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Finding Freedom in Homeschool Language Arts

Are you allowing yourself enough flexibility for delight directed learning or are you putting your Enlgish credits in a box? Do you feel insecure because you aren't sure what "Language Arts 10" means? How many books do your children read each year in high school?

Language arts

Finding Freedom in Homeschool Language Arts



I was fascinated by an opinion column in the Seattle Times, Seattle Sacrifices Monster Lit, which stated:

"We should allow principals and teachers to select the curriculum that best fits the needs of their particular students."

Some ideas for English credits that are listed in the article are currently taught in Seattle Public schools right now:

  • poetry

  • speech

  • creative writing

  • expository writing

  • journalism

  • science fiction

  • sports literature

  • early American literature

  • modern American literature

  • social-issues literature

  • African-American literature

  • Shakespeare

  • literature and philosophy


The article discusses a teacher trying to include a class on the literature of monsters, including having the students read the following books:

  • Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein,"

  • Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick,"

  • Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,"

  • Albert Camus' "The Plague,"

  • and something from Edgar Allan Poe


What a great list of books, and what a fabulous idea for a class! Think of all the other "monster" books you could include! Phantom of the Opera...War of the Worlds...

I always have trouble explaining what "Language Arts" means, and there is such a wide variety of what you can do with an English credit. I love this quote from the article:

"But if someone asks what "LA 10" means, "Right now I can't tell them what it means," says Cathy Thompson, Seattle Public Schools' executive director of curriculum and instruction.

Did you notice how the schools only require two years of English? That's not enough! It's not enough for college, and it's certainly not enough to learn how to read and write well.  I can see why colleges express concern about the reading and writing ability of public school students!

It was interesting to see how many books were read in an English class. The article says, "Each year, students will read two novels chosen by the central office. There will be two more from a short list and further choices from a longer list."  It looks like an average high school student reads 6 books in an average year.

What an interesting and helpful article! Free your language arts choices. Don't beat yourself up if your child only reads 6 books a year. Strive for better than public schools, of course, but don't beat yourself up unnecessarily, either. I hope you find the article as encouraging as I did.

What kinds of English classes are you teaching or planning to teach in your homeschool? Please share!

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Please note: This post was originally published in June 2009 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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Comments 19

Guest - Laine on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 18:19

Actually, I found it at homescholar.org. She even has sample lesson plans available on the web site. Hope you enjoy it!

Laine

Actually, I found it at homescholar.org. She even has sample lesson plans available on the web site. Hope you enjoy it! Laine
Guest - Lisa on Wednesday, 25 February 2015 12:15

I was wondering where Laine was able to find Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings? It sounds like something I would like to try with my son.

I was wondering where Laine was able to find Literary Lessons from Lord of the Rings? It sounds like something I would like to try with my son.
Guest - Laine on Monday, 16 February 2015 18:10

I used Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings for a co-op class, and it was fantastic! The kids loved it, and even enjoyed the writing assignments. I added some fun projects and we celebrated Bilbo's birthday and came in costume on Halloween. Best class ever!

I used Literary Lessons from The Lord of the Rings for a co-op class, and it was fantastic! The kids loved it, and even enjoyed the writing assignments. I added some fun projects and we celebrated Bilbo's birthday and came in costume on Halloween. Best class ever!
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Thursday, 19 February 2015 17:15

Dear Laine,
Great idea! That sounds like a lot of fun!
Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

Dear Laine, Great idea! That sounds like a lot of fun! Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Lisa Braswell on Monday, 17 November 2014 17:59

Robin,
I have been to the IEW website and I have seen the DVD's you are talking about. The BIG OBSTACLE for me it the cost. The curriculum alone is pretty pricey.

Robin, I have been to the IEW website and I have seen the DVD's you are talking about. The BIG OBSTACLE for me it the cost. The curriculum alone is pretty pricey.
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Monday, 17 November 2014 18:53

Lisa,
It would be for me too---now. I don't have the budget for homeschooling that I once did. We asked IEW if we could share the DVD's and they gave us permission, as long as each of us purchased the workbook. I'm hoping you can find someone who might watch them with you or something... Or, perhaps (if you have a little to spend) you could purchase them on eBay, used?
Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar.

