begin turning them into strengths.


~Disclaimer:  I was given the opportunity to try Time4Writing as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  The opinions stated are mine and mine alone.  I was not paid to share my thoughts and feelings with you.  I received an 8-week class in exchange for my honest review. You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of  Time4Writing  HERE.~

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