AHL - Writing assignments (English + History)

Julie in MN
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Highschool writing

Unread post by Julie in MN » Fri Jan 31, 2014 6:51 pm

cjgrubbs wrote:I have done IEW's writing plan with my children over the last 3 years. My 5th grade son has gradually internalized the concepts of "dress ups" (using strong verbs, clauses, transitions and adjectives, etc) and actually writes well. However, my 8th grade son, while a voracious reader, is a terrible writer. A good part of it is laziness and after many edits and me prodding him he can come up with a decent paragraph.

My concern is really moving into next year - will he be able to handle the composition work of the AHL program? Since there are no samples to view (MFW Office has explained the copyright issue there) I'm just not sure he is going to be successful with the program. He's a smart kid with above average test scores on his last SAT in every category except Language, where he got average scores. His plan at this point is something science or computer related but I know he still needs to be able to write a decent essay for college purposes.

I'm drawn to the program bc everything is laid out and gives me guidelines for grading covering history, English and Bible.
I'm scared to spend a large chunk of money to find out he's not prepared and then us be several months into high school needing to make major changes.
I'm looking for those who have used AHL with kids who weren't good writers at the start.... how did it work for you and your child?
Hello,
Well, I was trying to let someone else chime in, since I feel like a board hog on writing threads because I just am passionate about the topic of writing, but here you are lonely and so I'll jump in :)

I'm curious what you mean about your 8th grader being a terrible writer. Is he a terrible IEW writer, meaning he doesn't have enough dress-ups and sentence variation? Or is he poor at grammar and making errors in sentence structure? Some people want more creative writing - is that where he struggles?

I do agree that writing is a good focus for 8th grade. MFW spends 7th & 8th getting grammar down, so depending on where he's at with grammar, you could consider the MFW grammar materials (more basic parts of speech in the 7th grade book, or more advanced sentences in the 8th grade book).

To me, a solid sentence needs to be first. I wouldn't bother with anything more until you are comfortable that the majority of his sentences are correct - not fancy, not any specific style, but just without errors.

After the sentence, work on the paragraph. I think a solid paragraph before high school is the goal. My mantra for my youngest's 8th grade paragraphs was organize-organize-organize. He really wanted to do stream-of-consciousness paragraphs, and I wanted to move him towards editing those thoughts into an organized, planned sequence.

Not sure if I hit anything that matches your needs?
cjgrubbs wrote:Well, I want his content to flow, have varied sentence structure and "dress-ups" for interest. On his own he will write a paragraph with every sentence starting with the subject, lack of adjectives, strong verbs, etc. If I push him to edit and redo he can eventually come up with a good paragraph but he dislikes it and struggles to get it done.

So do you feel if he can easily pull off a good paragraph by end of 8th grade he will be ready for the writing in AHL?
Well, each child will have weaknesses and you may well be working on those weaknesses all through high school, at least if you're like me :)

The focus in AHL will be the argumentative essay. This helps push a lot of kids out of their comfort zone because they must come up with their own idea and their own supports, so they can't just do the old accurate-but-dull description type writing. Because of the age group, sometimes hesitant writers even enjoy the chance to put their own opinions out there, but even if that's not the case, they will need to learn how to be convincing. It might be a good thing for your ds.

The skill starts gently and builds slowly, so with your feedback and by the parent allowing the student to be a 9th grader and not a 12th grader, I think it's doable for most 9th graders. There are also lessons after the essay, encouraging the student to improve the essay even more, such as avoiding subject pronouns.

Does that help you picture the year ahead?
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

thelapps
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:39 am

Re: Highschool writing

Unread post by thelapps » Tue Feb 11, 2014 6:46 pm

Hi! My son has done very little of the writing. I am working with a different writing curriculum- Brave Writer. I love her approach. She helps you to lighten up and get the fun aspect of writing, discovering your personal style before adding in the necessary forms of writing. Your child learns by a lot of experimenting with words. IEW is good but I think Brave Writer is better because it takes away all the worries and fears of writing.

If you can let go of making your son perform in writing I think he can go through AHL just fine. I have actually had mine just eliminate the writing assignments while we work on getting their writing skills built up.

Can your son express himself well in spoken words? Have him tell you what he's read and you write it down. Work on it together, asking him if you got it down correctly. What would he add? Some boys may enjoy writing but I think they are few and far between. Is writing essential to his life as a whole? Will waiting be very detrimental? Maybe his vocabulary is lacking. Does he have the words that he needs to express what he wants to say?

Julie of BW quotes her husband who's taught Freshman Composition for 13 years-"Julie, please don't only teach the academic writing formulas. Homeschooling mothers can get those anywhere. What their kids need is what BW offers- enabling kids to play with writing, to stay connected to their thoughts, ideas and opinions, and to feel the freedom to express those ideas in their unique writing voices, not some canned formula devoid of life, personality or passion."

Blessings in the journey!
Marie Lapp
5 sons using WHL; AHL; & RTR

Julie in MN
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Location: Minnesota

Re: Highschool writing

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue Feb 11, 2014 9:14 pm

I think it's wonderful to find the writing program that matches your child's needs. Each of our kids is so unique.

