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    Integrating The Lost Tools of Writing with AmblesideOnline: A New {Irregular} Series!

    September 14, 2015 by Brandy Vencel

    [dropcap]I[/dropcap] asked you about this on Facebook, and I was delighted to find out how many of you were interested in the subject of integrating The Lost Tools of Writing with AmblesideOnline — in fact, I have it on good authority that this is a Thing. People do these curricula together, I mean. This is significant because it means I’m not the only person interested in the subject. I try not to over-indulge my own self when writing this blog, you know. 😉

    Combining LTOW with AmblesideOnline

    Today, I’m going to tell you what we’ve done so far {hint: not much}, and then I’ll continue to update this post with links in an index at the bottom as time goes on.

    So far, we’ve done two things: the intro activity, and learning about the ANI Chart.


    The Intro Lesson

    You can actually watch the intro lesson for free on CiRCE’s website. In it, Andrew Kern asks us to write down what we find difficult about writing. My student and I watched the video together, and we paused it, and actually wrote a list of things about our writing that was hard or that we wanted to fix. I kept these lists so that we could refer to them in the future.

    My student was surprised to find that the issues he listed as troubles all did not fall into the Invention category. When I asked my student why he thought that was, he paused, and then said, “Because I am always narrating?”

    That’s right! Because a Charlotte Mason student is always asked to imitate the writing of others, they have never run up against a real invention problem. I have continually told my student that all good writing is imitation {or Afterthinking ahem}, and he definitely saw that narrating had kept him from having an issue in at least one area, which was nice.

    We spent one day on this activity.


    The ANI Chart

    I have my student watching the videos with me, even though they are technically for the teacher. I don’t really see a reason not to do this. I mean, I guess I could watch the video, learn the thing, and then go tell him the thing. And that’d be fine, too. And if I was teaching in a classroom, that is what I’d do. But really, it cuts out the middle man for me to just have him watch the video with me. So that is what we’re doing. We watched the video, and learned how to do an ANI chart. In this video, Leah Lutz {who is doing the instructing} says that The Lost Tools of Writing was designed to be integrated with whatever curriculum you’re using.

    Music to my ears, people! That means that it is way, way easy for us to do this.

    Lutz also says that the ANI Chart is something that our students will return to over and over again — they will always be using them. This helped me understand that we want our students to be really good at them — for the chart to come naturally to them.

    What I decided at that point was that we were going to do one ANI Chart per day every school day for two weeks. We’re in the middle of that period right now. For now, I am the one asking the question. The first time, I also rephrased the question into the issue. After that, he had to do the rephrasing. Next week, I’m going to have him try his hand at asking the question as well. After creating 8 to 10 of these charts, I think we’ll be ready to move on and learn the next thing. And after we’ll do that, I’ll let you know what happens.

    I am allowing the ANI Chart to be his narration for one reading per day. {He is still required to do his regular daily written narration during this time as well.}

    I created a simple, blank ANI Chart for myself on my computer. I’d share with you, except that I worry it’d be a copyright violation. But anyhow, this allows me to write out a question when I’m prereading and have it all ready for him — one for each day. The first one was difficult, but of course. That is why we’re practicing it for a couple weeks before moving on.


    Series Index

    • Intro and ANI Chart ← you are here
    • More coming soon!


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  • Reply Jamie Graston June 30, 2018 at 4:56 pm

    Hi! I am wondering what your latest thoughts are on LTOW. How did it work for you? I’m considering it for my rising 10th grader who has never had a formal writing program, but has developed his writing voice nicely with narrations. With dual enrollment in the future, I have felt like he may need a formal writing program this year to give him more tools for the future. I hope you write an update on your LTOW experience! Thanks!

  • Reply Heather M Thomas June 14, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Hi! How many papers do you have your children write? My son is involved in Classical Conversations and he has used this program for 2 years. This will be a third year as a (9th grader) and he will be practically writing one paper per week based on the required books he has to read. I am at the point of picking and choosing how many papers to do. I have found quality vs quantity is much better.

