Writing is the most dreaded subject in our homeschool, AJ hates to write. She not only loathes the physical act of writing, but the thinking process as well. I have tried a few different programs with her and most of them just didn’t click. When I had the opportunity to review Jump In: A Workbook for Reluctant and Eager Writers, I was excited yet cautious to get my hopes up.
Jump In is a two year writing program designed for middle school students created by Sharon Watson. The set contains a 248 page workbook for the students with step by step directions, and a teacher’s manual. The 80 page teacher’s manual contains a great deal of information about how to help your student get the most out of this program and an additional one year writing program that uses daily writing prompts. It also contains the answer keys to different skills in the workbook.
When we first received the books I took an evening and read through the entire teacher’s manual. The manual was actually interesting to read and gave detailed examples on how to use the program. The best part was that the program is flexible. There was not a section that said you had to do writing 5 days a week or for an hour a day. It was up to me to decide how to implement the writing program. After reading the manual I learned that I didn’t need to do much teaching. Most of the work would be on AJ’s shoulders. The manual gave detailed examples on how to grade the different types writings and how to help the student proof read. For each type of writing there is a section that shows how to earn an A or a B paper all the way down to an F paper. I felt the grading section was very helpful even though we don’t usually use grade in our homeschool. It helped to put my expectations in check as I have been expecting too much when it comes to AJ’s writing.
We started off with the one year writing program that is included in the teacher’s manual, 10- Minute Writing Plunges. Listed in the book there are four different writing prompts for each week of the school year. Each day the student is given the prompt and has to write about it for 10 minutes. The writing is not graded, and on the fifth day of the week the assignment is to edit and polish one of the prompts from the week. We didn’t get off to a good start. I started the timer and left AJ alone to write, but she only wrote one sentence in the 10 minutes because she spent the rest of the time “thinking”. I decided the idea of 10 minutes was not going to work for AJ and I ended up changing the directions to a number of sentences she had to write instead. The prompts were fun and once I got rid of the time limit AJ did a great job. The prompts got her thinking and she wrote some fairly good compositions.
After a few weeks of using the 10- Minute Writing Plunges, we started on the workbook. AJ loved the fact that it was full of colorful writing and pictures and that the font was big enough for her to read easily. She was excited to see how short the lessons were, but that they didn’t seem watered down. The first few lessons in the workbook only took her about 15 minutes each to complete. At first I wondered if it was enough writing. After a few days I saw her go from filling out lists about her favorite things to looking closely at writing examples and finally to learning how to write an introduction and conclusion.
While the daily lessons are short, they are practical, sequential, and make going to the next lesson fairly easy. Throughout the program students will learn the following types of writing; prewriting skills, opinions, persuasion, exposition, description, narration, and poetry. In the back of the workbook there is a section called Your Locker. This section contains helpful hints and checklists for each type of writing. The student uses this section of the book throughout the program to help proofread and polish their writing.
Overall, we love this program so far. Writing is still not AJ’s favorite subject, but with Jump In it is a little easier. From the two units we have completed so far I feel it is fair to say that using this program will help AJ to become a better writer. The lessons are short enough to hold her interest and there is not a lot of busy work. There are so many different writing options that I don’t think AJ will get board with this program. I went in to this review excited yet cautions, but after using the program for a while I think we have found a great writing program that will help my reluctant writer not only learn to write, but learn to enjoy it a little bit as well. We will continue with this writing program next year and until we finish it.
Jump In is also available from Apologia and can be purchased as a set for $40. You can also view a sample on the website as well.
The writers for Home and School Mosaic reviewed three different writing programs from Sharon Watson, including two programs designed for high school students. Click on the graphic below to see the other reviews.