Writers in Residence {A Comprehensive Language Arts Review}

If I had to choose one area of learning that I have found difficult to find good curriculum for over the years it would be writing. I have looked at or tried using several different approaches only to feel confused or I notice my children feeling burned out using it. When I discovered that Apologia had come out with a new writing program by Debra Bell called Writers in Residence I knew I wanted to give it a try because everything I have used from Apologia I love. In fact, we've been using their biblical worldview series and their Young Explorers science series for years.

Who is Writers In Residence For?

The target age group for volume 1 (Apprentice Level) is fourth grade and up. It is a writing-focused language arts program that can be used for several different children at multiple grade levels at the same time (music to any homeschooling mother's ears!). The program can be started with a student who is reading chapter books independently. WIR is designed to be flexible because every child is different. Some may take one year to complete the program and others may take a year and a half. This program is challenging but not developmentally inappropriate. "'Progress, not perfection' should always be the goal."

How Does it Work?

This program is thorough and systematic. Lessons build on previously taught concepts and skills and ideally, each volume should be completed before a student moves on to the next one. Forthcoming Volumes are as follows: Volume 2--Journeyman, Volume 3--Craftsman and Volume 4--Master Craftsman. Check out Debra's Website for a timeframe of when these will be published.

The suggested schedule included in the workbook shows 128 days of work. This means volume 1 can be completed in thirty-two weeks if a student works on assignments four days a week. However, while students should spend at least three days per week on WIR, younger students may do better spreading the workload over four to five days per week which equates to thirty-six or more weeks. As the teacher, you can decide what is best for the needs of your child.

WIR works well in home settings as well as with writing groups. It helps a student move from a novice writer to an expert one. This is so critical, and sadly, lacking in today's society. "We need the unique, God-given voice of each child to be captured, polished, and shared." --Debra Bell

The program is student-centered and student-directed due to the time constraints that many parents and teachers face, however it is designed with parents, teachers and writing coaches in mind.

The  introduction, rubric and checklists in each unit are designed so that a parent or teacher can quickly assess where a student is at and the Answer Key is written so that you do not have to flip through all of the modules in order to explain an answer to a student. This method is very time saving and helpful.

Debra Bell wrote this curriculum after 30 years' experience so I feel very confident listening to her as a writing guide. I love that in the introduction to this book she shares bits of helpful information along the way. For example, she says, "Overemphasizing correct spelling [in writing] often results in students using only words they are confident they can spell. This creates a boring and stilted writing style that is far below what the child is capable of thinking, imagining, and talking about. In the process, the child's voice is lost, not captured."

Additional Helpful Information

  • WIR uses a spiral approach to teaching but expands on each topic as it comes up again.

  • I highly recommend you take time to read the entire How to Use section. It is very helpful and will tell you everything you need to know in detail about how to use this curriculum. For example, if you use this program, you will not need a separate spelling, vocabulary or grammar curriculum because WIR teaches these in context with writing.

  • Students can earn an award of distinction if they earn 85% of the points possible in Volume 1. You can request to receive your award at

  • WIR is one volume--all you need for parents and students, with the exception of the answer key, is in one large volume. Also included is a suggested Daily Schedule for four days per week with a total of 32 weeks. This schedule is easily self directed which allows the student independent study and saves the parent the work of detailed scheduling in the master lesson plans.

  • What one of my children has to say: "I like that it's very thorough and that it's Christian. I like how they made a daily schedule because it helps me know what to do for that day. I enjoyed it and found myself wanting to work ahead." Age 9 1/2

  • Full set retails for $89. Check out the video below to get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.


Teachable Moments-character training tools

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1 comment:

Tech IT Solutions said...

I'm sure this is a blessing for all parents who choose to homeschool their children. Its so good to see you so invested in creating something different that is actually beneficial to the children. Keep up the good work.

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