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    Learning to write

    I am curious whether MP has made any progress in finding or creating resources for actually teaching kids how to write different forms of essays that they are likely to be expected to know how to create in college, how to write a research paper, and how to format all of the above? Simply writing answers in the literature guides isn’t sufficient at least for my kids. Mine are not natural writers. My daughter has been through all the levels of classical composition with MPOA and the MPOA short novel class, but I am still underwhelmed with her writing skills outside of classical composition. The class did nothing outside of these short blog posts that were maybe 250 words. There really was no instruction on formatting or quoting sources or essay writing. My daughter liked the novels and class discussions for the most part, but I wish I had never signed her up for that class and could have the year back for some actual writing instruction. She actually learned more in her Latin class on her analytical essays, unfortunately the teacher assumed they already knew how to do it so the initial one was rather a disaster. Honestly, I am not seeing anything in the entire MP offerings for homeschool or through the online academy that fits the bill except for a semester senior thesis class. In my opinion, that is too late. Any suggestions that I am missing? I feel like she has a lot of knowledge from CC, but there is nothing there to help her apply it to writing about literature or history. I like the less is more philosophy of MP, but unless we can get some serious writing instruction that I can teach or hire done then I feel that I am doing my kids a disservice. I really need to get this figured out because I have three boys coming along who are much less likely than their sister to figure this all out by themselves. Thanks for any help.
    Dorinda

    For 2019-2020
    DD 16 - 11th with MPOA(AP Latin), Lukeion (Greek4 & Adv. NT Greek), Thinkwell (Economics and Chemistry), plus Pre-Calculus, American G’ment, Early Church History set, and British Lit
    DS 14 - 8th with MPOA(Fourth Form), CLRC(Intro Lit and Comp), plus Algebra, Field Biology, Classical Studies 1
    DS 11 - 6th with Right Start Level G online class
    DS 6 - 1st with Prima Latina

    #2
    This is a concern I also have. I plan on getting Michael Clay Thompson's Advanced Academic Writing I course and hope to somehow incorporate it into my son's writing next year. He'll be taking MPOA High School Composition I next year, but I also want him to write a yearly research paper. He has done CAP's Writing and Rhetoric curriculum thus far and did learn to write a research paper this past year, so I want to keep that going. https://www.rfwp.com/series/writing-...1-student-book
    DS, 13, 8th grade
    DS, 10, 5th grade

    Comment


      #3
      I did a college text "I Say, They Say" with a group this year, and I think it would do what you need. I like the older 2nd edition for the essays in the back. I is a good natural extension to the Progymnasmata. It gives students templates for "how to say" things and has them work with and rewrite from reasonably well-written essays. It is a good step before Rhetoric.

      I have an old MCT AAW book on my shelf I looked through and never used. It could be useful, but is exclusively focused on writing an MLA style essay. CLE's research paper unit is a good scaffold for research papers.

      Because I was teaching middle and high school co-op with kids who were in and out at various levels, I was never able to use CC. I've used Warriner's Composition and Grammar (First, Third, Fifth), IEW's Window to the World (lit analysis), Writing and Rhetoric (through Refutation level), and Writing with Skill 3. I've pulled writing prompts from the Lit Guides at most levels, and had my older students work with AP Lit Essay prompts I found online.

      I've bought and rejected lots of writing books/ programs too.
      Last edited by bean; 06-18-2019, 05:32 AM. Reason: I should not post before my second cup of coffee.
      Bean. Long time MP user.

      DD- 9th grade aerospace enthusiast. Using a mix of dual credit, online and classical materials for 2019-2020.

      Comment


        #4
        Link to "They Say" book: https://www.amazon.com/They-Say-Matt...s%2C185&sr=8-1
        Bean. Long time MP user.

        DD- 9th grade aerospace enthusiast. Using a mix of dual credit, online and classical materials for 2019-2020.

