Ok, recently my daughter had the opportunity to take the Time4Writing High School Paragraphs Course.
Let me tell you what that is:
Time4Writing is an online course, providing a real live instructor, designed to improve your student’s writing. They have something for all students from the beginning writers to those who are preparing for college entrance exams. Lessons are delivered on an “as completed” basis. This means that the student cannot get ahead in the course.
In the High School Paragraphs course, the student is given an opportunity to write a little introduction, and allowed access to review materials that will assist them in getting the grammar and usage portions of the lesson. The student is instructed on how to create simple, complex, and compound sentences as well as the “formula” for a good, basic paragraph. Each lesson emphasizes a different thing to focus on.
How it works:
Time4Writing courses are designed to run over 8 weeks. Extensions are available, the first for free, after that the extension require an additional fee. The student does a lesson, sometimes a quiz, and then writes a paragraph based on the topic and focus of that chapter. The paragraph is then reviewed by a real teacher, who provides one-on-one instruction via email, and returned lessons. The paragraph is graded on comma and grammar usage, flow, and interest. The instructor then gives suggestions as to how to make the paragraph better. If the student made a 95% they are allowed to move on without correcting the paragraph. If the student makes below that, they are offered the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, correct the paragraph, and resubmit for an improved, final grade.
Let me tell you what I loved:
I loved the one-on-one instructor, and the individualized responses from her. Her corrections of my daughter’s paragraphs were tough but fair. Honestly, I have a degree in English and I’m not sure I’ve ever had a paper graded with such attention to detail. Amazingly, where my daughter and I were butting heads in English, the instructor was able to give corrections and suggestions that my daughter accepted. I thought my daughter wrote pretty well before she took this course, but she certainly honed her skills as a writer in this course. I saw dramatic improvement in my daughter’s ability to create a well-written, thoughtful, and organized paragraph.
Let me tell you what I didn’t love, and why:
The student must turn in an assignment and have it graded before they can even see the next assignment. This means while they are waiting for the paragraph to be graded, they are sitting idle. And the turn-around time is usually within 24 hours so it is not a long idle time. I understand that the intent is to keep students focused, and prevent them from losing interest in the point of a lesson by going ahead and peeking at future lessons. This is actually a very good method for this online course to take, it served to keep my daughter from moving ahead and being careless or sloppy. It is important that the student get the critique and suggestions for improvement before moving forward. I just didn’t like it because it frustrated my daughter, who hates repetition, and she saw the revising of the paragraphs as repetition. She would rather have gotten a grade and been done with it, even if the grade had been lower than the one she eventually got after revision. Her frustration made her miserable, and if you have a teenage girl, you know that that misery can be contagious!
Over all, I would definitely recommend a Time4Writing course. I think having an instructor who is knowledgeable, patient, and firm makes all the difference in a student’s reception of course materials and ability to learn. I can certainly say the instructor fit those criteria.
If you are uncomfortable with your ability to teach writing, or would just rather someone else do the instruction and grading, the online Time4Writing courses are a great opportunity to have a quality course taught to your student. Check them out!