Middle School Writing with A Dog in the Cave

Middle School Writing with A Dog in the Cave

Students will learn foundational academic writing skills including thesis statements, topic sentences, paragraph focus, and transitions. They will practice these skills through themed writing assignments based on the book A Dog in the Cave by Kay Frydenborg.

Provided materials include reading guides and activities to help with vocabulary and comprehension as well as writing tips to apply to short, informal writing assignments.

Most importantly, students will compose two multi-draft papers with individual video feedback on rough drafts and the opportunity to revise a final draft.

A white and brown dog with big ears

Class Full

What Makes SEA Online Classes Special

Class Duration: October 6-November 24

Class Size: 8-10 learners

Age Range: 11-13

Total Price: $110

Students will learn foundational academic writing skills including thesis statements, topic sentences, paragraph focus, and transitions. They will practice these skills through themed writing assignments based on the book A Dog in the Cave by Kay Frydenborg.

Provided materials include reading guides and activities to help with vocabulary and comprehension as well as writing tips to apply to short, informal writing assignments.

Most importantly, students will compose two multi-draft papers with individual video feedback on rough drafts and the opportunity to revise a final draft.

Here is a general overview of the schedule:

Week 1- Our live session will include academic reading tips (note taking and dealing with difficult passages). Students will be assigned Chapters 1 and 2 before the next live session. They will receive reading guides and videos/handouts about writing strategies.

Week 2- Our live session will include a discussion of Chapters 1 and 2 and an introduction to the idea of summary. Students will be assigned Chapters 3 and 4 before the next live session. They will receive reading guides, videos/handouts about writing strategies, and be asked to complete a writing activity in preparation for their first paper.

Week 3- Our live session will include a discussion of Chapters 3 and 4 and an introduction to the idea of paragraph focusing. Students will be assigned a rough draft of Paper 1.

Week 4- Our live session will include a discussion of the revision process in preparation for revising Paper 1 based on feedback. Students will be assigned a final draft of Paper 1 and Chapter 5.

Week 5- Our live session will include a discussion of Chapter 5 and an introduction to the idea of thesis statements. Students will be assigned Chapter 6 before the next live session. They will receive reading guides, videos/handouts about writing strategies, and be asked to complete a writing activity in preparation for their second paper.

Week 6- Our live session will include a discussion of Chapter 6 and an introduction to the idea of transitions. Students will be assigned Chapter 7 before the next live session. They will receive reading guides, videos/handouts about writing strategies, and be asked to complete a writing activity in preparation for their second paper.

Week 7- Our live session will include a discussion of Chapter 7 and a detailed overview of Paper 2. Students will be assigned a rough draft of Paper 2.

Week 8- Our live session will give students an opportunity to reflect on what they have learned about the writing process and their own writing skills. Students will be assigned a final draft of Paper 2.

Live Sessions every Tuesday from 12:30-1pm Central

  • A copy of A Dog in the Cave by Kay Frydenborg (ISBN 978-0-544-28656-6) (used copies are fine; borrowed/library copies are acceptable but it’s preferable for learners to have their own copy so they can take notes in it)
  • We will use a Discord server for message boards (learners who prefer to not use Discord can still participate in our classroom but with less interaction; Discord can be installed on a phone, tablet, or computer for free)
  • We will use Zoom for weekly live meetings (Zoom can be installed on a phone, tablet, or computer for free)
  • Learners will submit work through Google Drive (a Google (Gmail) account can be acquired for free)

2-3 hours weekly

Students should be able to read at a 6th/7th grade level and answer questions about what they’ve read. It’s okay to have struggles with vocabulary or connecting ideas — we’ll be discussing strategies for that in class.

Students should have a basic understanding of writing in terms of what makes a complete sentence, how to craft a paragraph of related sentences, and how to form a beginning, middle, and end to put ideas together logically. It’s okay to struggle with fully developing ideas or knowing how to transition between paragraphs — we’ll be discussing strategies for that in class.

The class is set up so that students choose which writing prompts they’d like to complete for both of the two primary assignments. This means that students of varying ability levels and familiarity with academic writing conventions can find an assignment appropriate for their level. All students will learn about finding their own writing process, working on a complete draft in stages that focus on revision, and reflecting on what works to build strong writing habits.

Depending on which assignments they choose to complete, students will focus specifically on focusing paragraphs, summarizing outside sources in their own writing, analyzing outside sources, finding similarities when making comparisons, or conducting independent research to find credible sources.

All students will receive individualized video feedback on all rough drafts that specifically addresses their rough draft submissions. My teaching philosophy very much focuses on starting with students’ strengths to build confidence and using them to work on improvements over time. Feedback is tailored to each student’s individual needs and goals. I also encourage a lot of self-reflection and provide opportunities for students to directly communicate their challenges so that facing them with strategies becomes a normal part of the writing process.

The book explores the evolution of wolves into dogs from a perspective that combines anthropology, genetics, paleontology, psychology, and sociology. There are no graphic descriptions of sex or violence, but there are a few brief mentions of topics that some families may want to know about in advance.

  • The section on human evolution discusses genetic evidence of interbreeding between Neanderthals and Homo sapiens.
  • There is a section on the American initiative to cull wolf species that briefly describes the mass murder of the animals.
  • One chapter on genetics briefly mentions theories about autism and the microbiome (which is not a topic that features into planned class discussion).

Learn more about this instructor’s classroom policies and expectations.

More Classes Like this One