Getting Teens Interested in Writing

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Getting Teens Interested in Writing.

Getting Teens Interested in Writing. Fun ways to ease your teen into becoming more interested and confident in their writing skills!

Getting Teens Interested in Writing

A lot of teens have either had not much experience writing, or they have had negative or overwhelming experiences with writing. So by the time they get to high school, they are just like, Gee, writing. 

How about if we reconstruct writing for our homeschool high schoolers, especially for those who have had those negative experiences or are inexperienced in writing? Let’s reconstruct things for them, so they can learn to write and communicate through writing in a way they actually feel successful in! They just might even enjoy and have fun with it! 

Wouldn’t that be cool?

Wouldn’t that be nice if your teen graduates from homeschool high school and feels confident in their high school writing skills? 

How To Get Your Teens Interested In Writing

First, know that there’s not just one right way to homeschool high school, and there’s not one right way to get writing done. But if we want to reconstruct high school writing and get teens interested, here are some ideas that could help. 

BTW- for more information on goals and grading for writing in homeschool high school, check out this episode.

Start With A Growth Mindset

A lot of times, those teens who come in with the self-doubt or negative writing experience say “writing’s dumb” or “I’m dumb” or “I can’t write.” And because of that, they have a block already about writing. They don’t believe their writing can be successful. 

A growth mindset gives them more confidence. So, instead of saying “I’m bad at writing” or “I hate writing,” they learn to say “I’m not a great writer yet, but I’m learning to be.” Or 

“I’m not there yet, but I’m learning that word, and I’m going to get there.” 

Change the perspective. Adjust the shutdown from “I can’t do this” or “I’m bad at this” to “I’m not there yet, but I’m going to get there.” That change gives teens confidence. It rewires their brain away from shutdown to possibility. Just changing a few words can help them. 

“You’re not there yet, but you’re going to get there.” Say it for them. Work it out with them. Then help them practice that in their writing. It will really help. 

Make Assignments Short and Simple

Another way to get teens interested in high school writing is by making assignments short and simply. Rather than give an inexperienced writer a 10-page research paper and tell them to go for it, and make them follow APA-style down to the letter, pull things back and make assignments short and simple.

Give them materials to work with that are little itsy bitsy bites like in psychology. We call it successive approximations. You take baby steps. One step, and then the next step, and then the next step. And then the next step. One step builds on another. And before you know it, they are capable of doing so much more, and they believe they can too.

So make assignments short and simple. And as often as possible, make them interesting or even fun. They can build on that, and they will go so much more quickly and successfully into the more detailed stuff.

Use Dictation Abilities

Some teens with special needs or who have so much self-doubt in themselves may need to make those early writing steps even easier, such as dictation abilities.

You can:

  • Have them dictate to you
  • Use tools like Dragon Dictation
  • Use voice-to-text

Once their words are in writing, they can do a little formatting and start to feel empowered. 

Try a progressive story for fun and inspiration

Write Together

Another way to get teens interested in writing is by writing together. For example, you can create a progressive story together. 

A progressive story begins with one person starting with a sentence. Then the next person adds on to that sentence, adding to the story. And on and on it goes. One sentence for one person. The sentences build upon each other, creating a story.

  • For example, the first person starts it off with the first sentence. 
    • “Once upon a time, there was a girl named Sally, and she lived in the woods.” 
  • Then you stop after that sentence, and the next person adds to it. 
    • “Sally went for a picnic one day and all of a sudden a big bear came.” 
  • And then the next person adds to it. 
    • “And the bear wanted her picnic and Sally was terrified.”
  • Next the last person says the last sentence.
    • “So Sally tickled the bear, and he ran away. “
  • Then that’s the end of that story. 

Progressive stories like that are silly and nonsensical, but what it gets teens doing is thinking in their creative part of their brain. (And it’s actually the problem-solving part of the brain too!)

