Some things go together especially beautifully, like these tulips at Kingwood Gardens in Ohio. A recent commission by a client resulted in another combination you might like--Classical Conversations Challenge IV and my Progymnasmata Tutorials. This graduating senior wants more guidance with writing than is available in CC, so we are doing a number of the Progym assignments that I have arranged to fit the CC schedule for the year. We're drawing from proverb, praise/blame, comparison, confirmation/refutation, thesis, and maybe proposal of law. I've created a schedule of these assignments to meld the two curricula for the year.
If you're interested in this particular coordination of assignments or a similar one, email me and we can discuss the possibilities!
Everyone who places an order with Writing Assessment Services from May through August 2017 will automatically receive a bonus 500 words of evaluation to use any way that client desires. More details are available in the WRASSE Line, so sign up today!
If you sign up for the WRASSE Line occasional newsletter with the form at my website, you'll receive a coupon code good for $10 off your first order as a new subscriber. Enjoy both discounts, and I look forward to working with you!
Intimidated by the Research Essay?
Worried about notecards and outlines?
Want a sane approach?
In eleventh grade I had to write a term paper about The Scarlet Letter, and not only did I need to do
background research on Hawthorne and the American Puritans, but I also had to learn the strict discipline of keeping carefully-coded note cards and remember those pesky Roman numerals to
keep a proper outline. Oh, and did I mention that we hadn't even discussed the novel in class? This was an independent project.
Even though I was a good writer in high school, I hate to think what a chore it would have been to my teacher to read the
resulting essay. So when I started teaching young writers how to write this kind of essay decades ago, I decide to approach the task in a way that would save their sanity and mine, and actually
teach them the mechanics of a research essay without overly complicating it with unfamiliar material.
The result was The Report: A Simple Start. I used this tutorial years later when I developed a unit on the research essay for Veritas Scholars Academy, and hundreds of students have used it in the last seven years. It is now available for free for all who are interested in pursuing a less-painful version of a classic academic essay. It is appropriate for students from about seventh grade on up - anyone who is not yet comfortable with the process of writing a research essay.
Please consider enrolling in evaluations for your work with this assignment or others.
"Great writing begins - and ends - with the sentence."
-from the Great Courses description
Brooks Landon of the University of Iowa created a video course for The Great Courses entitled Building Great Sentences: Exploring the Writer's Craft. Professor Landon and I corresponded about the lessons and he gave me permission to use his material to create a small workbook based on the course, and I am using those for WRIT 101 students at Grove City College this year.
The link above will show you the contents of the video course (I encourage you to wait for a sale!), and the cover to the right is the book form of the course, available on Amazon. When I watched I had to replay early lessons several times to really follow the deep rhetorical analysis, but the magic of the course is in the sentence play Landon invites. My local high school class got a lot out of the exercises several years ago, and I want to share them with you.
You can sample one exercise in the September issue of the WRASSE Line (subscribe at www.writingassessment.com ), enroll in the "Building Great Sentences" course I am offering, or simply request the exercises (with handling fee, via the course link) if you have purchased Professor Landon's book or the video course.
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Writing Assessment Services online, I am offering a $20-off coupon good through August for everyone who signs up for the WRASSE Line mailing list. Check the form at the bottom of the page at WritingAssessment.com .
Thirty-four years ago this month I was a 20yo Creative Writing graduate of Florida State University attending a summer crash course to prepare me to teach freshman composition during my graduate career. Two years later, with a fresh M.A. in General Literature Studies, I began teaching all levels of writing full time at Auburn University, and after that I married and taught a bit here and there in community colleges over the years when my children were born. Then twenty years ago this summer I began Writing Assessment Services and have worked with students from grade 5 through college and graduate school and into professional life. But most of my clients have been secondary students the last twenty years.
This fall, though, I have been asked back into the college classroom. I will be a Guest Lecturer for the Grove City College course WRIT 101: Foundations of Academic Discourse. The contract has yet to be finalized, but I passed the background check. :-) This is a very focused course for freshman writers, emphasizing critical thinking and writing for their own disparate disciplines. If you're interested in the fascinating texts we'll be using, the first written by David Hogsette, the Director of the Writing Program, please follow the links below. I'm really looking forward to this return to my teaching roots.
Never fear - I will still be available for private clients through Writing Assessment Services as long as my work load seems manageable. You might want to sign up soon. As I have expanded my work into publishing my own fiction (see RosetteBook.com ), I have also ventured into editing and related author services through Moraine's Edge Books.
