Independent Study Courses (Still Being Designed!)
These courses will be available as student-directed modules for student learners who are self-motivated to complete coursework. They are designed for voracious readers and/or writers who want third-party documentation of their reading or individualized writing feedback, but for various reasons do not want to take an online course with other students at this time.
Questions about the Classes
What are the reading classes like?
Students will begin by watching a brief video orienting them to the book being studied and a second video orienting them to the class structure. The course divides the book into multiple teaching units which could be chapter-based or page-based, depending on the length of the chapters. Students turn in “reading logs” which are simply a one-paragraph response about something interesting they thought about while reading the given selection and then watch another video about the next section. The course teacher will respond to the log in writing (or in audio or video format) each time it is turned in. The course ends with a Pass/Fail grade (given when the course completes, or at the three- month mark, whichever comes first).
What are the writing classes like?
Students will begin by watching a brief video orienting them to the writing course being studied and a second video orienting them to the class structure. The course then does an organized walk through writing starting with fiction, then moving to essay writing, and finally ending with adding argument and research to essays. After completing a unit, the student will be assigned a writing project or series of projects. The course teacher will respond to the work in writing (or in audio or video format) each time it is turned in. The course ends with a Pass/Fail grade (given when the course completes, or at the three- month mark, whichever comes first).
What is the difference between a Basic and an Enhanced course?
The Enhanced reading course offers a final project of the student’s choosing, negotiated with the teacher, including a rough and final draft. The final project could be an art or music-project, an essay, a speech, a research project, or something else of the student’s choosing that would demonstrate understanding of the book as a whole. The Enhanced basic writing course offers more projects for each unit and therefore more opportunities for individualized feedback.
Enhanced courses are recommended for homeschooling students hoping to produce a third-party viewed document for record-keeping purposes.
What is Advanced Writing?
After a student completes the basic writing course, he or she is ready to propose his or her own projects. Sometimes the Advanced Writing course could be as simple as working with a writing teacher to craft a history paper at the high school level, or practice writing for standardized tests. Some young authors may be working on a novel and want a writing coach to work with them on the process. So, the advanced course is designed and priced based on each student’s individual goals. More information about Advanced Writing is provided to students who complete the Basic Writing course.
How are the reading courses different from most classes offered?
A key difference between our reading courses and the typical ones you’d find online or in teaching guides is our de-emphasis on remembering specific (sometimes obscure) bits of information. If you’ve ever seen some of those quizzes, they assume we all remember the same things when we’ve read a book and if we don’t remember those specific things then, well, we must not have understood the text. In reality, we all remember different parts of the text. We use a Reader’s Workshop approach which focuses on discussing the parts of the text the reader finds interesting with an adult who knows books well so he or she can offer additional books to read or field questions about the text or author (or other books the student has read in the past). Reader’s Workshop is about passing on the love of reading to another student by finding the right books for him or her. We believe the comprehension takes care of itself once students are interested in the text.
What age (or grade) do you recommend for courses?
We offer a target age for each unit because of the content of the book and the course going along with it. Here are a couple of examples of when age ranges might seem odd to you: first, for books like C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series, we anticipate offering two versions: the younger version, for ages 8-11, who are more into the magical story, and an older version, for ages 12+, for students who would also like to explore the theological connections in the book. This series really lends itself to multiple levels of discourse. Some books, however, we are reluctant to offer for younger readers even if the text is easy to read. For example, while many students around the age of 9 or 10 could tackle Caddie Woodlawn quite easily, the issues of prejudice involved in the text and the depiction of American Indians in the text is, at times, quite troubling. As such, we offer this particular book only for older readers (around the age of 12-14) so they can consider issues of bullying, treatment of Indians, and the treatment of women in the 1800’s because we feel the book has much to say on these issues, but younger children may inadvertently adopt new stereotypes as a result of reading the text. But most situations aren’t as unique as the Caddie Woodlawn issue. If you have a question about why a book is targeted for a particular age, let us know.
Students with Special Needs
These courses seem largely pre-formatted. Are these courses ever individualized?
