How I Teach English in High School

Finish Well Radio Show, Podcast #096, How I Teach English in High School with Meredith Curtis on the Ultimate Homeschool Podcast NetworkHow I Teach English in High School

In “How I Teach English in High School,” episode #096, Meredith Curtis shares the life skills she invests in her children during the high school years along with the classic literature they read and kinds of writing they do each year. Meredith actually teaches high school English for 5 years starting in 8thgrade. Her teens learn to work with original documents, give a decent speech, analyze literature, create stories, write excellent essays, write a novel, edit writing, and read a wide variety of classic literature. Sounds overwhelming? Not at all! Everything is broken down into bite-sized pieces in courses that are fun to teach and learn.  Be inspired to relax and enjoy high school while investing life skills your children will use in the decades ahead.

 

 


High School Curriculum by Powerline Productions

 

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Show Notes

Common question: “How do you teach English in high school?”

5 years instead of 4 to get all the skills and books in!

Classes taught in no particular order. Each one stands alone. A senior might take an English course with a freshman. Learning together is more fun!

In each course, I teach specific writing, research, and speaking skills. We also read classic literature, essays, and short stories.

Each time I teach these courses, they are a little different because they target specific needs and interests of the one or two of my teens taking the course.

Here are the Skills I Teach:  

Write a Excellent Essay, Give a Decent Speech, and Write a Effective Thesis Statements

Essays:wide variety, crafting workable thesis statements, using the thesis statement effectively, communicating clearly, making the essay enjoyable to read, having something worth saying, editing, rewriting

Speech:comfortableness in front of an audience, make it lighthearted. Speeches from reading picture book aloud all the way to persuasive speech with a dabble in debate.

Reading:Essays, Classic Literature

Listening:Speeches by Excellent Speakers

My Course: Communication 101: Essays & Speeches

 

Research, Working with Original Sources, Classic American Literature

Research Skills:Using a Library, Using the Internet, Citing Sources, Working with Original Documents (original sources from Age of Reason—Yikes!), Summarizing, Paraphrasing, Starting with a Research Question, Using Quotes, Outlines, Thesis Statements that can guide a paper, Writing Paper, Presenting Paper

Writing:Paraphrase, Précis, Thesis Statements, Essay, Articles, Research Paper. The step-by-step research and writing a research paper begins with weekly meetings to read research and notes aloud and share ideas.

Reading:Great American works from histories and poetry to adventures and humor

Reading Aloud Together:Sermons, Scenes from Plays

Book Club Discussions:Style of writing and change of writing over time. We often are studying American history at the same time so discussions can often end up intertwining American history.

My Course: American Literature and Research 

 

Literary Analysis, Ancient Literature

Reading:Starts right at the Beginning with Genesis and Tale of Gilgamesh, and we and work our way through ancient works by Aesop, Homer, Virgil, and Saint Augustine, and on to Robin Hood and fairy tales by Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen.

Analysis:While we move through history, we learn how to analysis literature starting with simple analysis and moving forward to a plot analysis later in the year.

Writing:Simple Review & Analysis Papers moving toward a Plot Analysis Paper, Fairy Tale

Book Club Discussions:One thing we notice and discuss is how all the ancient plots are repeated over and over all the way up to today in plays, literature, movies, and TV shows. It’s fun to see those ancient plots dressed up in modern clothes.

My Course: Foundations of Western Literaturewe start at the very beginning with Genesis and work our way through ancient works by Aesop, Homer, Virgil, and Saint Augustine, ending with Fairy Tales.

Classic British Literature, Creative Writing

We love British literature!

Reading:Classic works from Beowulf to Milton to Dickens to Austen to Lewis and so much more. The best books ever!

Reading Aloud:Poetry & Scenes from Shakespeare plays

Book Club Discussions:We love to get into deep discussions about all the amazing stories we read during the British Literature course in a book club setting complete with coffee and hot chocolate.

Writing:We use the literature as a springboard for writing assignments. When we read Canturbery Tales, we write “Tales to Israel.” We write an allegory when we read Pilgrim’s Progress and a sonnet when we read Shakespeare.

History:As a history buff, I have to share a bit of British history as we go and move through the books chronologically.

