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Learning to write - MPOA edition

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    Learning to write - MPOA edition

    Scott,

    over on the 9-12 board I posted something similar in regards to MP to develop resources to help teach the practical skills of writing on history/literature/research. The responses generally seemed to follow (my paraphrase) the line that classical composition teaches the thinking skills, but that actually learning to write should be accomplished in history, literature, and classical studies. The responses indicated that there should be opportunities to work through the process of writing and revision and that there should be tie in between what was learned in CC and modern essay forms. I am a decent writer, but I never learned how to teach writing to others so I prefer to have someone take this over. My daughter took all the levels of CC through MPOA and did well, but I still felt she needed instruction on applying those skills to writing about literature. I guess I made the assumption that MPOA literature classes would teach writing about literature and, given the MP commitment to CC, that the literature classes would at least tie in those lessons to the assignments. I selected the short novel class because I thought that one of the lower level classes would still be teaching the writing process. The class session was dedicated to the literature discussion, but with the exception of a few comprehension quizzes and participation the grade was based on writing assignments. However, there was minimal instruction in writing, no tie in to CC, and delayed/minimal feedback. Part way through the semester the teacher let the class rewrite some selected posts with some additional feedback, but it seemed to be on an individual basis.

    I guess my question is which classes or teachers give the kind of instruction that many of us are looking for? My daughter enjoyed the literature discussion, but we both were frustrated enough with the rest of the experience to almost quit the class at the semester break. The commute to HLS would be brutal so I thought using MPOA for literature would deliver at least on a small scale the instruction and integration of CC and general writing philosophy that Tanya and Ryan described at HLS. If I just picked the wrong class, please let me know. I have three more coming along who will need writing instruction.

    Thanks for listening!

    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
    I hope the answer will be shared in the forum, as this is a concern others have as well. Thanks!

    Comment


      #3
      Hi Dorinda,

      Thanks for the message! I hope I can help and am clear on what you're asking, so here goes!

      CC and Writing In General
      Our Literature classes do not necessarily tie into everything that CC tries to accomplish, but are not inconsistent with CC either (as far as I can tell). In the same way CC doesn't tie into the writing required in our AP U.S. History class, or in our non-AP classes like Medieval History or American History I. I like to think of the CC program as a toolbox - once a student completes the CC program then there are lots of tools in the toolbox, which can be drawn upon in any class that requires writing. I am not aware also of any HLS instructor that strictly incorporates the CC program into all of the writing included in their courses, but neither is what they are requiring students complete are inconsistent with the CC program.

      MPOA Literature Classes
      There aren't any specific MPOA literature classes (or Lit Guides) in which the writing assignments necessarily reflect all of the things learned in CC. However, the kinds of assignments the student are asked to complete aren't inconsistent with CC. Again, some of this is related to the form of writing required in a given class and the goals of the course. Our Lit courses are not designed to tie in with CC at every point at which writing is required. For example with Austen and Shakespeare, it is writing intensive, but none of the final exam essays are necessarily progym related. Students who've taken the progym classes tend to do pretty well in the class because they have the general toolkit that CC provides, but they are asked to write specific kinds of essays.

      The Short Novel In Particular
      The Short Novel, in particular, is a class that tends to be really popular because of (1) the books covered and (2) the very discreet writing skills that are taught. This course existed before CC was part of MP and has helped many students gain a love for literature and has taught them how to thoughtfully interact with it. But, it isn't as writing intensive as some of the other Lit classes MPOA offers (like Austen/Shakespeare, The Divine Comedy, or AP Literature and Composition) The assignments required for the Novel class are called "Collaborative Discussion" posts. They are short bursts of writing that are used to get students involved with the story, to think more deeply about it, identify different character types, certain prominent themes, and then to express it and interact with it in a concise way. I think the reason the instructor allowed resubmissions was to try and help students get better at what they were trying to write, not to frustrate them. I've gone in to look at the feedback and it seems pretty extensive, but I do think some of it took a little longer to get handed back than anticipated. I did speak with the instructor about this and she was trying to make sure to give them as detailed of feedback as needed, and that took more time than anticipated. For that I am truly sorry, and we'll 100% try to do better next time.

