On Writing Well

Instructor: Gail Efting

Type of Class: Group and Online supported Class

Class Fee: $80 per month per person – tuition and fees payable directly to: Gail Efting . Online Program Fee: $20.00 per student

Questions: Contact Gail Efting at BALMInstitute@gmail.com

Minimum & Maximum Class size: minimum – 5 maximum – 25 students

Credit: High School English, High School Composition, Honors Composition, or Writing for Publication

Prerequisite: None
This course is designed to coordinate well with Philosophy/Apologetics and Medieval World History.

Course Description: On Writing Well (OWW) is based on the premise that anyone who can think clearly can write clearly, about any subject at all. Many of our students have learned to write for academic purposes, but life is so much more than that. Just as we inform or persuade, enchant or horrify, inspire or deter others face to face, so we can do the same with the written word. This course moves beyond the classroom, giving students the tools, practice, and encouragement to write for LIFE, comfortably, creatively, and effectively. Also, for students with an interest, publication opportunities may be pursued. This class is reading, writing, thinking, and discussion based. OWW is a multi-level program of extensive interaction between Mrs. Efting and a group of students. This level alternates writing with opportunities for publication. Students examine principles and practices of writing such as; authorial purpose, audience needs, underlying bias (or universal truth), archetypal conventions, plot, theme, environmental description, character development, point of view, dialogue, flow, style, and many others, as well as revision, coherence, and the resources of the English Language. Students who participate fully develop proficiency and excellence in writing. They will practice macro- and micro- editing as they produce works for publication. Integral to this format is a substantial meta-cognitive dialogue with Mrs. Efting and other students, about writing, in class. Sentence level issues of grammar are not the main focus of instruction. At this level, Mrs. Efting presumes that students already command standard English grammar. However, after learning how to effectively implement macro-editing, students will have extensive practice with micro-editing, as Mrs. Efting introduces additional methods of revision. At least eight assignments are expected to be intensive revisions of pieces previously reviewed. Mrs. Efting holds students’ work to either high school or honors standards, and we practice analysis in an encouraging, experiential, and generative learning environment each week.

Course Content: On Writing Well will focus on application of critical thinking skills to ongoing development of writing and editing well. Opportunities for publication will be available. This course is student centered and can be repeated for higher levels of writing development. Honors credit: Honors credit is available for this class. Honors courses are generally valued more highly in transcript GPA calculations because they are more demanding. Students who request honors work will be held to a higher standard, both in terms of the level of effort in class and the depth of thoughtful analysis in commentaries and other submissions. Honors course work includes additional criteria for analysis, and presentation. As the teacher of record, you can expect to discuss the ideas and materials we cover in class, with your student at home. Honors course work is at college level and includes additional application of different types of literary and editing skills. Students examine written work for; authorial purpose and underlying bias, audience (cultural and historical) responses, generic conventions, storyline architecture, theme, character development, point of view, style, and coherence. Honors course work also includes revision and analysis of others’ original materials for publication, based on in-depth generative discussion. Please let Gail Efting know immediately, if you will be doing honors work. Assessment: HEART Academy’s function as a co-op (not a school) precludes teacher/mentors from assigning grades. Since we only have class one day out of five, teachers really cannot evaluate performance fairly. I do want to do everything I can to assist you in this endeavor. The ultimate decisions about grades still rest with you, the teacher of record. However, I will be available to discuss your goals in this area, and to assist you through the year, as needed, in evaluating performance against priorities, answering questions, or simply being a sounding board for discussion. My goal is to support you as you have need in the homeschooling process. I can also provide feedback, from which a record of accomplishment can be created, for students planning to attend college. I will be available to all families, at any time, to answer any questions you may have.

Course Requirements: My commitment is to provide opportunities, instruction and encouragement to you. I will be available to help you develop skills in accurate observation and analysis, and in communication – both written and verbal. Students are provided with materials and training which will be beneficial in critical thinking and discernment as well as specific information which will be practically useful in more advanced High School and College courses. The commitment requested of each student is to be in class ready to start on time for every session, to submit required postings on time, to complete assignments appropriately, prepared to observe, listen, learn, think, participate, and contribute at his/her BEST “as unto the Lord”. This class requires extensive thought and work. Students will get out of the class what they put into the class, no less, no more. Every week students are required to submit a commentary, within 24 hours of class adjournment. This required commentary includes; 1. What happened in the class, 2. what the student learned in class, 3. how the student felt or what the student thought about what s/he learned or experienced in class, and 4. an overview of the assignments for the coming week. This commentary will also function as a communication device for you, to clarify your weekly work process and help you focus on some of the issues we are discussing in class. This commentary is designed to provide your student with an opportunity for review and reflection, which are important aspects of conversion from transactional learning to transformational learning. If completed correctly, it will also provide the parent, as teacher of record, with the information necessary to complete any accomplishment descriptions throughout the year. The commitment requested of each parent is to participate with your student in class whenever possible and maintain an interactive relationship with them around the process. Parent involvement in the classes on Fridays, discussion at home, and discussion of students’ work online are very important to maintain the parent / student bond, encourage integration of the learning process between group classes and work at home, and allow the students to see you as their primary counsel and guide. This is a priority to me, as my purpose is to partner with you, not to replace you. Attendance: This class uses relational dialogue as a principle tenant of the learning process. Students’ attendance will give them the information, discussion, and guidance they will need to take full advantage of their work at home. Every class or assignment missed will make the learning process more cumbersome. If you have scheduled to miss a class for any reason, please let me know as soon as YOU know, so that I can adjust as necessary, to make the learning process easier. Courtesy mandates communication.

