Honors English Language Arts
On-Line for the 2021-2022 School Year
Teacher: Ty Stewart
I will begin accepting applications on Feb. 1, 2021.
Course Description: English Language Arts is a highly interactive class that will push students to become critical readers, confident writers, and nuanced thinkers. It will be rigorous and demanding, but still fun. Learning is serious business, but that doesn't mean we always have to be serious while doing it!
The class will require a lot of reading, and it will expose students to a wide range of genres, authors and writing styles. In a typical week, students should expect to read and discuss 40 - 60 pages. Students will read both imaginative literature (novels, short stories, poetry and drama) and non-fiction (essays, memoir, and journalism). We'll discuss texts both old and new, though our emphasis will be on writings from the 20th and 21st centuries. Students should be prepared for readings that will challenge them. While I try to avoid assigning anything explicit, gratuitous or vulgar, our texts will sometimes feature difficult themes and subjects. Above all, I select books and essays that reward deep engagement and critical analysis. They won't always be "fun" per se, but I promise they will be thought-provoking.
While our focus is the written word, my class takes an expansive view of "language arts." We'll examine the connections between literature and the visual arts. We'll consider how English talks to other academic fields like science and history. And we'll analyze a diverse range of media, from film to comic books.
Students will be asked to write on a regular basis. The course is designed to help prepare students for the rigors of AP-level English courses, and some assignments will reflect this. These will include informal journal posts, interactive discussions, and formal analytic essays. Students will also read and respond to daily "Morning Messages," which is how I introduce assignments and explain key concepts. Additionally, students will learn how to craft thesis statements, how to do basic research, and how to build evidence-based arguments. The key to good writing is rewriting, and we'll do a lot of that too; almost every essay will go through at least two drafts, giving students the chance to practice editing and revision skills.
But hold on — not every assignment comes straight from Ye Olde English course! Students will have plenty of chances to exercise their creativity too. They’ll craft “found” and “blackout” poetry, and they’ll participate in lively debate forums. Students will write letters to their favorite authors, perform dramatic monologues, and much more. I'll ask students to make connections between coursework and their own lives. I strongly believe that students should write about what interests them, and my assignments will encourage this.
My course is also designed to help students prepare for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, a national competition for students. We’ll study several of the major writing categories, including critical essays; personal essay and memoir; journalism; short stories; novels; poetry; drama; and science fiction/fantasy. (You can see the full list of categories here.) The deadline for most regions falls in early December, and students will have the chance to submit some of the assignments they complete in the fall semester. I will also help ambitious students begin thinking about how to craft a “Senior Portfolio” submission.
The class will be small and very social. We often think of reading and writing as a solitary pursuits. But in my class, we'll practice these arts as communal activities. The class will emphasize discussion and peer-feedback on written assignments. Students should expect to read each other's work, learn how to offer meaningful feedback, and accept constructive critiques with grace and goodwill. While I provide guidance and structure, discussions will be largely student-driven; students will often have the chance to discuss questions about readings that THEY want to ask. Students will also organize small independent book clubs to discuss high-quality texts of their choosing.
Doing well in this class takes motivation and discipline. I require active, daily participation in class activities, and I expect students to meet firm deadlines. In return, students can expect detailed feedback and individual attention from me. I will get to know every student and support their success. I will provide parents and students with a detailed progress report after the first semester, as well as a comprehensive final summary in May.
Who should apply? This course is open to advanced 9thand 10thgrade students. It is also open to 11thand 12thgrade students who want a challenging high school English course but aren't taking AP English courses. A background in formal literary analysis isn't necessary, nor do students need to be aspiring poets or novelists. But all students should be able to write cleanly and clearly, with minimal grammar errors. We'll review some grammar rules and study vocabulary, but this is NOT a remedial English course. Successful students will be curious, self-motivated, disciplined, and willing to tackle books that make them think. The amount they get out of my class will depend heavily on the effort they put in. Students should be prepared to spend a minimum of an hour each weekday on reading and writing assignments.
To apply: Fill out the application at the bottom of the page and email it as a .doc or .docx to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tech needs: The class is hosted on a password-protected PA Homeschoolers website. Students should have reliable access to the internet and a printer. They should be able to view PDF files. Students may also need to use Skype, Zoom or Google hangouts to organize their book club discussions.
Course meeting times: Students will have assignments due every weekday on our course website. This course has no live class sessions. Work can be completed at any time on the day it is due. I remember what it was like to be a busy homeschooler, and I will accommodate students who need to work ahead because of travel or other commitments, as long as I'm informed ahead of time.
Length of Course: Monday, August 30, 2021 to Friday, May 13, 2022
Breaks: Students will have one week off for fall break (mid-October), one week off for Thanksgiving, two weeks off for winter break, and one week off for spring break (mid-March). No assignments will be due on any U.S. National Holidays.
Tuition: $650 if payment is received before July 1; $675 after July 1.
Registration deadline: Applications will be accepted through August 1 or until the class fills up.
Required texts: ****I am still fine-tuning my book list. I'll decide on a definitive list by March 1, along with details about a summer reading assignment. For now though, here's what you can expect.****
- The Art of the Personal Essay, edited by Phillip Lopate
- A Poetry Handbook, by Mary Oliver
- One play (probably Shakespeare, but to be determined)
- One memoir or work of journalism (to be determined)
- Two novels (to be determined)
- One graphic novel or graphic memoir (to be determined)
NOTE: "Graphic novel" and "graphic memoir" are basically fancy terms for long comic books, or stories composed of both words and images. (Here's a good overview, courtesy of Wikipedia.) It doesn't mean the books necessarily feature adult content. Some do, but certainly not all, and I will choose works appropriate for advanced high schooler readers.
Students will choose at least two additional books to read and discuss in independent book clubs.
I will also provide a selection of short stories, poems, comics, and essays in PDF form.
Instructor Qualifications: This is my first year teaching Honors English Language Arts, though I've been teaching with PA Homeschoolers since 2017. I've worked with Maya Inspektor as a co-teacher for her AP English Literature class the last four years. I also co-taught AP English Language with her last year. I graduated from the University of Georgia in 2016 with degrees in English and Cognitive Science. I also have a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri, where I worked as a teaching assistant in practical, hands-on journalism classes. I've also reported and edited for several newspapers in Missouri, and I still work part-time as an independent journalist. I love helping students to learn and grow as writers. I'm also a former homeschooler and took many classes through PAH! Finally, I own more books than I can possibly read in the near-future, but (for some reason) I continue to frequent bookstores!
Click here to open or download an application to this class (Microsoft Word document)
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