Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Create Better Writers

I think I have found the answer to how to teach writing. Create Better Writers is an easy to use, affordable writing program that you are going to want for your homeschool. Over the years, we have tried many different writing programs.  Create Better Writers uses a step-by-step approach that works for all types of writing. I received three e-books from Create Better Writers: How to Write a ParagraphHow to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay, and The Home School Writing Action Plan.

If you're like me, the following statement could cause you to scoff. "Writing instruction does NOT need to be difficult." This is the claim of author David S. Dye. For the first time in my homeschooling life (since 1998) and the first time in my educational life (started school in 1973), I think I believe that.  You begin teaching your students how to set up their paper to write a paragraph using a pre-writing technique that focuses on one main idea for each paragraph.  Students practice setting up their paper and then delve into paragraph writing.

Watch this video to see what I mean:

How to Teach the Paragraph will teach you to teach your children how to write a paragraph starting in the 3rd grade.  If your students are older that is OK too.  This works for anyone (even adults). Once they know how to write a paragraph they can transition easily into writing essays, research reports and more. The e-book version is only $7.99 and comes free with How to Teach the Five Paragraph Essay or The Complete Writing Program.

How to Teach the Paragraph is 21 pages long including 2 topic sentence worksheets and a paragraph assessment worksheet.


The Homeschool Writing Action Plan presents the intricate subject of writing in clear and uncomplicated fashion. It presents a Summary of Steps, moves on to Pacing Charts, and finishes with The Road Map. After completing this study, your student will know how to write strong essays, research reports, great stories and intelligent descriptive sentences. They will also have a well developed vocabulary and be completely prepared for the SAT/ACT writing college exam.

This book is divided into 3 parts:

Part I – Summary of the Steps: We will begin with a summary of each step. The summaries of the steps are listed on a few pages. This will help you know, at all times, where you should be, where you are headed, and where each step fits into the big picture of your child’s writing.

Part II – Pacing Charts: Part 2 gives you sample pacing charts that will help you decide where and when to begin and how much time to spend on each activity. If you are beginning this program with an elementary school student, you will see how to slowly build you child’s writing skills over time. If you are beginning this program with a high school student, you will be shown how to quickly, but effectively, deliver the same information.

Part III – The Road Map: Part 3 will show you how to implement each step and give you strategies to help reinforce the writing concepts. However, this section will not give you specific lesson plans.

I like this book because it is written with homeschoolers in mind and really works for students of all ages (grade 3 and up). The one thing I didn't like about this book was that sometimes the sample sentences talked about vampires and ghosts.  (not big on that here)


How to Teach the Five-Paragraph Essay is the third book I received.  This builds on How to Teach the Paragraph using the same straight forward pre-writing approach. You can see the Table of Contents and view The Steps in detail. The steps are: List of Steps, Pacing Chart, Detailed Lesson Plan, Bells and Whistles, and the Next Level. The steps are covered in the first 36 pages of the book followed by 10 appendices: Topics for Five-Paragraph Essays, Sample Essay Outlines, Five-Paragraph Essay Assessment Sheet, Five-Paragraph Essay Rubric, Types of Introductions, Interesting Introductions Worksheets, Commas, Transition Words, Transition Sentences, Writing Portfolio Project-Cover Sheets.  Comprehensive?? YES!

I think this is the first time that I feel confident teaching writing.  I couldn't be happier to have found this.

Watch this video to learn more about Teaching the Five-Paragraph Essay: (I tried to embed this but I am having trouble with the html in this post.)

All in all, I highly recommend these e-books (though I think I would prefer physical copies-which technically I have since I printed them all.)  I am very glad that I had the opportunity to review this and I will be using this all year with all of the kids (4th grade and up). I will admit that Ryan was not thrilled with doing any of this but I can see progress in the short time we've been using this and so we're all going to be doing it. I think this will help me as well. (Now please don't go checking my paragraphs!! ;) )

There is a page on the website dedicated to homeschool teachers that you should check out.  It also includes a 53 minute video.

You can purchase How to Write a Paragraph (e-book) for $7.95, How to Write a Five-Paragraph Essay (includes How to Write a Paragraph) for $17.95 (pdf) or $19.95 (soft cover) and The Homeschool Writing Action Plan for $17.95 (pdf).  You might also want to check out the website for The Complete Writing Program, Idioms e-book and Standards Based Grammar (go to the main page and click on the grade level you are interested in.)

Read what other crew members are saying about Create Better Writers on the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.


disclaimer: I received a free copy of How to Write a Paragraph, How to Write a Five-Paragraph Essay and the Homeschool Writing Action Plan in exchange for an honest review.

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