Review By Sarah Shelton
My 10th grader was supposed to be in a teacher taught writing class this semester. There weren’t enough students to hold the class so I was left wondering what to do for writing this year. I work from home and homeschool four separate grades. I couldn’t imagine trying to teach AND grade highschool writing assignments! I stressed myself out all summer trying to figure out what to do!
I began my search for something that I didn’t have to to teach. Enter the WriteAtHome.com courses! Their tag line is “We teach writing so you don’t have to!”
We have been using the Highschool Composition 1 Annual Course for 8 weeks now and their motto holds true. This class lays essential foundations for solid high school writing. The lessons provide an overview of basic principles that apply to writing projects of any kind. The lessons are varied to not be boring for the student. There are creative writing assignments, book reports, letter writing, how to write an article, essays and more! It is recommended that all highschool students new to WriteAtHome.com begin with this course regardless of age or grade level.
All of the WriteAtHome.com courses are very user friendly and completely hands off for the parent. My son immediately figured out what he needed to do and went to work. I have not had to do anything with this program! Once the account is activated your student is able to log in to the Student Dashboard. The parent also receives their own username and password. You can log in and view your child’s returned papers,teacher feedback and when assignments are due. There are also helpful how to videos that answer just about any question you may have! The Student Dashboard is where the writing course is accessed. Your student will be able to see all of the lessons, assignments and due dates. To access the lessons and assignments you click on the lesson/assignment name and it will download the lesson as a PDF file. There are even detailed directions on how to save the file to your computer. It is recommended that you create a WriteAtHome Folder and save all lessons and assignments to that folder on your computer. You could also print the lessons and assignments out and put them in a binder.
The lesson is the teaching portion of the curriculum. Your student reads the lesson on their own. The lesson teaches something new and gives the student an idea on how they can improve their writing skills. It is interesting and keeps their attention and only takes a few minutes to read. After they read the lesson they are ready to begin working on the assignment. The assignment PDF explains exactly what they need to write about and how long the paper should be. Once they have read both of the files the student is ready to begin writing their paper. All assignments are due on Thursdays. What we really enjoyed about this course is the freedom for my son to work at his own pace. He has a full load of schoolwork this year and lots of extra curricular activities. He told me he really enjoys being able to work on his paper a little bit at a time each day or maybe for a long period of time one afternoon if he has a busy week.
When it is time to submit the assignment the student will hit the submit button that is next to the assignment on their dashboard. They will be prompted to upload their paper. The paper gets turned in to the writing coach that is assigned to your child. The writing coach is available via email for any questions you or your student may have. I love the safety features of this program. There are reminders to the student when writing the paper or sending an email to not include your last name. Every correspondence between teacher and student is always copied to the parent. Even though this is a completely hands off program for the parent it is nice to be able to log in and know where your student is at or to be copied on an email from the writing coach if they forgot to turn in a paper!
One of the features we love the most is when the paper gets returned back to the student. This is where the “We teach writing so you don’t have to” really comes in to play! My son was so excited when he received his first paper back. “This is so cool Mom! You have to see this!” he exclaimed. When you are on the My Courses Dashboard you will see that the paper has been submitted. Once it has been reviewed by the writing coach there will be a picture of the returned paper. When you click the returned paper it opens your paper up in a PDF format. The paper looks completely different! It is now full of highlights and note boxes from the writing coach. Any corrections that need to made will be highlighted with the corrections made above the words. The writing coach always leaves encouraging comments on what they like about the story and gives helpful tips on how the student can improve their writing. It will also say if they need to revise it. The dashboard will then show the due date that the revised paper needs to be turned in by.
The Highschool Annual Course also gives the student breaks throughout the year. They get one week off for Thanksgiving, Four weeks off at Christmas time and one week off for Spring Break. Another great perk is that you can access the lessons and assignments on any mobile device, like smart phones and notebooks.
If you are struggling with teaching writing or you think you need to make a change in your writing curriculum, I highly recommend WriteAtHome.com! It isn’t too late to sign up for a course!
There are so many different course offerings other than the yearly Annual Course Plan:
There is a Pay Per Paper Service where you can submit a single writing project of your choice at any time for thorough feedback and evaluation. You pay per paper that you submit. This is a very affordable option and is great to use in conjunction with a History or Literature Curriculum.
There are also lots of A la Carte Workshops ! These workshops are 8 weeks long. You pick and choose which of these shorter courses best meets your needs each year. You can take a single course or several courses spread out over several years.
This is another affordable option and they have lowered the price on these workshops!
Some examples of the courses offered are:
Narrative Writing, Descriptive Writing, Expository Writing, Persuasive Writing and Research Paper
Creative Writing, Short Story Writing, Expository Writing, Essay, Literary Analysis, Research Paper and SAT Essay Prep
And the final and BRAND NEW option available in January 2015 are the Semester Long Courses:
For the past two years, WriteAtHome.com has offered two types of writing courses: 32-week annual courses and 8-week workshops. Starting in January of 2015, they will be reintroducing a third option: 16-week semester courses.
Semester courses are abridged versions of the annual courses. They run at the same pace – one draft of a writing assignment per week – but include a selection of lessons and assignments from the annual versions. Like the annual courses, semester courses take a broad approach to writing instruction, covering creative writing, academic writing and practical writing including narrative, descriptive, expository, and persuasive papers.
This is great news for families looking for a well-rounded writing program but are too late in the year to enroll in an annual course. Taking the semester course will get the student oriented to and into the WriteAtHome.com learning process. Then they can move on to the next level the following year with confidence!