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Basic Composition

Course Description

Basic Writing Composition introduces students to the fundamentals of writing and equips them to compose in a wide variety of genres. Students learn the criteria for differing genres by first reading professional examples and then analyzing proficient student examples. Young writers apply critical thinking skills from the beginning of an assignment when they have to organize their thoughts logically to the end of an assignment when they have to evaluate their work and identify areas for improvement. Very practical techniques are taught that improve a student's ability to write with voice, or personality. Students use a workshop approach to critique, revise, and edit one another's work. Numerous publishing opportunities are provided. In addition to growing in confidence as writers, students gain a larger "world view" by befriending classmates from around the country and sometimes from other nations!

Basic Composition is for Grades 6 & 7 and includes two levels of learning. Level A is an introductory class for 6th graders. Level B* is for 7th graders with little or no previous writing experience and those who have completed Level A. Students are placed by the instructor after registration.

  • Unit 1 – Basic Elements of Composition:
    Sentence and paragraph development, organizing thoughts, understanding voice and audience
  • Unit 2 – Narrative Writing:
    Memoir, fictional short story, writing contest entry
  • Unit 3 – Expository Writing:
    Expository essay, book review, compare/contrast essay, multi-genre research
  • Unit 4 – Poetry

* Level B offers an optional Challenge Track so that students can self-initiate more advanced assignments as needed.

Class Requirements

Technical Requirements

  • A computer with internet access – high speed recommended.
  • An email address unique to each student.
  • Any version of Word (If a version of Word is 2003 or lower, you will need to download this converter from Microsoft to read Word 2007 documents)

Class Format

The class will last for 30 weeks. The class is asynchronous, meaning that each student can complete his or her work at the time that is most convenient. There is not a designated class time. Homework must be posted by midnight, EST, Monday–Friday.

All students will be provided with a username and password to Write from the Heart's online classroom. They will use this classroom to interact with other students, post papers, and conference with their coaches. Students will also have access to their grades through this classroom.

Classes have daily assignments. Some assignments span several days to give flexibility. Assignments are intended to take approximately:

  • 1 hour a day for Level A Basic Composition students
  • 1 ½ hours a day for Level B Basic Composition students

All writing coaches are also available via email throughout the week.

Class Dates

September 5, 2017 - April 27, 2018

(There will be a one-week break the week of Thanksgiving and a two-week break at Christmas. There will be a one-day break on March 30, 2018.)

Book Requirements (purchasable on the Store page)

  • Write Source 2000 (1999 ed), ISBN: 066946774X
  • Thesaurus
    Some collegiate thesauruses include vulgar language. Computer thesauruses are limited.

Price (for the 2017-2018 school year)

Early Bird Cost: $485 if payment is made in full by May 31st, 2017

Regular Cost: $515 (after May 31st, 2017)

Installment Plan: We are too close to the start of classes to offer an installment plan.

Refer a Friend

Refer another family to WFTH, and receive a $25 discount per family who registers and pays for a full year class. Have the new family list your name in the registration and you will be contacted with your coupon code.

Click here to create a referral for your friends.

Note: if you have already paid for your class, this coupon can be redeemed via a refund or for next year’s registrations. Codes are valid for one year.

Payment Methods

We accept check, credit card, or PayPal for full payments. We also offer installment plans (credit card and PayPal only).

  • We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover. All payments are securely processed through VeriSign/PayPal.
  • Installment plans (credit card and PayPal only):
    • All installments will be invoiced through PayPal. All major credit cards are accepted.
    • Invoices will be emailed at the beginning of every month and due on the 15th of every month for the installment period selected.
    • Late payments may result in loss of the hold for the student's admission spot.
    • Installment plans are designed to be completed by the beginning of the school year. Not all installment options will be available as the school year approaches.
    • Refunds for any cancellations will follow the Refunds Policy below.

