Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Write Foundation

                                -He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. Luke 6:48

The Write Foundation provides writing programs which have been developed by a modern homeschooling pioneer, Rebecca Celsor.   I've been using the Sentence to Paragraph lessons at home with my boys for about six weeks.  The idea behind the system is to develop strong writing skills, starting with basic sentences, then paragraphs, finally working up to interesting essays.  Ms. Celsor believes writing skills are built, and like a house, they need a firm foundation.  She has provided this foundation through three programs.   She compares writing to other skills like skiing.  Just as sports need to be learned from the beginning, one step at a time, so does writing.  For that reason, each lesson is laid out in a very deliberate order, and she is quite firm in stating that nothing should be skipped.

On the website, there is a page with suggested age levels, and some basic guidelines to help you pick the program that would best suit your child.  As  I mentioned, we have been using Level One, Sentence to Paragraph. I chose this level because while my boys are great spellers, have amazing vocabularies, and very good grammatical skills, their writing tends to be dry and factual.  The first thing I was able to appreciate was how she uses the exercises to stimulate their creativity.

So, what can you expect from this program?  Well, once you've picked which level is best for your child, you'll need to decide if you'll use  a 15 or 30 lesson bundle.  Since all students are different, some may need two weeks to complete a lesson, while others may only need one.   A faster pace will require a 3o lesson school year while other students might only cover 15 lessons.

When the curriculum arrives you will receive a spiral bound teacher's manual with a clear cover and a set of student worksheets.  The worksheets are loose and three hole punched so they may be placed into a binder.  There are also some computer files provided on a CD-ROM for the instructors use.  This has grading information and record sheets, word games, checklists, teacher presentation sheets, worksheets and a well thought out reading list, which assigns a certain number of points per book.  This way the goal would be to read a certain amount of points worth of good literature, rather than an arbitrary number of books.

My best suggestion to a new user would be to spend some quiet time alone looking over the program to get a feel for how it is intended to flow rather than just jumping in.  You will notice there is a lot of reference to Teacher Presentation sheets (which are found on the previously mentioned CD) these will be noted as (TP) and Student Worksheets, are noted as (WS).

After I felt comfortable with the material, I set up the student binders.  This program was originally designed to be used in a co-op setting, so a great deal of thought went into this.   The system keeps current homework and classwork apart from the rest of the papers.  Prepared lists and class notes that go with the assignments are easily accessible.   A parent can quickly look through the sections to see each week's work, any current assignments and all completed and graded assignments.   Since we don't co-op, we have a slightly different binder arrangement, but the purpose is the same; to neatly organize the materials.

Once you are ready to begin with your child you will go to your teacher's book, and find your lesson for the week.   The first thing you will see is a list of the objectives for the lesson.  Also listed are which teacher presentation sheets will be needed, which student worksheets, and any extra supplies .  For example, we used magazine photos for one lesson.  These should be ready and organized before you begin.  I chose to print the Teacher Presentation sheets before class.  You will notice these are the same sheets that are found in the books, but neatly divided onto their own separate pages.   By printing the Teacher Presentation, I had my instructions as well as my own blank copy of the student worksheets.  I could fill these in along with my sons as we went along.  I also had any checklist that would be needed and I could put it up on the board for us to go over together.

Next, each day's activities are explained.  Your manual's outline breaks up a lesson into the classroom instruction day and 4 "days" of assignments .  As homeschoolers know, it is best to go at a pace that achieves mastery, rather than racing to get a certain number of pages completed, so your "day" can be subjective, but again, work is to be done in the order presented.

Finally, at the end of the lesson, there is a list of what should have been covered on each day, and what the expected student assignments are.  I did a little bit of tweaking here as well.  Because my sons have Asperger Syndrome, I adapted the co-op plan of one day's class instruction with four days of independent work and made it a bit more teacher intensive.   The boys and I reviewed each day's assignments together before they began their free writing.   This helped to keep them organized, and I was able to avoid any assignment disasters.  My guys have a difficult time asking for help, and in this class if an assignment is done incorrectly, it isn't supposed be done over and over again.  The mistake should be noted and then the page gets put away.   The thought process is that writing will improve with continued practice, not by being berated into doing it properly.