They can be, a bit. It’s possible in an enhanced course to slightly modify the focus of a book. For example, we can take an “easy” book like, say, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, and offer it to a high schooler who is hoping to be a teacher someday and we can focus our conversations (and the end project) on how the classroom experience is depicted in this novel (or a group of novels on the same theme). Perhaps a homeschooled high school student wants to create his or her own course on death in teen literature, and we can shift our discussions (and create an end-project) to focus on such issues as they arise in books like Divergent or The Hunger Games and try to apply Kubler-Ross on death and dying to the books. Finally, some students may struggle with reading, but have higher-level intellectual ability, so they might want to read some texts for younger grades, but intend on having upper-level discussions on the content, and we can work with that. In this way, we can offer courses for high schoolers using elementary- or middle-school texts. Just be sure to note the student’s special needs in the application.
My student struggles with writing, but loves reading. Are the one-paragraph responses required?
A response of some kind is required. We also can use audio or video responses, or parent-typed responses for students who cannot type on their own. The goal is to make reading joyful, and the conversation between teacher and learner is designed to help students catch (and/or retain!) the joy of learning. The responses are opportunities for the teacher to answer (or ask) questions or suggest other books, movies, or resources to the learner based on his or her responses to the text.
Book Format Questions
What do you think about audio books?
As long as they’re not abridged, we love them. Read with your ears or with your eyes (or your fingers!); if the text is the same, we don’t mind the format. For young artists and gamers, sometimes listening to a text while sketching or playing quiet games (doing a puzzle game like Angry Birds) could help a student focus more than simply reading the text.
Do we have to have the same edition?
Ordinarily, no. If there is a translation involved, as in Greek tragedies, it might matter a little, but we’ll try to work around a different edition. Just know that exact quotes may not match up. Similarly, if you want to read your copy of The Westing Game in Spanish, but respond in English, that’s fine by us. Story rules here and however you access the story is up to you, so long as we’re not all getting confused!
What about movies?
We don’t mind if you watch them in addition to experiencing the text in print or audio format. In most cases, substituting the movie won’t work because of vast changes to the plot and characters involved. Brain-based learning suggests that watching the movie before reading the book helps readers to understand the book better, so if you’d like to watch the movie before (or after) the book, that’s fine by us. For the movie-lovers, we do anticipate adding movie/documentary courses in the future, but for now, they’re a separate add-on that families can choose to do for themselves.
Questions about Costs
How Much Does Will It Cost?
We anticipate our basic writing and reading study courses cost $30 each, but discounts will be available for families selecting multiple courses at once as follows:
- 5 Course Packs: $140
- 10 Course Packs: $250
- 15 Course Packs: $345
- 30 Course Packs: $600
Enhanced writing and reading study courses will cost $50 each, but discounts are available in a similar fashion as above:
- 5 Course Packs: $235
- 10 Course Packs: $440
- 15 Course Packs: $615
- 30 Course Packs: $1,140
You can select your courses all at once or have up to one year from the creation of a “course pack” to pick your courses. Don’t worry; we’ll send at least 2 e-mails warning you if your course pack is about to expire; that way, you can let your student decide what he or she wants to read next rather than feeling like you have to decide today what he or she will read in three months!
Advanced writing courses depend on many factors and range from $50 to $250, depending on whether a student is interested in a shorter project or goal, such as working on essay writing for standardized tests, or is hoping to work an entire semester with a personal writing coach. After completing a basic (or enhanced) writing study course, information will be provided to students and families about the advanced writing options.
Is the Course Pack per student, per book, or what?
The course packs will come as coupon codes and they can be applied however you wish, so long as one adult is the contact person for the students using all of the codes. These codes may be split up to register multiple children for the same book or writing workshop, or for one student reading many books, but the same adult must be designated as guardian.
I’m reluctant to start on a course pack without trying one course first. Could I switch into multi-course pricing after I try my first course?
Absolutely. Send us an e-mail and we’ll give you a coupon code that will deduct $25 from the price of the course pack you select so long as we receive your request within 14 days of the completion of your first course.