These are a few ways to get your teens interested in writing in their homeschool high school years. Start small, and then once they have a little confidence with that, you can give them something a tad bit tougher and start building on that. As you do this, watch their high school writing skills bloom along with their confidence.

Join Vicki for some fun with getting teens interested in writing.

For more inspiration on writing:

Thanks to Richie Soares for help with the post and Seth Tillman for editing the podcast.

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Scheduling 7Sisters ELA Bundles

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Scheduling 7Sisters ELA Bundles.

Scheduling 7Sisters ELA Bundles

Scheduling 7Sisters ELA Bundles

Working on plans for the new school year? Planning English/Language Arts course for your homeschool high schoolers? If you are like many homeschooling families, your teens are enjoying 7Sisters One-Year ELA Bundles…but how do you schedule them?

As you probably know, 7Sisters One-Year ELA Bundles are complete ELA credits, one bundle for each year of homeschool high school. The distinctive about these bundles is that they are made of collections 7Sisters’ popular literature study guides, writing guides, cinema studies for literature learning guides and built in vocabulary and grammar…even public speaking is included!

Together, these cover the HUGE Language Arts credits.

Note: the bundles are not rigidly ninth, tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades. Every teen is different (that is why grade levels are suggested but no hard-fixed.)

Each of the bundles comes with scheduling instructions, but a little bit of encouragement from Sabrina might help homeschool moms feel a bit more confident with the planning.

The easiest ways to get the scheduling of the ELA Bundles completed is to download the FREE syllabus for each bundle.

These syllabi may be adapted for your teens’ needs. Remember: There’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school!

Common questions we receive about scheduling assignments in ELA Bundles

We love to receive questions, so we receive questions often! Here are some of the most common questions:

Question:

ELA Bundles include Literature Study Guide and Cinema Studies for Literature Learning Guides. These guides include essay prompts. However, if my teen has not completed the Essay Writing Guide, how can they handle the essays in the literature and cinema guides?

Answer:

There’s not one right way to handle this.

If your teen is experienced with essays already, start with their knowledge and write the literature and cinema guide essay prompts. Eventually they will be completing the essay writing guide and will add to their already existing their skills.

On the other hand, some teens can skip the essay. This is especially true if they have handled well the inferential skills in the literature guides.

Remember:

You want your teen to be challenged but not intimidated! Do not burnout your teens! Thus, if your teens need to drop an essay-writing assignment or two, they should do that. You want to preserve their love of learning.

Question:

How do you teach ELA Bundles in co-op settings?

Answer:

This is a good question for Sabrina. She taught these bundles to our teens in our co-op and homeschool umbrella school classes for years.

Typically, Sabrina has taught one or two literature (or cinema studies for literature learning) guide per every two to four weeks. This works out well for a nine month school year, since there are usually nine or ten guides in each bundle.

Books vary in length with some being shorter and some longer. Therefore, on longer books, Sabrina weights the longer reading assignments on the first week. This is because the earlier parts of many novels are lighter as far as inferential and analytical questions (which take more time and thought to answer). Why is that? It is because the earlier parts of the book are introducing characters, setting and plot, so questions are more “introductory”.

Therefore, if a your co-op class is taking four weeks to complete a literature study guide:

  • Have students read one third of the book during the first week, along with answering the questions for the reading and completing the vocabulary.
    • In class, introduce the themes and background material of the book and discuss what they understand about those particular themes.
  • During the second week, have your teens read a second third of the book, along with answering the questions for the reading.
    • In class discuss the themes for the book and discuss the questions from their homework.
  • Next, during the third week have your teens complete reading the book. They can then make a notes and outline for the essay in the literature guide. (Remember, you decide whether or not they will do those essays.)
    • In class discuss the themes for the book and discuss the questions from their homework.
  • Finally, teens complete their essays during the fourth week.
    • In class we discuss their essays, review themes and introduce the next book.

Question:

When should students do the vocabulary in the literature study guides?