Classroom Expectations: Real learning is exciting, stimulating and tremendously interesting. It has intrinsic rewards of discovery, growth and realization. Every student should feel free to embrace the joy of learning without distraction. In this class, students are encouraged to put in the effort to take every thought captive to obedience in Jesus Christ, ready to give an answer with gentleness and respect, considering one another ahead of themselves. Nothing will be permitted in the classroom which distracts students from the thrilling process of learning. All students should come to class ready to be attentive, courteous, interactive and teachable.

Assignment Criteria: Overviews of assignments are given, in order to give you the flexibility which is so important to the homeschool experience. It is the student’s responsibility to make specific time commitments for completion of writing assignments and submission of posts and papers, and to manage time and activities properly in order to keep those commitments, completing assignments thoughtfully and with excellence. This process takes practice and may be difficult at first. However, with perseverance it becomes an automatic and valuable skill. I will be there to guide you with this process. Some work will be due weekly, and writing will be necessary every day to absorb the skills being developed. Growth in life is based, to a large degree, on perseverance. Because of the nature of student centered teaching, students will get just as much benefit (guidance, feedback, help and growth) as they contribute of their own effort to the learning process. It’s that simple. For example, if you want to be an excellent writer, or if you are willing to review your written material say, eight to sixteen ways, you will glean more from the writing and subsequent discussions. I will give constructive feedback and guidance on your discoveries and analysis as much as you have interest. Basically, you get the benefit of a skilled mentor to help you move toward your objectives in proportion to your own perseverance and use of available resources. Your questions and comments are encouraged, and I will respond respectfully and thoughtfully to any question you ask. Please make sure you send the email to BALMInstitute@gmail.com and put “HEART OWW” in the subject line. Additionally, I am available for questions, additional discussion or assistance with writing projects, at the BALM Library at Silicon Valley Christian Assembly in Santa Clara, by appointment.

Materials: ON WRITING WELL NOTE BOOK or electronic equivalent (please bring every week) must include; This class description in the Binder, in front of the sections listed below. Commentaries Articles and Pieces in Progress Articles and Pieces with edits Notes Put your On Writing Well Notebook together before the first class. Make sure that you have ALL of the required texts, ready to go. Bring all of these books with you to the first class. Read the author’s introduction of On Writing Well.

Workload: All classes taught by Gail Efting are student and family centered. You, as teacher of record, will be evaluating whether your student will be working at middle, high school, or honors levels (Gail Efting can help you with that). There are several ways to determine workload, based on how you plan to evaluate course credit. Determination before the class begins, of the method to be used, makes the workload planning and record keeping process much easier. Two common methods of valuation are by time (based on the number of hours of coursework completed in the year) and by competency (based on the actual performance of the student in the area of study). Time based methods (called Carnegie hours) are used by most school systems, as the time spent is easy to track. But I recommend the competency method, because this method is actually more student centered. Competency measurements allow the student to interact with the content and process as long (or as little) as is necessary for acceptable performance in each area of study. This gives the student the opportunity to learn how to become a self-directed, life-long learner. Competency based measures are more effective in allowing students to work to mastery in areas of interest, by stimulating learning autonomy (a very important capacity, if they intend to go to college or get a job). Honors work requires more time and effort, of course, but in an area of passion, it is well worth while to allow time and energy for work to this level. The online system will keep track of assignments and commentaries completed, records of posts, and any other project materials the student chooses to store there. Please contact Gail Efting if you would like to discuss any of this further.

Curriculum: On Writing Well, Zinsser (30th Anniversary Edition) Additional original works, as assigned.  Honors Text: Literature in Critical Perspectives, Gordon Recommended Reference: The Little, Brown Compact Handbook, or APA Handbook, 6th edition About Your Instructor:

Contacting the Teacher: If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to send Gail Efting an e-mail at BALMInstitute@gmail.com. Please put, “HEART OWW”, your name, and your topic in the subject line of your note.

Teacher Assistant Position Available: Two TA positions are currently available for this class. If you would like to enjoy some lively discussions with curious and insightful students (or support the class in a more “behind the scenes” way) please send Gail Efting an e-mail immediately. Tuition discounts are available for TAs.

Assignments before classes begin: As soon as you read through this Info Sheet, send Gail Efting an e-mail at BALMInstitute@gmail.com. In the subject line enter “HEART OWW 2019” and your name. As soon as confirmation of your registration for this class has been received, you will receive a student ID and password by email, from BALMpathwright. (Make sure you check you spam folder, in case your system rejects it.) Please go online, to the URL given, and begin the intro process for this course. You will be asked to complete sign up and answer several questions before class begins. Please make sure you have set up your student account online no later than Aug. 25th, 2019.