This course is for students 16-18 years of age, or 11th and 12th grades, no exceptions.

Juniors and seniors in high school will learn how to write a long-form persuasive essay using the Modern Language Association (MLA) format. The process is taught in steps that can be replicated any time a student is called on to write an academic paper in college. The essay format is found in The MLA Handbook, 8th Edition (2016); class posts will reflect material from this college text. 

Students will write a 5-7 page persuasive essay with a minimum of five outside sources, including citations and Works Cited.

Students will work directly with the instructor in the following areas:

  • Selecting an appropriate and engaging persuasive topic
  • Writing and using a hypothesis as a research aid
  • Locating and evaluating source material for credibility and relevance
  • Writing source notes/cards according to MLA format
  • Writing three types of notes/cards: quotation, summary, and paraphrase
  • Avoiding unintentional plagiarism
  • Evaluating and organizing notes/cards
  • Outlining source material according to MLA format
  • Writing a first draft of an MLA research essay with parenthetical citations
  • Providing constructive feedback of other students' first drafts (participating in a “virtual peer review”)
  • Composing a final draft of the essay according to MLA format
  • Revising and editing the final draft
  • Including a Works Cited (bibliography) for the paper

Familiarity with the elements of formal essay writing is a prerequisite for this class. The instructor assumes that students taking this class are well-versed in writing formal essays via one of these three methods:

  1. The student has taken Brave Writer’s Expository Essay and/or Advanced Composition courses;
  2. The student has learned to write a formal persuasive essay using Brave Writer’s Help for High School or;
  3. The student submits a sample persuasive essay to help@bravewriter.com for evaluation for admittance to the class.

Students are expected to meet the due date expectations for each assignment. It is strongly advised that students be "in town" (not traveling), and able to work at the pace of the class. It is also a class that demands a time investment, so if your student is already heavily booked for this six-week period, consider enrolling in a later session.

Assignments are due each Friday and will be evaluated by the instructor over the weekend, with the exception of the final paper submission which will be evaluated and returned to the student via e-mail within 10 days of the last day of class. Falling behind in this course endangers a student’s ability to submit a completed essay on time. Students should consider this class as a realistic introduction to a university-level MLA Research Writing course.

By the way, it is a fantastic class! One of the chief benefits of this particular course is that students get to read each other’s papers as they evolve. That means each student reads not only his or her own writing with instructor feedback, but also each other student’s work with instructor feedback as well.

I strongly urge college bound high school students to take advantage of this course.

Instructor Susanne Barrett has taught the MLA research essay in multiple university classes and is uniquely able to prepare high school students to write research essays in college.

For more information about how the classes are run, please read about online classes.

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 test it and agree!

Click here to login to a sample classroom.