      One Other Recommendation
      You might check out the Foundations for Composition class if you are looking for a resource to help teach the practical skills of writing on history/literature/research. All three of those are covered and many students take this class before they start High School Composition I. The class is only three years old, so I'm not sure it existed when your first student started with High School Comp I. It was created specifically for this and covers the following:
      • A rapid review of basic grammar/syntax
      • Teaches the Figures of Description from CC
      • Also incorporates the Common Topics
      • Note-making and Outlines
      • Narrative Stories (Retelling)
      • Summarizing References
      • Writing From Pictures
      • Biographical Research Essay
      • Formal Research Essay
      • Formal Book Critique
      • Formal Critique of a Film
      • Inventive Writing
      • A Formal Essay
      • Literary Analysis/Response
      • Non-Fiction Essays
      • Summarizing Arguments
      The Foundations for Composition class is very extensive and very well-spoken of by parents and students alike. It might be just the class for which you are looking.

      I hope this helps! Sorry for any typos...I proofed it a couple of times but its late and my eyes are drooping LOL

      Have a great night!

      Scott Piland
      Director
      Memoria Press Online Academy
      onlineacademy@memoriapress.com
      (877) 745-8866

      Comment


        #4
        I would love to see a summer course or even a semester long course that covered these skills for those who complete the CC series.
        DD 10th
        DS 6th
        DD 5th

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by jenniferjb View Post
          I would love to see a summer course or even a semester long course that covered these skills for those who complete the CC series.
          Are you referring to the skills covered in the Foundations of Composition as Mr Piland described above? That class sounded pretty extensive, and likely too much to cover in a summer course. I think you could whittle it down, but the question would be what would you eliminate?
          Plans for 2019-20

          DD1 - 24 - College Grad and rocking her own bakery business
          DD2 - 13 - 8A Louisville HLS Cottage School and MPOA
          DS3 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
          DS4 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
          DD5 - 7 - MP2, Louisville HLS Cottage School
          DS6 - 5 - MP K

          [url]www.thekennedyadventures.com/all-about-our-memoria-press-homeschool[/url]

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by DiannaKennedy View Post

            Are you referring to the skills covered in the Foundations of Composition as Mr Piland described above? That class sounded pretty extensive, and likely too much to cover in a summer course. I think you could whittle it down, but the question would be what would you eliminate?
            I certainly wouldn’t expect it to be that extensive but it would be nice to have a short course to transition kids from the progym to more traditional essay writing. My daughter just finished HS Comp III and the thought of another year long writing course is not in the least appealing.
            DD 10th
            DS 6th
            DD 5th

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by jenniferjb View Post

              I certainly wouldn’t expect it to be that extensive but it would be nice to have a short course to transition kids from the progym to more traditional essay writing. My daughter just finished HS Comp III and the thought of another year long writing course is not in the least appealing.
              I agree. With a busy schedule, I'm thinking that an entire year might be too much, but a semester covering part of these topics would fit the.bill.

              It seems like there has been a summer composition course, but I might be confusing it with the grammar camp.

              I'll be following with interest to see if Mr Piland has something in the works.
              Plans for 2019-20

              DD1 - 24 - College Grad and rocking her own bakery business
              DD2 - 13 - 8A Louisville HLS Cottage School and MPOA
              DS3 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
              DS4 - 11 - 4A Louisville HLS Cottage School
              DD5 - 7 - MP2, Louisville HLS Cottage School
              DS6 - 5 - MP K

              [url]www.thekennedyadventures.com/all-about-our-memoria-press-homeschool[/url]

              Comment


                #8
                It is discouraging to think a student could take all the levels of Classical Composition and still need the Foundations course to make the transition to the type of academic writing they will need in other courses. I suspect some students make this transition naturally using what they have learned in CC and the guidance of the teachers and assignments in other classes while others need the more direct instruction of the Foundations course. Does this seem to be the case or is it more the case that students really need to get that Foundations course in there somewhere?

                I realize all students will be different and have different needs. Just throwing this out there in case anyone has any further thoughts.

                Comment


                  #9
                  I really don't believe students need the Foundations course or a similar course because they are able to transition to basic writing if led in that direction. CC is so much more difficult than basic writing skills that it should be easy to have a student transition to an essay style writing (like the essays assigned in our lit guides), using the tools they have learned in CC. I believe the problem is for parents who don't feel qualified to lead their students in that direction. We all have different skill sets, and if your skill set doesn't include writing and editing, you are going to feel inhibited from trying to teach it. I taught 5th/6th grades, and I taught my students how to write chapter summaries, several paragraph essays, etc. within other subjects. But that was because I had a good feel for that kind of work, something I was capable of doing without too much effort. But if you asked me to veer from my Rod and Staff math teacher book into outside math projects, I would need help!

                  All of that is to say that if you can incorporate writing in other subjects to help your students make the connections between CC (which is really writing exercises) and general writing skills, then you don't need an outside course. But if you are not confident in your ability to do that, a Foundations course will make you feel better, and that's okay!

