Wednesday, September 16, 2015

One Year Adventure Novel - our language arts program 2015-2016

After a few weeks into our fall routine, I feel comfortable sharing what we are doing and how it is going.  This is the first year I feel confident no major changes will be made to the curriculum choices we made.  As usual, our week is chock full of activities and lessons, but so far we are managing to get it all done.  

For several years I have offered a writing group for my girls.  My original plan was to hold a workshop similar to a book club, where girls around the same age, could gather, work on their own piece of writing, share and get positive feedback from their peers.  There would be no collecting of pieces, no editing, grading and publishing.  That was left to the parents if they choose to turn it into more.  This was 90 minutes of creative energy in a positive environment.  It has always been my favorite time of the week.

Our writing group, #notebookgirlz, has been through an evolution over the past 2 ½ years.  We have used for many of our writing warm up activities. We have taken writing field trips.  We attended library book sales.  My girls have several notebooks filled with stories, essays, poems, reflections, and lists.  Girls have come and gone from our group based on interest, availability, and friendships.  We almost lost our group when several girls moved away and the pain was almost enough to stop and not send out an invite on the yahoo homeschooling site and not open ourselves up to new people, new dynamics, new relationships and the possibility of new friendships.  But we did.  And we sure are glad we did.

Our little group met once a week and we brought in those who were sick, or had to stay home because of wintry weather, or car troubles via Google Hangout.  Keilee in Alabama and Katya in New York were able to join in every week and our little group became a bit more tech savvy.  

As they grew and matured, they naturally sought more from their writing.  After an 8 week fairy tale unit, I realized we needed more, but I did not have the time or the energy to create something more on my own.  There are many writing programs to choose from but I needed something that would engage the girls, count for a high school credit, and be customizable to the strong voices and genres that my girls like to write.  We have a range of very strong writers, who are already working on novels to those who write because they have to, not necessarily because they love to.  What was most important to me was that we keep the workshop format.  A lesson, writing, sharing, writing, more sharing, asking, answering, questioning, in a positive, open environment.

I had my eye on One Year Adventure Novel for some time but was reluctant to spend this much on a curriculum because our track record with finishing things like this is pretty dismal.  After running it by the group, asking them to watch the sample videos, and browse the website, we decided to give it a try and I purchased the OYAN videos, workbook and teacher’s guide.  

To move through the 70+ lessons and finish in May, we added an extra day.  Now we meet on Fridays like always, but we all meet online Tuesday nights as well.  We watch the video, and I lead them through the questions in the workbook.  We share our writing, ask questions, and receive feedback.  I do wish I had a magic wand and could magically transport all these girls to my dining room table, but this is the next best thing.  We now have 9 girls.  Two in Florida, 2 in Connecticut (but too far to drive every week), 1 in Alabama, and four who are able to come to my house.  

We are on lesson 7 and we are beginning to get to writing scenes.  In fact, Lilah was up until 11:00pm last night working on her scene.  

There are things I simply adore about this program. I love the use of outside literature to make points.  We are reading Tale of Despereaux for book club and every point that has been introduced so far is in this book.  I am constantly pausing to point out things like use of dialect, humility, a power, a big theme, a villain, etc.  We are looking at books in a whole new way as a result of how we are writing.  That in itself is a pretty powerful lesson.

We have made character vision boards.                            
We have been given book recommendations and movie            recommendations.  We have taken impressive notes (a new skill for us).
We have each come up with a synopsis.
We are creating characters to care about.
We are sharing our writing with friends we love and trust.
We are immersing ourselves in the creative process with guidance and structure and support.  

I hope the girls are enjoying this as much as I am.  We are four weeks in and I just cannot wait to see where their stories are when they are four months in.  

* I was not paid or given any compensation or free product for this post.  This is my own review as a homeschool parent, sharing a program I recommend.


Nicole T said...

So very cool! I want to join!!!

Karen said...

Keilee is loving this class. We both appreciate so much your hard work to make this all come together!! :)

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