Six New Brave Writer Classes

6 New Classes

Give your homeschool a lift with these six new classes from Brave Writer.

Pouch Book Club

Due to popular demand, Brave Writer now offers a transition book club between the Arrow and Boomerang. This club is for middle schoolers who want to discuss novels with their peers, who are ready to learn the art of thinking and writing simultaneously all while excited about a great story!

Telling Tales

Stories from around the world await you in this class. Since the writing activities are flexible and you get to choose your own books, this class a perfect fit for any age or stage, particularly for those kids in the Jot It Down or Partnership Writing phases. You, the parent, will partner with your child to explore tall tales, ancient myths, and favorite legends as you uncover the common elements in these classic tales. Children this age benefit from a partner as they engage in original writing. Parents are invited to take over transcription and typing duties as needed and then post the results of all writing activities in the classroom.

Playing with Poetry: Discovery

Your family will not only learn to understand and appreciate poetic forms, but you will also have the satisfying pleasure of writing them. You and your kids will discover a variety of poetic forms and learn the art of poetic language. Brave Writer places a strong emphasis on poetry, particularly in the younger years, because it is such a natural source of language development, literary elements, and rich vocabulary. Plus, poetry is plain fun.

Playing with Poetry: Exploration

This is our new offering that provides a highly-enjoyable writing experience for your whole family. We’ve taken our former Playing with Poetry Workshop and broken it into two four-week classes. More poetry, more fun!


At Brave Writer, we recognize that film is the new literature birthed in the twentieth century. We have the opportunity, being at home, to introduce our children to a feast of ideas shared through movies. Now, your teens have the chance to build on those movie-watching experiences to create scripts of their own.

College Prep: Audiovisual Presentations

In College Prep: Audiovisual Presentations, students will choose their subject and format, learn the principles involved in crafting a compelling presentation, write a script and create an accompanying presentation with graphics. Students will receive feedback and instruction, working directly with the teacher. Access to fellow peers’ work will encourage interaction, support, and growth in critical thinking, revision, and editing skills.

Brave Writer 6 New Classes


Brave Writer Podcast: Learning How to Learn with Barbara Oakley, PhD

Brave Writer Podcast Barbara Oakley

Do you ever wonder if your kids are retaining anything they learn? Yeah, me too. I wondered about it all the time. Thank goodness you have a resource I didn’t discover until years after I finished homeschooling my kids.

Enter: Barbara Oakley, PhD—the mastermind behind the wildly popular Coursera course “Learning How to Learn.”

Barbara Oakley is a force to be reckoned with. She went from having a math phobia to getting her PhD in Mechanical Engineering (after mastering Russian, by the way). She learned how to learn anything!

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

Barbara’s work focuses on the complex relationships between neuroscience and social behavior, and we think that any Brave Writer fan is also going to be a fan of Barbara’s newest book – Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens – which teaches kids and teens simple tricks for learning difficult subjects, even if they don’t feel like they’re “good students.”

Although learning is quite complex and the most important aspects of it can’t be distilled into a simple list of “three things you can do to learn better,” there are a few vitally important ideas that we’d like to highlight:

  1. You want to create neural links that your short-term memory can call to mind instantly.
  2. You need to have both focused and diffused modes, meaning you sometimes need to give your mind a break and let it wander! If you feel are banging your head against an idea, you are probably overusing the focused mode. Doing something else allows the diffused network to work through the idea.
  3. You need to develop effective tools for dealing with procrastination.

There’s a lot more, of course, but this is a great starting point for learning how to learn!

In the book, these principles are then broken down into practices that children and young adults can do to reinforce the concepts.

And especially for young children, the practice is really important – they need the practice to develop these neural structures in the first place! Unfortunately, it’s pretty clear that the U.S. public education system often does not provide enough practice for these neural patterns to develop.

If you want to learn more about Learning How to Learn, you can join us in The Homeschool Alliance later in August for an in-depth discussion on how you can bring this learning experience alive in your families!

Friday Freewrite: Expectation Reversal

Friday Freewrite Expectation reversal

Have you ever expected to hate something, but you ended up loving it? Or maybe you thought you’d love it, but you didn’t? Write about that experience.

New to freewriting? Check out our online guide.

Movie Wednesday: The Darkest Minds

Movie Wednesday The Darkest Minds

by Amy Frantz

In the near future, a mysterious pandemic has killed most of the world’s children. The children who survive develop superhuman abilities. In an attempt to control the youngsters and “protect” the populace, the government begins rounding up children and sending them to camps. Once there, the children are given colors which indicate the nature of their abilities and how dangerous they are; Reds and Oranges are “disposed” of immediately because their powers are too strong. Ruby Daly is an Orange who manages to disguise herself as a safe Green and survives in the camp for several years. But one day after a test, Ruby’s Orange status is revealed and she makes a desperate escape.

Once on the outside, Ruby meets Liam, Chubs, and Zu, children with superpowers who are on the run just like her. Together they search for a place where they can be themselves and safe from the government. But once there, they will learn that things aren’t always as they seem.

[This post contains Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those links to make purchases,
Brave Writer receives compensation at no extra cost to you. Thank you!]