Answer:

As always, there’s not ONE right way to handle the vocabulary.

  • Some students like to knock it out before they start the book
  • Other students handle the vocabulary in chunks, with each chapter.

Be sure to discuss this with your teens. What would work best for them.

We hope you and your homeschool high schoolers have the best year yet! Join Sabrina for wisdom and encouragement for scheduling 7Sisters ELA Bundles!

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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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Goals and Grading Writing for Homeschool High School

This week on Homeschool Highschool Podcast: Goals and Grading Writing for Homeschool High School.

Goals and Grading Writing for Homeschool High School

Goals and Grading Writing for Homeschool High School

For homeschool high schoolers, one of the most time consuming components of English/Language Arts is the writing. Then one of the most time-consuming components of ELA for homeschooling parents is the grading and goal-setting process. We receive so many questions on goals and grading writing that we decided we should talk about it here on the podcast.

Let’s start with grading. Here is the simple answer for grading writing assignments: Use a rubric!

What’s a rubric?

A rubric is a tool that helps homeschool parents know what value to assign each aspect of their teens’ writing assignments. There are a gazillion ways to create a rubric, based on what is being emphasized in each writing project.

Where do you find rubrics?

You can create you own rubrics or download one off the internet (there are SO many variations on the internet, so you will find something that feels right to you).

For your convenience, we 7Sisters have saved you the time and trouble and included rubrics in our writing curriculum for:

You can even adjust the rubrics to fit your goals for your homeschool high schoolers!

Goals for writing in homeschool high school

Which leads us to the next questions that we receive so often:

  • “I don’t know what the goals should be for my teens’ writing each year. Help?”
  • “I don’t really like writing myself, so how can I set goals for my teens?”
  • “How can I know the priorities for writing?”

Let us help out a bit. Let’s define what the most helpful goals for writing can be. (Remember, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool high school, so you adapt our advice to your own family’s needs.)

Goals for writing: What is the heart and soul of writing?

One of the things we have noticed over the years is that sometimes writing curriculum focuses so much on the mechanics of writing (spelling, grammar, punctuation) that there is absolutely nothing left for fun or inspiration.

Teens often need purpose, meaning and inspiration in their writing. Teens often do best when they know the “WHY” of writing. Do you know the why of writing, BTW?

The purpose of writing is communication!

The purpose of writing is communication.

The purpose of writing is communicating so that people understand what teens are feeling, thinking, learning, being inspired by. So they should ask themselves for each assignment, “What am I trying to communicate here?”

  • For instance, in a comparison and contrast essay about something. The purpose is to help the reader understand what you thought about the similarities and differences of whatever is being compared.
  • For a research paper, the purpose is to communicate what your teen has learned about a subject while doing their research on the topic. (As opposed to the idea that a research paper is about a teen’s opinion about what they are learning. The goal of research papers is information presentation, not opinion presentation.)

One of the best gifts we can give our teens is lots of practice organizing and communicating their thoughts. High school writing can help train teens on thinking and sharing those thoughts through life.

If a teen starts a writing project with those goals in mind, and the grader keeps those goals in mind, life will be easier for both! SO, start out each writing project with a discussion with parent and teen on the goals. Make it clear. Go over the rubric together.

BTW- We 7Sisters have graded SO many papers over the many years of teaching our kids and others. It has not been unusual for teens to complain about writing. However, after graduation and teens have entered adulthood, they have often come back to us and said, “thanks for all the writing”!

Also, know that grading and goals will vary for teens who have different abilities

All teens are different. This is good. So grading cannot be one-size-fits-all!

  • Teens who struggle with reading and writing, will need a simpler rubric and adaptations of goals.
    • BTW-if you have a struggling writer, go easy on the red-pen corrections. Instead, work together on several revisions with lots of encouragement.
  • A teen who is headed to college as a humanities major will need lots of writing with higher-level thinking and word usage. Adapt your rubrics to their needs.
  • Teens who are reluctant but able, need to concentrate on fun, short assignments at first, then gradually grow the assignments.
  • Teens who overthink things, need page limits.