        Comment


          #5
          Dorinda,
          Thanks for asking this question because we are wondering this too. We’ve done well with CC, but I agree with you that it still feels like we are missing that ability to apply the thinking skills they have developed well in CC to actual writing assignments. We have used some Warriner’s to help fill in with crafting better sentences and whatnot, and to have some specific guidance on setting up assignments, but something tied to CC would be great.

          AMDG,
          Sarah
          2019-2020 - 9th Year with MP
          DD, 18, Homeschool grad; Art major/philosophy minor
          DS, 16
          DD, 14
          DD, 12
          DD, 10
          DD, 7.5
          DD, 5.5
          +DS+
          DS, 18 months

          Comment


            #6
            I've been thinking about this too, especially essay writing, since we're still in middle school in our house, and research papers are still in the future. What puzzles me is to reflect back on my own schooling experience: no one ever thought of teaching writing in any way, a student was just expected to know how to do so through practice: book reports and retelling a field trip in earlier grades, then prompts about literature or history later on: I remember one in 11th grade asked about the theme of the night in Romantic writers. So, serious stuff: not everyone could do it, though, so teachers always included prompts centered on a student's personal experiences about something. But teachers never taught the students who couldn't produce a literary essay to craft one.
            So now that I have a boy from whom words need to be pulled out of with a rope, I'm rather stumped. Admittedly, he's not much of a talker either, so maybe he just hates words But it's exactly how Mom2mthj says: the work is very well done when it's somewhat short answers to specific questions, like in the lit guides or the history books. Then Writing and Rhetoric has helped a lot with step-by-step instructions on longer things, like a chreia. But I'm not sure how he'd do on a wide-open topic, for which he has to create a structure by himself, and I'm frustrated that I don't know how to help him. I thought maybe it's a matter of time, but it looks like we need to pay attention along the way, because it's possible to miss teaching specific writing skills even when following good programs.
            So, thanks for this discussion and suggestions!
            Last edited by Mrs Bee; 06-18-2019, 08:04 AM.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by Mom2mthj View Post
              She actually learned more in her Latin class on her analytical essays, unfortunately the teacher assumed they already knew how to do it
              May I ask what these analytical essays are, and which Latin class required them? Thanks!

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Mrs Bee View Post

                May I ask what these analytical essays are, and which Latin class required them? Thanks!
                She took Latin 3 with the Lukeion Project and they did two word studies a semester. Honestly, I don’t totally understand it. They selected a Latin word and analyzed its various meanings, supporting it with reference to how it was used in the context of their class translations. Terrible description, but she handled it. The purpose was to prepare them for the essay section of the AP Exam. The class was not for the faint of heart and on a completely different level from the MPOA classes she had taken. She was behind from the start due to vocabulary (Henle works with a MUCH smaller vocabulary than Wheelock- she had about 500 words to learn over the summer) and subjunctive. Her teacher kept getting on her about the subjunctive, but I still contend that some of it was related to learning all that vocabulary so quickly and not recognizing the verb was in the subjunctive. They translated about 50-60 lines a week so it wasn’t like one could ponder and take a lot of time. It wasn’t bad for her to have to struggle and not give up, but we both agreed for her to go back to MPOA for AP Latin this year. She really likes the Greek teacher there and our local homeschool partnership would pay for Lukeion, but she should have gone from henle 2 to transition to Latin 3 for a better next step. Live and learn...
                Dorinda

                For 2019-2020
                DD 16 - 11th with MPOA(AP Latin), Lukeion (Greek4 & Adv. NT Greek), Thinkwell (Economics and Chemistry), plus Pre-Calculus, American G’ment, Early Church History set, and British Lit
                DS 14 - 8th with MPOA(Fourth Form), CLRC(Intro Lit and Comp), plus Algebra, Field Biology, Classical Studies 1
                DS 11 - 6th with Right Start Level G online class
                DS 6 - 1st with Prima Latina

                Comment


                  #9
                  Here's a Guide to Essay Writing that I put together for my co-op kids this year (9th grade) as well as a model I gave them for a specific assignment during the year. The essay guide includes basic citations -- they weren't ready for MLA and all that.