Refund Policy

  • $100 is nonrefundable for cancellations made by August 1, 2017.
  • $250 is nonrefundable for cancellations made by October 1, 2017.

No refunds will be made for withdrawals made after these dates. Refunds will be given by check regardless of the original method of payment.

Terms of Payment

  • Payments must be postmarked by the due date shown.
  • There will be a $30 returned check fee.
  • Admission to the class is not finalized until full payment is received. For the installment option, a position in the class is temporarily held, but admission to the class is not finalized until the full payment has been received. Upon receipt of final payment, a confirmation email will be sent to the parent.

Sample Syllabus

Week 16

Monday-Tuesday: Go to the Week 15 Board and make the revisions to your compare contrast paper as recommended by your coach in your conference.

Wednesday: Finalize your topic for the upcoming persuasive essay by answering the questions in the attached document called "Plans for Persuasive Essay." Post your responses in the Week 16 file called "Plans for Persuasive Essay."

Thursday:

  • Using the list of partners below, use the Editing Checklist on a peer's compare contrast paper.
    Partners — students' names would appear here
  • Tell what book you plan to read for the upcoming book review.  Post the title, author, and number of pages in the Week 16 file called "Book Review Selection." You have until Friday of Week 18 to finish reading your book and to complete the Book Review Collection Sheet (it is attached to the Week 18 syllabus).

Friday: Today there are three tasks.

  • Use the editing feedback from your peer to put your compare contrast essay in final form for grading.   You are encouraged at this point to have an adult help you edit. 
  • Post your compare contrast essay as an attachment to the Week 16 file called "Compare Contrast Essay - Final Copy."
  • By now your coach will have checked your plans for your persuasive essay.  Go to the Week 16 file, "Plans for Persuasive Essay," and read those comments.  Make any suggested changes and post them in the Conference Room so your plans can be approved before you proceed with the rough draft.

How Our Classes Work

Write from the Heart is unique among online classes for homeschoolers: it blends the flexibility of an asynchronous online style with the peer collaboration of a classroom. This means that there are no set class times, but students interact with one another on a daily basis.

The students are all given a password and unique log in to our online classroom. Each week, the students will utilize a syllabus that lists their daily tasks for the week. All tasks are due by 11:59pm, EST. Some tasks last several days, while others require the students to finish in one day.

Classroom screenshot

Workshop Format

One of the most important features of Write from the Heart is the collaborative writing process. Every paper is reviewed several times before it is turned in for a grade. Students learn about composition not only by writing themselves, but by learning how to critique others and think critically about their own piece.

In the workshop approach, your child’s paper is reviewed:

  • At the outline stage by a writing coach
  • After each revision by two separate peers in the class.
  • In an instructional “conference” with a writing coach.
  • After the final draft by a writing coach using a grading rubric.

This process takes about two weeks to complete. This workshop method allows students to learn as they work, seeing their ideas develop and grow before their eyes. The peer interaction, monitored by coaches at every step, allows the students to increase their skills in a collaborative way. Many times, they become personally invested in the success of their peers. Write from the Heart is a community of learners, committed to positive interactions and encouraging growth.

How Are Students Graded?

Class grading

All students receive homework grades for work completed throughout the class. This includes grammar activities, instructional assignments for composition skills, workshop interactions, and posting of paper drafts at each stage of revision. A gradebook is provided in the online classroom so that students can track their grade throughout the class.

Final writing assignments are assessed using a rubric that focuses on content, development, organization, voice, and mechanics. The grading also takes into account the growth that the student has made through the workshop and revision process. Students receive written comments throughout their final paper. On the rubric, they are told where they are strong as well as where they need to improve.

The goal in all grading is to encourage the student. By the end of the class, students will have a concrete collection of works showing revisions along with professional feedback on all assignments.

FAQs

What kind of student benefits most from Write from the Heart?
Do all grade levels complete the same assignments?
How are students graded?
How is grammar covered?
How is literature included in Basic Composition?
What do we do about missed work if we are traveling?
What should we do if we experience computer problems?
What is the difference between the instructor and a writing coach?