Integrated into the lessons are checklists to use when writing and grading assignments.   These are very helpful for teaching what must be a part of every sentence or paragraph.  There are also "NO"  lists - things which are forbidden for use when writing  for this course.  These encourage the student to think creatively.  I should also mention that each lesson has a bit of poetry.  Don't worry -It's not your grandmother's poetry.  These are fun.  The use of alliteration, acrostics, and active writing make these a favorite part of the lesson.   "Mindbender" exercises are also used to help with critical thinking.

You will need a few things to go along with the program.  As I mentioned, the student needs a binder with divider tabs.  They are expected to be able to type and print all finished "homework" assignments.  They will also need highlighter pens for every class.  To reinforce concepts, the students use highlighters.  For example, nouns are always highlighted blue, verbs are orange, adjectives are green and we underlined alliteration in yellow.  You should also have the Mindbenders, (or something similar) a dictionary, a thesaurus and a Bible.

I wasn't sure how my boys would like this course.  The way I chose to use it was a bit intensive  for both the teacher and the students.  The good news is, they LOVED it.   They thought it was fun and interesting, and their writing is improving by leaps and bounds.

As I mentioned, We did Level One, Sentence to Paragraph.  Level Two is Paragraph to Essay, and Level Three is Essay Writing.

If this seems like something your homeschool would benefit from, I encourage you to go look around the site.  Their web address is http://www.thewritefoundation.org/ . If you look around, you'll see there is a lot more information about the company, parent testimonials, and sample pages for each course so you can get a visual example of what you will be doing.

You can contact The Write Foundation by emailing bcelsor@sbcglobal.net  .  If you need to call, their phone number is (281)356-3556.  I had the pleasure of using their customer support by phone.  Because I have twins, I wanted to buy an extra set of worksheets before the site was set up for stand alone worksheet orders.  They were extremely helpful and courteous.

If you would like to place an order, the current pricing is  as follows for all levels:

A full 30 lesson course is $100.00 plus tax and shipping.  This includes the instruction manuals, the student worksheets,and the CD.

The 15 lesson package is $65.00 plus tax and shipping for the instruction manuals, student worksheets, and CD.  (This is for Lessons 1-15 as well as Lessons 16-30)

The Instruction manual without worksheets may be purchased for $75.00 for 30 lessons or $45.00 for 15 lessons. (plus tax and shipping)

The CD alone is $15.00 plus tax and shipping.

If you are like me, and have more than one student, or plan to use this in a co-op setting, additional worksheets are available .  They are $25.00 per  full 30 Lesson set (approximately 200 pages) or $15.00 for a 15 lesson set (about 100 pages).  Worksheets are 3 hole punched and binder ready.  Again, tax and shipping would be added to the order.

Please note:
Student worksheets are copyrighted and copies should not be made for classroom use outside of the immediate family who purchased the original worksheets. Student worksheets are priced to eliminate the need for a teacher to make copies for additional students.

I was given a 15 lesson set as a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest evaluation and opinion.  

** Update - February 2011 - I recently received an email from The Write Foundation.   They have lowered their prices for all their products.  Please see the website for current pricing.


  1. Wonderful review. You've included a lot of information that I'd forgotten to include. Such as the highlighters... And I like your description of the poetry. My ds had done a different program last year and unfortunately it killed his desire to do any poetry. This program made it fun for him. Even the worksheets (which he usually does not like) are done without the grumbles.
    We liked the program.

  2. Nicely written!
    We trialled Level 2, but now that my son's had so much fun with it, I'm wondering if Level 1 would be a good fit for my younger daughter.

  3. Great review. You explained this very clearly.

    I also see improvement in my son's writing using TWF.

  4. Fantastic! My guys can write creatively but not factual...isn't that crazy? You really thoroughly explained the process of setting up and using this product. I did not take the time required to read everything before beginning with the boys and it was pretty much a disaster! Your review was excellent!

  5. Wonderful Review. We love it,too.

  6. Wow! Wonderful review! You really included all the necessary things!

  7. Great review - very specific! I tend to be more general :-)

  8. HONEST~best review I've EVER read~congrats and you make me UNDERSTAND the product so much the more~blessings to you!!!

  9. Wow. Thanks! I'm happy I could help. =)


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