I just wanted to caution that if you throw out all of the writing assignments in AHL, you might miss a bit of the meat of that year, in terms of apologetics and beginning to compare our most ancient Biblical texts to other ancient texts. There are only a handful of English essays, and the first ones are really just practice essays on less significant topics, but the goal I think is to help these young people begin to look at what they believe and why they believe it (giving supporting facts), in their own minds and their own words.

These goals could be done just in conversation or in other ways, but you might not want to throw all of them out altogether?

Just a thought,
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Julie in MN
Posts: 2927
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: Highschool writing

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue Mar 25, 2014 2:50 pm

TrustingHim wrote:Can I piggy back off this question and ask another question of Julie? :)

So, in AHL, would you recommend not buying a writing curriculum and maybe just starting 1st semester only doing MFW's writing assignments? Is it enough? I've never not purchased a separate writing curriculum so I'm having a hard time deciding what to do. I gather from your answers to the OP that you feel MFW is complete in its writing and grammar instruction and nothing else is needed for LA. Am I correct? And what is used for Grammar, if anything?

Thanks!
Dorinda
HI Dorinda,
Yes, I definitely think that AHL has enough of a writing focus to just use it for the year. It is a headache dragging some of our kids up to high school level of organizing a logical argument, and getting through just the five of them during AHL is worth spending the time, rather than getting waylaid on other things. The first one or two of course don't need to be perfect, but at my house at least, I wanted him to be able to make a point clearly, and support it with a logical sequence of evidence, and I wanted to give both of us us the time to haggle over these essays until they started to morph towards high school writing. If your student sails through those 5 essays too easily, then I'd suggest spending more time on something else like math LOL. If your student grumbles and groans and starts over and over on those 5 essays, then I'd say it's a good use of both of your time !!

I guess by the end of AHL, if I saw a clear weak area, I might consider adding a problem-specific program in one of the following years. However, my humble :) opinion is that writing programs can't give individualized feedback, so they have the potential to spend time on the wrong things.

I did have a dd who could not write her own thoughts for the life of her and so I used one of the IEW-SWI courses with her because it forced her to come up with her own short key word outlines, and didn't let her just try to remember the encyclopedia entry, and that's an example of using a specific program to work on a specific weakness for a short period of time. (That was before MFW had high school, and I might not spend the time and money that way now, not sure.) But generally I am of the opinion that "growing up" in writing involves 99% just writing and having someone tell you whether your writing makes sense to them (and give some encouragement, too).

Rather than spending time and money on other programs, I'd commit that time and/or money to editing those essays, hopefully a scheduled commitment with the parent/homeschool teacher or else with an adult sibling or with someone who commits to going over those 5 essays this coming year. Some folks have posted their student essays here on the board for feedback, too, if you get stuck in giving feedback.

HTH,
Julie
P.S. There are a few other types of writing in AHL (informal history essay options, Psalms & Proverbs projects, answering questions in complete sentences, grammar review in Lit Supplement), but the 5 formal essays were the "biggie" at our house.
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

TrustingHim
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2010 4:04 pm

Re: Highschool writing

Unread post by TrustingHim » Tue Mar 25, 2014 5:28 pm

Thanks Julie!
That is extremely helpful. I appreciate it, it helps me to narrow my scope. That's a post that should be saved to the archives! :)
Blessings!
Dorinda
Wife to an exceptional DH for 17 years
Mother to 2 Girls; 14 and 11
Used: EX-1850 & 1850-MOD both with the 2nd/3rd grade go-alongs and ECC with 7th/8th grade go alongs
2014/15: Ex-1850 & AHL
Psalm 118:24

Julie in MN
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Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Citations for 1st AHL paper-are they needed?

Unread post by Julie in MN » Fri Aug 22, 2014 10:28 am

CharleneHoell wrote:My oldest son is almost done with his 1st argumentative essay in AHL. He has chosen to defend that dragons really existed from a historical, Biblical, and literary perspective. He has quite a bit of evidence. Should I have him cite within the paper? I have no idea whether MFW does MLA or something else? What have others chosen to do? Is it necessary for the 1st one? Are citations taught this year?

Thanks,
Charlene
Hi Charlene,
I hope someone who's doing AHL now will correct me if I'm wrong because it's been a few years for us, but I'll give this one a go. I do spend a lot of time on writing assignments, so I may remember more than most LOL :)

In AHL, the focus is on organizing writing and bringing it up to high school level, but not necessarily on research. That will come in WHL. In fact, I think AHL assumes your student will not be digging up sources in the papers, or will only be quoting from the one source they are writing about (such as Gilgamesh).

However, because finding good supporting sources and especially citing those resources is such a HUGE part of college writing, and business writing, I think that if you have a student ready to bring in outside resources, I would jump on it as a great teaching opportunity and have him include them all. I might not make him learn MLA style unless you are up for teaching that. He will do a big research paper in WHL and have fun with that ;) For now, I might just have him put the source in parentheses at the end of the sentence or put a little number in brackets and list references at the end of the paper, or something casual and not very time-consuming, but that's your call as to what he's ready for.