                  I'm sure there are flaws in these but perhaps they'll help.
                  Attached Files
                  Jennifer
                  Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

                  2019-2020 Plans:

                  DS16
                  MP10 Lit, MP-Holt Biology, Light to the Nations II, Spanish
                  MPOA: Algebra I, High School Comp II

                  DS15
                  As above, plus:
                  MP Greek Tragedies; no Spanish
                  MPOA: Fourth Form Latin

                  DS12: 7M subbing Sea to Shining Sea for American history

                  DS11: Simply Classical Level 4

                  DD9: 3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

                  DD7/8: Simply Classical Level 3

                  DD 4/5: Simply Classical Level C (NT using SC for two-year PreK due to January birthday)

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Also, I don't think it's natural for kids to take what they've learned in CC and automatically apply it to other forms of writing. As teachers, we need to explain to them that the individual methods of argument they use in CC (paragraph types such as Cause/Converse, Implausibility, etc) can be used to support their arguments in 3 and 5 paragraph essay assignments. We then need to discuss a model or two of that to show how that's the case. You could even pull from a well-written article and show them the various CC methods employed in it.
                    Jennifer
                    Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

                    2019-2020 Plans:

                    DS16
                    MP10 Lit, MP-Holt Biology, Light to the Nations II, Spanish
                    MPOA: Algebra I, High School Comp II

                    DS15
                    As above, plus:
                    MP Greek Tragedies; no Spanish
                    MPOA: Fourth Form Latin

                    DS12: 7M subbing Sea to Shining Sea for American history

                    DS11: Simply Classical Level 4

                    DD9: 3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

                    DD7/8: Simply Classical Level 3

                    DD 4/5: Simply Classical Level C (NT using SC for two-year PreK due to January birthday)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      P.S.
                      I apologize for the poor sentence structure in the above post — I just finished writing a revitalization plan for a client so my brain is shot!
                      Jennifer
                      Blog: [url]www.seekingdelectare.com[/url]

                      2019-2020 Plans:

                      DS16
                      MP10 Lit, MP-Holt Biology, Light to the Nations II, Spanish
                      MPOA: Algebra I, High School Comp II

                      DS15
                      As above, plus:
                      MP Greek Tragedies; no Spanish
                      MPOA: Fourth Form Latin

                      DS12: 7M subbing Sea to Shining Sea for American history

                      DS11: Simply Classical Level 4

                      DD9: 3A, with First Form Latin (long story!)

                      DD7/8: Simply Classical Level 3

                      DD 4/5: Simply Classical Level C (NT using SC for two-year PreK due to January birthday)

                      Comment


                        #12
                        This is a timely post. We just pulled out of MPOA Ref/Con due to scheduling constraints, and I've been planning to attempt it at home instead. But this little voice has been nagging at me to ensure that DD is equipped to handle more traditional essays, research papers, etc. I really love the unique focus that CC places on training students to _think_ -- I think this is critical to quality writing. But I'm a pragmatist at heart, and I'm seeking the scaffolding that will enable DD to apply these thoughts in a structured essay format. Interested to hear what other folks find to fill this gap.
                        DD 12 - MP6A

                        Comment


                          #13
                          This isn't a solution for you all but I want to share it anyway because I think it helps explain the gap. We've shored up the essay writing in cottage school, mostly through high school Literature and Classical Studies courses. The teachers themselves provide the instruction, assignment, and assessment for these (that three-step language is from Cheryl Swope). I think that's the missing link--this sort of writing is usually taught by a person who knows it thoroughly rather than a text. Skills have to be coached whereas content can come from a book. Perhaps that is the reason it's so hard to nail down a single resource that fits the bill? In the past I remember that the answer from HLS is that it is taken care of by teachers in courses like history, science, or literature.