                  Tanya

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Thanks, Tanya. That is kind of what I was thinking was the case. I only have one student left (my older kids picked up writing in all kinds of ways, honestly). My last one seems to be a natural. I was surprised how she moved from the practice in fable and narrative to writing an essay for an essay contest. So even though this is my first child going through all of cc, I had the sense that she would be able to transition what she had learned to other writing projects even if I didn’t know exactly how that leap was happening.
                    (Sometimes you just trust the process even when you don’t understand all the pieces exactly 🙂)

                    I can see how that transition could be more challenging or more natural from family to family and student to student.

                    The Foundations course does look excellent and it is comforting to have that class available if needed.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Originally posted by tanya View Post
                      I really don't believe students need the Foundations course or a similar course because they are able to transition to basic writing if led in that direction. CC is so much more difficult than basic writing skills that it should be easy to have a student transition to an essay style writing (like the essays assigned in our lit guides), using the tools they have learned in CC. I believe the problem is for parents who don't feel qualified to lead their students in that direction. We all have different skill sets, and if your skill set doesn't include writing and editing, you are going to feel inhibited from trying to teach it. I taught 5th/6th grades, and I taught my students how to write chapter summaries, several paragraph essays, etc. within other subjects. But that was because I had a good feel for that kind of work, something I was capable of doing without too much effort. But if you asked me to veer from my Rod and Staff math teacher book into outside math projects, I would need help!

                      All of that is to say that if you can incorporate writing in other subjects to help your students make the connections between CC (which is really writing exercises) and general writing skills, then you don't need an outside course. But if you are not confident in your ability to do that, a Foundations course will make you feel better, and that's okay!

                      Tanya
                      First, I want to apologize for starting this topic and dropping off. My 6yo got sick at VBS last week and has shared his terrible head cold with the rest of us. I am only now able to think of anything other than my throbbing, stuffy head.

                      Scott,
                      Thank you for the details on the foundations class.
                      Tanya,
                      I agree on the fact that a student shouldn’t need a foundations class, but only because I feel that those ties to other types of writing should be taught in the CC classes. My daughter’s HSCOMP 3 class was supposed to teach a 5 paragraph essay, but it was ditched at the end of the year because they ran out of time. As you said, the students can transition if led, but that isn’t happening anywhere that I can discern besides tangentially within the Foundations class. MP has sold us on this wonderful writing program that none of really understand called classical composition and told us it is going to save western civilization if we just “follow the plan”, but has failed to even give us the knowledge that there are gaps we need to fill in before our students can write ANYTHING for ANYONE in this century outside of their classical composition classes. I came to MPOA because I knew I couldn’t effectively dedicate the brain power to learning CC with other kids around. It just feels that not even MPOA ties much of anything into CC and doesn’t even tell me what classes teach what kinds of writing or what writing expectations are assumed to be in place before taking a specific class. I am still stunned by the fact that I have spent over $2000 on CC classes with MPOA and three years of my daughter’s life and I still have to have this discussion as she is going into her junior year of high school having received A’s in all her writing classes.

                      Scott and Tanya,
                      You both (along with everyone else at MP) it seems loves to use the toolbox analogy when it comes to CC. However, I can go to Lowe’s and buy every tool in the place and even learn how to use my hammer and planer and solder the best electrical connections ever, but it doesn’t mean that I can walk up to a vacant lot and build a house or build anything at all. Maybe at some point down the road I would be able to build something fantastic, but to continue to fall back on the toolbox analogy seems more and more like a cop out that there just isn’t anything else ready yet. I can’t believe that whoever came up with these exercises quit teaching their students writing once they were completed. I can tell from your comments that HLS doesn’t quit teaching writing to their students. So, I think it is high time that MP makes it clear to parents what needs to be addressed regardless of whether or not your company has a way of helping with it yet. MPOA also needs to address those deficiencies either within the CC sequence or within the literature/classical studies classes. I don’t think it’s fair to make us spend another year to do that.


                      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


                        #12
                        Hello. I know I don't post here much anymore, and only recently have started reading some things again. It has been a rough year. But I just have to say, whether it is appropriate for me to do so or not, that I really, really appreciate and support Dorinda's honest post above. I always chickened out on writing something like it.

