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Old 01-18-2010, 04:27 PM
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BookShelves Brave Writer - The Writer's Jungle

Name of curriculum: The Writer's Jungle

Common Abbreviation: n/a

Which aspect of LA: writing

Age range of students: 8 years old and up

Educational Philosophy: Charlotte Mason/Ruth Beechik


Worldview: not specified... seems to contain no religious content.

Website: http://www.bravewriter.com/program/h...riters-jungle/

A quote from the website:
Quote:
The Writer’s Jungle is much more than daily lesson plans or writing ideas. It takes you inside the writer’s world. The first nine chapters explain the necessary steps to brave writing, such as, how to read quality literature and discover the principles that make it work, what writer’s voice is and how to cultivate your child’s writing voice, freewriting and the power of unlocking a child’s mind life, your role in the revision and editing process, what to do about writer’s block (especially in resistant writers), how to keenly observe not only physical detail but ideas as well, and more.

Have you used this curriculum? If so, what levels? Yes, I tried it for a few months when my daughter was in the 8th grade. The book I have is copyright 2001.
NOTE: This material has been revised since my purchase and use of it.


Review: Julie Bogart's writing program is not so much a "curriculum" as a writing philosophy. The notebook I have contains 17 chapters and three appendices. Each chapter describes a small "step" or portion of the writing process... but it is all based on a more relaxed philosophy of getting your child to begin to express themselves and their thoughts instead of just following a rote writing process. She uses the Narration, Copywork, and Dictation as a starting point and then teaches you how to add activities to enhance your child's writing experiences. The notebook I have, however, does NOT contain any real lesson plans. There are suggested activities for certain days of the week, and a suggested month-by-month progression, but actual implementation of the program is up to you to figure out.


In addition to "The Writer's Jungle" Mrs. Bogart has a high school program called "Help for High School" as well as online writing classes.

Strengths: A relaxed approach - no "box-checking" or stressing over unrealistic writing assignments.

Weaknesses: May be too relaxed. The lack of daily lesson plans can be very frustrating to those of us who like to know "what do I do next?"

Comments: I found a few of the opening activities for moms to be a little silly, and I really am one of those box-checkers who found it frustrating to try to figure out what to do each day to keep this program going. I ended up scrapping it for something much easier for me to implement, but it still appeals to me, and I think she may have added more definite lesson plans in later editions.

Have you used this curriculum? Please share your thoughts and comments below!




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Old 01-18-2010, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SusanwithaGoodBook View Post
I ended up scrapping it for something much easier for me to implement, but it still appeals to me, and I think she may have added more definite lesson plans in later editions.

Have you used this curriculum? Please share your thoughts and comments below!
Yes, I've used it. To my knowledge she has not added definite lesson plans in the actual book. I bought the "update" when she revised it and it was merely a new introduction of about 20 pages.

I found the approach helpful when my kids were younger. This is a book to teach mom HOW to teach writing. I found it worked best if I used the methods she describes and applied them to a curriculum which provided assignments, though I like to sometimes insert my own assignments.

Probably the best thing about the book is the way she describes how to transition from being your child's scribe (they speak, you write/type) to having a child who can do independent writing on their own. She has really good ideas on how to make this transition that helped us.

Another good thing in the book was a description of how to tell if your child could learn spelling from natural methods (copywork & dictation) alone, or if they would need a spelling program. I found that helpful as I was trying to decide whether these alone would work for my kids (and they fell into the category of "wouldn't."). I'm drawn to the CW/dictation method (and still use them today, just not exclusively), so I'm glad I didn't wait it out but had that nudge to seek help. I think she should encourage spellers who fall into that category to look into an Orton Gillingham-based program rather than her recommendation of Spelling Power though.

