Explain Brave Writer to me please


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  • Paula Spicer

    I have looked at the website and they have so many products online or home course study, I cannot figure out what would be best.  I have a 6th grader who needs help writing.  We are currently using Writing With Skill Level 1, on week 3 but she hates it.  We do Story Starters sometimes but she isn’t a big fan of that either.  I was looking at Brave Writer and wow..a little overwhelmed.  I don’t want to buy the Writing Jungle because I would like a structured schedule.  By deciding where to put her in all this has me lost.

    My question is….where would you begin?  With the Arrows (which I think is just studying a book for a month and learning grammar through that??) or with the Faltering Ownership.  I don’t think the online classes would work, they are too expensive for a month of lessons.

    I’ve read some of the reviews here but still can’t seem to wrap my brain around the many different products they have and the outcome we should get by using it.

    I hope this makes sense, my daughter needs most help understanding the concepts of paragraphs. We will be writing about a historical figure during the war of 1812 next week, and she normally just puts everything in one big paragraph.  It could start with the middle life and go to the beginning life and then the end of the persons life.  We’ve tried outlining but she just can’t “figure” it out.  Maybe we just need more practice.

    Any advice about Brave Writer would be greatly appreciated,



    I just ordered the Partnership Writing and Faltering Ownership (I think) for my younger boys. Honestly, I only purchased them for the ideas 🙂

    I do have some of the Arrows book guides, but for the price, you don’t get much but we’re going to use them for the extra they may bring.  My high school student is already using a writing program for structure so other than some ideas from BW, I’m sticking to CM’s plans for composition.

    Having just read through some of the narration and composition threads, I’m convinced CM’s methods are enough until high school.

    Have to run. I’m sure Tristan will chime in with some great advice for you regarding BW.


    How did you know I would chime in my3boys?  😉

    Okay, first things first, let me give you the BW Overview.

    The Writer’s Jungle is the methods and theory, but few actual assignments. Great, I love it, but not what you are looking for.

    The three project books currently available are Jot it Down, Partnership Writing, and Faltering Ownership.  Each has about 10 month long writing projects geared to specific age/abilities – but you can adapt for any age.  In this you will get three sample schedules that reminds you to do things like copywork, poetry teatime, etc.  Then each project’s tasks are divided into weeks.  Week 1- Week 4 usually.  You don’t have to work on the project every day that week, but it gives you ideas of what to work on to get through the whole project in a month.

    The Arrow, Boomerang, and Wand are not what you want. These relate to a specific book and give you copywork and a language arts topic to learn about (punctuation, alliteration, etc).

    Ok, got  to go but I will be back with more thoughts!


    Okay, on to specific advice!

    First I would say don’t worry about it.  Read wonderful books aloud and independently.  Talk about them (narration).  Repeat.

    When they write I don’t worry about imposing structure very much until high school.  Yes, we may make a foray into a specific poetry format and have to ‘follow the rules’ to try it out, but generally my focus is on encouraging them to get their thoughts and insights on paper (or on the computer screen).  Once they’ve become skilled at sharing that thought-life and have done it for years we are ready to harness it into specific formats.

    This is when we begin by writing all we want on a topic.  Then we print it out with each sentence separated so we can cut them apart.  The kids go to town rearranging their sentences and reading it to see what makes sense, what order is best to them, etc. We may have a goal to put things in order of ‘what happened first’ if that fits the writing.

    When we want to graduate to wanting to divide our writing into multiple paragraphs on different aspects of a topic we do the same thing.  We write write write.  Then we cut it apart.  At this point I pull out 3 envelopes and ask them to label them with the 3 aspects of a topic they want to talk about.  An example: If writing about the use of animals in WWI they may have written about pigeons, horses, and dogs in a big, messy jumble, jumping from topic to topic and back.  Now we label envelopes for pigeons, horses, and dogs.  Separate the sentences into the proper envelope and put them away.  The next writing day pull out just 1 envelope and read through the sentences.  Can they divide them into 3 topics?  Maybe 1. general facts about pigeons 2. pigeon jobs in the war 3. the story of a specific pigeon during the war.

    Do you see where this is going?  We’re imposing structure AFTER they have already shared and gotten on paper their interesting thoughts.

    You can do this with any writing assignment.  In my family we find value in both writing just to get thoughts on paper and on occasionally (one project a month) taking that a piece of writing from the initial stage through revision and expansion and into a final product to share.  (Having and audience is important!  They won’t value it if you’re just going to stuff it in a file and never look at it again.  Who can they share it with?).  We do not do this with every piece of writing my kids do.  Julie Bogart suggests you do 8 weeks of Friday Freewrites.  Each week put their paper into an envelope.  At the end of the 8 weeks they pull all 8 out and look through them.  They choose ONE that you will then polish up for sharing with someone.  They can add to it, reorganize it, choose a way to publish it, and edit for punctuation and grammar.  The other 7?  They were just writing for the practice of getting thoughts on paper.

    Paula Spicer

    Wow Tristan, thank you for that detailed answer.  It is just what I needed.  I never thought about writing and then cutting the sentences out and arranging them, that was brilliant!!  And I think I’ll just sign up for the BW free emails for now.

    Thanks, I can’t wait to get started, although I’m sure they won’t have the same enthusiasm 😉


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