Teaching Kids to Write for the Web Using Write W.A.V.E. Media
Looking for something different and useful to add to your student's writing curriculum? What about web writing? More specifically, how about using guest blogging at Write W.A.V.E. Media (WWM) as part of that instruction? There are no age requirements for posting on these sites, only certain access restrictions (an adult account is required for those under 13, due to usage rules related to hosting and creation tools). There are also several sites within the network, covering just about any topic. This can be adapted into a traditional classroom curriculum or for homeschooled students. As a seasoned homeschool parent and a long-time web writer, I've done this with my own children in various ways.
In the beginning, give your student a chance to get familiar with how the process works. Most importantly, allow him or her to learn how the publishing system works. The first submissions should simply be whatever the student feels like writing. This could be poems, articles, or even school papers. Let him or her feel comfortable with using the sites, learning a few things, and gaining a readership. Also, remember to allow for some of this in between assignments as well. Keep the experience fun and not just a chore.
Many ad and affiliate companies require an account holder to be 18 or older. However, it can still be a learning experience and will help ensure they are knowledgeable when they do qualify for payments. You also might choose to sign up for one or more of these and simply transfer any earnings to your student. If your student chooses to publish in other places around the web or to publish books (or sell products or services) that can be linked to from their posts at Write W.A.V.E. Media, links to those might also help them earn. Also, reprints of content are sometimes purchased by clients. In this case, we always give the writer 100% profit from their own content (minus any processing fees by PayPal).
Teaching Web Writing Using Write W.A.V.E. Media
There are many great tips on web writing at the Write W.A.V.E. Media blog, as well as the Article Writer For Hire blog. The WWM forum and the WWM Facebook group also might be useful. Let your students read up on those and implement the lessons into their writing. A very useful tool to combine with lessons learned from those sources is the Yahoo! Style Guide. We also provide submission guidelines and other instructions. Gauge the success of your student's web writing skills by constantly examining their work to see which techniques are applied.
Benefits of Web Writing Skills
No matter the career choice of your students, web writing skills can be a plus. These lessons can be useful in college, as well as in the workforce. Web writing can be used in marketing, journalism, business ownership, business management, editing, and much more. Pretty much any business or company should have a website and web writing skills can be useful in creating and maintaining it.
Grading Based on Performance and Quality
When grading your student on lessons learned, look at both quality and performance. Are the pieces written well? Grade web writing similar to other school papers as far as grammar and spelling. But don't forget the various aspects of internet text, such as SEO and ad alignment. Have they followed our submission guidelines or are they at risk of getting their content edited or removed? Are they getting decent page views on WWM? Is there mostly positive or negative feedback? How much interaction are they getting? What are the readers saying? Is their content being shared by others?
Physical education is an integral part of the whole picture. Don't put it on the back burner when it comes to academics. In fact, physical activities may help boost student performance in other areas. Keep this in mind when developing your homeschooled tween's daily schedule and curriculum. This is one of the first things I learned when we started homeschooling years ago. Not only is keeping homeschooled tweens active a good idea for academic purposes, but it also helps encourage a healthy lifestyle overall. It also helps them expend any pent up energy and frustration, which can be a good thing for the whole family.
Exercise with your tween every day. This is extremely important in encouraging an active lifestyle. Whether it's family yoga, nature walks, bike riding, skating, playing basketball in the yard, or a workout routine, the family should include some form of exercise in the daily routine. It's easier for the tween to feel encouraged to participate when it is a part of the normal daily activities. Try to make it happen at around the same time every day. Switch up different activities for a more rounded physical education experience.
Get your homeschooled tween involved in athletics. Sports programs are available in most areas. These can be found with private leagues, organizations like the YMCA, and even with area schools. Homeschooled tweens have an advantage in that they can sometimes join either homeschool leagues or those with area schools if permitted. Churches can also have sports and recreational teams and programs. Not all areas will have leagues specifically for homeschoolers. But usually those with neighborhood organizations are all inclusive.
Take field trips often. Get out and enjoy your area and those surrounding it. Base the field trips on current lessons, as well as other things. The zoo, library, and museum are some of the obvious destinations. But also try nature reserves, wildlife reservations, railroads, the airport, historical buildings, monuments, and anything else interesting. If you're inventive and open-minded, you can find a field trip destination for every lesson every day if you want to. You may not choose to have daily field trips. But be sure your homeschooled tween does get out often and see the world - or at least the neighborhood.
