Join Brave Writer for a tour of Steinbeck country!

This four-week literary analysis class will take a deep dive into the life and work of John Steinbeck, Nobel Prize winner and one of America's foremost authors. To give students a true taste of Steinbeck's body of work, we will be looking at books from early, middle and late periods of his career, spanning the three different genres he mastered so poignantly: short story, fiction and memoir.

The Red Pony (128 pages) consists of four short stories that explore several episodes of maturation and growth in the life of a young boy, Jody Tiflin.

Of Mice and Men (107 pages) is a classic of American literature. This novella follows George and Lennie, two migrant laborers in California during the Great Depression.

Travels with Charley: In Search of America (277 pages) is a late-in-life memoir that chronicles Steinbeck's trip around the country to see America one last time, in a makeshift camper van with his loyal dog, Charley.

Each of the first three weeks will cover one of these works, along with readings on the major themes in the context of Steinbeck's life and point of view. Students will complete short, thought-provoking exercises and engage in lively discussion surrounding the plot points, literary devices and reflections on the genre itself. Students will be expected to comment thoughtfully on responses written by other students.

Our last week will tie together what students have learned about Steinbeck and his work into a larger writing project, of 500-1000 words. Here students get to leap into the pool of literary analysis, connecting their own dots and sharing their interpretations of what they've read.

In studying Steinbeck's trademark style, common themes and life story, this class lays the groundwork for future study of Steinbeck's longer books, such as The Grapes of Wrath, and East of Eden.

This is a reading-intensive class, with over 500 pages across all three books. It is recommended that your child be a strong reader and preferably have read one or two of the books in advance. Students wishing to take this class should be working at a solid grade 9-12 level. Each book will need to be read prior to that week's discussion. You can purchase books or borrow them from your local library.

Important Note: In Brave Writer, we explore a wide range of literature that addresses 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 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.

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.

Class Structure Description

Brave Writer online classes are specially designed with the busy homeschooling parent in mind. Classes last anywhere from four 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.

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. 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.

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.

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 dialog 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!