When my son went to college orientation, they told the students that even if their source was hearing their mother talk about something in the kitchen, if it was NOT THEIR idea, not 100% totally originating in their own brain, then they needed to cite their source! They were very serious and called it plagiarism. I also think outside resources make an argument more solid.

HTH,
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

Julie in MN
Posts: 2927
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

AHL Writing Question

Unread post by Julie in MN » Thu Mar 26, 2015 10:06 pm

MelissaHinGA wrote:Hello,

We are brand new to MFW but not to homeschooling. My 9th grade son will be using AHL this coming year.

My question is about AHL. What is the topic or book for the first essay they write?

Looking forward to a year of spiritual growth.

Thank you,

Melissa
Hi Melissa,
Hopefully you'll receive replies from those who are doing AHL and have the manual handy. Otherwise, I'll check our manual and my son's essay later.

But I wanted to mention that the first essay in week 1 is just a teaching lesson on how to structure the argumentative essay, and as I recall the topic can be whatever you want. I know I've read about students who argued that one type of engine or bicycle was better than another, and others who argued on faith/church topics because that was on their hearts. Instead of reading literature that first week, they are reading from the Literature Supplement about essays, then writing an essay, and finally going back to improve it.

In week 5, they will be writing an essay about Gilgamesh. My son's topic had something to do with comparing the flood accounts of Noah and Gilgamesh. (In week 3, they will do a history essay, but it is informal.)

HTH,
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

MelissaHinGA
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Joined: Wed Mar 25, 2015 1:20 pm

Re: AHL Writing Question

Unread post by MelissaHinGA » Fri Mar 27, 2015 11:44 am

Thank you, Julie, for the above information.

Melissa

Missy OH
Posts: 69
Joined: Tue Jun 29, 2004 12:36 pm

High school essay

Unread post by Missy OH » Mon May 25, 2015 3:19 pm

gratefulmom wrote:We are wrapping up our year of AHL. Grueling in some ways, but a good year. The final argumentative essay is supposed to be on the Odyssey, and my daughter is uninspired by the thought.

Has anyone ever subbd that essay out for something else, like something from the Bible or, hey, maybe she could pick something from Eric Liddell. Would that be ok??? Like, his decision to not run on Sundays, that could be put into an argumentative essay, couldn't it? Any thoughts out there?

Deborah
Wife to one hardworking man, Mom of 8 wonderful children
You are the mother. The curriculum is a tool, a good one, but a tool. I would absolutely sub a different topic as long as the format is followed correctly.

Julie in MN
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Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Re: High school essay

Unread post by Julie in MN » Tue May 26, 2015 1:24 pm

Hi Deborah,
I absolutely agree with Missy that it's your school! Sometimes we subbed.

I did try to ensure any goals were met from the original assignments. When reading Homer, my personal goals were to recognize Greek mythology in our culture today (with any underlying messages), and to gain real facts for future conversations like, "The Old Testament has a pillar of cloud and pillar of salt, so isn't it the same as other mythology?" (which I have heard). AHL students will have read them both and be able to share facts.

Anyways, likely your dd has already achieved your personal goals in her reading. And these things can be checked through conversation -- for some kids conversation sticks better :) Then she can defend an essay on a topic she's more passionate about.

(The rest may or may not apply; mostly it was my own curiosity.) I looked at my son's Iliad and Odyssey essays. His writing doesn't reflect our conversations on apologetics or Greek epics all that much. He wrote out of his extreme dislike of Achilles :~
Achilles and Odysseus are two characters that play a major roll in the Trojan War epics. One is a hero, and the other is an “anti-hero” (not a hero, but not necessarily a villain).
...
In the end, Odysseus is loved for helping end the war and spending so long to get to his beloved wife. He truly earns the title “hero”. Achilles earns the title “anti-hero” with his mindless slaughter and his lack of connections to the reader.
His Iliad essay basically justifies his preference for Hector over Achilles, which he found ironic in a Greek heroic epic ;) But underneath that, like your dd, he was kind of disgusted with the mythology and he loves the Bible, so there is underlying fruit in this mom's eyes.
(Thesis at the end of paragraph one:) Here’s the catch: Homer makes the Trojans seem like the good guys.
...
So because of Achilles’ lack of emotion, the ones who started the war seem to be the real heroes because of their loveable Hector. The author, Homer, does a fantastic job of keeping us oblivious of the fact that the Trojans started this war.
Hope that helps you see that each student can go off in the direction that fits him or her, while still advancing in essay-writing skills and Biblical apologetics.
Julie
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
(http://www.CaringBridge.org/visit/ShaneHansell)
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs

gratefulmom
Posts: 17
Joined: Tue Nov 15, 2011 7:11 pm

Re: High school essay

Unread post by gratefulmom » Tue May 26, 2015 1:51 pm

Thank you both so much. She liked the idea of using something from the Eric Liddell book, so I think we are on our way. I enjoyed the quotes from your son's report, Julie. It's fun to see samples from other students. Thanks!

Deborah

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