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About royspeed

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    Hive Mind Worker Bee

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    Shakespeare, writing, history.

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  1. Petrichor: Do you think he might be ready for my course: It's aimed at kids older than sixth grade, but there's a video illustrating my methods and approaches; it will help you gauge his readiness for this material. (You can also download/view the pages that correspond to this video, including a few exercises: ) Please let me know if you have any questions, Petrichor, and good luck to you. —Roy
  2. I'd like to second 8's recommendation of One Day in the Life... I also highly recommend Sofia Petrovna, by Lydia Chukovskaya. — It's a remarkable novel, a relatively easy read, and a take-your-breath-away portrait of life in the late 1930s for ordinary citizens of Stalin's Soviet Union.
  3. Jenn: Beginning September 1, I'll be teaching an online class based on my text The Writer's Guide to Grammar. It meets once per week and by the second semester gets into issues that even professional journalists routinely trip over. A number of students are doing this course as prep for my writing course Logical Communication. I'm happy to answer questions! —Roy Speed
  4. Amy: I admire this book a great deal. With my own high-school-aged kids, however, I found two problems with Adler: First, reading the entire book is a bit much — overload for most high schoolers; most kids can only stand a modest amount of reading about reading. Second, the key messages are best delivered, I found, in conjunction with actually reading challenging texts, so that the student immediately begins applying the key ideas. Here's what I did: The chapter "How to Mark a Book" in support of challenging assignments. I selected what I considered a key chapter from Adler, condensed and updated it (see attached), and then had my kids read the Adler chapter in conjunction with reading a challenging author. Discussion. When my kids and I discussed their reading, we would also discuss their annotations. Whenever interesting points emerged from our discussions, I encouraged them to beef up their annotations — i.e., transform each book into a record of their own learning and observations, as Adler recommends. Articles. I began writing my own articles about annotating as a necessary study skill. In these pieces, I would point out things never discussed by Adler, like the role annotations play in college-level studies — for instance, see here: "Annotating the text, Part 2" These articles, by the way, have been discovered by English teachers in public schools around the country, and at the beginning of each school year, many teachers make these pieces required reading for their students. I still use the Adler chapter, by the way, in certain of my courses that involve close reading, e.g., History & Literature of the Middle Ages. Hope all that is helpful, Amy. —Roy How to Mark a Book.pdf
  5. mlktwins: What I'm going to mention is not a "semester-long" class, and it might not be your boys' cup of tea, but in June, I'm offering eight sessions on one of the best Shakespeare comedies: Twelfth Night. Apart from the fact that the play itself is wickedly funny, one of the best things about this particular series is that students will view clips from a beautiful production performed in a replica of The Globe theater. The play is performed in Elizabethan dress and — most amazing — in the Elizabethan manner, with men playing all the roles. The filming is exquisite, with beautiful lighting and sound, unlike any filmed stage production I've ever seen. The cast is wonderful, the acting as good as I've ever seen. Still, might not be your boys' cup of tea...
  6. Hadley: I found the 1996 movie really intense, moving, even wrenching; I recommend it highly. — Daniel Day Lewis is amazing, and equally amazing is Joan Allen. It's also great to see Paul Scofield again (Man For All Seasons, anyone?), though I think this might have been his final role. (By contrast, I found the George C. Scott version from the 1960s almost unwatchable.)
  7. Dynamite5 has your student taken this course? I see a Logical Communication writing course but I'd like to read some reviews and don't see any. Anyone else have experience with this course/provider? 4ofus: I see that no one has yet replied to your question. Here's one mom writing just last fall — just click the heading Writing Courses below to see full comment:
  8. lewelma: Congratulations! — both to you and to your son! The process you both went through is fascinating. Well done.
  9. Just published a piece in City Journal on the challenge of teaching our kids to write. — Since writing is a perennial topic here, thought some of you might find this an interesting read. Beyond the Five-Paragraph Essay