My Course: British Literature & Writing

 

Golden Age Mysteries, Creative Writing, Writing a Novel

Reading:“Golden-Age” mysteries by amazing authors like Agatha Christie, Sir Author Conan Doyle, Dorothy Sayers, and G.K. Chesterton.

Book Club Discussion:books and short stories we read throughout the year, noticing how the author built suspense, tricked us with red herrings, developed characters, and surprised us with the twist ending.

Watching:Classic TV Mysteries, too, like Perry Mason and Monk.

Preparation/Development:We spend half of the year developing our characters, especially our detective and sidekick, as well as working on dialogue, clues, red herrings, and plots. We worked on our stories as if they were one scene followed by the next scene and the next scene, etc.

Critique:Read & Review One Another’s Paper (this course is more fun with 2 or more)

Writing:Descriptive Paragraph about our Detective, Prep Assignments to “show” Characters, Outlines, Short Story, Novel

My Course: Who Dun It Murder Mystery Literature & Writing

Grammar Review

I Teach Grammer 3rdto 7thGrade. From 8thto 12thGrade, we just review grammar once a week with Daily Grams.

In high school, we focus on writing skills, as well as reading and discussing classic literature and works.

If you would like to use my English courses in your own homeschool, they are all available for sale in print at Amazon and as E-books from PayHip and TeachersPayTeachers.

You can learn more about all my high school courses here.

You can learn about individual English courses:
Communication 101: Essays and Speeches
Foundations of Western Literature
American Literature & Research
British Literature & Writing
Who Dun It? Murder Mystery & Writing

Whatever path you choose for English in your own high school home school, I hope it will include lots of classic literature and writing. I think back to the basics is best!

Resources

Always FREE Reading Lists for Every Age!

 

American Literature & Research British Literature & Writing High School Class Communications 101:Essays and Speeches High School Class Foundations of Western Literature by Meredith Curtis
Newspaper Reporting by Meredith Curtis Who Dun It? Murder Mystery Literature and Writing High School Class HIS Story of the 20th Century by Meredith Curtis HIS Story of the 20th Century: High School Workbook by Meredith Curtis

Tips for Actively Reading Any Piece of Literature

actively readingIt’s easy to get distracted when reading, especially in today’s digital society where something is always beeping, buzzing, or dinging. Our attentions are pulled in a million different directions. We could all use a little help when it comes to focusing on a single task. In this blog post, I’ll be discussing some tips on something we do every day: reading! And not just any type of reading, but actively reading.

Just like a great athlete must undergo deep practice to become skilled at his or her game, an expert reader must practice good habits when it comes to reading. Actively reading is akin to this type of deep practice.

Here are some podcasts with great literature suggestions.

Best Summer Reading

Helping Literal Thinkers with Literature Analysis

Literature In Your Homeschool

Tip #1: Set Yourself Up for Success

When I am actively reading something, I have pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, and an array of colored pencils by my side — these are my tools for success.

For example, if I actively read a novel, there are few pages that don’t have some underlined or circled word, a question scribbled in the margin, or a highlighted phrase. Come up with a process that works for you and find the tools that best suit it.

Tip #2: Ask Questions

An inquiring mind learns. In order for true knowledge acquisition to occur during an actively reading session, the reader must ask themselves questions to stay engaged with the literature.

Below, I have shared a series of questions that are useful for readers starting to actively read. My high school freshman English teacher used them to guide our literary learning throughout the year. They proved to be a great base for engaging with different texts and served me well after. These questions can be most readily applied to novels and poetry; however, they can be adapted to really any piece of literature. The questions are broken up into the following sections: characters, setting, plot, symbols and other devices, point of view, themes, irony, and newly imagined.

CHARACTER
• Who is the protagonist and who or what is the antagonist?
• What words come to mind when you think about the protagonist or the antagonist?
• How is he, she, or it characterized?
• What motivates this character’s actions?
• What is memorable about the character?
• Is the author’s depiction of the character the same throughout the entire text?
• Are there any surprises? If so what are they?

SETTING
• Where does the story take place? Is the setting: geographical, physical, magical, socio-economic, chronological?
• Locate and specify the various types of setting. What does such specific setting contribute to the overall effect of the story (thematically or in terms of character)?
• When the setting changes where does it change to and how does the change impact the story?

