Archive for the ‘Online Classes’ Category

Student Spotlight: Glory


Brave Writer instructor, Susanne Barrett, writes:

In the Groovy Grammar Workshop, we spend the first week collecting words that we especially appreciate. Some of these words can be ordinary objects and actions; other words may sound cool when we say them. Some words may even make our mouths water with anticipation!

After doing several fun activities with the words we’ve collected, we offer an optional activity of creating a Word Cloud. Word Clouds are cool collections of words arranged creatively. Our students often enjoy creating their Word Clouds using their newly-collected words and word combinations.

While some of our Groovy Grammar students use a terrific website to create their Word Clouds, Glory, age 13, made up her own Word Cloud using words that she collected in a wonderfully creative way (see above)!

Groovy Grammar Workshop

Brave Writer and the College Admission Essay

College Admission Essay
Brave Writer Instructor and Minister of Magic, Nancy Graham writes:

I’ve been teaching Brave Writer’s College Admission Essay class for three years now and I love watching the essays come into focus. Students often start with no ideas or a vague sense of the story they want to tell about themselves, and they leave with a piece that traces a time in their life when they were transformed in some way. What seems at first like a purely functional piece of prose—“Let me into your college!”—becomes a moving document of insight and self-reflection. Whether the writer has undertaken her education at home or in a school, this essay is an opportunity to reflect on her life so far—what she values and what she has learned.

Every couple of months we’ll feature an essay, beginning with Cassie’s meditation on how a county fair became a family heirloom. Cassie took our Fall 2014 College Admissions Essay class.

County Fair Heirlooms

By Cassie W.
Knox College, class of 2019

Stepping into the cinder block clubhouse near the first gate of the Prince William County Fair, I’m greeted with both a wave of nostalgia and friendly hellos. The old ladies—dressed in sweatpants and gingham aprons—step out from behind plastic folding tables heavy with aluminum warming dishes full of mashed potatoes, gravy, chicken, and lima beans. They smile at me and squeeze my arm and tell me how much I’ve grown up since last year, and I smile and say that it’s good to see them and I’m glad to be back. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember.

This year, my green volunteer t-shirt is sticking to my back, and my bangs are plastered to my forehead. I’ve been working in the Home Arts building for the past five hours—a tin-roofed barn where the exhibitions are held. I fill out paperwork, help with judging, and hang the exhibits—amateur photos of babies and animals, now decorated with blue, red, and white ribbons that flutter in the breeze of electric fans. Although it’s hard, hot, and tedious, I take more pride in my job than in any other work.

I grab a paper plate from the stack on the table and pile it with the creamy mashed potatoes, dousing the miniature potato mountain with gravy, and dipping the spoon into the mess of soft lima beans and melted butter for an extra helping.

Sure, I love the cotton candy, soft-serve ice cream and funnel cake of the carnival as much as anyone, but it’s the homemade food cooked up by the remaining members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary Fair Club that I love best. It’s the same sort of food my grandmother would make for me as a kid, which makes sense, seeing as she used to cook in the clubhouse kitchens. She worked hard for the fair for most of her life, like my grandfather, who helped found the fair over sixty years ago when he came back from World War II. I never knew my grandfather, but I have childhood memories of my grandma walking me around the fairground, smiling and waving at me while I rode the merry-go-round or the bumper cars, scolding me when I got lost in the crowd.

Grandma died the spring I turned fourteen, but for this week in August, when I spend every day at the fair, her legacy—and that of my grandfather—is palpable. The fair has always been deeply woven into the history of my mother’s side of the family, and we joke that the clubhouse is like more like Thanksgiving in August.

Every day, I walk the midway. I’m usually alone. There’s no one to scold me when I get lost in the crowd, so I let myself get lost: I ride the rides, the bare backs of my legs sticking to the vinyl seats. I scratch the oily heads of sheep and let cows lick my hands, pose proudly for pictures by my award-winning cookies or decorated potatoes, eat ice cream, and watch acrobats perform in the little circus ring behind the chicken barn. I strut at the fair, and my personality shifts: I am proud of every aspect of the place. A deep pride in my family, yes, but also a personal pride. I feel like the fair is mine, and I always have. It is something that has been handed down to me, like a gift.

I don’t have many heirlooms from my my maternal grandparents—my grandmother’s hand-stitched quilt, a set of china plates. I will treasure these things. But I also have the fair, the community, and the memories of humid summers, oily sunscreen, and my grandmother’s wrinkled hands that come with it.

Brave Writer’s 10 Tips for Writing Your College Essay

Student Spotlight: McKenna

The Sound of Swimming by McKenna Rooney

One of our students in last spring’s KidsWrite Basic class (taught by the fabulous Sarah Holden) and had her final piece published on a swimming website! Congratulations, McKenna! Here’s the intro to her essay:

The Sound of Swimming

by McKenna Rooney

It’s Regionals, the last big meet before State. Three grueling days of racing. It’s Friday night, day one.

The normally packed Rec Plex, (one of the biggest aquatic sports complexes in all of America) is pretty empty – there must be very few crazy people like me who want to start their weekend off with a distance race.

I’m waiting to swim the 500 free – 20 long laps of music going through my head over and over again. Ugh.

