Creative Language Arts for Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Creative Language Arts for Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco.

Creative Language Arts for Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco

Creative Language Arts for Homeschool High School, Interview with Julie Polanco

Teens can have fun with ELA. Why not let your homeschool high schoolers be inspired, not tired by their English/Language Arts? That’s why we invited our friend, Julie Polanco, to talk about the creative things her teens are doing!

Julie Polanco is the mother of four but her youngest is now a sophomore homeschool high schooler and the next youngest will be a senior in the fall! It is so exciting to see the two older graduated and doing their next things in life. Since she has fewer demands on her time, Julie decided to go back to college and work on a doctorate in Chinese medicine!

One reason Julie has a bit of time on her hands is that her high schooler is one of those teens who has educational ideas of her own. One of her daughter’s ideas is that she wants to invest in creativity for her Language Arts credits.

Creative Language Arts

Julie is used to thinking creatively about credits. Her older three kids had different special needs. Unfortunately, she could not find curricula that met her teens’ writing needs. Thus, she created Blogging 101 for them and has shared it online. Blogging helps teens learn practical technical skills with shorter, meaningful writing assignments. Blogging helps teens find purpose in their writing assignments (and a life skill).

BTW- Her oldest son developed love (and skills) for writing his blogs, so much so, that he has even been published on Medium.

Other things she has done with her teens include:

NaNoWriMo

Julie’s older daughter has ADHD. Boring writing assignments did not suit her attentional challenges well. However, she loved creative writing. Therefore, Julie got her involves with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Her daughter worked hard for that month and churned out her own novella, start to finish, as the writing portion of her Language Arts. It was great for her to see that she could set a goal and accomplish it! Then, she even had her novella self-published.

Julie helped her daughter by checking on the daily word count and the basic concept of story writing (characters, setting, plotline). She also was available when her daughter got to moments when she felt stuck- helping her brainstorm next steps.

Her family also have hosted a book club. For her teens’ book club, Julie and the teens selected classics from a variety of genres, such as:

  • Mysteries
  • Sci-Fi
  • Jane Austen (of course)

This was fun for her teens because they could discuss the things they were reading. Along with the book reading, the club also had meaningful writing assignments such as:

  • Book reviews
  • Writing a new ending for the book

They also completed Literature Study Guides for some of the books they read in the club. Julie led the discussion part of the group. (Click here for some good book discussion questions.)

Movies as the basis for Literature

Julie’s teens studied Shakespeare by watching movie versions of several of his plays. Literature study guides helped them dive into the depth and meaning of Shakespeare’s plays. (7Sisters’ Literature Study Guide for Much Ado about Nothing is a good example.)

In fact, they did a number of cinema for literature. One of their favorite discussion questions was: Where did the movie differ from the book?

For reading, they often used audiobooks (sometimes listening and reading along or just listening). (However, one thing Julie’s teens noticed when reading along, was that sometimes the audio versions of books did not quite match the print version.)

For more ideas on movies as Literature:

Blogging 101

Julie runs Milkweed School.JulieNaturally.com. Julie’s popular one-semester beginner Blogging 101 class teaches teens how to set up a blogging website. She then teaches different kinds of blog posts and how to write them, including:

  • How to posts
  • Personal story posts
  • Review posts
  • PLUS the nuts and bolts of behind the scenes to run a blog.

Once they complete the course, they know the basics of writing blogs as well as owning their own website! They also have practical writing skills they can use the rest of their lives.

Julie can be found at:

Join Vicki and Julie for an inspiring discussion on creative Language Arts credits.

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Ten Terrific Reasons to Teach Tall Tale Writing to Teens

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Ten Terrific Reasons to Teach Tall Tale Writing to Teens.

Top Ten Reasons to Teach Tall Tale Writing to Teens

Ten Terrific Reasons to Teach Tall Tale Writing to Teens

Why shouldn’t high school writing assignments be fun? Let’s have fun with tall tales!

Vicki was raised in Texas back in the olden days. In those early days of television there wasn’t much to watch. So in the evenings, neighbors would join together in the backyard. The kids would chase lightening bugs, watch the jack rabbits and listen to the grownups tell tall tales. Tall tales about Pecos Bill, mostly (being Texas and Pecos Bill was Texan, of course) but also, Paul Bunyan, John Henry and larger than life characters.

So Vicki grew up loving tall tales and taught them to her kids, then to our co-ops and homeschool group classes. We told the tales AND then made up our own tall tale characters and stories. Vicki thinks teaching tall tales to teens is a terrific idea!

