Jun 20, 2019

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Jump In!

Writing is a subject that I love to teach but that I have found very few kids love to learn. Even the kids that like to write do not enjoy learning how to write. So I am always on the lookout for programs that make it fun for kids. I was excited to get a chance to review the brand new Jump In, 2nd Edition from Writing with Sharon Watson.

I used the first edition many years ago with my two oldest children, back when they were first embarking on middle school. As I recall, my daughter enjoyed it and my son, well, he didn't hate it. I was interested to see what the second edition of the program would look like with my own "second edition" of middle schoolers. 

As it turned out, I used this program with my 12 year old daughter for a few weeks this summer. They sent us the digital edition, which comes as a PDF download. I usually prefer physical products but this was perfect in the digital with just the two of us working on it together.

The program consists of a Teacher's Guide and a Student Book. 

The Teacher's Guide is 123 pages. It contains sample schedules for if you want the program to take your child one, two, or three years. For younger children, you can draw it out over three years. For older children, you can use the one-year schedule that tells you what are the most important parts to teach your student. Or you can aim for something in between. 

The Teacher's Guide contains a list of the assignments given to the student, and a "backpack" of helpful tools and tips you need to guide your child through the program. These are helpful for teaching your student to proofread and how to help them find mistakes in their writing. It lists the steps of writing your child is being taught in their own book. It gives six reasons why kids hate to write and what you can do about each of them. There are forms, suggestions and do/don't lists which show up in your student's book as well. There are grading rubrics of a sort, showing you what a A, B, C, D and F paper actually look like and why. 

Then there are the 10 minute Writing Plunges. These are writing prompts. There are sixteen prompts for each month, starting in September and ending in May (December only has eight prompts). These prompts are sorted into weeks, with four per week. And some examples of them are:

Write a blurb for your favorite book
The next time I get the chance I am going to...
Write a section of the story of Snow White from a dwarf's point of view
What bugs you? Write a poem about it
I can't wait to be older so I can...
Describe the sequence of events in a thunderstorm. The day starts out sunny. Take it from there. Use as many senses as possible. Rainbows are optional!

These prompts are intended as practice and/or review for the concepts taught and as just another way to get your child writing daily. You can take a break from the lessons for awhile and just do prompts or you can pull them out on Fridays for "fun" or use them any other way you like!

The Teacher's Guide wraps up with the Answer Key for the questions in the Student Book and a Grading Grid for each of the papers assigned.

The Student Book is written directly to the child. It contains 98 lessons (called Skills) with another 19 skills that are assignments and checklists. This book is 292 pages, so while you could print it, I did not. I printed out a copy of the pages she needed to write on and she read the other pages straight off the screen.

True to it's name, the book jumps right into the first lesson asking the child their opinion on writing. This segues right into teaching how to brainstorm, how to write a rough draft and then, suddenly, before they even know it they have the raw material at their fingertips and are busily writing away on their first paper, an opinion paper.  

Each skill is a page or two of reading and then a few questions to answer. (My daughter and I did have a conversation on answering in complete sentences, if she can do it in science she can do it in writing!)

Every so often (the tenth, twelfth, sixth) an assignment is given and the student writes the actual paper they have been learning to write. They are given a few options to choose from (having a choice is always best for getting cooperation out of kids!)  and a suggested schedule on how to get the job done.

There are also checklists with questions like these:

Does my essay have an interesting title?
Does my opening sentence or paragraph grab the reader’s attention by making an interesting point, stating a fact, using a quotation, telling a story, or asking a thought-provoking question?
Does the introduction include the topic and my view of the topic?
Does my essay get to the point quickly?
Does it stick to the point (not go off the topic)?
Are all of my points geared to persuade readers?

For my twelve year old daughter, who is fairly good at writing, this was a fun, low-stress curriculum. We sat down together and did a little bit each day. She was able to complete a skill in about 15 to 20 minutes or sometimes less. Sometimes she did more than one skill a day. I didn't push because we are on summer holiday and this was meant to be a fun review. She did have fun and she learned a lot.

Around here, we love Sharon Watson. My older daughter adores her Lit. programs. We enjoyed the first edition of Jump In and also the shiny new 2nd Edition!

I love the variety of papers that are taught. Everything from nine types of essays to newspaper articles to poetry to book reports to stories to how-to manuals. 

I love that it is open and go.

I love that is is simple and painless for my kid who really doesn't even know how much she is learning because she is busy having fun.

I would recommend this product for middle school kids who need quick and easy but meaningful writing instruction. Unless your child is a VERY reluctant writer, this would be a good way to ease them into actually enjoying writing. 

But you don't have to just take my word for it, click on the banner below to read what other Crew members have to say!

Jump In, 2nd Edition {Writing with Sharon Watson Reviews}

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