Enroll your tween in dance classes. Many tweens love to dance. So this is a good way to get your homeschooled tween to enjoy being active. It also provides an extra way to get some social interaction. Even if dance is not really your tween's best talent, the classes may still be enjoyable. Let your tween choose the style. From ballet, to jazz, to modern, to hip-hop and more, any tween who is interested can find their style. If your tween is up to it, let him rotate between various styles for an even more interesting and rounded experience.
Encourage stretch breaks in between assignments. This is one of the easiest ways to keep your homeschooled tween active during the day. Make it a routine thing to get up and move around in between lessons. Movements may include dancing, stretching, jumping jacks, or other random actions. As long as your tween gets up and flexes, it's good. Try to make it fun so there isn't any protesting. The actual movement doesn't matter as much as the fact that your tween is not sitting in one place all day long.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
When you made the choice to homeschool, I bet the first thing on your mind was not the stress. You probably imagined some fairy tale where all the children sat still and listened to you lecture or followed along with everything you said and did. Then, once you got started, you were snapped back into reality. I can't promise you a fairy tale, but I can help you get things running much smoother. When you're fully organized and prepared, each day will be easier. Exact organization layouts will be different for each family, but by reading the following, you should be able to get your schoolwork and homeschool organized easily and effectively.
1. Tear out and laminate workbook pages and put them in binders for each subject. Arrange the page order according to level. If you make a big one that contains all levels and areas of math, you won't have to purchase any more math workbooks the following years and you have work for all your kids. Just pull out the pages one at a time and give them to your child with a write & wipe marker or crayon. Then, when your child is finished and the work has been gone over, you can easily put it back in. You may want to take a Sharpie and number the pages in the order you want them. That way if more than one child has a worksheet, you can easily remember where they belong.
2. Take some relaxing time for yourself each day. If your kids nap, instead of cleaning during their nap, you could take a soak in the tub, curl up with a book, or do something else you enjoy. Your relaxing time may come after the kids are asleep, but be sure to take it. Even five minutes of locking yourself in the bathroom and praying can go a long way.
3. Plan ahead. If you try to do the assignments as they come, this can stress you out. I recommend taking a weekend to plan a month or so of assignments. That way you can easily give the assignments to your child/ren when it's time.
4. Organize each subject for each child. Each child should have a folder for each subject. The assignments should be placed in those folders in order of when they are to be completed. Even though some assignments won't have a worksheet, there should be instructions for each assignment (even if it's just reading). All assignments should have a date on them. You can even stick the write&wipe sheets in the folders, too. This makes the day run much smoother.
5. Never ignore a question your child asks. If you don't know the answer, don't stress. Just look it up.
6. Use different methods for teaching (chalkboard and lecture, books, games, worksheets, drawing, writing...). That way your child/ren won't get bored and they will also learn many different methods for solving problems.
7. Have Fun!
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
The subject of homework has long been a debate among parents and teachers. Some teachers believe it is essential, while some find other ways to add to the curriculum. There are parents like myself who feel it takes up valuable time. This time could otherwise be spent reading, playing, or learning in other ways. As a mom, homeschool teacher, and former public school parent, I've seen it from more than one side. I've also done research over the years, as well as asked opinions of teachers. My research and opinions below are accompanied by recent conversations with three teachers.
Homework vs Study Time
Besides what is being taught in class, kids may need or desire to do extra research on their own. They also may want to read unassigned books for the pure enjoyment of reading. However, when homework takes up a substantial amount of time, this may not be possible. The student may tire or run out of time before extracurricular activities or bedtime. Children should be free to explore and learn as much as possible and too much homework may hinder that process. My personal thought is that study time needs to be reevaluated and should be done freely versus being assigned. I expressed some of my thoughts on how to do that in another writeup: "Should Current Homework and Study Methods be Reevaluated?"
Ann W, a teacher and parent, shared the following with me:
"There are several negative effects of traditional homework assignments, especially upon elementary school children. In my experience as a parent and former public school teacher, I've seen both sides to the issue. If homework lacks substance or too much is assigned, children become increasingly frustrated and may develop a bad attitude toward school. In our own experience, homework took four hours of time to complete. Not only did this take away from our family time together, it also reduced the amount of time our child was able to devote to individual reading.
