The girls and I have had a bit of a re-think about their schoolwork.
I think we'd become a bit stale in what we were doing, or at least in our attitudes to what we were doing, and writing had become a real chore to them. My problem was trying to figure out how to teach them to write.
(People I meet often say to me: 'How on earth do you teach Maths? I could never do that!', but Maths is relatively easy to teach. There's a question, a method, and an answer which is right or wrong. What's much more difficult to teach is work that's subjective. When one of the girls hands me an essay-type question they've written, and I know I was looking for something different, it can be very difficult to point out where exactly they went wrong, and how exactly to put it right. Y'all with me?)
They read a fair amount, but we were talking about the way in which they read, and we reckon they must become more purposeful in their reading.
There is a curled-up-on-the-sofa-with-a-cuppa type of reading. That's ideal for evenings or Saturdays or holidays. But I think the girls were in that mode, regardless of what they were reading.
To learn how to write in different styles, I think they need to become more purposeful in their reading; and more aware of the different styles they come across in different types of reading materials.
For example, a newspaper column is written in a specific way. By reading these columns, and by becoming aware of how they are written will aid them in their writing in this style.
A biography has a specific style - depending on the type of biography it is. Again, whether it's a style they enjoy or not, being aware of the different styles will help them become aware in their own writing.
Even blogs: some posts are written to inform; others to amuse. Some are deep and meaningful; others are light-hearted and amusing. By doing more than skimming these, they can become aware of how sentence structure, sentence lengths, and types of punctuation are used to good effect.
This is just one way in which we're going to try and aid their writing skills this year. We're calling it purposeful reading.
Along with Andrew Pudewa's material, we're looking for major improvements.
I'll try and remember to let you all know whether it makes a difference or not. I really hope it does, because I'm running out of ideas with which to help them develop their writing skills.
Have any of you got ideas that worked for you?