Some people may benefit from her class more than the book, although I think the Kidswrite Basic class is up to $175 now, which is a chunk of change for a 6-week class. The class includes getting several chapters of TWJ to download--5 or 6 as I recall. But the best part of a class is that you have a teacher walking both you (mom/teacher) and the child through the assignments that are given in class so that you can see how they are done and what the benefit is, and your student can gain some confidence in writing. I sat in on a few of these classes because at one time I was going to work for her--but I couldn't keep up with all the reading! (As a class-participant you don't have all the reading--she divides you into small groups so you only read what others in your group submit and the assignments--I was trying to keep up with two full classes and just couldn't do it).

I have taken the class that one of her teachers, Rita (a Language therapist for about 20 years now), teaches on copywork and dictation. I learned a lot in that class that I had never learned before about how to really get the most out of these. If you have an interest in using copywork and dictation to their fullest, and you have either a struggling student or an advanced student, you might really enjoy this class. If you don't have a student who is struggling or advanced, you might still enjoy the class but it might not bring as much change for you. You can learn how to design your own LA with CW/dictation, so for someone interested in designing their own LA, it's a great class. (Unfortunately, my kids really struggle with copywork--my son has vision processing issues, so he hates it! They chose a workbook method instead!).

The class I took had a lot of interaction from the teacher--I ended up with 125 pages of notes & assignments etc... from it. However, a friend took a class the next semester after me and said that some questions went unanswered. I don't know if that was a change in philosophy (because with that class the teacher also started offering consultations that people could pay for), or if it was just a fluke. It's something I'd encourage people to ask about if they were considering taking a class.

I've used another BW product, the Arrow Newsletter. I was disappointed with it. The sample I had downloaded at the time was on Farmer Boy. It had a great writing assignment that could be edited & revised and polished, so we could work on it some each week. And in addition to the regular copywork/dictation, she had additional passages from other Little House books--so it had a lot to offer, and I purchased a year's worth of Newsletters (I did the "pick & choose" of ones that matched books we were going to read that year). Well, the other newsletters were not nearly so rich. Most of them had a one-day LA exercise instead of a month-long writing assignment. And the additional copywork/dictation exercises in the other newsletters (I don't remember if all had them) came from books we had never read--so they seemed random and like they didn't match at all (other than illustrating a point). They didn't make sense out of context. So essentially there was about 5-6 days of LA for the whole month--and I felt that while well-done, it was a lot for $10. Probably from an author's point of view it's not too much--it takes time to create that--but from a purchaser's point of view it wasn't worth it.

I haven't used the Help for High School book, but I have heard good things about it, and I hope someone can review it for us! It's on my list to consider for highschool.

HTH! Merry :-)
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:15 PM
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BookShelves The Writer's Jungle

Name of resource: The Writer's Jungle (Gold package) by Julie Bogart

Optimal age of students: All ages

Type: Book with additional resources online.

Educational Philosophy: Nice combination of Charlotte Mason, Classical, and other literature oriented approaches.


Worldview: Christian references, but not heavily religious


Website: www.bravewriter.com


A quote from the website: Welcome to Brave Writer

Kids are tremendously interesting people, even the ones who write poorly. My goal is to help you do your job—to draw out the mind-life of your child so that you can capture those precious thoughts in writing. What’s on paper ought to be a fair and insightful representation of all that goes on in your kids’ busy heads. And when it is, you and your young writers will love the results.

That, in a nutshell, is why Brave Writer exists.

Self-expression in written form should not be so infuriatingly difficult to teach. But it is for most of us. We have to learn what writing isn’t before we can teach what it is.
...
The Writer’s Jungle is a written version of the Kidswrite Basic course plus oodles more. In it, I give mothers the right tools to attack any writing assignment they encounter or create for the educational lifespan of their homeschools. Most kids begin writing in earnest around ages 9-10. This course works for children of all ages since its goal is to teach mothers and kids the nature of generating original thought and committing it to paper (you may find that your own writing improves upon using this course, too).

Once kids realize that paper is a safe place for thought exploration, they can learn how to craft their writing into satisfying finished products that use all kinds of writing devices. Writing becomes a safe playground instead of an intimidating foreign country. Brave Writer works through all the steps from thought-origination to published work of writing.