"Down time and actually having the time to read for pleasure can refresh and prepare a student for further learning. Excessive homework, such as writing 20 spelling words 25 times each by a child who can spell all the words correctly and has a fine motor disability, creates a stressful atmosphere and is a waste of precious time. That is just one of the reasons, among many, that we eventually chose to home school our daughter."
Benefits or Drawbacks?
This is the area where it seems the answer varies depending on who you ask. Not all teachers agree and not all parents agree. According to an article on Scholastic.com, there is not credible evidence to suggest that there is a tangible benefit from homework. In fact, in that same article, there is evidence of a no-homework policy working well for students. The argument given by one teacher is that homework is essentially the same as if an adult went to work and then came home and kept working for several more hours. Some may in fact do this, but why put so much pressure on anyone, especially children?
Then, there are those who argue there are indeed benefits. For instance, Sandra Peterson, a teacher, tutor, and home educator shared this with me:
"Especially in the subject of math, homework is, in my opinion, essential. Homework is one of the best day-to-day assessment tools a teacher can utilize. Daily homework can alert a teacher to comprehension problems early enough that the lesson can be re-taught. This is important in math since one concept builds upon another. If the student does not understand how to find factors, they may not understand how to reduce fractions or make equivalent fractions from two fractions with unlike denominators. Many students learn best by practicing skills in a lesson or by summarizing what they have learned in an essay. Not that homework is rote learning, but homework can provide one more opportunity to cement those concepts in the brain. Homework can also be utilized to allow the student to express his individuality, especially in the creative writing portion of the language arts curriculum."
When Can Kids be Kids?
Another argument against homework is that often kids are spending so much time on it, there is no time left for anything else. What about extracurricular activities? What about family time or just regular kid time? When my kids were in traditional school, by the time my oldest was finished with homework, she had no time to do anything but eat dinner and prepare for bed. Yes, learning is extremely important. But so is downtime, fun time, and fitness. All have benefits and all are necessary. If children are spending all their time on homework, where is the time for any of this?
High school teacher Amanda Herron told me what works for her students:
"I teach on a block schedule, instead of traditional, which means our students have four classes a day (instead of eight) and stay in one class for 90 minutes (instead of 55). I rarely, if ever, give homework because I feel that as an effective teacher I should cover what I need to in 90 minutes. Research does back up that daily practice of concepts helps with memory retention, but I feel that in 90 minutes my lessons should teach the concept and offer practice time. By doing traditional 'homework' assignments in class, the students have peer coaches and teachers to ask questions and get help. Especially at the high school level, few parents can help on homework assignments. Also, our students have such full, high-stress lives. At my school, we have a high teen parent rate, added to the necessity of after-school jobs for essentials like gas (and unfortunately for some of my students, family groceries due to the high-unemployment in our area). Colleges are looking for sports, extra-curriculars and community service. If every teacher assigns an additional 45 minutes of homework, our students (with only four teachers) would need an extra three hours in their schedules.
"The average schedule for one of my students:
7:00 a.m. ~ Bus stop.
7:40 a.m.- 3:00 p.m. ~ School day
3:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. ~ Sports (football, basketball, etc)
5:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. ~ after school job or baby sit children/siblings until parents get home from later-shift jobs
"There is no time in my students schedules for homework every night. They would not be finished until after 1:00a.m. At schools with traditional schedules (more classes meeting in a day) that could go longer. So, I'm not a fan. I get a better result from my students by keeping practice and project times in class and I have no problem doing this and still covering my state-mandated standards."
What is Being Taught in Class?
A final question that I struggle with often: "What's being taught in class?" If a child is learning for hours throughout the day, why is it necessary to then come home and repeat the process? Haven't they been learning all day already? As someone who has had children in public school and has educated them at home, I have seen things as both a parent and teacher. Whenever we are homeschooling, I have found the children complete more lessons in less time than when they attended traditional school. That's why I struggle so much in understanding why it's necessary to repeat lessons during a time that should be family time.
Because of homeschooling, the performance of most of my kids has increased. They sometimes complete two grade levels per subject every school year. This is without having extra work to complete at the end of the day. Because of this, I'm left to wonder why traditional schools need to assign extra work outside of class. Shouldn't the length of their school days compensate for that? I have the utmost respect for educators and believe most do have the students' best interests in mind. It's just something I have yet to understand, based on research and personal experience.
*Thanks to Amanda Herron, Sandra Peterson, and Ann W for your opinions.
**I originally published this content via Yahoo Contributor Network
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