Essay Styles light bulb Idea go FDP-10020198

 

Public and many private school classrooms often have weak writing curricula.  After all, if you were teaching five sections of English with thirty five students in each one, would you have time to read and correct all of those essays?

So, for English they focus on other areas of language arts, while composition is shoved to the bottom drawer. 

With time for individualized instruction, homeschool parents have the perfect opportunity to teach writing, although many of us feel totally unqualified to do so.

Admittedly, composition is a little harder to teach than grammar or punctuation. After all, having a grammar reference written at your child’s level gives you guidance in those two areas… but that won’t help you much with composition.

What helps the most is having your student read, read, read top level literature. Additionally, habitual oral and written narration over that reading, especially if done from the early years, lays the groundwork for later composition. But that isn’t always enough… at least, it wasn’t with our children.

What do I do for Ninth Grade English?

During the high school years we wanted to ensure our students were comfortable and articulate expressing their thoughts in writing, so we developed our high school composition course, Essay Styles for High School.

We often recommend that advanced eighth graders and ninth graders prepare for high school writing by taking our Essay Styles course.  This excellent composition course offers instruction and even genuine high school-student examples of the five essays that are required with high school level writing: narrative, expository, descriptive, persuasive, and comparison/contrast.  

But what if there is no room in your student’s high school schedule for a composition class AND a typical ninth grade English course?  Simply add literature study to Essay Styles to provide your student with the perfect solution to ninth grade English. Then you have  all of your bases covered, as grammar, spelling and punctuation are more effectively taught through composition than with separate worksheet-based curriculum.

In our last post Cheri had inquired of our Info Desk how to add literature study to our Essay Styles course to make it a  ninth grade English course:

….I would be interested in making [Essay Styles] into a 9th grade English credit class.  How would I go about that with the literature?  Pick a few titles to have her read and write about?  I’m such a newbie when it comes to planning high school!  Thanks for your help!

 Thanks again,

Cheri

 

How to Add Literature Study to Essay Styles

Hi Cheri,

Oh, you are very welcome!  It is agonizing to try and decide what to do for high school, particularly!  :-)  I’m glad to help!  You are exactly right about how to make Essay Styles a basic 9th grade English course.  Just read  books per semester (roughly 2400 pages, depending upon the difficulty of the reading) and do a variety of assignments with them. One great book to help your high school student to get more out of her high school reading would be How to Read a Book, by Mortimer Adler.   I will tell you right now that for high schoolers, it is a dry book.  :-)  What we did with that book is just read 5 or so pages at a time and discussed it. (I read it with my first child and just discussed it with the other. It helped me get more out of my reading, too!) All the assignment you need for that book can be oral and/or written narration and discussion.

Another  useful non-fiction book for a new high school student is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens  - an apt assignment for this would be written narrations over each chapter.  Here are some other book and assignment ideas:

Les Miserables – This book is about 1300 pages and in ‘older’ vernacular so it could be “the” book for one semester!  There are LOTS of assignments you could get out of this one*:

  • have your ninth grader write a ‘reading response journal’ charting which pages were read at each reading session, a short summary of that day or week’s reading, and her response to the reading
  • a report or essay on the French Revolution as described in the book
  • a “personal letter,”  one character might write to another character
  • vocabulary study — have your student circle in pencil unfamiliar words and go back later to define after trying to figure it out in the context of sentence
  • research and write 2-4 paragraphs about the author
  • choose a monologue or scene from the book and dramatize (perform) it
  • write short character sketches about each of the main characters (what do they “look like,” background information about them, how do they change throughout the course of the book, referencing page numbers and events that are the catalysts that change)
  • after reading the book and watching the movie, write a comparison/contrast essay discussing their similarities and differences.

*You would never choose to do ALL of those assignments ~one longer one and one shorter one would do.

Actually, most of those assignments could be used for other books, too, with the exception of the one about the French Revolution, of course.

Other great reading:

Note that the Kindle version of a few of these are free on Amazon. (You can also download a free Kindle app for your p.c.)

 Dana-

Your answer is very helpful.  I have printed it out and will definitely be referring to it.  I really enjoyed the 7 habits book for myself and did not realize they had one for teens- great idea!  And thanks for helping to make high school a little bit less scary :)  

Hopefully this post has made high school a little less scary for you, as well.

If it has been helpful or you have additional questions we could address, please let me know in the comments below!

Dana Wilson at Train up a Child Publishing

Photo image courtesy Idea go via freedigitalphotos.net

How HS and Elem Students can Study History Together

It makes sense to have all of your children study the same period of history at the same time. But what if you have a high school student and two elementary students?

Sounds challenging.

This is the question recently addressed by our Info Desk:

Hi-

        I have a few questions regarding your curriculum that I’m considering for my kids next year.

        My oldest daughter will be entering high school, 9th grade, next year.  I also will have a 5th grader (my son is pretty smart but also severely dyslexic which hinders his independent reading and writing), and a 1st grade daughter.