Can you tell my youngest child has graduated from high school? :-)
In this Salon piece, "Death to High School English," Kim Brooks, who teaches composition, shares her greatest encouragement in teaching:
[when a student says that] thanks to me, and the hours she herself has put in, she feels as though, in some small way, her writing has improved, or that she knows what she needs to do to improve, or that she can at least envision a future in which she is a better, more confident and more forceful writer of prose, and I tell her that no matter what, no matter how hard it is, she has to keep plowing ahead, because slow but steady progress as a reward for hard work is one of the few things we can count on in this life - if we're lucky, that is - and then I tell myself the same.
For twenty years online I have been basking in such comments, and sometimes watching as my students go on to write for an Ivy league student newspaper, or go to seminary with the promise of writing really good sermons, or even become English teachers themselves. Those are the stars, whose success I may have only a small part in. But for the ones who have a harder time, if I can help them remedy a pesky but debilitating grammar problem, or learn how to structure their writing, or just give them the satisfaction of saying what they mean to say so that others can receive it - those give the greatest satisfaction.
Making a difference, improving someone's writing - that makes this work rewarding. Let me show you how I can help . . .
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Writing Assessment Services online, I am preparing some great offers for the summer and for the coming school year. Watch this space!
I learned in January of a fascinating website, Words with JAM, the ezine for writers and publishers, that features a monthly "Cornerstones Mini Masterclass." A writer submits the first page of a manuscript and Ayisha Malik, Managing
Editor of Cornerstones Literary Consultancy, completes an in-depth critique of that page for
Take a look at the February 2016 post, a critique of Rosette: A Novel of Pioneer Michigan. I thought my students would enjoy seeing me put my own writing under close scrutiny. :-) I added a comment on the site inviting readers to learn more at RosetteBook.com .
Although Rosette was not chosen for publication by Kindle Press,
despite an excellent campaign in December and January, it is now available for purchase!
Click the picture to the left to go to the Rosette website to learn more about the novel, or go directly to Amazon to order a copy for your Kindle. An illustrated paperback version will be available soon. Join the Readers List at the Rosette website to be notified of the best possible deals when it is available.
(Cover painting and design by Betsy Marsch)
Making Your Point: The Persuasive Essay
Monday Mornings January 18 - February 8, 9:00 a.m. Eastern
After a number of fruitful meetings in Fall 2015 doing Writing Workshop for Great Books Essays, now available as a self-study on WizIQ, and then some low-key free online writing workshops on sentence and paragraph imitation, we have taken a break for the holidays. But now it's time to get back to a long-promised workshop series in thesis development.
Making Your Point: The Persuasive Essay (click that link, or find it later on the Online Meetings page of this site) is a free four-week workshop that will take students through brief lessons examining the nature of the essay and of persuasion, with some tools I have devised to help craft a successful thesis. And did you know that an essay with a strong thesis almost writes itself? Come join us and see how it works!
We will spend the first half hour of each meeting doing some fun and easygoing writing workshop activities, and the second half hour talking about whatever you like--my courses, your writing work for me or for other teachers, or whatever occurs to you. If you cannot attend the series, the recorded lessons SHOULD be available on WizIQ, and I will repackage the instructional materials for later availability.
If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below, and I will be glad to help.
From December 11, 2015 to January 10, 2016, the novel Rosette will be in a
publishing campaign on Kindle Scout.
It is quite exciting to see the cover at left featured on the "Hot and Trending" and "Season's Readings" areas at Kindle Scout, where visitors get to read excerpts and choose from among dozens of not-yet-published novels that they'd like to see published. At the end of a thirty-day campaign, Kindle Press reviews the results (popularity and quality and market potential) and chooses a few to publish. For each one chosen, all those who nominated that title will receive a free Kindle version of the novel.
After my first week I have had over a thousand views, and those interested in Rosette have kept it in "Hot and Trending" since the first day. If you haven't already, please visit and see what you think. To understand more about the campaign and about this novel based on the real journal and the true history of a young woman in pioneer Michigan, visit RosetteBook.com .
(Cover painting and design by Betsy Marsch)
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T.S. Eliot
Students learning about the Great Books, or studying meaningful literature and history, are facing their first big essays about this time in the semester. In September and October I met with a few students online to go through a thirty-page document* I have used for almost two decades to help Great Books students prepare for their essays.
