New Writing Classes Begin September 9, 2015

New Writing Classes will begin on Wednesday, September 9, 2015.  I will offer IEW Writing I for 4th-8th grades, pre-IEW for 2nd and 3rd graders, and am taking requests for other classes as needed.  Please email me at or call Holly at 951-302-0540.

Response to Lit Class Begins October 15

A new Response to Literature/Opinion Writing Class will begin on Monday, October 15 at 1:00 p.m.

Response to Literature/Opinion Writing

This class will incorporate literature selections to teach the Opinion/Argumentative writing domain.  After reading high interest stories, students will learn to write a quick summary of the text, state an opinion about character traits, theme, or mood of the setting, support their opinion with evidence from the story (using direct quotes or paraphrasing), analyze how the evidence supports their opinion, and make a connection between the story and themselves, other texts, or the outside world.

As with all my classes, this complex writing domain will be broken down into simple, easy to follow steps so students learn a formula for responding to literature and writing opinions without becoming overwhelmed.  Before we write, we will spend lots of time on planning and oral rehearsal, both crucial but often overlooked components of the writing process. Within the context of response to literature writing, we will discuss organization, word choice, sentence fluency, transitions, and conventions of writing.

Grades 4 and up

$125 for eight weeks

New classes begin Monday, October 15, 1:00-1:55 p.m.



Online Writing Classes Available

Online Writing Classes Now Available

If you live too far away to travel to Temecula to have your child attend my popular writing classes in person, they are now available online.  I am videotaping actual classes, so your child will feel like he or she is right there in the classroom with us, hearing student interactions, questions, clarifications, etc.  I will provide your student with the same materials that the students in the class receive, and I will edit your student’s homework just like I do for the students in my class.  If your student has questions, I am available by phone or email. Your child will receive all the benefits of taking the class, but you don’t have to travel or fit a specific time into your schedule–your child can view the video on YOUR schedule, on any day, and at any time.

The class is eight weeks, and you can begin anytime.  Cost is $80, including all materials.

Click the link below to see a short preview of Writing I.

For more information or to enroll your student, contact Holly at 951-302-0540 or

Writing Class Preview from Holly Dodson on Vimeo.

Pencil and Paper or Computer?

Those of you who have students who have taken my writing classes know that I encourage kids to learn word processing skills (also known as touch typing by those of us who grew up before computers) at an early age. Both my daughters learned to type at the end of first grade using an old fashioned book called Dr. Fry’s Computer Keyboarding for Beginners by Edward Fry. It wasn’t as exciting as Mario Brothers or other typing games, but using its straightforward approach, my girls were touch typing within about four weeks.

But why is this so important? I believe (and several studies back me up) that writing on the computer makes students better writers in the long run. One of the most important steps in creating good writing is lots of revising, and kids hate to do re-writes! They especially hate it if it means starting all over and laboriously recopying what they’ve already written while trying to incorporate edits and corrections. And if you make one mistake with a pen, you have to start all over again!

Computers make revisions much easier. If you misspell a word the first time around, just fix the word without having to recopy the whole thing. Composing rough drafts on the computer makes rearranging sentences easier, adding descriptive adjectives easier, and making that final perfect copy MUCH easier.

Kids love computers, and most would rather “play on the computer” than do pencil and paper work. Often, doing their writing on the computer makes it seem like more fun. Once they are good typists, it’s also faster and requires less hand strain (and no more of those big calluses we used to get on our middle finger from writing with a pencil all day!). Kids tend to write more when they are allowed to do it on the computer.

A study on this topic was summarized in an article titled “The Effect of a Word Processor on the Written Composition of Second-Grade Pupils,” by Ithel Jones. According to the article,

 “The purpose of this study was to determine if the use of a word processing program during language instruction would result in a larger quantity of writing and whether it would influence the holistic writing quality of the second grade students when they compose with pencil and paper. The results show an overall improvement for students using a word processor, in both quality and in length. Those students also received higher scores. The study supports the fact that the use of a word processor facilitates the writing process, even with young children.”

In an article titled “Word Processing and its Effect on the Writing Process,” Katie Herrick states, “Writing with the word processor enhanced the writing process by allowing 4th grade students to edit without using the laborious method of using pen and paper. Students became more independent and felt more confident in their ability to change their original stories.”

My experience as a writing teacher and as a mom of two really excellent writers supports these studies. Most kids write more and write better when they use a computer. And as a teacher who reads and edits their writing, I enjoy being able to concentrate on content and not struggle with being able to read their handwriting!

What do you think? Do your kids write better when they write on the computer?