As I get up to approach the blocks my coach, Scott, said to me “I want you to break seven minutes.”

I gulped and said “Okay? Sure?” My seed time was 7.11.96, meaning I had to drop almost 12 seconds off my best time to achieve this new goal. I nod my head, but in my mind I’m thinking, “You’re insane!”…Read the rest on Swim Swam.

Brave Writer Kidswrite Basic

NEW Expository Essay 2 Class

New Online Class: Expository Essay 2

Are you ready for a truly juicy writing experience that will rocket your high school student’s ability to handle nuanced and sophisticated writing skills?

Our BRAND NEW Expository Essay 2 course adds new layers to our other offering, Expository Essay. This class relies on the foundation of the original essay form (the five-paragraph expository essay) to launch students in new, expanded directions for essay writing.

Consider the Expository Essay class as the “learning to ride the bike with training wheels” course, while this writing course is an opportunity to gain your balance on this new bike!

Who should take this course?

This course is designed for high school students between 10th–12th grade.

Students should already be competent writers, and have some experience with academic formats. The Expository Essay class is a recommended preparatory course, though not required.

Class starts October 17, 2016

Instructor: Jean Hall


Brave Writer Online Classes

Calling all armchair travelers to our fall movie club, now boarding!

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

[This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting Brave Writer.]

Brave Writer Minister of Magic, Nancy GrahamNancy Graham joined Brave Writer’s fulltime staff this year as our Minister of Magic. She has been teaching with Brave Writer since 2011. We interviewed her about the upcoming Movie Club for Globetrotters: India.

How does Movie Club for Globetrotters: India differ from Brave Writer’s other movie clubs?

This will be the first in a series of movie discussion clubs devoted to movies from around the world. Another thing that will distinguish this club is the amount of subtitles, which is great reading practice!

What movies will the club be discussing?

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

Our first film, Pather Panchali, is considered one of the great classics of world cinema. It’s the first of a trilogy of films that follows a Bengali boy named Apu as he grows into a man. The images are so beautiful that watching is like stepping into a black-and-white version of Bengal in the 1950s. The director, Satyajit Ray, was an eloquent visual storyteller who showed great compassion for his characters. He was influenced by other world-renowned directors such as Jean Renoir and Vittorio De Sica.

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

From there we will jump to Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India, a more recent, more commercial Bollywood musical! Set before independence, Lagaan is about a cricket match between a British regiment and the local villagers that they are unfairly taxing. I think everybody will be cheering by the end.

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India

Our third movie, The Lunchbox, somehow manages to be a love story and a sociology lesson at the same time. In Mumbai, lunches are delivered by 5,000 dabbawallahs who rarely make a mistake. In this story, through a mix-up, lunches start going to the wrong man and he and the woman who prepares them strike up a correspondence. It’s a sweet story and I highly recommend anyone watching it have some dal, rice, and curry on hand because it will make you hungry. So does writing about it: my daughter read over my shoulder as I wrote this paragraph and we decided to break immediately and head for our favorite Indian restaurant.

Movie Club for Globetrotters: India
Now that I’ve had my arugula dosa and chai, I’ll tell you about our final movie, My Name is Khan. This one stars Shah Rukh Khan, a major Indian film star, in a story that takes us from India to the US where its protagonist, a Muslim with Asperger’s traits, finds himself in the midst of tragedy and anti-Muslim sentiment after 9/11. This movie is a great discussion starter and relevant to today’s conversation about appearances, immigration, violence, and kindness.

Why sign up for an online movie club class?

Here’s how Brave Writer Movie Clubs help kids develop as writers:

1. Movies are great writing prompts. Few if any of us can watch a movie without sharing an opinion. Typically other family members watch too, so discussions ensue that help prime the pump for conversing with other members of the movie club. This is writing-as-conversation rather than as a solitary activity, and it helps writers tune in to their inner conversations. This kind of dialogic writing gradually eases the second, solitary form of writing demanded by high school composition.

2. The movie clubs offer breadth and depth in terms of developing media literacy, a complex set of analytical and creative abilities essential to 21st-century communication. We consider shot composition, transitions, lighting, scoring, sound effects, narrative development, qualities of performance, camera movement, costumes—the list goes on and on. And these topics are rarely introduced by me—it’s the participants who generate insights; I elaborate and invite further exploration.

3. Movies begin as literature with a screenplay, novel, or short story. So discussing movies is often necessarily also a consideration of the art of adaptation from one medium into another.

4. Cinema writing shares much of the language of literary analysis. Thanks to the internet, many young people are now familiar with tropes, archetypes, and other elements of literature, and regularly apply them when discussing animé, manga, and games. Our movie clubs validate and deepen the application of this terminology to the works of popular culture. Participants come to view what they do for entertainment as existing on a continuum with what we think of as high art and literature.

5. We try to make the clubs a blend of commercial successes and movies that get kids’ feet wet with independent or lesser-known works. I hope that as they grow, their increased awareness of alternative film will lead to their having expanded taste and going off the beaten track to screenings at universities, community centers, and art house cinemas.

I hope you’ll join us for our trip to India on September 19th!

Movie Discussion Club