So think about what your teens’ abilities, personalities and goals for after graduation are. As the parent, you know your teens and their needs. Adapt goals and grading to fit those needs.

For lots more information on writing requirements and grading for homeschool high schoolers, check out 7Sisters Authoritative Guide post.

Join Sabrina and Vicki for an informative discussion on goals and grading for homeschool high school writing.

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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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Figuring Out ELA for Homeschool High School

HSHSP Ep 185: Helping Teens Write Myth Fantasy, Interview with Will Hahn

This week on HSHSP Ep 185: Helping Teens Write Myth Fantasy, Interview with Will Hahn.

HSHSP Ep 185: Helping Teens Write Myth Fantasy, Interview with Will Hahn. This popular homeschool teacher share tips for fun high school writing project. #HomeschoolHighSchoolPodcast #MythFantasyWriting #HighSchoolWritingProject #WillHahn #HighSchoolFantasyWritingProject

HSHSP Ep 185: Helping Teens Write Myth Fantasy, Interview with Will Hahn

At 7SistersHomeschool.com there are six of us: Sabrina, Vicki, Kym, Allison, Sara, Marilyn. So WHO’S the 7th Sister? YOU are!

But did you know we have *7th Brothers, too*? We do! In fact, any homeschool dad is a 7th brother when he reads, teaches or listens to 7Sisters podcasts, blogs or curriculum.

We are so excited to be joined by one of our 7th Brothers: Will Hahn. Will is a popular local homeschool dad and teacher, Will Hahn. Many of our local teens will tell you that his writing, literature and history courses are their favorites!

Will is an author also of popular several fantasy series, including The Lands of Hope (and narrator of audio versions of his books and the books of several other authors). The Lands of Hope are written in the legendary Tolkien-esque style.

One of the most popular courses that Will teaches to local homeschool high schoolers is Myth Fantasy Writing. He uses 7SistersHomeschool.com’s Myth-Fantasy Writing Guide which is based on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic myth-fantasy genres. This is a five-week short story writing guide which guides any teen (those who love writing and those who don’t) through a step-by-step process that produces a five-page myth-fantasy short story.

Lewis and Tolkien have a pattern of writing with the plot and specific types of characters:

  • Their stories include extensive backstory called the *subcreation*
  • Idyllic openings
  • Foreshadowing
  • Problems
  • Denouement
  • Other steps that teens will find in the 7Sisters Myth Fantasy Writing Guide
  • Specific characters such as the wise guide and friends from what should be incompatible people groups
  • And most important: the return to old truths. Myth Fantasy share a thought-provoking truth in some way.

Will writes a short story each year right along with his eager (or intimidated) students. (He highly recommends this *learning right alongside our students* style of teaching…very homeschool!) Most of what he did was to tell the class how well he was doing and that the *teacher was thinking it was fantastic*!

Will’s students have written fairy tales, allegory fantasy, Greek-myth style or classic myth fantasy using the steps in the 7Sisters Myth Fantasy Writing Guides. He encourages his students to inspire their stories by thinking about life, about things that concern them, things that they want to wrestle with.

Give your teens a fun writing project that will help them think about important truths: Myth Fantasy Short Story. It will build creativity and conscience.

Advice from Will Hahn about teaching 7Sisters Myth Fantasy Writing Guide:

  • Follow the weekly format and daily lessons in the guide. (This is a five-week curriculum that produces a five-page myth fantasy short story.)
  • Don’t overdo this first five-page story. You can add to it later…hey, turn it into a book.
  • The five-page format is SO achieveable to most homeschool high schoolers. Most kids are not going to be writers, but they will grow up with a story to tell: maybe they will carve wood or work in an office. Teens who have written a truth story, a myth-fantasy story gain some skills in telling the stories of life.
  • Don’t skip drawing the map.
    • One student who was very down to earth wanted a far-north story. She used Google Earth to find the most northern village in America. She used this for her map and the inspiration for her story.
  • If teaching in a class setting, have the students each week read an excerpt, for instance: the first sentence of the story. Then share the completed story at the end.

