Novel Ideas:

                   Language Arts Classes for the College Bound

Take a look at the language arts courses we offer.

Virtual Writing Coaching

Private Tutoring

Tutoring can be arranged to help students in a variety of areas.  These areas include the following:  

1.  General writing support:  Sometimes students believe that they can't write because they find it difficult to translate the ideas they have into a structured, well-developed essay.  Sometimes it takes modelling the writing process.  Sometimes it takes recording the ideas a student has as we talk about a given subject.  Sometimes it takes both.  The important part is taking the time to get to know the student and his or her struggles with writing.  As a result, I chat with the parent to learn the areas the parent sees the student struggling and I chat with the student to learn the areas that the student finds challenging. 


2.  College entrance exams:  College entrance exams share similar traits and test similar skills,  Part of being successful on these exams is understanding the format of the tests and questions, understanding the kind of question being asked, and learning to navigate time constraints.  This course aims to help students in all these areas.  Through this course, students will gain experience in the following areas:

  • Structured grammar review, focusing on editing exercises and questions similar to those they would encounter on the exams.
  • Critical reading skills, focusing on making inferences, evaluating and drawing conclusions based on a reading passage.
  • Writing in timed situation, focusing on generating ideas, organizing information, and managing time.

Sessions are 60 minutes. Students will be provided direct instruction regarding test-taking skills, constructing the essays, specific feedback regarding improvements that need to be made, and opportunities to practice writing in a timed situation.  This course is one of our subscription courses.  In other words, clients can choose to pay per session or purchase a series of sessions.

Cost:  $45 per session; $160 for 4 sessions; $280 for 8 sessions; $400 for 16 sessions


Writing Researched Essays

Most college course require a term paper or end of the semester research paper.  Most students find this process onerous.  However, there are many tools that streamline the process and make writing the essay a breeze.  In this class, students will learn the following:

  • How and where to find the best sources in the shortest amount of time.
  • How to use technology to streamline the process
  • How to develop and support a thesis-driven argument
  • The difference between and when to use MLA and APA
  • How to write a research proposal
  • How to write an annotated bibliography
Students will receive direct instruction regarding constructing a well-written, well-documented, researched essay.  Additionally, they will recieve feedback and suggestions for improvement at each step of the process.  This course is one of our subscription courses.  In other words, clients can choose to pay per session or purchase a series of sessions.

Cost:  $45 per session; $160 for 4 sessions; $280 for 8 sessions; $400 for 16 sessions

Elementary Courses

Upper Elementary Language Arts


This course is designed for 4th/5th grade students. The focus of this course will be the following:

  • writing skills, including planning, drafting and editing a variety of different kinds of essays
  • critical thinking and reading skills, which lead to literary analysis
  • grammar, vocabulary and spelling skills, which lead to improved writing skills.  
  • read and be exposed to a variety of texts, organizational methods, etc. 

We will accomplish this through a variety of hands-on methods, including in-class activities and out-of-class writing assignments.  The goal is to read 6 novels during the academic year, three per semester.  This will provide us the opportunity to develop discussion skills and literary analysis tools.  

Required texts:  First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind Level 4, Vocabulary from Classical Roots 5 (You can order texts books here).  Register here.


Cost:  10 payments of $60 per month, $300 per semester, or $600 for the year.

Middle School Language Arts

Middle School Language Arts I and II


Both Middle School Language Arts I and II focus on a particular theme each year, For the 2017-2018 school year, Middle School Language Arts II is reserved for students who have previously completed Middle School Language Arts I or for students entering 7th or 8th grade.  All middle school language arts classes are academic classes that involve developing the following skills:

  • composition skills
  • increasing vocabulary
  • encouraging critical reading skills
  • introducing various literary techniques and conventions through a variety of means

Writing With Skill Level I (Middle School Language Arts I) and Level II (Middle School Language Arts II) form spine of writing instruction in both classes.  Writing With Skill focuses on organizing information to achieve a purpose and provides model essays to analyze.  Analyzing model essays helps students to organize the information for their own writing and helps them to become critical readers who understand how authors structure their arguments. Reading skills will be further developed through reading self-selected novels over the course of the school year.  After completing a novel, students will complete a book project of their choosing, which encourages students to read, discuss, and analyze a variety of novels, poems and plays. Through this process, students will do the following:

  • read and discuss self-selected literature
  • learn the structure of different pieces of literature
  • the terms and tools required for literary analysis
  • hone their writing skills

For both middle school language arts classes, the classes are organized around a central theme, genre, style.  Previous classes include topics like novels that have been made into movies and novels about knights, dragons, and castles, science fiction, and historical fiction. These classes are designed to prepare students for the demands of high school language arts classes.  In addition, regular practice to develop vocabulary will be assigned.  Students will be given regular tests and quizzes.    Register here.


Cost:  10 payments of $60 per month, $300 per semester, $600 per year.  

High School Courses

English I:  Introduction to Literature


To register for this course, students should be in 9th grade, have completed Middle School Language Arts, or received approval of the instructor to register for this course.  Upon completion of Introduction to Literature, students will have an increased ability to understand and analyze literature. These goals will be accomplished through leading class discussions about self-selected pieces of literature and writing literary analyses regularly.  These activities are designed to enhance students' skills and apply the skills they have learned.  


Through this course, students will read a broad array of  classic literature, ranging from the Greek tragedy Oedipus Rex to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and contemporary pieces by authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Maya Angelou.  


Improving writing skills will be at the center of this class.  Writing With Skill Level III is the spine we will use for writing instruction.  Writing With Skill focuses on organizing information to achieve a purpose and provides model essays to analyze.  Analyzing model essays helps students to organize the information for their own writing and helps them to become critical readers who understand how authors structure their arguments. Students will receive consistent instruction, practice, and evaluation regarding planning, writing, and editing effective essays.  


