At the beginning, The Denim Beret Writing Program was designed to be a taught live in a classroom setting. It wasn't long before I decided to also teach it online as a correspondence course. Though I prefer to teach it live in a classroom, the correspondence version has certain advantages. First, students may begin anytime and follow their own schedules. Deadlines are given but are flexible, and students can take the time they need to master the material without being pressured by the dynamics of group learning. In addition, the lessons are written, which allows students to print and keep them for reference as needed.
The correspondence course is a hybrid of independent study and teacher interaction. It is designed for homeschooled students; however, it is flexible enough that traditionally schooled students may also enroll (and have). It works like this:
1) In Google Classroom I upload the lesson text, along with a worksheet and occasional handouts. All instructions are given in the lesson, but I am always available if students or parents have questions.
2) Students read the lesson and then complete the assignment, following instructions carefully. I will usually return work that has not been completed according to instructions. Learning how to follow instructions is not only important for mastering the material, it is also an essential life skill that many students find challenging.
3) By the specified due date, students submit their assignment through the Classroom submission portal and give me two full business days to grade their work. In the meantime, they may work on other subjects.
4) I grade the worksheet and return it with comments. In some cases, I will request revisions from the student and a resubmission. When the student shows sufficient mastery of the material, I give a final grade using a non-numerical, subjective scale that I devised for the program, and then I send the next lesson.
5) Once each month--and more if necessary--the student and I meet online through Google Meet (video chat). Parents may join if they choose. We go over lessons as needed, discuss future lessons, deal with questions and concerns, and celebrate successes.
6) The student is given a full calendar year to complete the course. Throughout the year, both the student and the parents have unlimited access to me through Classroom, email, and instant messaging, as well as through scheduled Meets. If the student is not finished with the course after the year is completed and has not been progressing steadily, I will end teacher-student interaction and send the parents the remaining lessons to complete with the student as they choose.
Please see the home page for Before Papers Come Paragraphs for more information, including a scope-and-sequence. Please see the "Tuition and Registration" page to enroll.