Like all 7Sisters curriculum, the Myth Fantasy Short Story Writing Guide is adaptable:

  • Honors-level credit by following instructions for a longer paper
  • Tips for adapting the assignments with *average* or more struggling learners
  • Help homeschool high schoolers find their own stories to tell. 7Sisters Guides are intentionally adaptable but remember, there’s not ONE right way to homeschool.

The writing guides also include a rubric for grading.

Did you know that 7Sisters offers other short story writing guides? While the guides can be completed in any order, here is the traditional order:

Author and Homeschool Dad, Will Hahn. Photo used by permission.

Author and Homeschool Dad, Will Hahn. Photo used by permission.

Join Sabrina, Vicki and Will Hahn for a delightful story of teaching Myth Fantasy writing to your homeschool high schoolers! Check out Will and his writings at:

And for MORE on homeschool high school short story writing, check out this episode of the Homeschool Highschool Podcast.

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HSHSP Ep 185: Helping Teens Write Myth Fantasy, Interview with Will Hahn

HSHSP Ep 180: Integrating Career Exploration into High School Curriculum

This week on HSHSP Ep 180: Integrating Career Exploration into High School Curriculum.

Integrating Career Exploration into High School Curriculum. Combine Career Exploration and Language Arts for a meaningful, life-changing English credit for the homeschool transcript. #HomeschoolHighSchool #CareerExploration #HomeschoolLanguageArts #HighSchoolEnglishCredit #HomeschoolHighschoolPodcast

 

HSHSP Ep 180: Integrating Career Exploration into High School Curriculum

In Vicki’s years as a homeschool advisor and career coach, one of the saddest things she has watched is the stress that 11th and 12th graders often feel if they are not settled on what they are going to do when they graduate. Do you have a teen like that? It’s okay. There are non-intimidating ways to help them explore.

High schoolers really need to do LOTS of career exploration. This is especially true when they are not sure what they want to do for a college major or career. The problem for many homeschool high schoolers is that their schedules are packed. Often their core academics and transcript-building extracurriculars leave them little time to squeeze in something as nebulous as official Career Exploration.

So, let’s talk practical. One practical way of helping Career Exploration happen for your teens who are not sure about their future careers, is integrating it into their academic curriculum.

That’s right! Combine Career Exploration and academics and help your teens earn doubly useful credits.

Integrating Career Exploration into High School Curriculum

Let’s take Language Arts as an example of a great place to combine Career Exploration and a core academic. It is an interesting, useful (and maybe even fun) way to handle one year’s Language Arts.

Here is a way to combine the Career Exploration with the Literature and Writing components of the yearly Language Arts credit. (Want more information on what is included in a complete high school Language Arts credit? Check out this Homeschool Highschool Podcast episode.)

Combine Career Exploration and Language Arts for a life-changing homeschool transcript credit.

Language Arts and Career Exploration combined: Literature experiences

When combining Literature and Career Exploration, keep in mind this principle. Teens should be exposed to LOTS of different careers and role models, even those they wouldn’t be interested in at all. This broad understanding of the idea that there are lots of different opportunities helps prepare their brains for exploring career ideas.

Read some biographies. Any biography is good, even if it is not a career your teen will ever do. (For reluctant readers, think about audiobooks.)

Some of 7Sisters’ homeschool high schoolers’ favorites have been:

  • Joni
  • God’s Smuggler
  • Something Beautiful for God

Homeschool high schoolers are not usually called to be saints or Bible smugglers or evangelists with a disability but any biography a teen reads will expand their thoughts about the ways God uses extraordinary circumstances and ordinary people in those circumstances.