Grammar and vocabulary instruction will be a regular part of the class.  In addition, students will take regular quizzes, tests, a mid-term and semester exam.  Register here.


Cost:  10 payments of $60 per month, $300 per semester, or $600 per year

Special Note:  

Students may register for the following classes, which can be taken in any order, upon successful completion of Middle School Language Arts and Introduction to Literature.  Students who have not met this prerequisites should submit writing samples and reading lists in order to gain instructor approval to enroll.  Finally, upon successful completion of all four (4) high school language arts classes, students will be prepared to take the either of the AP English exams and/or the CLEP Test in College Composition (The modular exam provides six (6) hours credit for the two, required freshman composition classes), Introduction to Literature, American Literature, and British Literature to earn a total of fifteen (15) college credits at the end of their senior year of high school.

English III:  American Literature


In this course, students read and analyze works of American literature from colonial to contemporary times, including poetry, short stories, novels, drama, and nonfiction.  Because literature, particularly American Literature, grows out of the society which creates it, a portion of this course will be dedicated to providing an overview of important historic events and movements.  Understanding the values, philosophies, challenges etc. author's experienced and confronted in their lifetime deepens the appreciation of their works and adds a layer of understanding to the allusions and culture the literature appropriates.  


The structure of class meetings is seminar in nature.  As such, we engage in a robust discussion of the literature.  Class begins with a leading question and the discussion ensues.  Class resemble a cross between a Socratic discussion and a book club meeting.  As such, a flipped classroom model is employed which encourages students to read, digest, and analyze the literature prior to class and take ownership of the class meetings, often leading and steering the discussion.  Students are held accountable for their participation in this process by keeping a notebook/portfolio in which their about the pieces we read are kept.  Additionally, regular essays are assigned that ask students to demonstrate their understanding of the period and the pieces they have read.  After all, we learn best those things we have to explain to others.  Finally, in this instructional model, lectures, if there are any, are short and focused.    


In addition to reading, analyzing, and writing about literature, we will engage in more academic writing instruction like writing a rhetorical analysis and a researched essay.  Next, students will engage in a robust grammar review, and we will apply grammar, usage, and mechanics skills mastered through various editing exercises to their own writing.  Finally, students will continue to improve and develop their vocabulary through structured practice of words that are most commonly found and tested on the SAT and ACT.  Assessment of vocabulary will be accomplished through using the vocabulary correctly in a writing assignment.  Finally, students will take regular tests and quizzes as well as midterm and semester exams. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be prepared to take the CLEP Test in American Literature to earn three (3) hours of college credit for this course.  Register here.


Cost:  10 payments of $60 per month, $300 per semester, or $600 per year


NOTE:  A good class to take in conjunction with this American Literature is American History with Chris Twing

English IV:  British Literature


In British Literature, students progress through centuries of literature in a loose chronological arrangement.  As we do, they will see themes emerge and understand how British literature, in particular, and literature, in general, is shaped by world events and changes in society. 


The structure of class meetings is seminar in nature.  As such, we engage in a robust discussion of the literature.  Class begins with a leading question and the discussion ensues.  Class resemble a cross between a Socratic discussion and a book club meeting.  As such, a flipped classroom model is employed which encourages students to read, digest, and analyze the literature prior to class and take ownership of the class meetings, often leading and steering the discussion.  Students are held accountable for their participation in this process by keeping a notebook/portfolio in which their about the pieces we read are kept.  Additionally, regular essays are assigned that ask students to demonstrate their understanding of the period and the pieces they have read.  After all, we learn best those things we have to explain to others.  Finally, in this instructional model, lectures, if there are any, are short and focused.    


In addition to reading, analyzing, and writing about literature, we will engage in more academic writing instruction like writing a rhetorical analysis and a researched essay.  Next, students will engage in a robust grammar review, and we will apply grammar, usage, and mechanics skills mastered through various editing exercises to their own writing.  Finally, students will continue to improve and develop their vocabulary through structured practice of words that are most commonly found and tested on the SAT and ACT.  Assessment of vocabulary will be accomplished through using the vocabulary correctly in a writing assignment.  Finally, students will take regular tests and quizzes as well as midterm and semester exams. Upon successful completion of this course, students will be prepared to take the CLEP Test in American Literature to earn three (3) hours of college credit for this course. Register here.


Cost:  10 payments of $60 month, $300 per semester, or $600 per year


NOTE:  A good class to take in conjunction with this class is World History with Cammie Biss Fleming in Cedar Park on Thursdays and South Austin on Tuesdays.  Look for a link to her schedule soon.

Journalism


Most journalism classes are semester long classes aimed at producing a periodical.  This first course is a year-long course that explores journalism from its inception and journalism as a career choice.  If students decide that they would like to produce a periodical of some sort, it will be organic, student-lead, and student-owned.  It is my desire to create space for that kind of endeavor, and this class is the beginning.


The first semester will focus on the history of journalism and learn how journalism came to be a powerful voice in our society.  Additionally, we would look at seminal pieces of journalism to understand their structure and why they are considered turning points.  Then, we would use these pieces as models for writing.  Students would select an issue that is important to them and use the model as a guide for their own writing.


During the second semester, students would "specialize."  In other words, they would choose a branch or genre of journalism that they are interested in and begin to explore it. I plan to invite journalists in these fields and from a variety of periodicals to be guests for a day in our classes.  Finally, students would continue to write pieces that they are interested in during this semester, as the goal for the end of the class is the creation of a portfolio which showcases the students' writing throughout the course.  Register here.


Cost:  10 payments of $60 per month, $300 per semester, or $600 per year