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  • Mom2mthj
    replied
    So if we are talking about taking a college class, I found a resource that I think sounds really cool. I have not actually tried it out, but it might be a summer project for me. Arizona State has a program called Earned Admission and they have English 101 and 102 online that sound like what has been described. It costs $25 to register and then at the end of the course IF YOU LIKE YOUR GRADE you can pay $400 to transfer it to college credit, and if you don’t like your grade then you can try again until you do...or not. Only when you pay to have it recorded does it show on the student’s official record as official ASU credit.

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  • jejegreer
    replied
    I think that if you are concerned about teaching your child to write essays you should get The Lost Tools of Writing. There is nothing in Level One about MLA formatting, but it does teach how to write an essay, and it does it in the classical tradition. There are online videos and groups where you can get help with it. They even help teach you how to grade. I also like Heather K 's idea of taking a class at the local college. I am sure that your student will learn how to create a bibliography and how to use MLA format there.

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  • jen1134
    replied
    In the middle of our school day, but wanted to share that grading writing is difficult — even for "regular" teachers and professional writers! This feedback from Mrs. Johnson was very helpful for me:

    On another note, oral or written, pick something to focus on, and let some of the other things go. An essay is like a house remodeling. If you are focusing on too many rooms and projects at the same time, none will be done well. (Another analogy to the tune of burning dinner because laundry, math tears, toddlers falling, muddy dogs, and urgent phone calls all happened at once also comes to mind... but you get the idea.) Focus on a clear thesis and clearly presented points to prove the thesis. Then focus on more convincing, well chosen supporting developments to the paragraph HOP's, or make a smooth style, flowing seamlessly from the starting prologue to the thesis to the polished finish the goal.

    All in all, practice is what makes good writing. Feedback is good, but the discipline of just doing the exercise is helpful as well. Don't feel like if you don't spend hours on a paper, getting every detail, that you are failing them. The practice alone, and some guidance on a few points, is more than enough for the disciplined, dedicated writer.

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  • MamaHill
    replied
    Originally posted by KF2000 View Post
    I was going to say that I also accepted whatever my oldest wrote as an “essay” too as long as she got her point across and it was well-supported. She got to college and for her school, everyone has to take a freshman English class in their first semester - no exceptions, no credit for it from another institution. They all have to take it to make sure that they all know the basics. And it was exactly as you describe, Debbie, about being a step-by-step process of getting to the big final paper at the end.

    Knowing that that is a way that college can go should make me take a deep breath and relax that they will all be fine with all the writing they are doing in their guides and whatnot. And that IS what I felt was good for oldest child. But it is these next couple down that don’t seem to be getting it the same way she did - which I fully realize is on me. I don’t think I have spent the same amount of time guiding their writing the way I did with her - hence my frustration. This is why I am feeling the need for something explicit that I can assign step-by-step so that I don’t have to remember to think of it all myself. There is February tiredness built in there, but it also feels like “wait, they do SO much work already, and yet something this basic feels like it is missing? What????” It’s THAT feeling of angst. *sigh*.

    AMDG,
    Sarah
    Yes, and Amen to that bolded part.

    My 10th grade son just completed the Midterm for Aeneid yesterday, including the essay portion. I am not a strong writer and have no idea how to grade his two paragraphs that made up the essay portion. This is the same kid that wants to "work on writing" this year because he knows it needs improvement. He's in HS Comp I, but he is unable to transfer much of that to writing a literature or history essay.

    I'm at a loss of where to go from here in terms of teaching this kind of writing and also what composition to sign up for next year. HS Comp II? While I have no doubt it's exceptional, it doesn't solve this current problem of essay writing.



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  • KF2000
    replied
    I was going to say that I also accepted whatever my oldest wrote as an “essay” too as long as she got her point across and it was well-supported. She got to college and for her school, everyone has to take a freshman English class in their first semester - no exceptions, no credit for it from another institution. They all have to take it to make sure that they all know the basics. And it was exactly as you describe, Debbie, about being a step-by-step process of getting to the big final paper at the end.

    Knowing that that is a way that college can go should make me take a deep breath and relax that they will all be fine with all the writing they are doing in their guides and whatnot. And that IS what I felt was good for oldest child. But it is these next couple down that don’t seem to be getting it the same way she did - which I fully realize is on me. I don’t think I have spent the same amount of time guiding their writing the way I did with her - hence my frustration. This is why I am feeling the need for something explicit that I can assign step-by-step so that I don’t have to remember to think of it all myself. There is February tiredness built in there, but it also feels like “wait, they do SO much work already, and yet something this basic feels like it is missing? What????” It’s THAT feeling of angst. *sigh*.

