With one child in college and now working on a masters myself, I truly value the importance of learning to write well. Even though I feel equipped to train students to write, it is really nice to have an outside voice speaking into my children. As my daughter prepares for college studies herself, I thought it was a good time to fine tune her writing skills. Utilizing a WriteAtHome writing workshop is an excellent way to do this!
WriteAtHome compensated me for my time and gave me access to the 8 Week High School Research Paper workshop for free. All of my opinions are my own. See my full disclosure here.
WriteAtHome offers online writing and great books courses for students 4th grade and up. Course lengths vary from 8 weeks to a full year. Students engage with coaches in learning activities along the way to strengthen their writing skills.
High School Research Paper
I signed my daughter up for the High School Research Paper 8-Week Workshop. This will help her with the required papers this year for her American History class. In this course she worked on:
- developing a topic and thesis statement
- research strategies
- revising and polishing a final draft
I love that she could take this course multiple times with different directions in her research. This offers opportunities to continue to grow and improve her writing skills.
Since my daughter has had the most interaction with this course, I thought it would be helpful to interview her to get further insight! For context, this is her Junior year in High School, she's 16 years old, and she's in the Classical Conversations Challenge III program. We used this course in tandem with her other studies.
What were your initial thoughts about writing?
Alyssa: In the past, research papers seemed daunting because it was difficult to understand how to find a thesis topic that was narrow enough, yet effectively got my point across. I also wanted to know more about proper citations and formatting works cited pages as I was concerned about avoiding plagiarism.
How the course is laid out
How do you access the course?
Alyssa: WriteAtHome uses the "Canvas" platform for students to log in, get their assignments, and turn in work. Each week new assignments are unlocked for you to complete and submit. All of the assignments were laid out in advance in the syllabus, so that was helpful.
What kinds of instruction do you receive?
Alyssa: Each week you have a chapter to read online. In the beginning, they gave me an overview on research papers as well as the value of creating a strong thesis statement. I also learned about plagiarism and the proper way to give credit to those I quote in my writing.
When I actually began writing my research paper, I received feedback on my submissions that provided great insight on formatting—especially on the works cited page. I received valuable instruction on creating a seamless paper that would be enjoyable to read.
What is a typical workload per week?
Alyssa: The workload has varied from week to week. On the easier assignments it took me 1-2 hours a week, but when I got into the actual research and writing portion, I spent around 5-6 hours a week. That may have been my own fault though! I love to research!
How did you pick your topic?
Alyssa: My coach encouraged me to pick a topic for a class that I was already taking. Since my American History class required several research papers, it fit well for her to walk me through this process.
Write at Home Coaches
What did you think of working with a writing coach?
Alyssa: Whenever I heard I was going to get to work with a writing coach, I was very excited to have an outside, unbiased source to critique my writing. I looked forward to having someone other than my parents give me feedback on my writing.
Mom: I just want to interject my own thoughts real quickly. I love how this is set up as a coaching experience. While coaches grade assignments, they set clear expectations and examine what they expect. Students aren't guessing if they're heading in the right direction, and can just focus their energy on writing in the right direction!
How has it been?
Alyssa: It has been very helpful to work with a writing coach. Her feedback is both encouraging and constructive. This leaves me feeling motivated to continue and not discouraged.
One of the most helpful tips she's given me is identifying ways I can clarify, reword, or build upon ideas I've presented. This strengthens me as a writer because I am noticing these instances myself and correcting them as I go.
How do you feel this has prepared you for future writing assignments?
Alyssa: Overall, learning and practicing the different aspects of writing a research paper has given me the confidence to be able to do it again. After watching my brother, cousins, and my mom work through this same writing process, I feel excited that I am on the right track. I know that writing papers like this is one of the main assignments for college classes, so this class has really helped me learn how to do it with excellence.
Getting Help From WriteAtHome
If you need help with writing instruction or would just like an outsider's perspective on your student's writing, the WriteAtHome courses are excellent options. This would be an excellent transition course to dual credit classes where it is expected that you know how to write! As a mother, I love the confidence that this experience has given my daughter to keep working on her craft.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.