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Everything posted by royspeed

  1. sbgrace: Sounds to me like one or more of my online Shakespeare "intensives" might fit the bill. I teach courses on close reading of Shakespeare: Romeo & Juliet — 10 weeks, beginning September 2; Hamlet — 10 weeks, beginning December 2; Macbeth — 7 weeks, beginning March 10. If your son has already read a great deal of Shakespeare — and is ready for something even more heavy-duty — he might consider my year-long course History & Literature of the Middle Ages. Good luck with your search, sbgrace. —Roy Speed
  2. Terabith: You might check out my wife's course: Honors Biology With Lab. We still have seats in a number of our online classes, and all our courses are live interaction (not asynchronous). Good luck to you in your search. —Roy Speed
  3. Our experience has been along the lines described by 8 and cbollin: our youngest just completed her first year of college, and both she and her brother, during their high school years, did not rely heavily on APs. They each did several university courses — choices that worked to their advantage in a number of ways: A's in their university courses lent credibility to the A's awarded for courses done at home. Both included in their college applications letters of recommendation from their university professors. What's more, each of our kids won generous scholarships, so that each will emerge from college debt-free — one of our family goals. My wife and I both teach high-school-aged homeschoolers, and we declined the opportunity to teach AP content long ago, and for several reasons: We're subject-matter experts ourselves, and neither of us felt inclined to teach an inflexible list of topics dictated by the College Board. We didn't believe in teaching "a mile wide and an inch deep" — which is what most AP teachers end up having to do to deliver on their promise, which is to prepare kids for the end-of-year test. We believe that the high school years are not simply about textbook knowledge and information; they're equally about developing skills. We both believe that students benefit from going deep with their individual interests — that when students research a topic in great depth, they learn things and develop skills they might not develop in any other way. We believe in filling our courses with opportunities for students to develop their communication skills — e.g., by allowing students to discuss topics at great length, analyze their reading aloud and in real depth; by designing and delivering to one another presentations — by taking up the mantle of "expert" and teaching one another, basically. At any rate, I have long feared that we homeschoolers, in our mania for test prep, earning college credit, scoring points with admissions officers, and the like, may easily overlook what the high school years are really all about. —Roy Speed
  4. High School Homeschool Dad: Are you really wedded to online AP Chemistry ? In other words, I know of a great online Honors Chemistry With Lab; it's high-level, uses college texts, etc. The weekly workload is manageable, at 3 hrs of live, interactive classtime each week, plus 5-6 hrs of homework. Still, the aim is different — the teacher is my wife, and her aim is depth of understanding as opposed to performance on an AP test at year-end. Best of luck to you in your search. —Roy Speed
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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...
  10. 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.)
  11. 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:
  12. lewelma: Congratulations! — both to you and to your son! The process you both went through is fascinating. Well done.
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. 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
  16. 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
  17. 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
  18. Exactly. This is why I teach close reading. I think students acquire important skills from reading closely that they never acquire in the survey approach — i.e., reading that's a mile wide and an inch deep. It's also why I teach Shakespeare — he's the greatest writer in English, and in that contest, second place is not even close. By reading Shakespeare closely, students wrestle with human psychology, ethics, relationships, and the human condition. They learn about language, poetry, imagery, rhetoric. Reading Shakespeare, it's easy for students to see why we must all study great literature. —Roy Speed
  19. Many good comments in this thread. — As for our own experience with getting two kids through the high school years, it is consistent with what Momto6inIN says above; no need to repeat. Not many accredited courses, yet: Both our students received significant merit aid (one a full ride, the other full tuition). Both did a number of university courses as part of their high school educations. Both included in their college applications LORs from college professors. Key idea: You don't need accredited courses as long as you have a few objective items in your student's records that lend credibility to all the work you did at home, e.g., a few strong test scores, or a few college courses, and so on. Joyfullyblessed: There's an easy way for you to get all your questions answered and develop your own roadmap to the high school years and college admissions/college financing for your student — and that's an online workshop given by my wife, Diane Speed: Homeschooling the College-Bound Student As part of her workshop, you get a workbook with all the key guidelines & principles, lots of useful reference information, templates for your transcript, course descriptions, activity resumés, etc. — If you have any questions about it, you can contact her through the webpage above. —Roy Speed
  20. Kendall: Here's a really good read, perfectly suited to the ages of your students: The Year 1000: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the First Millennium, by Robert Lacey and Danny Danziger. —Roy Speed
  21. kokotg: Midsummer Night's Dream is not a bad place to start. — A few thoughts on resources: Introducing the writer & his works. This, I think, is the single biggest missing resource for teaching Shakespeare to our teens, i.e., a really great introduction to the writer and his works that puts his accomplishments into some kind of perspective. — I try to give students such a perspective in my own Shakespeare courses, and it's really challenging. Several years ago I wrote the following article, which was my first stab at such an introduction: Why All Our Students Must Study Shakespeare Criticism. One of the very best works of Shakespeare criticism that I'm aware of is Caroline Spurgeon's Shakespeare's Imagery (1936). — I give my own students excerpts from her book, both to enhance their understanding of the plays we're reading and to present models of really fine literary criticism. My students actually get excited about her writing — not something you often see with literary criticism; to them, her writing seems so fresh and alive that they can't believe her book came out in 1936. Shakespeare on film. I'm teaching Twelfth Night this summer and stumbled on one of the best film versions of Shakespeare I've ever come across: it's a performance in the replica of The Globe in London and features, among others, Stephen Fry and Mark Rylance. It's one-hundred-percent period costuming, and it's performed in the Elizabethan manner, with men playing all the roles. It's so so good... — At $30, the DVD is expensive, but you can probably find it at your library: Globe on Screen performance of Twelfth Night I think Romeo & Juliet may be the single best play for introducing Shakespeare to teens, partly because it contains a great deal of beautiful verse, and partly because the entire first half is wickedly funny — provided that you understand what Shakespeare is up to. (I've never had a student in my Romeo & Juliet series emerge from that course thinking of the play as "lame.") Good luck to you and your students. —Roy Speed
  22. JadeOrchidSong: MerryAtHope is correct. You can find our guide to all test codes for homeschoolers here: —Roy Speed
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