Writing at Vine
Writing skills are one of the most important sets of skills in any job or field of study. Development of writing skills also allows students to develop critical thinking and a logical organization of their thoughts. Yet, writing is not often taught systematically or practiced extensively by school-aged children. At Vine Academy, we dedicate an entire daily class to the development and practice of formal writing skills. This class is highly customized; children are taught in a ratio of six students to one teacher so that the teacher can work intimately with each student. While course activities and writing prompts are often common to the class, each student’s goals are individual. Ultimately, we aim to take each student from his or her current set of writing skills, whether remedial or advanced, to the next level.
In our writing program, we have outlined sets of skills that students progress through over time. Teachers select individual goals for each student. While being instructed on a new objective, the student is given continued opportunities to practice other skills. Overall, the student is practicing skills in many areas simultaneously, only focusing on one or two new skills at a time.
Teaching Writing Through Structure
When we teach academic writing, we emphasize structures and formulas. Our students are encouraged to see writing not as an open-ended, creative process but as a defined structure for conveying thinking. We don’t ask our students to sit down to a blank piece of paper and feel that it takes some inspiration-driven process to fill it. We make sure they see writing as a specific set of manageable steps to convey their ideas.
Instead, we believe that the best place to begin the practice of writing is through simple, nearly universal formulas. That’s what our writing curriculum is all about; there’s plenty of time for getting creative with the formulas later, as well as room for individual expression through vocabulary, detail, and ideas being displayed. Overall, however, academic writing starts with knowing how to use tried and true formulas.
At Vine, students learn to write in writing class, but they use what they’ve learned in all subjects! They are actively taught to apply the structures learned in our formal writing class to open-ended questions in history, lab reports in science, annotations in literature, and paragraphs in their project work.