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Customized Independent Study

Course Description

Prerequisite: any of the following: Literature I, Literature II, World Literature or AP English

The Customized Independent Study course is designed personally for each student to meet the requirements of TWO high school classes: English and another course of the student’s choosing. The student and his/her parents will be responsible to provide the instructor with all diploma requirements for the second course of study. Using a workshop approach, the student will work with the instructor to create a program of study that will further develop research skills as well as another subject area of interest to the student. Utilizing several writing genres the student is familiar with, the course will introduce the development of prolonged study and various research strategies to cultivate independent discovery and critical thinking. The instructor will oversee and interact with the student through the course of study, and will help guide the project design so that the student can benefit from peer interaction as well.

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. Occasionally, there are assignments that span several days. Assignments are intended to take approximately 1 ½ hours a day.

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)

Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, SEVENTH Edition. ISBN: 1603290249.

Price (for the 2017-2018 school year)

Early Bird Cost: $745 if payment is made in full by May 31st, 2017

Regular Cost: $775 (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.

Project Ideas

A customized independent study is a program that is designed by the student for the student. The instructor will guide the creation of the project and help structure it into units of study. The first four weeks of the year will be devoted to the student and instructor designing the project together. The student and his/her parents will be responsible to provide the instructor with all diploma requirements for the second course of study.

There are thousands of different ways that this class could be designed. The second course of study is completely up to you. It could be a course needed to meet a specific diploma requirement (such as a history class) or it could be a specialized course of study of interest to the student, which would be counted as an elective credit. Below are several models of what a customized independent study might look like.

Suggested subjects that could be used for the second course of study are:

History Business
Philosophy Health
Social Sciences Consumer Sciences
Humanities Fine Arts

“I want to take an art class. My favorite painting is Starry Night.”

Unit Ideas: Focus on Impressionism

  • Research Impressionism and write about how it has influenced culture today.
  • Read a biography about Vincent Van Gogh and write a review.
  • Create your own piece of Impressionist art.
  • Compare Van Gogh to Monet.
  • Shadow a local artist and write about the experience.

Other examples of studies in art: women artists, Cubism, ancient art, any type of art history

“I love politics and want to learn more about it.”

Unit Ideas: Focus on the Middle East

  • Research and evaluate how we got into the current state in the Middle East.
  • Read The Kite Runner or a similar book and evaluate its accuracy.
  • Interview an immigrant from the Middle East.
  • Investigate the same event reported through different media.
  • Compare the arguments regarding the founding of the state of Israel.

Other examples of studies in politics/government: Communism, Constitutional Law, the Supreme Court, Socialism, universal healthcare

“I love Russian history!”

Unit Ideas: Focus on the Russian Revolution of 1917

  • Research the Revolution and explain its main goals and the level of success they had.
  • Read Crime and Punishment and analyze how communism affects the plot.
  • Compare and contrast Marxist’s idea of communism to communism today.
  • Read and evaluate the letters sent between Nicolas II and Alexandra.
  • Create a character analysis of Rasputin.

Other examples of studies in history: any world event, a specific war or battle, the development of a nation, any revolution

“I love taking pictures and would like to be able to list a photography class on my transcript.”

Unit Ideas: Focus on Photography

  • Research and explain the development of the art of photography.
  • Read a biography of Ansel Adams and write about his influence on the art form.
  • Evaluate the visual rhetoric of political photographs.
  • Compare Matthew Brady’s war photos to current photos from Afghanistan.
  • Create a photography collection.

Other examples of studies in fine arts: graphic design, sculpture, fibers, architecture

Veldorah Rice, the instructor for this class, has several specialized degrees in areas of study outside of English. They include a BA in History, a BA in Communication, a Master’s Degree certificate in Film Studies, and an undergraduate minor in Theatre.

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

How do I know if my child is ready for this class?
Can this class be taken more than one year?
What are the differences between an independent study and the other courses offered from WFTH?
Are there any subjects that cannot be used as the second course of study?
How are students graded?
What diploma requirements does this class meet?
What do we do about missed work if we are traveling?
What should we do if we experience computer problems?

How do I know if my child is ready for this class?

Any student who has completed Literature I, Literature II, World Literature, or AP English is prepared for this class. Because the class is tailored to the student, it can be taken at any time. For example, a student could take Literature I, then a Customized Independent Study, then Literature II and AP English. It can also be taken after the completion of AP English. The level of difficulty is adjusted by the instructor for each student.

Can this class be taken more than one year?

Yes. Because the class is customized specifically for the student based on the additional course of study, this class can be taken multiple times. The class will meet the diploma requirements of both English and another subject area. This class can also be developed to meet specific qualifications for each student’s diploma track (general, academic, honors, etc).

What are the differences between an independent study and the other courses offered from WFTH?

The main difference between this class and others in the WFTH program is the student’s ability to create his or her own program of study and determine what is read. This will allow students to read what they enjoy and investigate topics of interest to them. However, the class will still have the important element of peer interaction. Students will be required to update their progress regularly to both the instructor and the other students in the class. The instructor will help each student design units of study so that the revision of writing pieces occurs at the same time. This will allow the class to have a peer conferencing element as well.

Are there any subjects that cannot be used as the second course of study?

At this time, almost any subject can be accommodated except mathematics and science due to the special requirements needed to complete them. Hopefully, these subjects can be added as options in the future as well. To see ideas about what subject could be considered, please view the information on the “Project Ideas” tab at the top of this page.

How are students graded?

Students receive a weekly homework grade based on the completion of assignments in their project plan. 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 an instructor and peers and will have opportunity to make revisions and edit.

What diploma requirements does this class meet?

The student and his/her parents will be responsible to provide the instructor with all diploma requirements for the second course of study. A program of study will then be designed by the student with the instructor’s help to meet these requirements.

In addition, the instructor will ensure that for the English Composition portion there are at least: 5 major assignments showing revisions and editing changes; a 7-10 page research paper (minimum) with documentation; and an oral presentation. The instructor will also be guiding the student to read several books or novels, depending upon the structure of the independent project.

If you are concerned about your state's laws being fulfilled, email Veldorah Rice with your state's specific guidelines.

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. That way, anyone wishing to begin early to accommodate family vacations may do so. Students also have off the full week of Thanksgiving and two weeks at Christmas. If a child has access to a computer while traveling, he may complete his work anywhere.

What should we do if we experience computer problems?

Students are advised to frequently make a back-up of their work. If they experience computer failure, they can easily take their back-up to a relative's or friend's house, or to a public library.

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