Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fortuigence - Essay Rock Star - A Crew Review

How do you keep your students writing? Some students love to write, others avoid it like the plague. As parents we need to find resources that help us encourage our children to keep writing. Writing is really not like grammar, you can't take time off and keep your skills up. If you take too much of a break from writing, you get rusty... and your sentence structure goes downhill. Because I knew it had been a while since we required Emily to take time for some focused writing, I was happy to be a part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew's study of the Essay Rock Star Persuasive Essay Writing Course from Fortuigence. Fortuigence has four courses available in its Essay Rock Star series. You should take a look at the other three as well: Personal Statement, Textual Analysis, and Expository Essay. The best part of this review for me? No grading, no proofreading, and lots of email updates on how Emily was doing with her writing!

I'll admit it, I can teach the girls how to write, I've done it in the past, but I'm not always the most patient of teachers. These courses from Fortuigence give you the opportunity to hand off the teaching for a while. If you'd like to read more about why your student needs to learn to write well, check out the overview of the Persuasive Essay course.

If you're already convinced you need to keep your student writing - good for you! Emily, having one main job (student) and one secondary one (volunteer) has a lot more time to focus on her writing than I do. Let's be honest, Moms and Dads have multiple responsibilities, and often as homeschoolers we are teaching various grade levels all in the same day. 

homeschool writing course, online writing course

Ms. I (Lily Iatridis) the teacher, has divided the Persuasive essay into manageable chunks for your student to work on. Each step of the course has a lesson with a video of Ms. I, and text to read, then an assignment. It is a five-step writing process. Emily's course had seven lessons with seven assignments. The awesome approach of Fortuigence is starting where the student is, not where you want them to be. The first lesson focused on what the students would learn from the course, and then required them to submit something they had written in the past six months. Don't worry, if your student hasn't written anything recently, there are prompts to get them to write something and send it in.

For our course, Emily sent in a short story/ novella she had been working on for the summer. Ms. Iatridis was honest and let us know that after reading Emily's pre-assessment piece, she was beyond the usual level of this courses's students. Here is her reply:

"If you wrote that short story, suffice it to say that this short course is far too easy for you! If you were a paying customer I’d refund your money now."

Since we were doing a review, and I wanted Emily to be challenged to write well, without hesitation, and without sloppiness, I knew there would still be value in the course. (I later found out that Ms. I is friends with the author of the course that taught Emily how to write the short story - bonus on the confirmation that this course is a good idea!)

The Essay Rock Star courses cost $57 each. With your student working on the lessons and assignments three days a week, they should finish in seven weeks or less. Most students can probably finish in about 4-5 weeks, but if you have a struggling writer, give then as much time as they need, as long as they are still doing their assignment! 

Emily received an email with feedback after every assignment was submitted. It let her know if she needed to adjust or add anything in the assignment before moving on to the next lesson. Ms. I has admin controls that keep the student on each lesson until they are really ready to proceed. As she works with each student to improve their skills, she also communicates well with the parents. Every week or two I also received an update about how Emily was doing in her course. There is a button on the website where students can contact Ms. I  with their questions, and she is always prompt to reply to emails from parents. One week our home internet went down, so I sent her a quick note to let her know Emily was working on her assignment, but wouldn't be sending it in until the following week.

I think this course has a lot of value, regardless of where your student's current writing ability stands. The focus on mastery is important to us. We want Emily to feel confident in her writing abilities, and we want her to be prepared for College essays and scholarship applications. Ms. I has come up with a quality, non-time-scheduled course, that meets the needs of both student and parent. With her years as a classroom teacher, Lily understands the need for one-on-one time with teens to help them craft a quality piece while learning how to improve their overall writing skills.  We received a link to a rubic, that helped us understand how the course work would be evaluated, and how the student's work would be judged as sufficient or deficient based upon their age (Middle school or High School.) As Emily worked through her lessons, there were links to helpful writing lists and tips. This gives your students another take-away to use on their future writing assignments.

This course really did free me up to focus on other teaching tasks. The $57 cost seems small compared to the value of having a personal writing teacher for your High Schooler. I also like the guarantee (scroll to the bottom of this page,) that if the course isn't a good fit for your student, you have 14 days to request a refund. It is also important as parents that we realize some of our students might not be ready for the course yet, and there is an option for a refund or a delayed credit for that scenario too. I would suggest this course for ages 14 and up. If you have a proficient writer who is younger ( 11 to 13,) they would also get a lot out of this course. Just expect it to take longer for your younger students to complete each assignment.

If you are an adult who needs to write well for work, but struggles to organize your thought and supporting elements, I would suggest this as a refresher course for you. Overall, I was impressed with the quality of the course, and give Ms. Iatridis an A!

Fortuigence Review

I would encourage you to connect with Fortuigence on social media. Ms. I posts videos and helpful writing exercises frequently. You can connect with Lily on Facebook, Google +, or Pinterest, just to name a few.

Some of you may be wondering what topic Emily chose to "persuade" with... Music. Later this month I'll have her post it for you to read, to make sure you don't miss it,  make sure you follow our blog via email, Facebook, or Pinterest.

Crew members reviewed all 4 types of Essay Writing Courses, click the banner to read all about them!

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Carol,

    Thanks so much for your review! It's been a pleasure working with you and Emily.