An amazing primary benefit to this method of writing is that you get to enjoy the bright, imaginative minds of your children in a new and conscious way.


Strengths: This book is for ALL ages, and can be used with any curriculum or without any other curriculum. It is beautifully done, encouraging, and very insightful.


Weaknesses: None that I've found.



Review: The Writer's Jungle by Julie Bogart is a beautifully written "how to teach writing" binder. I bought the Gold package, which includes a really valuable overview of the phases children go through in their writing development, and how to assess where your child is. This book goes far beyond the structure of writing and delves into the thought processes of writers. It begins by building the confidence of the writer, in letting your children know that their thoughts, ideas, and feelings are the most important part of writing. Preserving their wonderful ideas on paper is the whole point of writing. The mechanics of writing (structure, spelling, punctuation, etc.) are taught too, but they are not the discouraging focal point - they are the perfecting clean up at the end of the expressive journey. She points out in several different ways that killing interest in writing is much easier to do than nurture interest in it. This book is all about nurturing the individual writer's skills and interest!


It's important to read through the whole thing once for the content and scope, but the chapters are organized and arranged for easy reference whenever you need them.

Chapters include:
1. Language Arts; 2. Communication; 3. Keen Observation; 4. Freewriting; 5. Writer's Block; 6. Topic Funnel (narrowing info into a topic); 7. Revising; 8. Editing; 9. Publishing; 10. Writer's Voice; 11. Dumb Assignments; 12. Words; 13. Journals; 14. Growing a Writer; 15. Reports; 16. Heart of Writing; 17. Reading List; Appendix I - Sample Language Arts Schedules (one for each phase of writing); Appendix II - FAQ


This is a brilliant book that should be part of every homeschool language arts library. Along with all of the other aspects of writing, it has very fun, creative approaches to keeping language arts and writing fresh and appealing. I've been amazed at the insights Julie Bogart has shared, and it has been a joy to put them to use.
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Old 04-15-2012, 08:30 PM
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Has anyone used this? Pro's, Con's, Ages?
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:21 AM
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SusanwithaGoodBook SusanwithaGoodBook is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by momstheteacher View Post
Has anyone used this? Pro's, Con's, Ages?
I've used it...and in fact, there's another review of this in the Language Arts Review forum. I'm going to merge this thread with it.

Check that out and then I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.
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Old 05-21-2012, 11:08 AM
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Brave Writer/The Writer's Jungle has revolutionized our homeschooling probably more than any other product. I had a daughter who loved to write but hated doing any writing assignments even when we tweaked them. The other reviews seem "write" on. The Writer's Jungle is more of a philosophy but gives so many practical tips. It made sense out of the big picture of teaching writing. I refer to it often.

We took the on-line class Kidswrite Basic which really gave us a boost in understanding how Mrs. Bogart's philosophy is applied in the actual process. It increased my confidence to implement it on my own and coached me on how to be more constructive in my critique. Our family takes 1 class/year. They're a bit pricey, but it gives me a break from managing this area for a short time and teaches me new things as well as my kids. My daughter has loved the interaction with other students and has gained the experience of peer critique which isn't the easiest to gain in the homeschool setting.

Maybe the biggest way it's changed our lives is that our nature walks are not just about science but are increasing our ability to observe and describe. This happens with art and music too. These "keen observation" skills are critical to writing. I now know how to bring my kids along in their present stages of writing. I'm just looking for growth, and I don't have to care about what other people's kids are doing. We do Poetry Tea on Tuesdays, something I borrowed from Brave Writer. We get to appreciate the music of language. All my kids choose something (even my 3 year old!), and we're learning to love poetry. Hardly a week goes by when an everyday event doesn't make us think of some poem we've read. Three years ago, we were enduring poetry and skipping our nature walks. I feel more free and we're all having more fun.
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