Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Two-Paragraph Essay

Will has written several of these for her Minecraft Homeschool class, and they're pretty brilliant. She's a reluctant typer/handwriter (her fine motor skills ARE improving, so I no longer *despair*, exactly, but nevertheless... sigh), but that two-paragraph limit is somehow short enough that she will willingly do the work without complaint.

Two paragraphs are also plenty of space to create some pretty sophisticated compositions. Here's an example from her first week of class:

The instructor generally gives them the topic for each paragraph (for this one, obviously, they were to write facts about their Wonder in the first paragraph, and then explain why they chose that Wonder in the second paragraph), but all of the information, of course, as well as the structure, transitions, and authorial voice, are crafted by the student.

The class also provides its own resources, via a written lesson and links to documentaries on Youtube, and Will has become quite adept at looking back at these references as she writes, rewatching specific scenes from the documentaries and rereading specific paragraphs from the lessons to find the information that she wants. It's not note-taking, but nevertheless, that kind of recall ability is a great research skill to have.

Although these short essays don't require Will to practice introductions and conclusions--there simply isn't enough room--I'm finding that I quite like the way that they're structured, regardless. It gives Will a chance to practice a few very specific research and composition skills, so that when she does write longer essays for me--well, that's a little less that she'll have to work on then!


Tina said...

I think Will already writes better papers than I do :0)

Did the girls play Minecraft before Will took this course?

Also, do you let the girls research on-line on their own? If you do, are there any parental settings you use?

I let Emma research bunnies a week or so ago and I was a little worried that the playboy bunnies would be one of the top results. Not a super big deal, but that stuff is tame compared to some of the stuff that might come up...

julie said...

They did play Minecraft before, mostly Will, but this course has also taught her a bunch more things to do on it, so I think she's enjoying the game even more now. Does Emma play computer or video games at all?

I do let mine research online, and although I like to supervise them on Google, I don't insist on it. We've got SafeSearch on, but a couple of times it's gotten jacked for whatever reason and Will has come across some really, really, REALLY gross search results, primarily because she's always searching for things about animals. Did YOU know that a search for how zoos breed tigers would result in graphic short stories about people/tiger hybrid sex if you don't have SafeSearch turned on? She didn't click on the results, thankfully, but nevertheless I went on a hysterical rant about internet pornography that I'm sure was much more traumatizing than the actual incident.

Anyway, I prefer that the children search through our library's Encyclopedia Britannica subscription, or through Wikipedia, but depending on the topic, that can be less useful (Syd's Thanksgiving blueberry muffin recipe came from her own Google research). We often search Youtube for relevant videos, however, and that I do insist on closely supervising. I will actually sometimes even insist that the children close their eyes while I'm doing the search--last night, Will wanted to look for videos of the luminous lizard, which is a cave-dwelling creature in Trinidad. She absolutely had to cover her eyes while I searched for that one for her!

Tina said...

Emma goes in phases with her video/computer games. She really enjoyed Bella Sara for a while till she ran out of missions. Right now she is obsessing over Viva Pinata Trouble in Paradise on X-Box. As for the computer, she never really gets much access to them especially when I am taking classes.

My point exactly about the tiger search! I'll have to check out the SafeSearch thing. I love the idea of getting her set up with her own computer but I have a feeling she would end up following in her Da's footsteps and NEVER get off the stupid thing.


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