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Intermediate Composition

Course Description

Intermediate Writing Composition continues to instruct students in 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. They are also introduced to the different ways research can be utilized in a variety of assignments by giving an assortment of research opportunities. Critical thinking skills and maturity in topic selection are paired with additional instruction in logical organization and self-evaluation, which helps students grow in using their voice more effectively. 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!

Intermediate Composition is for Grades 8-11 and includes three levels of learning. Level 2* is for students with little or no previous writing experience. Level 3 contains a higher level of critical thinking skills and more research opportunities. Level 4 is for students proficient in using voice and requires an ability to think more abstractly. Students are placed by the instructor after registration.

  • Unit 1 – Intermediate Elements of Composition:
    Sentence and paragraph development, organizing thoughts, advancing voice, and understanding audience
  • Unit 2 – Narrative Writing:
    Memoir, fictional short story, writing contest entry
  • Unit 3 – Expository Writing with Research Opportunities:
    Expository essay, compare contrast essay, persuasive essay, multi-genre research, timed essay tests (Level 4)
  • Unit 4 – Poetry

* Level 2 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 1½ hours a day to complete.

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

Please note: Every class receives its own syllabus with its own assignments only. However, for ease of comparison, I have included all assignments here labeled by level.

Monday-Tuesday: It is time to prepare for the next assignment, a compare contrast essay! The most important, and challenging, part for a writer in a compare contrast paper is how to organize his thoughts. There are two organizational choices from which to choose, and it is a matter of preference as to which one you select: block method and point-by-point method. Please read the explanation in the document “Comparison Organizational Techniques.”

  • To gain a better understanding of compare contrast essays, complete the “Literature Connection - Comparison” activity. Submit your document in the file “Comparison Literature Connection.” Attach your completed sheet in the folder. Note: each level has a separate document written to challenge the students appropriately.

  • Begin thinking. You have until this Friday to choose a topic and form an outline for your compare contrast essay. The assignment is:

    Level 2: Compare and contrast a real-life decision you are facing. (Examples: two particular sports/activities that you are choosing between, two different items you are considering purchasing, two ways of spending money, two ways of spending significant free time, two educational options for which you have permission to decide, two particular job opportunities you are considering, two volunteer opportunities you are considering, etc.)

    Challenge Track: When selecting a topic for your compare contrast essay, follow the regular assignment about making a real-life decision AND include the responses to an interview within your essay. The interview should be with someone who can give you factual information that will help you make a decision. For example, if you are writing about a choice between two positions of volunteer service, interview the people in charge of both positions, and collect information that will help you choose which position you will accept. Mention in your essay who you interviewed and what their answers were. Caution: do not interview a friend or family member who is going to tell you their opinion about what choice you should make.

    Level 3: Compare and contrast a movie, not a TV series, with a book of the same name (i.e. “Where the Red Fern Grows,” “Johnny Tremain,” “Little Women,” etc.) Make sure you’ve already seen the movie and read the book. The book must have been written before the movie, as opposed to “Star Wars” in which the book was written after the movie, causing the two to be practically identical. CAUTION: Do NOT write a plot summary of both! Do NOT focus merely on specific details like, "In the book the main character was knocked unconscious at the beginning of the battle, but in the movie he was knocked unconscious three quarters of the way through the battle." Instead, think in terms of broader categories, or elements, of the story, like the setting or how internal thoughts were displayed in the movie.

    Level 4: Compare and contrast the opposing viewpoints of two people you’ve already studied. Do not organize your thoughts into only 2 categories, such as “ways the people are the same and different” or “what I agree with and what I disagree with,” etc. You should organize your thoughts according to at least 3 specific features of the subjects’ viewpoints. Select two people that have strong viewpoints or theories or outlooks on the world. These should be people you already know something about. However, you might want to do some additional research. To provide accurate information, do an internet search or rely on magazine and newspaper articles. (You may not use Wikipedia or other similar sites in which information can be changed by readers; they are not reliable sites.) You do not have to cite your sources at the end of the essay, but you DO have to name your source within the context of your essay.

Wednesday-Thursday: Revise your expository essay based on the recommendations from your coach conference. When you are done, copy/paste a clean copy of your essay into the Board “Expository Essay - Ready for Editing.”

Friday: Create an outline for your compare/contrast essay. For an example of the two types of outlines, see the file called “Comparison Organizational Techniques.” Here are some requirements for your outline:

  • Make sure you have chosen at least 3 specific features to compare and contrast.
  • Any feature you list for “Subject A” must also be mentioned in “Subject B.” Present them in the same order for each.
  • Decide whether you will use the Block Method or the Point by Point Method.
  • Begin with a snapshot to depict the scene.
  • In the conclusion, use a thoughtshot to reveal what decision you will make or which philosophy you agree with and explain why.
  • Since this paper depicts your personal thought processes, make sure you write in first person (I, me, my). Do not write in second person (you).

Post your outline to the Week 13 file, “Outline for Compare Contrast Essay.” Please note that forty percent of your grade on this assignment will be for how well you organize your thoughts and clearly communicate them.

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?
If my child is in 9th grade or older, will he/she still receive credit toward a high school diploma program by taking the Intermediate Composition class?
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 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 2 — for an 8th-9th grader who has had little or no writing experience. The student is introduced to all the genres and techniques for writing with voice. Students in this level have the option to complete “Challenge Track” assignments for extra credit. Most students choose this option on an assignment-by-assignment basis, but coaches encourage advanced students to attempt this regularly. Assignments are approximately 1 ½ hours per day.

Level 3 — for a 7th-9th grader who has had some writing experience, or a 10th-11th grader who has had little or no writing experience. The student should already grasp, or be old enough to quickly 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.

Level 4 — for an 8th-11th grader who is proficient at fully developing his thoughts in a logical manner and who automatically writes with voice. The assignments require an ability to think more abstractly. Many of these assignments are geared so that these students are equipped for other high school level writing. Assignments are approximately 1 ½ hours per day.

If my child is in 9th grade or older, will he/she still receive credit toward a high school diploma program by taking the Intermediate Composition class?

Yes. Intermediate Composition classes meets diploma requirements by providing the following: a 4-7 page research paper with documentation from three sources, a 5-10 minute oral presentation, and seven major assignments showing revisions and editing changes. The requirement for reading literature in Write from the Heart is intentionally minimal to allow families the freedom to pursue educational goals in other subject areas; therefore, parents should provide their child with a reading list to ensure that any state reading requirements are being met. If you are concerned about your state's laws being fulfilled, please contact us.

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 (expository, compare/contrast, and persuasive), 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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