Lisa, It would be for me too---now. I don't have the budget for homeschooling that I once did. We asked IEW if we could share the DVD's and they gave us permission, as long as each of us purchased the workbook. I'm hoping you can find someone who might watch them with you or something... Or, perhaps (if you have a little to spend) you could purchase them on eBay, used? Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar.
Guest - Lisa Braswell on Monday, 17 November 2014 13:03

I have a sophomore who doesn't like to read, and has difficulty with writing. I've heard great things about IEW, but I don't think we could use it because I need something that is more of an independent study or has a script telling me exactly what I need to say for each lesson. Since I myself am not strong in this area, I don't think that I would know the first thing about how to go about grading a paper. Any suggestions?

I have a sophomore who doesn't like to read, and has difficulty with writing. I've heard great things about IEW, but I don't think we could use it because I need something that is more of an independent study or has a script telling me exactly what I need to say for each lesson. Since I myself am not strong in this area, I don't think that I would know the first thing about how to go about grading a paper. Any suggestions?
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Monday, 17 November 2014 15:56

Dear Lisa,
I was reluctant for the same reason, until I took an IEW writing course for MOM's with my homeschool group. The DVD's for IEW's Teaching Writing Structure and Style are available in two formats: Mom led or student led. After watching the first video in the structure and style, I couldn't WAIT to share with my son who hated writing. His response after our first lesson? "Is that it, mom?" LOL! No fighting about writing after that! For a guide to grading writing, look at Lee's article: High School English - A "Grouch Free" Guide to Grading
Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

Dear Lisa, I was reluctant for the same reason, until I took an IEW writing course for MOM's with my homeschool group. The DVD's for IEW's Teaching Writing Structure and Style are available in two formats: Mom led or student led. After watching the first video in the structure and style, I couldn't WAIT to share with my son who hated writing. His response after our first lesson? "Is that it, mom?" LOL! No fighting about writing after that! For a guide to grading writing, look at Lee's article: High School English - A "Grouch Free" Guide to Grading Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Anna L. on Friday, 03 October 2014 10:32

The book list for Monster Lit gives me further encouragement to put together an intro high school lit class for my son. I want to teach the theme of the hero's journey. That idea came from a blog article I read. I don't recall where, but this is a theme common in lit and in movies. Before my kids were born, I saw an exhibit on themes of mythology in Star Wars. We bought the book that went with the exhibit, which showed how Lucas borrowed ideas from Arthurian legends, Greek mythology, and other adventure stories (like The Hobbit)to develop Star Wars as a tale of a hero's journey. I think that this would be the sort of thing a teenage boy would really enjoy for a high school intro to lit class.

The book list for Monster Lit gives me further encouragement to put together an intro high school lit class for my son. I want to teach the theme of the hero's journey. That idea came from a blog article I read. I don't recall where, but this is a theme common in lit and in movies. Before my kids were born, I saw an exhibit on themes of mythology in Star Wars. We bought the book that went with the exhibit, which showed how Lucas borrowed ideas from Arthurian legends, Greek mythology, and other adventure stories (like The Hobbit)to develop Star Wars as a tale of a hero's journey. I think that this would be the sort of thing a teenage boy would really enjoy for a high school intro to lit class.
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Friday, 03 October 2014 10:46

That's brilliant, Anna!
Robin

That's brilliant, Anna! Robin
Guest - Lisa on Saturday, 02 August 2014 07:00

We also use IEW . It steps you into writing in a fun way removing all the unknown s that one usually feels when ask to write. My d after enjoys everything she create.

We also use IEW . It steps you into writing in a fun way removing all the unknown s that one usually feels when ask to write. :) My d after enjoys everything she create.
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Monday, 04 August 2014 13:58

I'm with you, Lisa!

I love how well-defined IEW is. It takes out all of the guesswork.

Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

I'm with you, Lisa! I love how well-defined IEW is. It takes out all of the guesswork. Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Lisa on Saturday, 02 August 2014 06:56

Thank you for your insight Rebecca.

Thank you for your insight Rebecca.
Guest - Angeline on Monday, 30 June 2014 20:15

Wow. Good to know. My 14 yo daughter figured out in May that she had read over 22 books since October. I think she'll be fine. Now, how to get her to WRITE? And the boys. How do I get them to read and write? They would rather listen to audio books. Do these count?

Wow. Good to know. My 14 yo daughter figured out in May that she had read over 22 books since October. I think she'll be fine. Now, how to get her to WRITE? And the boys. How do I get them to read and write? They would rather listen to audio books. Do these count?
Guest - Assistant to The HomeScholar on Monday, 30 June 2014 21:35

Well, Angeline,

Reading is a step in the right direction! Lee loves IEW and recommends it all the time. It's set up in such a way that even my son (who hated writing) didn't mind. We would have a task for the day, and he would say, "Is that all I have to do?" Phew! Lee talks about IEW a lot, but here's a short blog post about choosing writing curriculum: Homeschooling High School: Favorite Writing Curriculum

Blessings,
Robin
Assistant to The HomeScholar

Well, Angeline, Reading is a step in the right direction! Lee loves IEW and recommends it all the time. It's set up in such a way that even my son (who hated writing) didn't mind. We would have a task for the day, and he would say, "Is that all I have to do?" Phew! Lee talks about IEW a lot, but here's a short blog post about choosing writing curriculum: Homeschooling High School: Favorite Writing Curriculum Blessings, Robin Assistant to The HomeScholar
Guest - Rebecca (website) on Friday, 15 April 2011 05:48

When I started homeschooling our daughter last year (her junior year), I discovered that my former bookworm hated reading.....but LOVED movies. (huh!)

However, most of the movies she enjoyed were, in fact, based on books. That was my clue. I devised my own curriculum for that year, and at the end of the year she had read nearly 13 books (and some of them were the likes of Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Little Women). She would read the book, then watch the movie, and then compare/contrast story line, character development, etc.(We also viewed each character through a Biblical "filter" based on John and Stasi Eldredge's book Captivating) She would write a paper covering each book/movie. We both learned so much about worldviews and literary styles. I called it "Film and Literature". A great way to use delight directed learning....and now she enjoys reading so much more (which was my goal from the beginning!)

When I started homeschooling our daughter last year (her junior year), I discovered that my former bookworm hated reading.....but LOVED movies. (huh!) However, most of the movies she enjoyed were, in fact, based on books. That was my clue. I devised my own curriculum for that year, and at the end of the year she had read nearly 13 books (and some of them were the likes of Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Little Women). She would read the book, then watch the movie, and then compare/contrast story line, character development, etc.(We also viewed each character through a Biblical "filter" based on John and Stasi Eldredge's book Captivating) She would write a paper covering each book/movie. We both learned so much about worldviews and literary styles. I called it "Film and Literature". A great way to use delight directed learning....and now she enjoys reading so much more (which was my goal from the beginning!)
Guest - J W on Friday, 12 June 2009 08:03

Christy - could you explain more about what you're feeling? Maybe some of us could help you sort through your uneasiness. What does delight directed learning mean to you?

Christy - could you explain more about what you're feeling? Maybe some of us could help you sort through your uneasiness. What does delight directed learning mean to you?
Guest - Christy (website) on Friday, 12 June 2009 05:19

hmmm...this is twice this morning that I saw something about delight directed learning. How come that makes me feel much more uneasy than it should?

hmmm...this is twice this morning that I saw something about delight directed learning. How come that makes me feel much more uneasy than it should?
Guest - Meredith (website) on Thursday, 11 June 2009 18:54

This is great news Lee, thank you for the link. I'm pretty sure we'll be doing better than 6 books a year ;-) Blessings!

This is great news Lee, thank you for the link. I'm pretty sure we'll be doing better than 6 books a year ;-) Blessings!
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