What kind of student benefits most from Write from the Heart?

Write from the Heart is designed to reach a gamut of students: from the completely inexperienced to the mildly experienced to the gifted student, from the reluctant writer to the eager one. Often, students who start out hating writing end up with a newfound sense of confidence and independence. Those who do best are those who come with a pliable attitude, willing to apply what they are taught. Students who struggle with processing written information (i.e. understanding what they read or applying what they read) find the course to be difficult because of the volume of written directions. This doesn't mean they can't benefit from the program; they just might need more parental involvement to verbally explain the content.

Do all grade levels complete the same assignments?

No. Students are placed in a particular class (explained below), each with unique assignments. All classes receive instruction on the same genres; however, the assignments differ in their level of difficulty. Veldorah Rice will place each child in a particular class (level) based on his grade and the writing sample he provides at the time of registration. If necessary, the child could be moved to a different level after the class is underway. To see how assignments differ, please see the “Sample Syllabus.”

Level A — an introductory class for a 6th grader or a 7th grader who would benefit from a slower pace. The student is introduced to all the genres and techniques for writing with voice. Assignments are approximately one hour per day.

Level B — for a 7th-8th grader who has had little or no writing experience. The student is introduced to all the genres and techniques for writing with voice. Assignments are approximately 1 ½ hours per day.

Level B Challenge Track — for a 7th-8th grader who has had some writing experience. The student should already grasp an understanding of the various genres and how to write with voice. Assignments contain a higher level of critical thinking skills and take approximately 1 ½ hours per day. Most students choose this option on an assignment-by-assignment basis, but coaches encourage advanced students to attempt this regularly.

How are students graded?

Students receive a weekly homework grade based on the completion of daily assignments. In addition, an assessment rubric will be provided for each major writing assignment. Students will know before being graded what criteria are expected to be met. Before submitting papers for a final grade, students will receive feedback from a writing coach and peers and will have opportunity to make revisions and edit grammar mistakes.

How is grammar covered?

On every major writing assignment, students practice identifying common sentence errors and checking for spelling, capitalization, usage, and punctuation errors in one another's work. Additional grammar rules are taught at the beginning of each class. Students who are placed in Basic Composition have permission to have a parent help them edit. If your child is placed in Basic Composition and is weak in grammar, you might want to consider additionally using a grammar workbook of your choice.

How is literature included in Basic Composition?

Each time a new genre is introduced students must read a professional example that models that genre and answer questions about it. Students may pick a book of their choice for the following genres: memoir, fictional short story, book review, poetry, research. For the remaining genres, smaller online articles are provided. Parents, you are encouraged to use the flexible reading requirements to the advantage of your child's educational goals: use books you want your child to read!

What do we do about missed work if we are traveling?

Even though the class officially begins in September, students are given access to the forum in early August. Anyone wishing to begin early to accommodate family vacations may do so. Students also have off the full week of Thanksgiving and two weeks off at Christmas. If a child has access to a computer while traveling, he may complete his work anywhere. If traveling at other times during the year, accommodations are made on an individual basis.

What should we do if we experience computer problems?

Students are advised to frequently make a back-up of their work; this is an online class, and because technology does fail, students are expected to have a working back-up plan in place. If a student experiences computer failure, he can easily take his back-up to a relative's, a friend's house, or a public library.

What is the difference between the instructor and a writing coach?

Instructor — This is the person who manages the course material, who creates new courses, and who oversees everyone else. This person is Veldorah Rice. All students receive the same instruction from her.

Writing Coach — a coach is delegated authority over a certain group of students for every aspect of the class. He or she follows the lessons issued by Veldorah Rice and assists students one-on-one. Responsibilities include assigning weekly grades, daily answering conference questions or helping with any problems, and grading assignment rubrics.

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