    AMDG,
    Sarah

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  • Mom2mthj
    replied
    Well, a paragraph could be counted as an essay if he got his point across. My daughter has had “essay” questions on college applications that only wanted max 250 words. Essay technically doesn’t have to mean long. I do agree that February is hard, very hard. I am a terrible writing instructor and I really hope I can figure this out before I run out of kids. My oldest eventually got thrown into the deep end and figured it out, but my 15yo really wants some real help. The third hopes I forget that writing exists.

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  • DiannaKennedy
    replied
    Originally posted by momgineer View Post
    Ah Katie- thanks for talking me down. Next time you see me just slap me and remind me this is my 6th kid and I’ve got this. Somehow my older 5 have turned out just fine despite my horrible writing teaching skills. It will all workout just fine. I guess I got scored by what my daughter in law told me what I have heard from others and I’m thinking, “but I can’t teach my kid this like they did!”
    I think I’m letting my current frustration with this week’s school get to me. First my son had an Aeneid essay on an exam and he wrote a short paragraph instead of an essay and then my daughter had to write an essay in a Dante test and there was ZERO written in the answer key to help me help her. I’m letting my frustration teaching a dyslexic spill over onto my son. He writes just fine for 8th grade (I assume?) and will do just fine in high school and college. Can I just bury my head in the sand until February is over? Maybe till after Easter? Second semester is hard people! Especially with a junior who has major senioritis!
    Katie is excellent at talking us down. <3

    And yes ----- YOU'VE DONE THIS ALREADY! You're supposed to be talking the rest of us off the ledge.

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  • Mrs Bee
    replied
    Poor MP! If they write answers in the TMs, people freak out because our kids can't write like that!! If they don't write them*, people freak out because how are we supposed to understand the kids did ok?? 😂😂😂 We're an emotional lot, and after all IT IS FEBRUARY

    * "Answers will vary" never fails to make me laugh out loud!

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  • Heather K
    replied
    Originally posted by momgineer View Post
    I can see the need for a specific class like you are describing. Maybe I’m wanting something a bit different??? It’s hard to explain. I view an essay writing class as teaching how to select a thesis, what outlining is and why we do it, how to set up a five paragraph essay, how to cite. Maybe what I’m looking for is more of a step by step check in with the teacher. In a co-op class my daughter took, the teacher assigned the essay and then had them turn in various steps. First they had to write a thesis statement and outline their three main points with support examples. They turned that in so she could guide them if their thesis wasn’t appropriate or if she thought they could choose better supporting examples. Second, they write a rough draft she called a global draft. She graded that one content and not grammar. She made comments to help them see if they were developing their points well or not and if they were leaving anything out. Finally, they turned in a final submission where they had fixed the global mistakes and also edited for proper grammar. This was the final version that should have no mistakes. I just can’t wrap my brain around a 9th grade literature teaching saying to write an essay on the theme of a book and turn it in tomorrow. That seems so unreasonable. Don’t they get a chance to go to the teacher and ask if their idea of the theme is even reasonable? Doesn’t the teacher get a chance to view a rough draft and help them see where they are going off course? How are they to learn how to develop what the theme is if they aren’t stepped through that process? And in history- I guess I don’t need a “how to write a research paper in 10 easy steps” type instruction. What I would want is the teacher to say, ok next week have your topic ready so I can say if that is an appropriate topic. Then the next week have them gather their books and articles and the next week have them make their notecards etc etc etc. it feels too much to just say to write a research paper and turn it in next month. How can the student even know if their topic is appropriate or if they have found good sources if the teacher isn’t checking in on those steps. So, I’m not specifically looking for the composition class that says these are ways to choose a topic and this is where you can find sources and this is how you make note cards, but rather for the teacher to check in on them during each of those steps to make sure they are not way off course. Wouldn’t it be aweful if a student spent hours and hours writing a paper and got an F because they didn’t find a thesis that answers the question when a teacher could have caught that issue at the first step? I guess that is what petrified me with an online class that meets once a week. Will my so far straight A student suddenly end up with a D in a high school class because his essay/research paper was completely not what the teacher wanted but their was no guidance along the way other than, “turn in an essay tomorrow.” I can see how that type of assignment is great for senior year, but not for an incoming freshman.
    im probably just fussing and being unreasonable. That probably is way beyond the scope of a once a week class and more appropriate for a class that meets daily.
    At any rate- I would love more guidance in the homeschool lesson plans beyond, “write an essay today” as a 7th grade assignment. A 7th grade essay should take at least a week to write, right? And the parent can check and guide each daily step? That’s how I ended up doing it, but I had to add that on top of the regular lesson plans and I had no way if I was expecting too much too fast or giving too much time.
    Honestly, I should probably just delete this whole post as I realize it’s more a failure of me as a teacher than of the curriculum. I might just need to send my son to a full time school to get what I’m hoping for.
    FWIW what you're describing here sounds exactly like the ENG 101 class I took at my local community college way back when. We had to write 5 total essays: 1 expository, 1 persuasive, 1 critique/review, 1 reflective, and 1 how-to. For each of these there were steps to be followed and lots of check-ins with the prof. We also had to do 1 big formal outline for the persuasive essay that got its own grade, and we had to do an annotated bibliography for one of the essays (I can't remember which). Additionally, we were taught how to cite in MLA and how to paraphrase without plagiarizing. ENG 102 reviewed the expository and persuasive essay, then delved into research paper writing, and covered APA formatting. You might see if there is a local community college that offers a freshman level writing class or two like this.