PLOT
• Briefly, what is going on?
• What structure does the story follow (e.g. Freytag)?
• Where in the story are the main points?
• What are the conflicts? Where in the story are they?
• Are the conflicts internal or external? Are they physical, intellectual, societal, moral, or emotional?
• Is the main conflict between sharply differentiated entities (e.g. good versus evil), or is it more subtle and complex?
• Does the plot have unity? Are all the episodes relevant to the total meaning or effect of the story?
• Is the ending happy, unhappy, or indeterminate? Is it fairly achieved?

SYMBOLS AND OTHER DEVICES
• Does the story make use of symbols?
• What kind does the author use (names, objects, actions)?
• What does each symbol mean?
• Does the symbol carry or merely reinforce the meaning of the story?
• What other devices does the author use (e.g. imagery, metaphor, personification, pathos, allusions, aphorisms)? How are they used? What meaning does their use lend to the story?

POINT OF VIEW
• What point of view does the story use?
• Is it consistent in its use of this point of view?
• If shifts in point of view are made are they justified?
• If the point of view is that of one of the characters does that character have any limitations that affect her/his interpretation of events or persons?

THEME
• Does the story have a theme?
• What is it? Is it implicit or explicit?
• Does the theme reinforce or oppose popular notions of life?
• Does it furnish a new insight or refresh or deepen an old one?
• Remember, a theme is an opinion rather like a thesis statement not simply a topic.

IRONY
• Does the story anywhere utilize irony? If so what kind and how? What functions do the ironies serve?

NEWLY IMAGINED
• Compared to other things you have read is there something new, unique, or different about the way the author presents this story or poem?

Special Replay: The Best Way to Teach Reading

best way to teach readingThe almost militant battle of how to best teach reading has been waged over the last 150+ years with proponents from both sides being adamant about their recommendations.  As the reading curriculum pendulum has swung back and forth from phonics to sight to phonics the controversy roars on with little attention given to anything except technique. This narrow view of reading has resulted in millions of individuals being diagnosed with dyslexia and other reading and language delays.

With the introduction of learning styles even more reading techniques abound.  Phonics is an auditory approach to reading. One must hold each sound in auditory short-term memory long enough to get the word “sounded out”. If the child’s auditory short-term memory (processing) is low, phonics doesn’t work well, and the parents typically finds themselves moving from one phonics program to the next.  This is often the case in the home school community because phonics is viewed as “THE” best way to teach reading.  Don’t get me wrong; I love phonics and it is a terrific way to teach reading IF the child has good auditory processing. If not, there is frustration, tears and feelings of low self-esteem.

A visual learner might pick up sight words easily but struggle with phonics because of the learner’s visual bend.  For the tactile learner, reading is a real challenge as it is time consuming and inefficient to create each word you need to learn out of pipe cleaners or the like.

In this episode, the Brain Coach will give you tips on what functions must be working well in the brain for reading to take place as she reveals the best way to teach reading.

 

Don’t miss the handout attached here with links to pertinent information and discounts.

Visit our sponsor –LittleGiantSteps.com

The Best Way to Teach Reading

best way to teach readingThe almost militant battle of how to best teach reading has been waged over the last 150+ years with proponents from both sides being adamant about their recommendations.  As the reading curriculum pendulum has swung back and forth from phonics to sight to phonics the controversy roars on with little attention given to anything except technique. This narrow view of reading has resulted in millions of individuals being diagnosed with dyslexia and other reading and language delays.

With the introduction of learning styles even more reading techniques abound.  Phonics is an auditory approach to reading. One must hold each sound in auditory short-term memory long enough to get the word “sounded out”. If the child’s auditory short-term memory (processing) is low, phonics doesn’t work well, and the parents typically finds themselves moving from one phonics program to the next.  This is often the case in the home school community because phonics is viewed as “THE” best way to teach reading.  Don’t get me wrong; I love phonics and it is a terrific way to teach reading IF the child has good auditory processing. If not, there is frustration, tears and feelings of low self-esteem.

A visual learner might pick up sight words easily but struggle with phonics because of the learner’s visual bend.  For the tactile learner, reading is a real challenge as it is time consuming and inefficient to create each word you need to learn out of pipe cleaners or the like.

In this episode, the Brain Coach will give you tips on what functions must be working well in the brain for reading to take place as she reveals the best way to teach reading.

 

Don’t miss the handout attached here with links to pertinent information and discounts.

Visit our sponsor –LittleGiantSteps.com