So I wrote the last post on writing after I did Anda's English/writing curriculum (for English this year, she's learning about parody/fractured fairytales, Shel Silverstein, Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, plus a little on grammar, punctuation, homophones, synonyms/antonyms, storytelling, touch-typing. cursive writing, and spelling).
Today I did Caleb's English curriculum (word roots and origins, The Hobbit, Around the World in 80 Days, A Christmas Carol, Stories from Shakespeare, writing effective paragraphs, figurative writing and other fun language stuff like puns and palindromes, descriptive writing and a smattering of grammar, punctuation, spelling, handwriting, touch typing, and editing skills).
As a writer and as a teacher, I find the writing curricula out there absolutely agonizing to dig through. I can't find good materials to save my life! I think I mostly resorted to college writing lab materials for some of the stuff I needed because the materials written for elementary school were so unbelievably awful I couldn't use them.
Biggest flaw I found: examples that clearly illustrated only that the person who wrote the material didn't understand the concept themselves. (Take this worksheet as an example: http://www.abcteach.com/free/p/poetryprompts_similes.pdf. Their example simile is "The tree was as tall as a house." It IS a sentence comparing two things using like or as. It is NOT a simile because it is an actual measurement. The tree really was probably as tall as a house. That's a legit quantitative comparison, not an example of figurative language. So now how are the kids supposed to figure it out?). The teaching materials out there are rife with non-examples of personification (just having an object do something uncharacteristic is NOT personification), simile, metaphor, puns that really aren't (these were the worst! Like this non-pun from Buzzle's pun page: "A gossip is someone with a great sense of rumor." -- http://www.buzzle.com/articles/pun-examples.html-- It's a nice play on words. Not a pun, though. Not even by their definition.)
Second biggest flaw (and probably more damaging): Using examples that are so poorly written that they are almost unreadable. How are we supposed to be enticing children to write and read if the stuff we feed them is unpalatable? The very worst of these examples were on the "show, don't tell" lessons. They would give an example of "telling" and then an example of "showing" that was more descriptive and much much worse writing than the "telling" example, leaving me saying, "But why would I want to write like that?!" (like here: http://www.writing-world.com/basics/dawn02.shtml "
With even more great stuff here: http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/clf/tguidesitemap.htm?lnkid=TNav:SA:Computer%20Lab%20Favorites&ESP=SA/ib//acq/comp_lab_fav_tnav_SA///nav/txtl////
There are a lot of GREAT activities here: http://learner.org/interactives/
Some good stuff here: http://www.ngfl-cymru.org.uk/eng/vtc-home.htm (but some of it is only in Welsh!).
Also TONS of great stuff here: http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/ and at its sister site: http://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/
I've also found fantastic resources coming out of museums, libraries, middle schools, and individual author websites. So there is hope out there.
But I do feel sorry for all the millions of kids who are expected to somehow learn to write using the trash the teachers are giving them!