Transitioning to online courses in the high school years can be a big leap for both homeschool students and their parents. We want to give them the highest quality education possible but we also want to maintain some aspects of the role we’ve played in their education through the younger years. This honors-level online high school writing course from Mr. D Math allows us to do both.
I received access to Mr. D Math’s Advanced Writing course for review purposes and I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own and I am not required to post a positive review.
Note: this post was originally published March 12, 2020. It was updated on March 10, 2021 for clarity.
The Challenge of Taking Online Courses in the High School Years
In our home province, there are several different enrollment options available for home learners, but not all of them lead to a Certificate of High School Graduation. Although parents are free to educate their children in any way they choose from kindergarten to 9th grade, the requirements for high school are much more stringent.
Because of this, most of our homeschool families choose the “Distributed Learning” route for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade.
Distributed learning can take many forms, but in general, it involves a lot of online courses in the high school years. For parents who’ve spent up to ten years playing a leading role in their child’s education, giving up the reins and enrolling them in a full suite of online courses can be scary.
I attended a seminar a few years ago about preparing for college and homeschooling through the high school years.
Although the majority of the parents in attendance were keen to have their children graduate with certificates—to increase their chances of getting into university—they were hesitant to make the switch to online classes after middle school.
Making the shift from primary educator in your home to “backseat driver” is a big leap and I think we were all eager to find creative ways to play a continued role in our children’s learning.
As my eldest daughter—an aspiring novelist—sprints relentlessly towards 9th grade, I find myself caught in this same conundrum: how do I best help her prepare for the future while maintaining the dynamic we’ve worked so hard to create in our family?
How do I ensure she receives the best education available to her, particularly in subject areas in which I’m less fluent?
How can I give her the support she needs while also encouraging her to grow in her independence and develop the study skills she will need to succeed in school, college, and her future career?
It is with these questions in mind that I assess every online course we consider.
An Online High School Writing Course that Fits the Bill
Because of these concerns, I’m particularly excited about Mr. D Math’s online writing course for high school students: Advanced Writing.
This honors-level writing class offers my daughter everything she needs in a homeschool writing curriculum while also allowing me to retain my role in her education.
Now, I absolutely love Mr. D’s classes in general and have yet to be disappointed with any of them, but I was a little skeptical about this one at first. I mean, Mr. D is a math genius…surely he wasn’t also endeavoring to teach writing to high school students? That would be a bit much!
So, I was relieved to find out that he’s actually offering his self-paced online writing class through a partnership with Jenni Stahlmann and Jody Hagaman of From Cradle to Calling, an educational organization that helps students discover their interests, develop their passions, and create strategies for future success.
These two women have successfully homeschooled over ten children between them and they know what they’re talking about when it comes to writing skills and study strategies. I’m thrilled to consider them as partners in the mission of educating my budding writers.
What I love about Mr. D Math’s Advanced Writing Class
With four kids at home—one of whom is a busy toddler who requires near-constant supervision—I don’t have nearly as much time as I’d like to sit with my older kids and teaching writing or any other subjects. I have to rely on online writing courses and other resources if they’re going to learn to write well.
The Advanced Writing Course developed by Jody and Jenni is rigorous and thorough. Over the course of a year, they help students develop advanced academic and creative writing skills to the point where they’re writing at a college level.
Through a varied series of assignments, students develop their observation skills and descriptive techniques, learn basic story elements and narrative skills, and hone their ability to plan, write and receive research papers using MLA format. (For a more detailed course outline, scroll down).
Not only that, but they really work on developing organizational habits and study skills in students. Several videos at the beginning of the course walk students through setting up their binders, organizing their notes, homework and assignments, and managing their schedule to make time for everything they’re trying to do.
But what I really love is that I still get to stay involved with my students by grading their papers using rubrics provided by the instructors. Each week, the students complete different types of fiction writing assignments and/or essays of various types.
They hand these into their parent or whoever is guiding them through the course for marking. The course instructors have provided specific rubrics for each type of writing assignment.
These detailed marking guides include categories such as formatting, content, plot development, character development, and creativity and use a four-point scale to help parents determine an objective grade for their students.
It’s a win-win: my kids get an excellent writing program that will earn them credits toward their graduation certificate and I get to monitor their progress, talk to them about what they’re writing and learning, and maintain some role in their language arts education.
Topics Covered in Mr. D Math’s Advanced Writing Program
There are five components to the advanced online high school writing course offered by Mr. D Math:
- English Grammar (Weeks 1 – 27)
- Creative Writing (Weeks 1 – 16)
- Essay writing (Weeks 16 – 34)
- Writing a Research Paper (Weeks 15 – 33)
- Vocabulary Building (Weeks 1 – 31)
For each new lesson, students watch a video and follow along with a written lesson plan. The lesson plan doesn’t cover everything taught in the video, so it’s important that students use both resources.
Here is a list of topics covered:
- Prepositions and conjunctions
- History of the novel
- Story elements
- Sentence structure
- Viewpoint and narration
- Character development
- Show don’t tell/imagery
- Hooks, focus, and pacing
- Subtlety and hyperbole
- Comparisons and contrasts
- Irony and satire
- Essay types
- MLA Documentation
- Organizing research
- Capitalization and punctuation
- Writing a thesis statement
- Writing an outline
- Connecting research to an outline
- Character analysis
- Writing an abstract and methodology
- Historical criticism
- Advanced editing and proofreading
- Finding critical readers
- Writing a college essay
- Tips on the college admission process
- Timed essays
As you can see, this is one of the more comprehensive online writing programs for high schoolers and covers all aspects of the writing process for many types of writing, including both fiction and nonfiction.
Other Benefits of Mr. D Math’s Online High School Writing Course
One of my favorite things about Mr. D’s online classes is that there are real people behind each course, cheering your children on and rooting for their success.
This translates into an exceptionally high level of customer service, and this seems to be the case for the writing classes taught by Jenni and Jody as well.
Students are invited to email them about anything in the course at any time and the instructors will email back within 24-hours to offer their assistance.
The videos are also well made and go into great detail about everything the student needs to know to succeed, both within this writing course and beyond, as a college-ready writer.
I particularly love the first few videos where they explain how to organize yourself academically and personally. This is an area where my kids often struggle (which is odd, given my obsession with organization and scheduling!)
But I feel like the way these instructors explain it just makes sense for high school students and will hopefully cultivate great habits that they’ll maintain throughout life.
Finally, I love how Mr. D stands firmly behind his online courses for homeschoolers, offering a 30-day money-back guarantee in case it turns out that the class you choose is not the right fit. I feel like he’s truly dedicated to student success more than he is to his own.
I now have both my 11 and my 12-year-old begging to take this advanced writing course. I’m not sure they’re quite ready yet, but how does one quelch that enthusiasm?
Most likely I’ll be sitting there beside them, taking the course over their shoulders, hoping to pick up anything I might have slept through in my high school English course!
Sophie Agbonkhese is a writer, veteran homeschooling mother of four, and a recovering overachiever (who occasionally relapses). She is the founder of My Cup Runs Over, a site dedicated to helping busy women simplify and enrich their lives, homes, and homeschools. When she’s not writing or debugging websites, Sophie spends her time reading with her kids, gardening, listening to audiobooks, and striving fruitlessly to have a clean house for at least five minutes. She lives in southwestern British Columbia with her husband, Ben, and their children.