Middle School Writing & Rhetoric Transition Course

Term: Yearlong 2018–19, September 4–May 24
Target Grade Levels: Grades 7–9
(This course is designed for students who have had previous writing instruction but are NEW to the Writing & Rhetoric series. Please see placement details below.)
Instructor: Mrs. Schinstock
Schedule: M/W 11:00 a.m. EST, 60–75 min.
Price: $595.00

The Writing & Rhetoric Transition Course introduces older students (target grade range: 7th–9th grade) to the series beginning with Book 5: Refutation & Confirmation. In this way, the course is similar to the first semester of Writing & Rhetoric Year 3; however, this middle school transition course will follow a different pace and trajectory in order to include instructional lessons that review concepts from previous levels, and will accelerate as needed through clearly identified areas of mastered skills specific to students in 7th–9th grade. In the first few weeks of the course, the teacher will assess student abilities in the areas of reading and writing and make adjustments as needed.

Throughout the year, students will develop and hone their skills in persuasive writing and speaking. In this course, students learn to refute or defend certain parts of narratives according to whether the identified parts are unbelievable, improbable, unclear, or improper—or believable, probable, clear, or proper. After learning to identify the parts of a story that can be attacked or defended, students practice writing refutations or confirmations using sound arguments to explain their opinions. Following mastery of skills and content in Book 5, students will write six-paragraph essays that are arguments against the common vices of people and arguments in favor of common virtues, including alternately praising and blaming the character and careers of specific historical figures. Students will learn to master a thesis statement, use comparison and contrast, introduce and conclude an essay, use a variety of rhetorical devices, invent soliloquies to support an argument, demonstrate the use of pathos to engage readers, deliver writing orally, and revise writing.

In this course, students may progress more quickly through various forms of essays, including a brief biographical research project. The teacher reserves the right to adjust the course expectations, content, and pacing as needed to align with identified student skills and abilities.

Syllabus: Download the 2018–19 course syllabus here.

Placement: 

  • This course is designed for students in 7th–9th grade who have had previous writing instruction but are new to the Writing & Rhetoric series.
  • Because the goal of this course is to lead students to Writing & Rhetoric Year 5, students are expected to have mastered the following prerequisites:
    • Narrative and descriptive writing
    • The multi-paragraph essay (introduction, body, conclusion)
    • Strong grammatical concepts and conventions such as punctuation, sentence structure, and subject-verb agreement
    • The ability to sequence and organize ideas
    • Strong penmanship
    • Strong reading and comprehension skills for target grade level
  • Scholé Academy administers placement assessments in order to get to know each student and find the best learning environment for him or her, as we seek to educate our students well and wisely. Students should print and complete the WR Transition Placement Assignment to confirm proper placement in this course. Please note that registration is not finalized until the student has submitted a placement exam and received confirmation of proper placement from Mrs. Schinstock. Download the WR Transition placement assignment instructions here.

For further information on the Writing & Rhetoric series, please see the Classical Academic Press FAQ page.

*Required Texts: 

Please note that the Writing & Rhetoric series does not include a text specifically aimed at transitioning new 7–9th grade students into the program. This course is designed to meet this very need! While Books 5 & 7 are used as the required texts, the instructor supplements with additional materials (provided to the students at no additional charge) throughout the year in order to best facilitate students entry into the trajectory of the progymnasmata. Instruction is geared toward students in 7–9th grade, even though the required texts are in some cases aimed at a lower student grade range.

*Required texts are not included in the purchase of the course.

Optional Resources:

These audio files allow students to engage their sense of hearing and their listening intelligence as Dr. Christopher Perrin, Christine Perrin, and Greg Lowe deliver the readings aloud in a thoughtful manner.

BWheadshot_BIOSchinstockJ squareJoanne Schinstock earned a BA in journalism from Creighton University and a master in humanities from the University of Dallas. After studying a year abroad focusing on Italian language and culture in Florence, Italy, she began her teaching career as a middle school classroom instructor in language arts. While working at The Highlands School (Irving, Texas), she was the co-chair of the English department and a middle- and upper-school English instructor, teaching classes that included advanced placement language and composition and journalism. The Dallas Catholic Diocese recognized Joanne as a Work of Heart Award recipient, honoring outstanding teachers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Joanne also obtained an adjunct professor of humanities position at Brookhaven College in the School of Arts and Sciences (Farmers Branch, Texas). 

From classroom teaching, her interests in the profession expanded to work in curriculum writing and professional development as a consultant for primary and secondary schools in North America and Manila, Philippines. Subsequently, she worked as a language arts instructor and curriculum coordinator for a 6th–12th grade all-girls charter school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Her duties included work with the Tennessee Charter School Association as an advocate for students, parents, and community members engaging in advocacy for disadvantaged students from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Joanne took a reprieve from teaching after seven years to give time to her children and husband. She and her husband, Brad, currently reside in Oklahoma with their children. They find joy in forging their family culture in homeschooling in the classical Christian tradition, participating in their church community, and delighting in weekend family outings. Joanne began teaching Writing & Rhetoric at Scholé Academy in 2016.

“Mrs. Schinstock excels at providing my girls with very specific and constructive feedback on their written assignments. She strikes a good balance between challenging and encouraging students.” —Brandi C., Scholé Academy Parent

“She is fantastic in leading the kids to a truly contemplative, classical approach to writing. . . She was also excellent in communicating expectations, goals, and rubrics, as well as giving timely feedback on assignments. . . We love Mrs Schinstock!” —Scholé Academy Parent

Red checkmarkComputer: You will need a stable, reliable computer, running with processor with a speed of 1 Ghz or better on one of the following operating systems: Mac OS X with MacOS 10.6 (Snow Leopard) or later; Windows 8, 7, Vista (with SP1 or later), or XP (with SP3 or later). We do NOT recommending using an iPad or other tablet for joining classes. An inexpensive laptop or netbook would be much better solutions, as they enable you to plug an Ethernet cable directly into your computer. Please note that Chromebooks are allowed but not preferred, as they do not support certain features of the Zoom video conference software such as breakout sessions and annotation, which may be used by our teachers for class activities.

Red checkmarkHigh-Speed Internet Connection: You will also need access to high-speed Internet, preferably accessible via Ethernet cable right into your computer. Using Wi-Fi may work, but will not guarantee you the optimal use of your bandwidth. The faster your Internet, the better. We recommend using a connection with an download/upload speed of 5/1Mbps or better. You can test your Internet connection here.

Red checkmarkWebCam: You may use an external webcam or one that is built in to the computer.
WebCam Recommendations: Good (PC only) | Best (Mac and PC)

Red checkmarkHeadset: We recommend using a headset rather than a built-in microphone and speakers. Using a headset reduces the level of background noise heard by the entire class.
Headset Recommendations: USB | 3.5mm

Red checkmarkZoom: We use a web conferencing software called Zoom for our classes, which enables students and teachers to gather from around the globe face to face in real time. Zoom is free to download and easy to use.
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To download Zoom:

  1. Visit zoom.us/download.
  2. Click to download the first option listed, Zoom Client for Meetings.
  3. Open and run the installer on your computer.
  4. In August, students will be provided with instructions and a link for joining their particular class.

Please Note: This recording is a sample of Writing & Rhetoric Year 3 with Mrs. Joanne Schinstock.

from Classical Academic Press

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