There is no room for the impurities of literature in an essay. —Virginia Woolf
In the high school and college years, there is no other writing task so common as the essay.
And yet, teens spend little time actually reading essays. If we expect students to spend the next few years writing essays, it makes sense to show those students what makes an essay worth reading and, ultimately, writing.
Essays follow a structure, the best ones often break out of the traditional forms. A single essay can be story, satire, report, critique, and call to action—all in a few thousand words. What a ride!
As your student prepares for high school essay writing, here’s a chance to explore the art of essay writing from a reader's perspective. In this class, your teen will read essays that reveal, inform, reflect, and persuade.
- use vivid details as they communicate a clear perspective
write about a topic from different points of view
engage in active reading
give a surprising view and reasoned arguments
consider their audience as they write to inform
identify bias or slant in persuasive writing
Students will spend the first half of the week reading the essay and learning about the essay type and literary strategies employed. In the second half of the week, students will engage in writing exercises and vibrant discussion with other students in the class.
The essays we'll investigate in this class (updated for Winter/Spring 2024):
"Beauty: When the Other Dancer Is the Self" by Alice Walker
"Fairy Tales and Disability: Do I Have a Happily Ever After?" by Melanie Kennedy-Diver
"Say My Name: The Alchemical Magic of 'Rumpelstiltskin'" by Souvankham Thammavongsa
"Murdered by My Replica?" by Margaret Atwood
The essays we'll read are currently available online, so no book purchase is necessary.
Important Note: In Brave Writer®, we read a wide range of essays and literature that address a wide variety of perspectives and that include time-bound references. Please be aware that you may experience strong reactions to what you read. By using literature as a teaching tool to foster understanding and growth, we have the opportunity to discuss these evolving ideologies.
We encourage you to pre-read books and essays to determine their appropriateness for your family and to prepare to have discussions on these topics with your students as they participate in the class.
Our Essay Prep classes are designed for 8th to 10th graders or older high school students who've had little experience with academic writing.
The Essay Prep series provides a foundation for the Essay Writing 101: Analytic Essay class and ought to be taken first if your kids have never studied the essay form. The classes in this series are designed to be taken in any order. We recommend completing all three classes in the series before moving on to the essay class. [Our other classes are Essay Prep: Research and Citation and Essay Prep: Dynamic Thinking.]
For more information about how the classes are run, please read about online classes.
To explore our Brave Writer® classroom, click here to access a sample class.
Brave Writer® online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind.
Class Structure Overview #
- Class is held in a private discussion board with 20-25 other participants.
- Class is asynchronous—you log in when it is convenient for you each day of the week at no specific time of day.
- It is text-based—no video.
- Student writing assignments are posted in a text box, published to the classroom, and all students are able to read student writing.
- Class is a writing workshop format, with all coaching feedback available to be read by all families.
- Class work, student writing, and coaching feedback can be downloaded and saved in a PDF format.
Class Length and Time #
Classes last anywhere from three to six weeks. We offer courses that address a specific writing need so that you can take the ones that suit your family throughout the school year. Short class sessions enable you to work around family vacations, out-of-town swim meets, recovering from wisdom teeth removal, and visits from grandparents. We operate on the quarter system, including a summer session. Our most popular classes repeat each quarter, while others are seasonal.
We operate "asynchronously" (which means that the discussion is not live, but that posted information remains available to you in your time zone at your convenience). Instructors check the classroom throughout the day to answer questions and give feedback on writing. Writing is done at home and then typed into the classroom, and shared with both the instructor and other classmates. You're not required to be online at any specific time of the day. We have students from all over the world participating in our classes so "live" discussion is impossible. Instead, the online classroom enables the instructor to post information and assignments when it is convenient to the instructor. Then, when it is convenient for you, you come to the classroom and read the latest postings.
Private Classroom Space #
Our classes meet in a customized online classroom, designed specifically to meet the needs of Brave Writer®. Only registered students and the instructor have access to the classroom to ensure your privacy. Assignments and reading materials are posted by Brave Writer® instructors each week (no additional supply fees necessary, unless otherwise indicated). Either you (homeschooling parent) or your child (homeschooling student) will visit the classroom daily at your convenience to read helpful information about the current topic or to find the writing assignment.
Instructor feedback to student writing is offered for all participants to read. Writing questions are welcomed and encouraged! That's the point of class. We aim to give you immediate support as you face writing obstacles.
Safe Community #
Brave Writer® takes seriously the need for encouragement and emotional safety in writing. No student is ever at risk of being humiliated or mistreated. All online dialogue is respectful and supportive of your child's process. This is the core of Brave Writer® philosophy. You can read about Brave Writer® values here.
What makes our program especially unique in the world of online education is that we value a corporate experience. Rather than teaching your child in a tutorial format, we prefer students to have the opportunity to both publish their work for an audience (other students) and also to have the chance to read other student writing. In no other setting is this possible. Schools-in-buildings rarely have students read each other's work. Homeschooled children are rarely in a classroom environment to begin with, so the opportunity to read peer-writing is nil.
Our classes provide an utterly unique experience in the world of writing instruction. Since most writers grow through emulation of good writing, it is a real advantage to Brave Writer® kids to get the chance to read the writing of their fellow home-educated peers. They love it! They get to examine and internalize other ways of writing, analyzing and expressing ideas similar to their own. They have the chance to validate and cheer on their peers. And of course, the best part of all is that they receive the praise and affirmation of kids just like them.
Not only that, all instructor feedback is posted to the classroom for all students to read. That means your kids get the benefit of instructor comments on many papers, not just their own. We've noted that this style of instruction is especially effective and hope you'll agree!
To explore our Brave Writer® classroom, click here to access a sample class.