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  • momgineer
    replied
    Ah Katie- thanks for talking me down. Next time you see me just slap me and remind me this is my 6th kid and I’ve got this. Somehow my older 5 have turned out just fine despite my horrible writing teaching skills. It will all workout just fine. I guess I got scored by what my daughter in law told me what I have heard from others and I’m thinking, “but I can’t teach my kid this like they did!”
    I think I’m letting my current frustration with this week’s school get to me. First my son had an Aeneid essay on an exam and he wrote a short paragraph instead of an essay and then my daughter had to write an essay in a Dante test and there was ZERO written in the answer key to help me help her. I’m letting my frustration teaching a dyslexic spill over onto my son. He writes just fine for 8th grade (I assume?) and will do just fine in high school and college. Can I just bury my head in the sand until February is over? Maybe till after Easter? Second semester is hard people! Especially with a junior who has major senioritis!

    Leave a comment:


  • Katie
    replied
    Hi Debbie,
    For what it’s worth, a few classes that A had in which they had to write essays, the teachers had topic deadlines before they even started writing. I’m not sure all teachers do this but I can recall at least three instances, in at least two different courses, in which he had to brainstorm his topic/thesis first and submit that to be approved. So I don’t think most instructors would have them blindly write with no guidance, but I could be wrong and maybe he got lucky. I know I’ve shared with you in the past some of his struggles. I can say confidently your smart guy will be fine in any class he may take with MPOA. I wouldn’t worry about this too much

    Edited to add that I didn’t read every post in this thread and now I see you are more seeking instruction and guidance as a homeschool teacher/student, not so much as an MPOA student. I had it in my head that he was going to take these courses online from previous conversation. I very much agree that guide or an example would be super helpful in some of the homeschool courses that call for essays. I suppose I never really put too much into the essay assignments. I just had my kids do them and I read to make sure they knew what they were talking about. Ha. I think because we have our MPOA Comp that is like my security blankie 😉
    And lastly, you are amazing and your kids are all amazing. You are doing a wonderful job, essay or not!
    Last edited by Katie; 02-22-2021, 05:25 PM.

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  • momgineer
    replied
    I can see the need for a specific class like you are describing. Maybe I’m wanting something a bit different??? It’s hard to explain. I view an essay writing class as teaching how to select a thesis, what outlining is and why we do it, how to set up a five paragraph essay, how to cite. Maybe what I’m looking for is more of a step by step check in with the teacher. In a co-op class my daughter took, the teacher assigned the essay and then had them turn in various steps. First they had to write a thesis statement and outline their three main points with support examples. They turned that in so she could guide them if their thesis wasn’t appropriate or if she thought they could choose better supporting examples. Second, they write a rough draft she called a global draft. She graded that one content and not grammar. She made comments to help them see if they were developing their points well or not and if they were leaving anything out. Finally, they turned in a final submission where they had fixed the global mistakes and also edited for proper grammar. This was the final version that should have no mistakes. I just can’t wrap my brain around a 9th grade literature teaching saying to write an essay on the theme of a book and turn it in tomorrow. That seems so unreasonable. Don’t they get a chance to go to the teacher and ask if their idea of the theme is even reasonable? Doesn’t the teacher get a chance to view a rough draft and help them see where they are going off course? How are they to learn how to develop what the theme is if they aren’t stepped through that process? And in history- I guess I don’t need a “how to write a research paper in 10 easy steps” type instruction. What I would want is the teacher to say, ok next week have your topic ready so I can say if that is an appropriate topic. Then the next week have them gather their books and articles and the next week have them make their notecards etc etc etc. it feels too much to just say to write a research paper and turn it in next month. How can the student even know if their topic is appropriate or if they have found good sources if the teacher isn’t checking in on those steps. So, I’m not specifically looking for the composition class that says these are ways to choose a topic and this is where you can find sources and this is how you make note cards, but rather for the teacher to check in on them during each of those steps to make sure they are not way off course. Wouldn’t it be aweful if a student spent hours and hours writing a paper and got an F because they didn’t find a thesis that answers the question when a teacher could have caught that issue at the first step? I guess that is what petrified me with an online class that meets once a week. Will my so far straight A student suddenly end up with a D in a high school class because his essay/research paper was completely not what the teacher wanted but their was no guidance along the way other than, “turn in an essay tomorrow.” I can see how that type of assignment is great for senior year, but not for an incoming freshman.
    im probably just fussing and being unreasonable. That probably is way beyond the scope of a once a week class and more appropriate for a class that meets daily.
    At any rate- I would love more guidance in the homeschool lesson plans beyond, “write an essay today” as a 7th grade assignment. A 7th grade essay should take at least a week to write, right? And the parent can check and guide each daily step? That’s how I ended up doing it, but I had to add that on top of the regular lesson plans and I had no way if I was expecting too much too fast or giving too much time.
    Honestly, I should probably just delete this whole post as I realize it’s more a failure of me as a teacher than of the curriculum. I might just need to send my son to a full time school to get what I’m hoping for.