The Darkest Minds is a 2018 dystopian film and was released in cinemas on August 3rd. It is based on the YA novel of the same name by Alexandra Bracken. The first book in Bracken’s series was published in December of 2012. Somewhat inspired by Bracken’s experiences during 9/11 as an adolescent, the themes of the book include the resilience of kids and teenagers through crisis.

The Darkest Minds is dystopian science fiction. What does dystopian mean? You might be familiar with the term utopia or utopian. A utopia is the idea of a fictional world in which everything is perfect. A dystopia, then, is a fictional world in which everything is awful. Dystopian fiction as a genre typically deals with totalitarianism and/or environmental crises. The crisis in the Darkest Minds is a deadly disease that affects only children.

Nontraditional casting, more commonly referred to as colorblind casting, is a practice wherein the actor’s race or ethnicity is not a consideration in the casting process for a traditionally white role. Nontraditional casting is sometimes used to counteract whitewashing in film and television, which is a practice that prevents actors of color from landing parts by casting white actors in those minority roles instead. A famous recent example of nontraditional casting is the musical Hamilton. The Darkest Minds is also just such an example. The leading role of Ruby, although originally white in the novels, was given to Amandla Stenberg, who is an actor of color.

A note to parents: The Darkest Minds is rated PG-13. We recommend looking up the film on sites such as Kids in Mind before deciding if it is right for your family.

Discussion Questions

  • Colors in the Darkest Minds are very important. Did you notice that Ruby’s full name (Ruby Elizabeth Daly) is an acronym for red (R, E, D)? Other characters in the story have color related names (either actual colors, acronyms, or name meanings). This was done purposefully by Bracken. Which color names did you notice and what do you think these colors might reveal about who the characters are?
  • When adapting a novel to film, changes and cuts have to be made to fit the format and time restrictions, so some details can get lost. If you’ve read the book, was there anything that the film did not include that you wish they had kept? Explain your answer.
  • Dystopian fiction can often be seen as a warning that something like this could possibly happen. Do you think if there were an outbreak of a disease, like the one in The Darkest Minds, that the public would react the way they do in the story? Why or why not?
  • In the film, the kids are assigned colors that describe their powers and how dangerous they supposedly are. Reds and Oranges are considered the most dangerous, but as we see throughout the film even the supposedly less dangerous powers can be used to cause damage. Why do you think this fictional society sees telepathy/mind-control and pyrokinesis as so much more dangerous than, say, super intelligence and telekinesis? What makes these abilities seem more or less threatening?

Additional Resources

Official Movie Trailer – 20th Century Fox YouTube video

The Powers Behind the Darkest Minds – 20th Century Fox YouTube video

Young Minds with Alexandra Bracken – 20th Century Fox YouTube video

Amy Frantz is a Brave Writer alum and now works as a Virtual Marketing Assistant for Brave Writer. When not over-analyzing Star Wars, in her spare time you will find her…actually, she mostly just over-analyzes Star Wars.

Movie Discussion Club

Brave Writer Podcast: Unschool Undefined, and Other Home Ed Philosophies

Podcast Unschool Undefined

In the raging debate about which philosophies of education are best, many of us feel batted around and inadequate to live up to the expectations of those ideals. There’s a reason why homeschooling parents live under a cloud of inadequacy. I address that head-on in this podcast. Tune in and feel relief!

The Seduction of Ideology

When we adopt a particular style of homeschool, we tend to be seduced by ideological purity – we hear the principles, we hear the ideals, and then we believe that the only way to get the benefit is to adopt it perfectly.

But here’s the thing… true ideological purity is impossible, or at least ineffective.

When you believe in a system first, you forget about the human beings in that system and you end up favoring the system over the human beings.

So to protect that radical ideology, whatever it is, you have to get rid of the people who can’t live up to it fully and we start to believe that the principles are perfect.

Find Safe Communities

If you’re ever in a homeschooling context that shames you for your personal experience, it is not a safe space. It is okay to have ideas challenged – but it should be done in a way that takes into account your emotional well-being!

Your kids won’t grow if you threaten them, right? Well you can’t grow if you feel threatened, either.

The Problem with Purity: We’re Complex!

No human being – and no family – can live up to any system perfectly because human beings and families are complex systems.

And there are three important aspects to being a complex system, as it pertains to homeschooling:

  1. Learning doesn’t happen without safety, without the ability to take risks – and that needs to be in partnership with supportive people.
  2. Social science shows us that each person is socially located, meaning you have a culture, age, race, region, native language, and economic framework. That has a real impact on how you perceive the world, so what might work for one family may work completely differently for yours.
  3. We are in process at all times; we are not static. We are constantly changing, growing, and adapting.

If we don’t have self-knowledge about our own complex system, the way we interpret the principles of these philosophies may not be practical.

3 Principles for a Healthy Education

These are principles that you can adopt that don’t have anything to do with a home education philosophy:

  1. Look for sources of inspiration!
  2. You need handholds. It’s almost impossible to follow inspiration and then not know what to do. If you’re suddenly inspired to learn about art, is the best way to learn just to go to the museum? It might be a starting point, but at some point it’s helpful to be taught about art appreciation so that you know more about what you’re looking at and why you’re there – and some of those handholds are pieces of curriculum!
  3. We need tools and models of implementation. In addition to a philosophy, you need someone showing what you’re learning about and tools to practice it.

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