                          What this looks like practically:
                          -In Greek Tragedies students were assigned one essay per author for a total of 3 essays through the year. The first essay was written/edited and graded three times: rough, revised, then final draft. The first essay of the year is always a teaching essay--what it's supposed to look like, margins, format, citations, how information is to be organized and conveyed, etc. The second two were written/edited and graded twice. The prompts that were used came directly from the SG/TM. In literature we also aim for three essays during the year.
                          -For younger students our classics teacher added a 30 minute in-class essay for both Iliad and Odyssey. She gave an overview of how to arrange a 5 paragraph essay, gave them a simple and clear rubric for how it would be marked, gave them the topic two weeks ahead of time so they could research their supporting points and post-it note them in their books, and mentally prepare their opening and closing paragraphs. They could use their text only during the essay and had to have one supporting quote for each point.
                          -We always strive for that instruct-assign-assess pattern so that students are taught how to do it before being expected to do it. Our current hole is a research paper. We haven't sorted that one out but we do have runway left for many of our students who will complete all the CC levels before they graduate. We've tossed around the idea of a senior year writing course that's on the easier side but focuses on honing remaining writing skills. Science would provide another avenue for this. At present we are focusing on learning to write excellent lab reports.

                          If it's any consolation, the homeschoolers I know in college have had no trouble with writing and its their peers who can't write at all. One professor I know said that one of the goals of all the freshman general education requirements at his previous employer was to teach the kids how to write.

                          ( A takeaway for me is that someone could be making money on the side by teaching students how to do this because it's a skill I don't possess and that I need outside help from a human, one on one. Maybe some of you can start this as a consultation business.)
                          Festina lentē,
                          Jessica P

                          SY2019-2020 · 8th MP Year
                          @ Home, HLN, & MPOA
                          S · 10th, MPOA Henle 3
                          D · 8th
                          D · 5th
                          S · 2nd

                          Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School

                          Comment


                            #14
                            I second IEW's high school offerings. IEW gets a bad wrap in some circles because of the the artificial nature of the early writing projects, but what it does do is to teach "writing" in a methodical, analytical fashion. The high school products are geared specifically for essays, research projects, etc. You might even look around for a co-op opportunity that is offering group IEW high school writing as an add-on to your daughter's work. Another thought is literally community college composition. You KNOW they won't be teaching anything other than "modern writing".

                            Writing is a complex problem. The mechanics of writing are an element, the grammar, syntax, etc of writing is another element, the content knowledge of writing is an element, but an actual Writers Voice is an additional irreplaceable element. My own observation is that Writer's Voice is one of the last elements to evolve, since it is a combination of maturity and ability to apply all of the other elements.

                            Even though I'd like to say I was my kids' Best Teacher All the Time, my oldest does inform me that his 10th grade English teacher at the DoD high school *made* him a writer. Sometimes it's the outside teacher in a complex subject like writing that makes all the difference.




                            Jen
                            DS, 26 yrs, graduated from MIT (Aerospace), recently completed the design and execution of unhackable military software... in his spare time.

                            DS, 24 yrs, graduated from SIU's School of Business, ENGAGED!

                            DD, 21 yrs, Senior in Education at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC

                            DS, 11 yrs, 6M: complete!

                            All homeschooled.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Jessica rightly summarized our take on this. In composition we are focusing on the skills that writing and speaking require; it is truly a rhetoric program. The student who progresses through Classical Composition, then, should possess the skills necessary for communicating persuasively and with clarity. However, it is not necessarily in composition that we see the skills applied, but in other subjects, as Jessica described. The writing of analytical or expository essays in upper school literature and classical studies classes should provide ample opportunity for teaching proper form and structure. For the student who can create coherent content, the task of establishing structure should be relatively pain-free, and it should be done in that order (gain ability to create content >> learn how to establish structure/form). Saying that, it is our hope to have a product designed to support teachers in establishing their students ability to adopt proper form/structure for the many different applications of writing (types of essays, letters, bibliography, etc). No timeline on that.

                              If a teacher struggles to help their student with structure, IEW does have some helpful products, as Jen mentioned. One worth looking at is the High School Essay Intensive program.
                              Ryan Weston
                              Director, Cottage Schools and Distributor Relations
                              Memoria Press

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