As soon as I had an open room (Katae went to college), I began teaching a writing/literature class in my home. I called it 5000 Words because I promised the students would write a minimum of 5000 words over a six-week period and that they would do it with a smile.
My credentials were a B.A. in Creative Writing and a decade of experience home educating. Also, I was involved in a 100-family homeschool group. Teaching literature/writing to the students in our group gave me valuable experience. I remember the day I realized teaching might be for me. The founder of our group called to tell me her son, who was always a science-lover, had decided to switch his major to writing because he so enjoyed my class. He had to change his college choice last minute. What did you do to him? she asked me. And would you give him a reference for Houghton?
If I could affect that kind of passion in the co-op, just think what I could do if I actually had enough time with them! Such were my thoughts as I planned out my curriculum. One thing I knew– to become adept writers, they must do two things: 1. write a ton and 2. read a ton (of great literature).
Progeny Press is a super resource for single or group study. What I appreciate about Progeny is they give permission for group use of their materials. All I needed for my purposes were the study questions, so it made no sense for each student to purchase a $20-$25 study guide in addition to the book and my time. Homeschool families are often single-income. I priced my classes to be a blessing.
Even I’m amazed at how well the 5000 Words strategy worked. Students who take my classes for at least a year end up testing into college English, most into Honors English. My students usually go on to take CCP classes (college in high school), and not a soul leaves with writing trepidation. Whatever fear they had of writing, it was long-ago slayed as part of the 5000 Words Writing & Literature Class.
Here are some of the books we’ve studied together:
The Screwtape Letters
The Hiding Place
The Red Badge of Courage
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Lord of the Flies
Romeo and Juliet
This year I added 10-13 year old classes for typists and non-typists alike. We read The Call of the Wild and Island of the Blue Dolphins. For my keyboard savvy 10-13 year olds, I created a group blog where they publish their assignments. That class ended three weeks ago, and students are still publishing great stories and encouraging one another with their comments!
For Alas, Babylon and Watership Down I wrote my own study guide questions, which is great fun and allows me an unlimited possibility of books. Finally, I can’t forget WordPress, the lynchpin. All my high school students have their own WordPress blogs. They publish their assignments and are required to comment on one another’s work with a prescribed template. It’s not a perfect system, but it motivates.
Most student blogs are private, but you can check out this blog or this one by two of my students who keep public blogs. And check out the home of 5000 Words for posts on how to teach and evaluate writing.