Read some books to help homeschool high schoolers understand themselves

Some good books on self understanding include:

  • What Color is my Parachute for Teens by Carol Christen and Richard Bolles (career interests)
  • Emotional Intelligence 2:0 by Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves (emotional awareness)
  • The Road Back to You by Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile

Audiobook versions are good for books like these sometimes. Remember: Any book your homeschool high schoolers read can go on their booklist! (Ever wonder how many books your teens should read at different ages, goals and abilities? Here’s a post to help you decide.)

Language Arts and Career Exploration combined: Writing experiences

Homeschool high schoolers need to do a fair amount of writing each year, including at least one research paper and some essays. (For guidelines on how many papers teens should write according to age, interests and abilities, check out this post.)

First, have your homeschool high schoolers do some personality tests.

This will give them some good *research* on themselves! If you go to Vicki’s coaching website, you can download a freebie: Personal Discovery Links. These are free versions of a number of serious (and not so serious) personality tests. If your teens are limited in their time, have them do the first test (a free version of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Vicki’s favorite personality test) and the last two tests (both are career interest surveys). Find the links at VickiTillmanCoaching.com

Now, take the personality test results, use these in writing essays and a research paper.

Choose the research paper style that suits your teens needs. Here’s a post that will help you decide between

  • APA research paper
  • Chicago-style research paper
  • MLA research paper

You can also have your homeschool high schoolers visit these websites and investigate different careers.

  • They can choose four or five interesting-sounding careers and write a page or two on each for a research paper titled something like: Interesting Career Ideas.
  • Or a 5-paragraph essay on each career they looked at.
  • These are the websites:
  • CareerOneStop.org This is US Department of Labor’s website that tells:
    • Job descriptions
    • Videos
  • BigFuture at College Board

You can also have your homeschool high schoolers do career shadowing or interviews with people in different jobs.

  • Write a 5 paragraph essay about each.
  • Write an end of the year wrap-up essay about themselves.

You can all the course: Career Exploration Language Arts or Language Arts 9 (or 10 or 11 or 12)

HSHSP Ep 180: Integrating Career Exploration into High School Curriculum

Developing Language Skills in your Young Learner

LCP Ep 13: Developing Language Skills in your Young Learner

 

Developing Language Skills in your Young Learner podcast #homeschool #homeschooling #languageskills #languagearts #reading #writing #preschool #elementary #literarycafepodcast #drseuss #rhyming #rhythm #repetitionThe time to start reading and developing language skills in your young learner is now.

Reading at least 15 minutes per day from the time your child is an infant and even through high school will not only promote a bond with your child and an enjoyment in reading, but help develop vocabulary, reading, and writing skills.

Visit Katie’s website for more fun ideas and tips to use in your homeschool at Katie’s Homeschool Cottage  or her Facebook Group.

Join Katie Glennon as she shares step by step how to easily develop language skills in your young learner with practical tips, resources, and book and activity ideas that help you get started right away.

Show Notes

Developing Language Skills in your Young Learner

If you suspect your child is experiencing language or processing issues, you may want to check out Dianne Craft’s articles and materials at diannecraft.org. I used quite a few of her materials, articles, and her Brain Integration Therapy guide.

Book Title Suggestions for Rhyme, Rhythm and Repetition

Start with simple Dr. Seuss Books – Hop on Pop, Dr. Seuss’s ABC’s, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish

Then longer Dr. Seuss Books – Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham

Sheep in a Jeep

Sheep Go to Sleep

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you Hear?

Assorted Poetry Books – The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury

Reading Activity Suggestions

Start with nursery rhymes and finger and hand motions while you recite them together.

As you read together, point to each word as you read it aloud.

Point to the pictures on the page and comment and ask questions about them. (Depending on the age of your child, you can ask them a question about what a picture is or a color in the picture.) As they get older or more familiar with the book, you can ask more complex questions. (Visit Using Higher Order Thinking Skills in your Reading to gain ideas in asking questions and developing thinking skills.)

