Well today I finished off my paperwork for the 2011-12 school year, wrote my education plan for the next year, and started to plan next year. (My education plan letter is generic enough that I can plan after I write it. I include a list of the resources we used last year so that our Superintendent can get the gist of what we do here.)
My ten year old is a very reluctant writer, and I spent the afternoon looking for a curriculum that might work for him, and for me also. I want a program that will get him writing sentences and paragraphs, and, in short, not be inane. There are so many writing programs out there that have silly assignments, and those are not going to fly here. I also need a program that won't require too much of my time since I'm homeschooling three different kids and I have a paid project coming up this fall. I looked at many of the popular programs -- some I could describe with a pithy comment, but as I know they work for other families, I will skip that. I looked at Institute of Excellence in Writing, Writing Strands, Classical Writing, WriteShop, Learning Language Arts through Literature (LLATL), English for the Thoughtful Child, Six-Trait Writing, Writing With Ease (which we used a little last year), Michael Clay Thomas (MCT) Curriculum (Sentence Island, Paragraph Town, etc), Shurley English, Winning with Writing, Voyages in English Writing, BraveWriter, Wordsmith Apprentice (maybe next year).
Some are too difficult to implement, some too expensive, some have too much busywork, and some just don't appeal to me much. In the end I think I've settled on Writing Tales I -- it is similar to WWE and LLATL, I believe, but the lessons have variety. It's true that the lesson where the student has to rewrite the story will meet with resistance, but some lessons are significantly easier. It gets good reviews, and is said to be very easy to implement, and covers a variety of topics (grammar, copywork, spelling and vocabulary) using well written stories. (I'll use it with two kids).
In addition, we will continue with All About Spelling, which I find to be an easy to use and effective program. I'll accept the fact that it's dictation phrases and sentences lack depth, as long as our writing program balances it out on the silly-meaningful scale.
Many thanks to the Well Trained Mind board members, whose thoughtful comments have helped enormously with today's evaluation. Less thanks to the TOS Crew, who have apparently never met a curriculum they didn't like.