    Leave a comment:


  • DiannaKennedy
    replied
    Originally posted by Mrs Bee View Post
    I'm not sure it's doable to include so much writing instruction within a literature/history/classical studies class - it becomes a simple matter of lack of time.
    Again, you and I are on the same page. My daughter is heading into history classes that already cover a lot of material, which would leave very little time to teach the process, give feedback, etc. My preference would be a separate class, so that she can get her feet wet, and be prepared.

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  • Mrs Bee
    replied
    I'm not sure it's doable to include so much writing instruction within a literature/history/classical studies class - it becomes a simple matter of lack of time. When my kids did CS I with MPOA they were asked to write two 3-4 page essays, one on the Iliad, one on the Odyssey. The teacher gave them a document with instructions of various type (formatting, how to quote, how many paragraphs, what goal each paragraph should have, etc.) I think the teacher also used part of a lesson to explore the prompts a bit. But that was all, and I can't say there would have been time for more. The teacher gave some grading feedback, but the essays or the process of writing them were not discussed again. I have no idea what other teachers may do. As Dorinda says, it can be a problem when your students can vary so much in what they can do academically.
    I ended up using literature/history/classical studies at home for writing practice, but it definitely slows the pace down.

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  • momgineer
    replied
    Good observations, Dorinda. In a classroom the teacher has the kids everyday. In a school, they can progress skills because they know the student’s background. MPOA is to randomized to really do that, but maybe if they at least set up a specific 9th grade literature and history class that includes this, we could utilize that option.
    I’ve tried to do some essays in 7th and 8th, but since neither the student (my son) or teacher (me) actually want to do it, it’s like pulling teeth. My son very much recognizes that I have no idea what I am doing and it frustrates him. He wants to know how to make his intro paragraph better, and I’m like 🤷‍♀️. He had an essay assigned on his Aeneid test and the test gave two and a half pieces of blank paper on which to write. He wrote a short paragraph on the half sheet and then commented about wasting paper because it didn’t take two and half pages to say what needed to be said. Hmmmm.... or maybe you needed to say more than you did?!?!? I just have zero, zip, zilch idea of what a typical 8th grade Aeneid exam essay should look like. I think I have a good idea of what a 12th grade test essay should look like, but I don’t want to hold my 8th grader, who has written all of three essays ever, to that standard. Is a paragraph enough? Three paragraphs? A full blown five paragraph essay? This is on a test and not an assignment so he doesn’t have time to work out a thesis, get it approved by teacher, find all his talking points, make an outline,write, edit, rewrite etc. he has a half hour or so to just put thoughts down in paper in an essay looking manner. Do I grade on content more than language skills? It is a classical class and not language arts. If he makes all the key observations but doesn’t have a formal essay style is that ok on a test? Ugggg!!!!
    This on thing, writing, is my only big struggle with homeschooling high school. My oldest is a gifted writer and learned despite me. My next two went to public. My fourth entered college at a disadvantage because I didn’t grade his high school essays tough enough. I didn’t even do essays with my fifth as she is dyslexic and I had no idea what to do. Now she will take a college comp class for her associates degree and probably blame me for not teaching her better. She has brilliant ideas and can talk about them all day, but as soon as words need to go to paper, it’s like she is back in 1st grade. At least my 6th *can* write decently. I just need to know *what to expect from him!!!!!!*

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