Here are ten terrific reasons for teaching tall tale writing to your homeschool high schoolers:

Teens will thank you for this!

Tall tale writing is a great tie-in to your American History studies

Tall tale writing and reading brings to life the culture and traditions of the Old West. Check out a book on tall tales at the library or choose some stories from this website:

American Folklore

Or some classic YouTubes:

There’s a movie tie-in

Have you ever seen the movie Tall Tale? It’s a fun movie that features some favorite tall-tale characters: Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, John Henry. Log a few fun, inspirational hours for your American History class by:

  • Watching the movie Tall Tale
  • Wiscussing the larger-than-life characters
  • Discussing the “Code of the West” (Should we modern Americans have some sort of “Code”, ourselves?)

Teens need to know the original superheroes: the tall tale heros

Pecos Bill was a cowboy who rode a tornado and a huge black horse named Widowmaker. He could shoot the trigger fingers off the bad guys so they couldn’t harm the local citizens! He was rough and tough and always good.

Paul Bunyan was a lumberjack. He had a HUGE blue ox named Babe. He could eat pancakes so big that the griddle required buttering by other lumberjacks with huge butter pats tied onto their feet. They’d ice skate around the griddle to get it ready for pancake batter. He was NO nonsense but very good.

John Henry worked the building railroads. He was a mighty steel driver with a huge and mighty hammer. No one could hold a candle to his strength and speed! He was honest and unstoppable.

These original American heroes were the role models for our American superheroes like Superman, Spiderman, Black Panther and all the Marvel gang. They are strong and good and look out for others.

Tall tales help teens understand our American cultural roots

Tall tale heroes are a sort of American archetype: fictional larger than life versions of ourselves. We Americans want to see ourselves as:

  • Good
  • Brave
  • Standing up for the little guy
  • Doing what is honorable and right

This is exactly what the tall tale characters were (along with being silly and sometimes foolish). When we go back and study and respect these original American icons, it helps us decide how we want to live out these American values. It is an excellent discussion for teens, co-ops and homeschool group classes. How do we as individuals live out American ideals such as goodness, bravery, standing up for the little guy, acting honorably and righteously?

Tall tales are fun to hear and write. #7SistersHomeschool #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #TallTales

Writing tall tales is a good creative writing project for teens

While there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school, we 7Sisters have guided our teens to have four kinds of writing each year:

  • Essays
  • Research Papers
  • Short stories (creative writing)
  • Poetry (creative writing)

One of the most fun and useful kinds of short story writing assignments is tall tales! Tall tale writing is a fantastic way to write a short story because you can’t really do it wrong. No matter how silly it might be, it fits the genre (I mean, really, who rides a tornado- how silly! If it’s good enough for Pecos Bill, it will work for your teens).

Writing tall tales is fun to do individually and even more fun in a group!

Check out these posts that give terrific tips for tall tale writing in your homeschool co-op or group classes.

Writing tall tales is easy because 7Sisters has a step-by-step curriculum that teens love

Check out 7Sisters popular Tall Tale Writing Guide which gives daily assignments for writing a terrific, true-to-form tall tale! Each lesson is fun and non-threatening and builds writing success skills.

Teens tell us they feel so encouraged when they finish their tall tale

Over and over through the years, teens who were intimidated by writing (especially creative writing) have told us that when they finished their Tall Tales Writing Guide, they felt SO excited. They didn’t know they were creative writers, but once it was non-threatening and fun, their creative souls were unleashed. Tall tale writing has been such a confidence booster for many teens!

Tall tale studying and writing can become a tradition that your teens can pass onto their kids someday

Part of the wonder of tall tales is the passing down of stories from generation to generation. Perhaps your teens will tell their kids about Pecos Bill, Paul Bunyan, John Henry and the Code of the West…and maybe their OWN tall tales!

Join Vicki for a quick and fun chat about Tall Tales and Teens!

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Ten Terrific Reasons to Teach Tall Tale Writing to Teens

Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School.

Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School.

Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School

Why is English/Language Arts SO confusing? Why is it such a huge credit? ELA is the most complicated credit for each year of homeschooling high school. This credit has so many topics to cover in order to prepare our teens for effective thinking and communication as adults.

But don’t worry, we’ve got you! Join Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for a fun discussion on ELA and how to handle it.

Let’s start with the basic information for you to remember.

All credits are not created equal. We know it’s not fair that English/Language Arts is like five credits rolled into one credit:

  • Literature
  • Writing
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar
  • Speech/Public Speaking

It’s a huge credit! So let’s see if we can clarify the components and make it a little easier to manage.