                        In past I tried to say some troubles I had with it and felt that was not heard. The toolbox analogy doesn't satisfy me either. But it has been very, very obvious to me for some time that it and the grammar is the weakest link in a program that should be very strong on writing skills. Writing and rhetoric should be the bulwark of a classical education. CC has not taught my children to write, I cannot make heads or tails of the thing when I tried to teach it- and I have dropped it after spending a great deal of money on the program and the DVD's (which also failed to teach the program effectively, only following the confusing lesson plan found in the Selby books, which work as a time-saver for Mom, but not as an effective instructional aid) I could tell you many things and areas where this program obviously falls short even in its stated claim of teaching the progymnasmata (at least for me since I don't know how to teach it,) and that it's hard or impossible for at least some of us parents to use. I used to blame myself, then I realized after a few years that the problem wasn't with me.

                        After signing my daughter up for the diploma program, I was very relieved to see that there was an alternative to CC. I also assumed that other courses would be guiding her in how to write a basic essay, something she has never, in all our years with MP actually covered, not even basic paragraph structure, nothing! I know the theory is that she should have the tools through the practicing of these exercises, but the exercises are not applicable or there is a failure in the plans in communicating to the teacher how to make them applicable. Also these books introduce concepts that are much too difficult, much to early in my opinion. That the parents are supposed to know enough to guide them in how to write normal essays, is obvious- but some of us do not know how. For many of us that is not the way it works out, because we need a lesson plan and a logical, age-appropriate program that works to help us teach modern writing skills. I realize that this is not an easy thing to find, and I also understand your reasons for need to hang onto this program. But at least recognize and admit the weaknesses, that would be a help.

                        I spent some time defending CC earlier on, but my mind has firmly changed. I am not quite sure what to do about it though, because if it is required as part of the diploma program, that may present a problem for us down the road. I have to agree that the time has come for MP to either provide an alternative writing program, at least during the high school MPOA years- or admit that they do not actually explicitly teach modern writing skills.

                        Thank you for reading, and please know that I appreciate all you do, in spite of some of my frustrations here. My daughter does not know that I am writing this, btw- I know she posts Latin questions for Michael on here, but I don't think she will see my post.

                        Maria
                        Last edited by Girlnumber20; 06-27-2019, 02:04 PM. Reason: for clarity on some points
                        DD 12, using 6M core with 7th Grade COTR
                        DS 10, using 5M core

                        Comment


                          #13
                          I wonder if it would be possible to include a 2-4 week block in the middle of each CC stage where students are shown how to write a 5-paragraph essay that uses the heads of development that have been learned so far in the program. It could include a history essay, a literature essay, and a general topic essay, with models of each and explanations of how the model used the heads of development to strengthen the content of the essay. For Fable and Narrative, it could show how to write paragraphs in each of these study areas, with a particular focus on history and ilterature since they are narratives themselves. Thoughts?
                          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


                            #14
                            Good afternoon Dorinda and Maria,

                            Thank you for your feedback. We passed it along to Jim Selby and here is his response:

                            Instruction in paragraph construction and essay writing is not at all complex or difficult for a teacher familiar with the Progym. Paragraphs are composed of an argument(s), sometimes called "topic sentences," and development, sometimes called "support." Coherence in the paragraph (i.e., it makes sense) is achieved by deriving the development from the argument. Students learn this in Chreia/Maxim. A paragraph with a single argument is referred to as a simple paragraph. A complex paragraph is composed of more than one argument. Coherence is achieved by using multiple arguments from the same Head of Purpose and, again, deriving the development from the arguments. Any paragraph that makes sense can be analyzed in this manner (including this paragraph!).

                            A cohesive essay (i.e., it is persuasive) is crafted by deriving each paragraph argument from the thesis statement.

                            Students (and teachers) are fully equipped to do this after completing the Refutation/Confirmation stages. Each successive stage builds upon or adds to these fundamental composition skills. Common Topic adds skills to craft ethos and pathos in conclusions; Encomium/Invective/Comparison equips students to find, develop, and arrange arguments for epideictic composition which is used in letters, lab reports, or business and academic presentations. Characterization and Description add style skills. Thesis & Law introduce the counter point and resolution used to craft refutation paragraphs.
                            Michael
                            Memoria Press

                            Comment


                              #15


                              Jen,

                              I was going to comment on your previous post to agree that your idea sounds like a good idea - I particularly like the part about it being in the middle of the year so that it doesn’t get cut at the end of year - but I quoted above because this is such an amazing analysis of Mr. Selby’s response that maybe some of us on the forum could understand. Your initial comment about his response being “difficult to wade though” was incredibly kind. I guess I have always known that you are a kinder, more patient woman than I will ever be. My gut reaction was that the man was extremely arrogant, and I walked away. I agree with your whole last paragraph.
                              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

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