        I am trying to figure out how I can keep them all within the same time period for history.  I see your curriculum could accommodate some of that possibly, but what I’m considering is the American History I for my oldest.  Would there be a way to incorporate that for my younger 2, or would I need to consider the unit programs for all 3?  Quite honestly, that seems a bit overwhelming.  I guess I’m just looking for some recommendations.  The kids are all spread apart just enough age-wise that I have a hard time planning things together.  I know my oldest needs more high school level work and I don’t want to frustrate my younger 2 either.  It’s a bit hard to coordinate :)

        Also, from what I understand- the Secondary Unit Program is book lists and ideas to incorporate into the school year (I hope I’m not over-simplifying it), yet the American History I is more of a complete- not necessarily day by day- but more broken down and more in-depth study of a certain time period?  Is that correct?

Thanks for your time and input- it is greatly appreciated!!

Grace and peace,
Cheri

Hi Cheri!

Thanks for your inquiry!

You do have a spread of ages — I can see that could be challenging, but our curriculum can easily accommodate.  Our American History I covers four units:

  • Colonial Life
  • Revolution
  • Westward Expansion, and
  • Civil War

Our Unit Programs include the same four units. You may easily have everyone study the the same historical periods/topics at the same time by using American History I for your 9th grader and our Unit Programs for your 5th and 1st graders.

I recommend you order the Primary Unit Program  for your 1st grader,  the Intermediate Units  for your 5th grader, and American History I (scroll down a bit) for your 9th grader.

Then, follow the schedule of American History I for your family and spend nine weeks on each of those four units using your unit programs.

Additionally, I would recommend one more thing for your rising 9th grader.  Has she taken a high school level composition course yet? If not, I would recommend she take our Essay Styles  course along with her American History I course.  That would allow her to become familiar with the high school level essay styles she would be asked to use in the American History course.

In awarding high school credit for our Essay Styles course you have two choices: you could award her  credit for an English elective, or use Essays for a 9th grade English credit, if you study some literature along with it.  (Ask if you need more information about that.)

Your thoughts about the  Secondary Unit Program are correct. It contains quite a bit of information about teaching from sixth through twelfth grades, along with many book selections arranged by time period and topic, but it is an unstructured program. In other words; it is like a lavishly appointed salad bar with lots of choices, but you put together your meal among all of the options available.

American History I is more like a sumptuous dinner delivered right to your table. It is structured,  specifying what books to read, yet giving you some assignment choices for each book, along with evaluation tips of what to look for as you grade your student’s assignments.

If you have further questions, Cheri, please feel free to write again! We would love to help.

Hi Dana-

Thanks for your thorough response to my questions.  You make it seem NOT overwhelming :) I had forgotten to ask about the Essay Styles course and you answered it – thanks!  I would be interested in making it into an English credit class.  How would I go about that with the literature?  Pick a few titles to have her read and write about?  I’m such a newbie when it comes to planning high school!  Thanks for your help!

 Thanks again,

Cheri

Our next post will answer Cheri’s question about adding literature study to Essay Styles to make it a well-rounded 9th grade English course. In that post I will list several excellent high school level book options for American History as well as give you several assignment ideas that would fit almost any high school level book.

Stay tuned!

Have a great week!

Dana Wilson at Train up a Child Publishing

Friday Fine Arts Freebie!

February 7th, 2014

Friday Freebie!I was thrilled to read this morning at The Oddly Said blog that the Getty Museum in Los Angeles would let you download FREE books of gorgeous paintings, sculpture and architecture… yes!  Free!

From the methods used to create Greek pottery vases to incredibly illustrated Renaissance manuscripts to DaVinci drawings…! This is a fantastic resource for any homeschooler, but for a Charlotte Mason home educatorthe opportunities for learning here are astounding.  

Sorry! I get rather excited about art and picture study, anyway — but free art of this quality?  I can hardly stand it.  :-)

This site also hosts free audiobooks, movies, courses, speeches and language lessons!

That will keep you busy for quite awhile today, I’m sure!

Head directly there by clicking here!

 

Is anyone else as excited as me about this?!  If so, leave a comment and tell me!

Dana Wilson at Train up a Child Publishing

 

 

P.S. Now I haven’t explored this whole page yet so please check it out before you send your kids there. (With art there are naked ladies.)

Valentine's Day Unit Study for homeschooled students

Here are 15 Valentine’s Day ideas, broken down by subject, to add some pizzazz to your homeschooling!

Valentine’s ideas for History and Geography

1.  Did you know the original St. Valentine was said to be a Christian martyr? Noting that there are a few different versions of the St. Valentine’s legend, have your middle/high schooler research and create a short oral report about St. Valentine’s life and death and present it to your family.