Repeat reading the same books (as long as your child shows interest in it) for at least 15 minutes per day.

Use your child’s finger to point at the words as you say them and allow them to turn the page if they want.

Take turns reading sentences or pages so that your child doesn’t feel overwhelmed by reading too much at one time. (For practical and fun ways to engage reluctant readers, visit Ultimate List of Fun Ways to Engage your Reluctant Reader.)

Put magnetic letters on the refrigerator for play opportunities.

Have a letter of the day or week and let your child tell you whenever they see that letter during the day.

Depending on what kind of learner you have, you could try different kinds of activities to learn the alphabet

Songs, chants and books read aloud (audio books) for auditory learners

Use pictures of the alphabet that have animals or pictures within the letters so that the learner can make connections or stories to help them remember the letters for visual learners.

For tactile or kinesthetic learner –
Cut letters out of sand paper and trace the letters with their fingers.
Trace letters of the alphabet in the sand or shaving cream or finger paint.
Trace letters in the air using whole arm movements and paint letters on the driveway with water and a paint brush.
Form letters with your whole body or out of play dough or pipe cleaners.

For rhyming books or poetry –

Read a line with a rhyming word at the end and stop reading once you get to the rhyming word and let your child say the rhyming word.
Copy down the poem and leave a space at the end of the line for the rhyming word and let your child fill in the blank.

For Sight Words –

Copy sight words down on index cards to make flash cards. (If your child has a difficult time reading a part of the word, write that part of the word in a different color.) (Go to www.sightwords.com for lists of words and activity suggestions.)
Copy word family words down on index cards to make flash cards and write the word family sound in a different color.
Make duplicate copies of these words for games – Go Fish, Old Maid, Memory or Concentration Matching Game.

For Writing Activity Suggestions

Have your child paint or draw a picture on the top half of a page of paper. Then have your child tell you in a sentence what the picture is about. Write down what your child says underneath the picture as he/she says it so they can connect what they are saying to what you are writing down.

As your child gets older begin the practice of having them retell parts of stories back to you or short stories back to you. Then have them practice writing down one sentence at a time (even if they are using inventive or “creative” spelling) until they can write down more than one sentence, building up to multiple sentences. They can then draw a picture about what they just wrote about.

For detailed steps and more ways to help your struggling or early writer, visit Teaching your Struggling Writer How to Write.)

Be sure to comment in the Comments box any ideas you’d like to share about developing language skills that your family has found helpful! Or, if you found any ideas here helpful or have any questions! I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for visiting!

Make sure you download our podcast at iTunes or subscribe to the Literary Cafe Podcast by clicking on the Android or RSS feed buttons below the recording on this page! And make sure you share this page with other homeschoolers with middle and high schoolers and are wondering how to get started writing in these grade levels!

 

Developing Language Skills in your Young Learner podcast #homeschool #homeschooling #languageskills #languagearts #reading #writing #preschool #elementary #literarycafepodcast #drseuss #rhyming #rhythm #repetition

 

 

Using Higher Order Thinking Skills in Your Reading

LCP Ep 12: Using Higher Order Thinking Skills in Your Reading

 

Using Higher Order Thinking Skills in Your Reading with Literary Cafe Podcast #homeschool #homeschooling #literarycafepodcast #reading #higherorderthinkingskills #criticalthinkingskills #languageartsAre you wondering what we mean by “higher order thinking skills” or “critical thinking skills”?

And what do you do with them and how do you teach them to your children? And how are you supposed to do that with reading?

Visit Katie’s website for more fun ideas and tips to use in your homeschool at Katie’s Homeschool Cottage  or her Facebook Group.

Join Katie Glennon as she explains what higher order thinking skills are, why they are important, and how you can practice them with your children in fun and easy ways.

