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cintinative

how to evaluate if this will be too much writing

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My plan for this coming fall (9th grade) for my oldest involves:

  • Medieval lit class (outsourced, if we can get it). Writing is "there are only two small writing assignments--a midterm and a final. These are two short essays which allow a student to express his or her experience of reading and demonstrate a close and thoughtful reading of the text"
  • History (at home): I was hoping to add in a couple of essays a semester, and possibly have him do a research project. Other than that, we will be doing written answers to questions in the text and a study guide for some great books I plan to include. I have some short quizzes for some of the primary sources but no real tests. 
  • Composition: I was originally hoping for Write at Home and hoped I could have him write some of his papers for history as projects for WAH.  *However* now we have found out TPS is offering an English 3 class that is composition only, and my son would prefer a live writing class.  It does include a research project. The negative is that English 3 does not allow the same flexibility on assigning papers related to the topics I choose. They do assign some brief reading as the basis for the literary analysis and the teacher said, "The topics are not completely open-ended. Students have some choice within constraints. Most assignments have several prompts and students choose one of the prompts to answer. They cannot use an essay from another class to substitute as an essay for this class, if that makes sense."

 

I am worried that this will be too much all together. I could cut the essays from the history?  

I have no idea how to evaluate this. I am worried that the TPS class will add more to the load than the WAH class would.

 

 

 

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It’s hard to say, not knowing what the rest of your student’s schedule will look like.  Is he taking higher level math and science classes?  Heavily involved with extra-curricular activities?

Just as a comparison, I have always had my STEM -focused student work on at least one writing assignment a week.  That may mean churning out an essay a week for a history class, or spreading a research paper over several weeks for a literature class.  On occasion, as he has moved into later high school, I have assigned multiple papers a week (different subjects) so that he can learn how to pace himself and juggle different assignments.

If you intend to teach the whole process of how to write a proper research paper next year, I might consider dropping the research paper from your history class if things are too overwhelming.  

Remember, he has four years to practice these skills in high school😉.

I’m not sure that I helped much, but hopefully it helps to see what the writing load looks like in someone else’s house.

Happy planning!

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@Hadley  How long are the history papers you have your child write? Currently my oldest is in 8th and he only writes essays for his TPS English class and they do not write an essay a week.  Usually it is more like one every two or three weeks.   I think my oldest would struggle with writing an essay every week but it would really depend on the length and my expectations of the essay.  

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Do you know how long the TPS essays are? This would have been too much for my reluctant writer in 9th & 10th grade. In 11th, she took a lackluster one-semester writing class that had her writing one paper every other week (and sometimes revising a 2nd paper at the same time). It was fine because almost all the papers were 3-5 pages. One was a longer research paper & they had three weeks for that one, I think.

My upcoming 9th grader would be ok if the English class ramped up & papers are 3-5 pgs. But she's a writer.

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5 minutes ago, RootAnn said:

Do you know how long the TPS essays are? This would have been too much for my reluctant writer in 9th & 10th grade. In 11th, she took a lackluster one-semester writing class that had her writing one paper every other week (and sometimes revising a 2nd paper at the same time). It was fine because almost all the papers were 3-5 pages. One was a longer research paper & they had three weeks for that one, I think.

My upcoming 9th grader would be ok if the English class ramped up & papers are 3-5 pgs. But she's a writer.

 

I can ask for sure. This sounds similar. Right now his papers are about 2-3 pages on average. They usually have a week or so for a draft, and then there is a review with comments from the teacher plus their self-evaluation. So maybe one paper in two (or three) weeks is what it has been so far. The class he is currently in is for high school credit but they do not do a research paper in this class. Sometimes they will be working on a second paper while the first is in the review cycle.

 

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I'm not familiar with TPS English, but if you're asking if it is too much alongside the other stuff, it might be. I am familiar with WAH (Write At Home) and it was not a heavy workload for my kid.

Now that my STEM kid is about to finish 12th grade, I can say that I'm a firm believer in quality output, rather than copious output . . . in writing, and in pretty much everything else. Good instruction and feedback has been far more valuable for him than churning out an essay or multiple writing assignments every week.

Looking back, I regret a lot of the things we did when DS was younger in the name of so-called completeness. For a while (fortunately it was short-lived), I bought in to the belief that DS had to write an answer to the review questions in the book. But I learned that busywork does not result in more authentic learning nor build good habits or skills. Busywork can mean worksheets, as well as other things: study guides, too many short-answer questions, even a lot of the stuff required in many AP courses. Responding to short-answer questions is a skill. Assigning them excessively isn't necessary. Teach the skill, practice it occasionally, no need to drill it excessively. Fortunately, we evolved to the point where we studied history mostly by reading, discussion, and watching documentaries. Assessing learning by engaging in discussion (instead of requiring things like written study guides and end-of-the-chapter review questions) is one of the best parts of homeschooling. Those study guides and review questions are for classroom teachers who have no better way to gauge learning. I made sure DS built some skills by writing essays and research papers for history class, but we didn't do more than a handful each year, and this allowed us enough time to do them right.  (Another poster here told me I was "doing history" incorrectly. Based on results, I'd say that assessment was incorrect. 😄 ) That's my two cents.

Now that he has built good habits and skills through good instruction and feedback, and has more maturity, he can write quickly when needed. It was not necessary for him to practice writing quickly or under time pressure throughout high school. He has successfully completed DE credits, including humanities/social studies subjects, at two universities, one with lower academic standards and the other with significantly higher standards. He's prepared for the writing requirements of college.

And I'll add a plug for Mr. Roy Speed's online writing classes here. Wonderful instructor. He expects a lot of his students, gets them to write at their individual best, and does not assign any busywork. Excellent discussions and feedback. Logical Communication and Essay Writing & Appreciation. You can check out the links to see what type of work his students do. (Mr. Speed is also genuinely caring and wants his students to do well. He's written multiple college/scholarship recommendation letters for my son and has also worked with him to submit one of his recent essays for publication!) Best money we've ever spent in our homeschool.

Edited by TarynB
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3 hours ago, cintinative said:

@Hadley  How long are the history papers you have your child write? Currently my oldest is in 8th and he only writes essays for his TPS English class and they do not write an essay a week.  Usually it is more like one every two or three weeks.   I think my oldest would struggle with writing an essay every week but it would really depend on the length and my expectations of the essay.  

As a freshman, the longest paper he wrote was a seven or eight page research paper. Most papers fell more into the 3-5 page category.  He didn’t write a paper every single week, but was always working on a paper, if that makes sense.  The essays for history class were shorter to prepare him to write the miserable five paragraph AP history exam response.  I also refuse to assign or grade what I consider to be busy work, so he was not doing additional worksheets, etc. in these classes while he was working on these papers.  We basically have always just read and written papers.  Neither one of us is into projects or creative assignments...

I do agree with other posters who adhere to quality over quantity.

Edited by Hadley
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