Saints Alive

Lively Faith. Lively Writing.

bookDoes your seventh-grader amaze you with his insightful paragraphs, witty prose and creative characterization and plotting? Do you sleep soundly, secure that your child will breeze through the more rigorous high school requirements that are coming? Congratulations! And please share your secret!

For the rest of us, Saints Alive is presented as individualized writing tutoring for junior high homeschoolers. This course focuses on crafting interesting narrative paragraphs. It's tailored for students who want to hone their writing skills before hitting high school.

For its foundation, the class uses Once Upon a Time Saints stories by Ethel Pochocki, the best written chapter length saint stories I've ever read. They are presented like fairy tales: "Once upon a time in the country of Burgunday there lived a princess named Alice." For three weeks out of four, the student would read one of two options each week, and then write a three paragraph summary of the saint.

These three paragraphs will be broken down into a standard format with room for creativity within: setting and characters, rising action to climax, and then "the rest of the story." Students learn to take notes on the portions they want to include in their narrative. They practice writing with exciting verbs and adverbs, varied sentence structure and descriptive nouns. Finally, they get to know the saints as real people who led interesting lives rather than paper-dolls of Mr. and Miss Perfect.

Students submit a rough draft early in the week and may share their final draft on a private online forum. I give tailored feedback between these two submissions on plotting, character description, style, and the mechanics of writing.

And on that "off week"-- what then? One week out of four is a freebie for the student to escape the normal schedule. Write a letter to a friend or grandparent or neighbor using these same techniques: strong verbs, interesting nouns,dynamic sentences. These skills don't exist in a bubble-- go out and share them!

Book List

Lord of the Ring-givers

For hearty, hard-core hobbit heads, or those just dipping a furry toe into Middle-Earth for the first time, this high school literature and writing course will surprise, enlighten, and bring a new-found wonder at Tolkien's Catholic world.

Anglo-Saxon Literature

They've gnawed your bookshelves to the bones and are hungry for something new. Go beyond Beowulf to the earliest English literature in existance in this one-semester class.

Chesterton: Prince of Paradox

This high school class delights in Chesterton's wit, paradox, and profundity as we sample a smorgasboard of his works: biography, poetry, fiction, apologetics, essays and epics.

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