 

Show Notes

Using Higher Order Thinking Skills with Your Reading

Different Levels and Kinds of Higher Order Thinking Skills

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Thinking skills can be organized in a hierarchy of difficulty (and also according to stage of child and learning development). In other words, from least to most difficult and acquired as a child ages.

For a detailed description of these thinking skills, what they look like in your child, why they are important, and how to practice using them in easy and fun ways, you will want to listen to the podcast.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a method of labeling and describing the different levels of thinking skills and what they entail.

Knowledge or Remembering – This thinking skill is the ability to recall information and details or memorize facts or words.

Comprehension or Understanding – This skill requires the need to understand the meanings of the words and what they mean when used together in phrases or sentences to express an idea. Your child needs to have the vocabulary knowledge and the capacity to understand the concept being presented.

Application or Applying – Not only does this skill require understanding and comprehension of something, but also the ability to take that learned and understood information and apply it to a similar situation.

Analysis or Analyzing – This skill requires understanding something and making connections in what is being read or studied because the connections are not spelled out or clearly identified for the learner. The learner has to make the connections on his or her own.

Synthesis or Revising – This thinking skill allows your child to make a leap or build new thoughts based on the connections they’ve made using the other thinking skills we’ve been discussing – formulating what they are comprehending, learning, and connecting from the reading and making something new or forming new thoughts from all of this.

Evaluation – This is where your child learns to make a judgment about something, form an opinion or make a decision.

Question Starters to Practice Different Levels of Thinking Skills

Bloom’s Question Starters Handout

Higher Order Thinking Question Stems Handout

Suggested Activities to Practice Using Different Levels of Thinking Skills

Recalling and retelling information through retelling what your learner has heard during a read aloud of a short story or chapter.

Graphic Organizers or Mind Mapping – Use these to practice thinking skills and organize and use different concepts or ideas.

Graphic Organizers to Print

Mind Map Examples for Different Topics

Activities and Projects Related to a Book (Out of the Box Book Report Ideas and Literature Study) – using different kinds of thinking skills and learning styles

Podcast and Show Notes with Handout for Essential Guide to Out of the Box Book Report Ideas and Literature Study

Have your learner create his or her own assessment to either give to another learner or themselves – a quiz, test, paper, project – and have them write it to include different levels of thinking skills. They would also need an answer key or something to evaluate the outcome of the assessment, requiring them to use even more thinking skills.

Have your learner create a lesson plan around your book, maybe literary devices or techniques, story elements used in the book, or character analysis. Have him or her include a lesson to present with created visual aides, guided practice opportunity with the class like an activity, game, or class practice, and an assessment like a quiz, practice worksheet, or other assignment.

Consciously making the effort and taking time to incorporate different levels of questions or activities or projects not only can make reading more interesting but definitely expands your learner’s thinking abilities and prepares them for knowing how to think – and not just answer questions only requiring recall.

This helps to develop our problem solvers, innovators, creators, and leaders of tomorrow.

Be sure to comment in the Comments box any ideas you’d like to share about using and practicing thinking skills  that your family has found helpful! Or, if you found any ideas here helpful or have any questions! I would love to hear from you!

Thanks for visiting! Come back and visit the Literary Cafe Podcast for March’s topic when we discuss developing language skills in your younger learners. I have all kinds of practical and fun ways to get your early learners reading and writing and loving it! We are also going to be tying it to Dr. Seuss’ birthday which is also celebrated in March!

Make sure you download our podcast at iTunes or subscribe to the Literary Cafe Podcast by clicking on the Android or RSS feed buttons below the recording on this page! And make sure you share this page with other homeschoolers with middle and high schoolers and are wondering how to get started writing in these grade levels!

 

Using Higher Order Thinking Skills in Your Reading with Literary Cafe Podcast #homeschool #homeschooling #literarycafepodcast #reading #higherorderthinkingskills #criticalthinkingskills #languagearts