We LOVE to help! SO here goes!

Let’s talk about Literature. It’s NOT just a book list. What goes into a the Literature component for high school?

  • You could approach it from several different ways:
  • Your teens should read an appropriate number of books (each teen is different, so the number will vary) that are challenging. The purpose of these books are to learn analysis and critical/inferential thinking skills.
    • We recommend Literature Study Guides for at least one book per month in this category (more for Honors-level students).
      • We highly recommend Literature Study Guides that DON’T kill the book by overteaching and busywork. (Our teens, and the teens we have taught over the years, helped 7SistersHomeschool.com’s team create guides that build skills but build them in meaningful, no-busywork ways.)
  • Your teens should read an appropriate number of other books (again, each teen is different, so the number will vary) that are:
    • not necessarily as challenging,
    • are reading for pleasure,
    • are part of their Bible reading or
    • supplement other subjects.

All credits are not created equal. We know it's not fair that English/Language Arts is like five credits rolled into one credit: Literature Writing Vocabulary Grammar Speech/Public Speaking

Let’s talk about Writing. It’s NOT just essay writing. What goes into a the Writing component for high school?

Homeschool high schoolers will need to write essays, yes. Essays (especially the basic five-paragraph essay) help teens capture their thoughts, then concisely and clearly present them. Essays at this level, are exercises to develop thought-presentation skill.

Teens then need to expand their skills in capturing and presenting thoughts in the form of research papers. In order to write a longer paper, like an MLA, APA or Chicago-style research paper, teens also need to learn to do research, present it in an appropriate format and cite it.

In order to write these long papers and essays well, it helps to write some Short Stories.

Basic short story writing helps teens develop creative thinking (which helps build problem-solving skills). Teens who write some short stories tend to notice they become better writers of the “serious” paper styles because they are writing are articulately.

Many teens are intimidated by the idea of short story writing, that’s why we 7Sisters started teaching our teens and our local homeschool co-ops how to write them. With their vetting, our guides take teens through simple, step-by-step processes of writing a fun short story (a different style each year of high school, including the ever-popular Myth-Fantasy Short Story Writing Guide). You may remember our fun HSHSP episode with popular indy-novelist Will Hahn who teaches our local teens this course each year.

In order to write essays and research papers well, it helps to write some Poetry.

Poetry writing can be fun but mostly it helps teens learn to find and use words articulately and with inspiration.

That’s why 7Sisters began teaching our teens poetry with non-threatening, tiny, fun daily lessons for a unit each year. Even our most reluctant teens learn to like writing poetry and feel more confident with their other papers.

Don’t forget professional writing. Don’t let teens graduate with these skills.

Being able to write emails, memos and other things may make a difference when they get into the job market. 7Sisters can help with that to, with our popular Professional Writing course.

Let’s talk about Vocabulary for homeschool high school.

Of course, 7Sisters Literature Study Guides include vocabulary from the book. Also teens who want more will love playing FreeRice.com‘s gamified vocabulary (will help with SAT prep, too). (BTW- we are not Free Rice affiliates, it’s just fun.)

Let’s talk about Grammar for homeschool high school.

Some teens just naturally have grammar under control. Help them learn to use the rubric for each paper to edit their papers. (Don’t forget to keep rough drafts of papers in your homeschool portfolios/records.)

If your teen needs something on hand to help check the rules, use 7Sisters digital pocket guide: Grammar Granules.

Don’t forget your teen can also use tools like Grammarly to run their papers through to catch grammar goofs they might not have noticed.

You can also have your teen do a practice workbook to increase their skills. Some of our local teens have enjoyed Language Mechanic or various levels of Editor in Chief. (Again, we are not affiliates with anyone.)

Let’s talk about Public Speaking for homeschool high school.

We really aren’t through with English/Language Arts until we give our teens a little bit of experience with Speech/Public Speaking. It doesn’t have to be scary. Let it be fun! Try 7Sisters’ beloved Public Speaking curriculum. It is full of FUN exercises.

Homeschool high school English/Language Arts: You and your teens can LOVE this. Give it a try with 7Sisters resources (especially our comprehensive ELA Bundles that include each of the 5 areas of ELA).

Hey, join our 7SistersHomeschool Facebook group and enjoy the questions and discussions to encourage homeschool moms and thanks for joining Sabrina, Vicki and Kym for this week’s discussion on ELA for homeschool high school!

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  4. Click SUBSCRIBE.
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PLEASE SUBSCRIBE VIA iPHONE

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Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School