The course Writing Skills for Literature and History, offered through the education website WizIQ, allows students to work independently through the material in about five sessions, with the help of 30-50-minute audio-video-Power-Point recordings of our meetings this year. Topics include thesis, comparison, description, strong verbs, quotation techniques, and the all-important introduction and conclusion. The course can be completed within a week but is easily spread out over several weeks. It is appropriate for grade 7 through early college years and could be of great use to homeschooling parents and new (or weary) teachers.
Please consider enrolling in this brief course, just $30, and let me know in the comments or via email if you have any questions. I look forward to seeing your favorite writing assignment - each student is encouraged to choose one to send for private evaluation.
*P.E.P Talk, in its original form, adapted for this course
(Painting image courtesy Betsy Marsch. TS Eliot, a minuscule 1" x 1.25")
"And what shall poor me do? I never wrote a composition in my life." - Rosette Cordelia Ramsdell, September
Because I have reduced teaching duties this year, I have been able to work on a long-dreamed project - the novel
Rosette. It is based on a real journal and the true history of this young woman from pioneer Michigan, and I invite you to learn more - and join my email list for updates - at RosetteBook.com .
(Pencil sketch courtesy Betsy Marsch)
"If you young fellows were wise, the devil couldn't do anything to you; but since you aren't wise, you need us who are old." - Martin Luther, "On the Family"
I'm ready to get started with a free workshop offered three times per week, one new topic each week, assisting students
who are writing about the Great Books (and other important literature and history and theology and philosophy) this school year. Go to the "Online Meetings" page of this website to download the
two needed files, one of which includes the schedule, and join me online on Mondays or Saturdays at 9 a.m. or Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern Time.
Learn more with this orientation session recorded on September 12.
Please post here if you have any questions or if you want to share your completed Assignments through the weeks of the workshop. If you would like to share anonymously, please email your work and I will post it for you.
(Painting image courtesy Betsy Marsch. Martin Luther, a minuscule 1" x 1.25")
Let's get this year off to a great start with free online writing workshops and office hours. My plan is to spend the first half hour of each meeting doing some fun and easygoing writing workshop activities, and the second half hour talking about whatever you like--my courses, your writing work for me or for other teachers, or whatever occurs to you.
To get the bugs out of the technology, I want to go low-key for our first week together, with meetings on Tuesday, September 8, at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time; and Saturday, September 12, at 9:00 a.m. Eastern Time. Click on the links for those dates to see the specific class times. You will be prompted to create an account on WizIQ and then should be able to follow me and see all my upcoming meeting times. After Labor Day, we will also have a meeting available on Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m.
Beginning Monday, September 14, I will have a four-week series to help anyone writing about the Great Books (or other literature and history topics) this school year. We will use my booklet P.E.P. Talk (click to download) and targeted writing exercises to help everyone feel comfortable with the challenges of writing in The Great Conversation, as we call it. Each week we will have one topic, and you may attend any of the three days per week I am offering the workshop--Monday, Tuesday, or Saturday.
If you have any questions, please ask them in the comments below, and I will be glad to help.
( Image of Queen Anne's Lace and an Iridescent Insect courtesy Glenn Marsch, www.flickr.com/photos/sphericalbull )
"The secret to getting things done is to act." - Dante Alighieri (attributed)
Here we go again! It's Back to School time! As you get everything settled for your year, please let me help. Until August 31, 2015, with the discount code Intro10% , enjoy 10% off your total order.
(Painting image courtesy Betsy Marsch. Dante Alighieri, a minuscule 1" x 1.25")
I'm ready to start a new school year,
and I want to make it easy for you to give Writing Assessment Services a try. Until August 15, 2015, with the discount code INTRO10 , enjoy $10 off any service.
I'm confident that once you get a taste, you'll want more of what we can do together to improve your writing. Loyal current clients, you are welcome to use the discount, too, or tell a friend.
Consider these possibilities:
Psst . . . If you're thinking of a larger order, hold tight. I have a better deal coming for the second half of the month!
(Photo courtesy Glenn Marsch)
I am excited to share with you the fancy new website I have just created for Writing Assessment Services, just in time for everyone to start thinking about "Back to School." Please take a look around and see the new offerings (live online meetings!) as well as the old favorites (Progymnasmata!). During the first week of August I will be introducing a special for the month of August, good for returning clients and new ones. Be sure to follow my new page on Facebook - Writing Assessment Services - so you can keep up to date on the latest developments . . .
(Photo courtesy Glenn Marsch)