2. Have your dramatically-inclined student use the above research and create a short play based on St. Valentine’s life and perform it for another homeschooling family.
3. Task your students with researching Valentine’s Day during the Middle Ages and find out what Valentine’s Day had to do with birds.  :-)
4.  One of the most common symbols of Valentine’s Day is a Cupid. After defining  the word “symbol” for your youngest students, have your older ones research Cupid, draw a picture of one (in color, of course) and include a description of the origins of Cupid on the page.
5. Valentine’s Day is not just an American holiday! Have your student(s) locate other countries where Valentine’s Day is celebrated and do one or more of the following: Make a notebooking page for every country you find that celebrates Valentine’s Day.  List the Valentine’s Day traditions of that country and draw a map of each country.
6. Choose one or more interesting traditions and incorporate it into your family’s celebration.

7. Create a world map labeling the countries that celebrate Valentine’s Day.

Valentine’s Ideas for Language Arts

8. Create a word search including the following terms: Valentine’s Day, roses, pink, red, lace, cupid, card, St. Valentine, heart, doves, chocolate, etc.

9. What does the Bible say about love?  Instruct your students to find verses that describe the love that God has for His people, for the church and the love believers should have for one another.  Choose some of the verses as copy work and/or memorization.
10. Have your students define the word “love” in a paragraph.  Have them read about love in the Bible and the

n revise their paragraph as needed, including Bible verses as references.  Use this assignment as a lesson between love as a “feeling” and love as a “choice” and/or an “action.”

Valentine’s Ideas in Science

11. Use this week  as an opportunity for a quick scientific study of the heart. Write a short report about the function of the human heart.  Include a diagram of the heart, labeling the various parts. Using different colors, show the blood flow into and out of the heart.

12.  Make a poster  comparing and contrasting the human heart and the heart of an amphibian or reptile. If comparing and contrasting is a new concept you may want to use a Venn Diagram for help.

Valentine’s Ideas for Fun and Family Ministry

13. Gather your construction paper, wrapping paper scraps, ric rac, spare buttons, markers, glue and other craft supplies in the appropriate colors. Take an afternoon off school and construct hand-made Valentine’s cards for friends, family, elderly or shut in neighbors, children at a local hospital, etc.  Add a Bible verse about love to your cards and talk about what the verse means.

14.  Bake heart-shaped sugar cookies, frost with pink icing and glaze with pink sugar.  Include a homemade card and cookies and take to the neighbors, a nursing home or use to create a care package to a college student or two.
15. Start a new tradition!  Join with another family or two and assign many of the above ideas to different children.  Plan and execute a Valentine’s Party or dessert.  Have everyone share their reports and projects, exchange Valentines and then enjoy homemade Valentine’s treats!
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And let’s not leave out any of the youngest members of your family — here is an adorable interactive book that will make your babies giggle with glee.  (Really!)
What ideas can you add or what mentioned here sparked your interest?  What do you do at your house to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Dana

 

Heart image courtesy of Zoo-fari via Wikimedia Commons

Martin Luther King Day!

January 20th, 2014

Ihaveadreambymichelle kwajafa via StockXChng (428x640)

 

 

 

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.”

–Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

 “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

–Martin Luther King, from a  Letter from a Birmingham Jail

April 16, 1963

 

 

 

 

 

Resources for Studying Martin Luther King

Are you hustling to try and pull something together for Martin Luther King Day?  Here are a few ideas for you:

  1. Fellow homeschooling mother and friend Erica Johns of Classical Composers Monthly has put together a webpage  with some cool Martin Luther King resources, including a short biography, web clips and links to other information.
  2. After watching the clip from Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, have your younger students draw a picture of one of their “dreams” (i.e., how they would like the world to be).
  3.  Read and discuss the transcription of “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.”
  4. Read just a section of the letter and have your children narrate afterward.
  5. Have your older children read the letter and discuss or write about one or more of the following:
  • Based on his letter, what can you tell about Martin Luther King’s education?
  • Based on his letter, what can you tell about his values?
  • Choose a line or two up or more, depending upon the age of your students,  for copywork.

 

Additional Assignment Possibilities

  1. Research and write about the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.
  2. Make a lapbook about Martin Luther King’s life.
  3. Divide the following terms, events and people among your students. Give them time to research  and have them each report briefly on  each event or person at the end of the day:
                        • the 1963 March on Washington
                        • the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
                        • the Selma Voter-Registration Drive
                        • the the Voting Rights Act of 1965
                        • the Birmingham Protests of 1963
                        • the Black Panthers
                        • Eugene “Bull” O’Connor
                        • Coretta Scott King
                        • Mahatma Gandhi.

 Processing What Was Learned

After your students read and learned more about Dr. Martin Luther King, ask them:

  • Why do you think we celebrate Dr. King’s birthday?
  • What did he do that was important?
  • What could you do to help bring peace to the world? (Starting with your home or neighborhood…)

 Books about the Civil Rights Movement

 

What will you be doing for Martin Luther King Day?

Photo courtesy Michelle Kwajafa via StockxChng.com