  • Reply Jennifer July 19, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I don’t see any more recent posts on this topic, but I am curious how it worked out for you? I am considering getting Lost Tools of Writing for my 11th grader this fall. She has a good command of language and enjoys writing, but organizing her ideas and developing them into academic style essays is not something we have done with any regularity. I have a Master’s degree in English and have taught composition before, but without a structure, I find myself floundering! (This has been my problem with the composition instructions on AO.) I am hoping that LToW will give me the structure I need to schedule and follow through with teaching my children to write!

  • Reply Kerry September 16, 2015 at 4:40 am

    I love the Lost Tools and have used it in History and Literature classes both to spur discussion (that ANI chart is great for that!) and for writing instruction. It is such an excellent THINKING program. One question…are you writing the “Should” question for him?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 16, 2015 at 6:16 am

      I did the first week, but I’m trying to transition him to asking himself — with varying levels of success. 😉 It seems like it’s important for him to be able to ask the question of himself, so that is what we’re working on now. 🙂 What have you done in the past, Kerry? Do you have your students write the questions themselves?

      • Reply Kerry September 16, 2015 at 6:28 am

        My students have mostly been high schoolers (in a small classroom setting – a homeschool co-op), but I’m using it now with my 13 year old. She is coming up with her own questions, which I think she finds a lot of fun! She needed me to model it at first by doing the character and action lists with her, but then she got to choose which character and which action.

  • Reply Amber September 15, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    I am very glad you’re writing about this! I was considering using LToW this year, but pushed it to next year, largely because I wasn’t sure I had the attention available to give it. And we also haven’t done anything more than editing written narrations, which makes me hesitate as well. I’m starting to get a little antsy to start it, because developmentally I think she’s ready to take another step with her writing. Or perhaps I’ll take another look at what you did the the progym and see if that would be a better next step.

    Whatever I do, I don’t think I’ll start until mid-year, perhaps in the second term. I can’t add anything more right now, and besides, no one said I *had* to start it at the beginning of the school year, right?? 🙂

  • Reply Andrea September 15, 2015 at 10:50 am

    You are officially the best H/S blogger ever. So happy to see this. Keep on!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 15, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      Hey, I’ve never won a *prize* before. Thanks, Andrea! 😉

  • Reply Ann-Marie September 14, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    Oh I am thrilled to see this, Brandy! I ordered LTW and have yet to begin it. I took part in the WTM Online Conference this summer with Andrew Kern and it was fantastic! I am so looking forward to your series.
    Probably the push I need to begin! You’ve been so helpful this summer!
    Thank you 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 15, 2015 at 2:45 pm

      Oh, yes! Begin! Really — even if you just do what I do and watch the first couple videos and start to incorporate the ANI Charts — they really make for good discussions afterwards…

    • Reply Amber September 15, 2015 at 6:56 pm

      I really wanted to take that lecture series that Andrew Kern offered over the summer through the WTM conference, but two of the dates coincided with travel plans. I probably should have done it anyway and watched the recordings. Glad to hear it was so good though!

  • Reply Heather September 14, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    I am using Level 1 this year as well. Heidi at Mt. Hope Chronicles had posted about using ANI charts last year, so we tried it last year for a book we had both read. It was helpful and fun. We start our lessons tomorrow. I have watched eight or nine of the videos myself as part of my prep work, but thought maybe I would just teach it without rewatching the videos with my oldest. I’m reconsidering that now.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 15, 2015 at 2:46 pm

      Some of Heidi’s posts last year were the ones that really convinced me to buy it, Heather. 🙂

  • Reply Pam A. September 14, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I’m so glad you are planning to write about this lovely integration. You may have addressed this before, but what year of AO would you recommend starting this? Or after what other mastery is already in place?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel September 15, 2015 at 10:51 am

      I’m starting this in eighth grade, and I really think that it probably depends upon the child when it is best to start. I wrote a series a couple years ago on integrating parts of the progymnasmata with AO, and I would definitely start there — I don’t think I’d move straight from written narrations to LTOW.

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