  10. Mom28kds: Reading is vital at this stage. As EKS said above, grammar is merely supportive of the composition piece, and reading, too, plays a role in the student's command of the language. I'm convinced that students at your son's age are still absorbing language, internalizing from their reading things like sentence structure and punctuation and vocabulary. In my view, the literature piece should be challenging — reading that stretches the student's abilities. And at this age, along with close reading of really great authors: It's helpful if the student develops the attendant practices and skills, like annotating the text, looking up difficult vocabulary & puzzling allusions, etc. It's at precisely this age that students can develop into really active readers, and the reading skills they develop will serve them across the curriculum. — In other words, it's not just about literature. It's great if the student is able to discuss with other students everything he or she is reading, participate in a forum in which all the students are trying to articulate what they're seeing in the text. Forming ideas and observations on the fly and articulating them in real time are skills, and like all skills, they require practice. — So it's not just about composition; it's also about expressing yourself, speaking. Good luck to you and your son. —Roy Speed
  11. Mirabillis: Storygirl is correct. — Think of it this way: When the intro to the quotation forms a complete thought, i.e., an independent clause, that serves as a kind of promise (Here comes the thing that really struck me), use a colon. —Roy Speed
  12. Pistachio mom: I suspect that you will find such a forum only with live online classes specifically designed to foster such discussion. Also, I'd like to second your instincts here: I think such discussion is vital for our teens. The fact is, when they're first trying to articulate their ideas, they usually stumble and fumble; they discover that what sounded brilliant in their own minds doesn't always come out right the first time. — In other words, they need practice, and lots of it. For my part, the only activity I know of that provides such practice is live discussion — and preferably on topics all the participants are reading or studying, things they have in common. A course that features such discussion is difficult to beat. Here in Connecticut, by the way, I've found a way of fostering such discussion for local teens — by hosting regular movie nights. (Here's an example of one of my movie series.) — If that doesn't sound intriguing to you, feel free to skip the rest of this posting. For our movie nights, what I do is host dinner for all the participants, so that every evening begins with dinner & hang-out time (another thing teens need). Then, when we need to get started watching the movie, I give them a 5-minute warning: they move into the living room, where I've arranged our couches theater-style in front of our large-screen TV (we can pack in up to fifteen or so teens). When they're all assembled, I introduce the evening's film with background information on the movie or on its director or writer, sometimes giving information on the historical setting of the film, etc. We watch the first half of the movie, and then I pause the film and open the floor for discussion. — Over time more and more of the teens come out of their shells to join the discussion. I then give the teens more hang-out time, and after a half an hour or so, we reconvene to watch the second half of the movie. When the credits begin to roll, I turn down the volume, and we have our second major discussion of the evening. In the past, these post-movie discussions have often run to nearly an hour. — The teens discover, first, that there's a lot to discuss, and second, that they themselves have a lot to say. Carpooling parents have reported to me that at the end of these evenings, when the kids pile into the car, they often continue discussing the movie, sometimes for the entire ride home. One final point: These movie nights would never work without the heroic efforts of my wife, Diane, who knocks herself out preparing dinner for the teens. She makes them feel welcome and nurtured in our home. —Roy Speed
  13. Hi, everyone. My wife, Diane Speed, has long been interested in a challenge for our students not directly addressed in the high school curriculum — it seems to be something we parents must prepare our students for. That challenge is advocating for oneself. We just completed getting our second child into college, and we've been struck all over again — just as we were with our first child — at how many situations required her to advocate for herself with adults: interviews, auditions, college-admissions essays, scholarship-application essays, negotiating with schools about increasing scholarships or waiving requirements, and more. Has anyone else found this challenge as striking as we have? — Have any of your students taken courses that helped lay groundwork for this particular challenge? Diane has been writing about what she sees and has posted her thoughts in a two-part article (links below): (Removed link) Here Diane reviews various situations in which high-school-aged students must fend for themselves in their relationships with adults, e.g., for DE students, with professors. — She thinks it's important that our students invest in those relationships. (Removed link) In this part Diane addresses the ways our students must advocate for themselves both in the college-admissions process and when applying for scholarships. She also suggests things we parents can do to help address some of the skills/abilities our students need to be effective with these challenges. Is anyone else bumping into these issues? —Roy Speed
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