Check out our new class series: Essay Prep!
by Kirsten Merryman, our Conjurer of Classes
You’ve done it. Taken the plunge. Decided to homeschool your high schooler. Ack! Now what? How do you ensure your teen gains the skills necessary to do the kinds of academic writing necessary at the high school level and beyond?
Have we got the class series for you!
Kidswrite Intermediate was a class Julie designed years ago to help teens bridge the gap between free-form personal narrative writing and the more disciplined rhetorical thinking required in essay writing. This class has been one of our favorite course offerings because its main goal is to help kids discover they have something to say before they try to muscle those thoughts into the confines of format writing. It’s a unique class in the realm of writing instruction, and we’ve seen it transform the writing lives of many high school students.
Kidswrite Intermediate did a great job developing flexible thinking and vivid, evocative writing skills in your kids. In working with students and parents over the years, however, we discovered other areas where teen writers could benefit from extra support and engagement.
And the Essay Prep series was born! We have designed three new 4-week classes to replace the 6-week Kidswrite Intermediate class. Without further ado, we invite you to meet our new classes!
You walk onto the expanse of trimmed green grass as the fans settle into the stands. Your lacrosse helmet grips your head as you fasten the chin strap. The piercing whistle of the referee calls the team to the field, and you shove two bulky white gloves onto trembling hands. A teammate hands you a lacrosse stick and shouts “Let’s go!” There’s only one problem. You’ve never played lacrosse before in your life.
That scene may remind you of a scary dream where you were unprepared for the task that lay ahead of you. And yet that is often how we approach essay writing with teenagers. When we ask kids to write essays without first immersing them in the genre, it feels a bit like learning how to play lacrosse by being thrust into the championship game.
Essay Prep: Reading the Essay develops the skills of literary analysis and use of literary strategies as teens read and write about well-crafted essays. Participants in this class will explore the writing of essayists to investigate what makes for a powerful essay. They’ll then take the techniques used by professional writers and practice those literary strategies in their own original writing.
Robust thinking skills are the cornerstone of strong academic writing. While the format of the essay can be taught in a quick lesson, knowing what to say in an essay is more involved. This class uncovers the mind life of your young writers and gives them writing tools to express their ideas using vivid, compelling language.
Essay Prep: Dynamic Thinking develops the skills of flexible thinking and rhetorical imagination as students examine varied perspectives on a topic. Your teen will develop the mental agility to consider multiple viewpoints and ultimately argue his or her point of view more persuasively as a result.
The projects in this class include discovering the “true truth” in writing, powerful association, rhetorical thinking, and a final collage assignment where students apply their own lens to a topic of interest and show what the topic looks like from varied points of view. This class asks students to add their writer’s voice to the Big, Juicy Conversations happening all around them.
If you’ve ever watched your teen struggle to do research, you know how frustrating it can be. A simple internet search to find information on animal testing can take hours. And what happens once the precious research materials have been acquired? Reading articles, taking notes, organizing outlines, crafting correct citations—the thought of doing an entire research project is enough to make the most enthusiastic writer crumble.
Essay Prep: Research and Citation focuses on developing skill in finding, evaluating, paraphrasing, and citing the writing of expert sources. By focusing primarily on the process of research—crafting interesting questions, doing effective internet searches, exploring local sources, taking notes, observing different viewpoints, and more!—your student will be prepared to do more effective research in future essay classes.
While you can take these classes in any order, but we recommend:
Essay Prep: Reading the Essay is an ideal starting point as it introduces students to the milieu of essay reading and writing in which high school writers will spend so much time. They’ll see the experts at work showcasing the kind of thinking and writing students will practice in future classes. It’s akin to the novice golfer who observes a few of the pro’s swings before stepping onto the driving range himself to hit a few balls.
A new golfer now takes time to perfect his own swing, trying out a few different body positions and testing the range of his clubs before heading out to play a full round. Essay Prep: Dynamic Thinking prepares students for longer and more involved essay writing experiences by asking them to dig into their own thinking, examining it under new and varied light, and comparing it to what others with different backgrounds and life experiences think.
The Essay Prep: Research and Citation is like playing nine holes, an abbreviated game that requires application of skills acquired in previous practice sessions. This class brings learned skills in rhetorical thinking, analysis, and vivid writing to apply to the larger task of the research project. Your writer is now ready for the robust formatted writing assignments to come.
We hope you’re as excited by the new class series as we are! If you have any questions watch the video below for a more in depth look at our college prep classes, or we invite you to email us.