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Free Writing Tips

The Co-op is pleased to present free writing tips from Julie Bogart, the creator of the popular Brave Writer writing curriculum.

Be relational when you comment on your children’s writing.

Many of you may not yet be acquainted with my writing guru, Peter Elbow. I reference him and his philosophy of writing frequently. Here's one of his quotes I just love:
Most students benefit when they feel that writing is a transaction between human beings rather than an "exercise in getting something right or wrong." For this reason, I try to make my comments on student writing sound like they come from a human reader rather than from an impersonal machine or a magisterial, all-knowing God source.


Instead of saying "The organization is unclear here," I like to say "I got confused by your organization here."

Instead of "unconvincing,""I’m unconvinced."

Instead of "Diction,""Too slangy for me here."

Instead of "Awk" (for awkward), "I stumbled here."
Elbow’s mantra in giving feed back is "at least do no harm."

One of the benefits of being a parent as writing coach is you can have conversations about the writing. You can say things to your child in the same manner you would talk about how to use the remote control or what to make for dinner.

"I loved this part. Got my heart pumping. I got a little lost here, but you got me back on track here."

"I wish I knew more about this person" and "I wonder what happens next!"

So much better than: "Focus on your tone" and "Your organization is hard to follow" and "You need more facts here."

The best coaching entices the writer to imagine new possibilities in the writing. That's different than asking your child to make improvements or changes so the paper is "right" or "correct."
on writing and language arts curriculum from Brave Writer -- by and for homeschoolers!
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