Friday, January 13, 2017

Essay Grading and Spring 2017 Brave Writer Courses

Yes, I am still grading essays via e-mail for anyone who is interested. More information about how to submit essays, the time frame for grading, and the prices are included in this previous post:

I'll also be teaching several Brave Writer online classes in 2017, starting January 9 and going through June 16, plus a summer class on Fan Fiction in July (4 weeks, precise dates TBA).


Groovy Grammar Workshop: January 9-February 3 (4 weeks) --SESSION FULL

MLA Research Essay: February 6-March 17 (6 weeks) --SESSION FULL 

Playing with Poetry Workshop: March 20-April 21 (5 weeks) --A FEW SPACES LEFT


Shakespeare Family Workshop: April 24-May 26 (5 weeks) --SESSION FULL

Literary Analysis: Shakespeare's Macbeth: May 22-June 16 (4 weeks) --A FEW SPACES LEFT

So, happy writing, everyone!

Writing with you,

Saturday, August 20, 2016

2016-2017 Essay Grading Service

Hi everyone! With the 2016-2017 school year starting, I thought I'd re-post the steps for submitting student essays to me to grade.

You may click on this link for my Essay Grading Service if you'd like to read about my service in detail or you may click on the page "Essay Grading Service" just under the header. You may also click on this link to see some of my Sample Graded Essays or again you may click on the page entitled "Sample Graded Essays" under the header.

Please contact me via e-mail using the "Contact Susanne" link in the sidebar if you are interested in using my services. Let me know the age(s) and grade level(s) of your student(s) as well as your goals and/or concerns for him/her/them as writers. Please also alert me to any learning challenges, reluctance in writing, extreme interest in writing, or any other matters I need to know before I evaluate the essays.

I usually return e-mails within 24 hours, so you may expect to receive a return e-mail from me in a timely manner.

After discussing your student(s) and goals/concerns, I'll e-mail the following directions for sending me essays to be graded:

Simply e-mail me the essay you wish to be graded as a Word attachment, including the assignment either in the text of the e-mail or also as an attachment. Also let me know if you would like comments only or comments with a letter grade and anything else I may need to know (such as learning challenges, reluctant writing, etc.) so that I can respond to the essay in the most constructive and helpful way possible.

I will respond to let you know that I have received the essay and which day you can expect to have it returned, usually 3-5 school days. If you need an essay graded sooner than that, let me know, and I'll see if I can slip it into my schedule. Also, with each assignment, please include the writer’s age, grade level, and whether you want a letter grade since I grade for quite a few families. :) 

I then download the essay, marking corrections, noting excellence, and offering suggestions for improvement in the right margin. At the end of the essay, I write an overall summary of which elements of the essay were done well and which elements may need further attention. 

My overarching goal is to encourage growth in the art and craft of writing in our students.   

Then when I return the graded essay, which I attach as a Word document and also as a PDF (because some Apple computers and tablets don’t show the review comments in the right margin of Word documents), I will let you know the fee: the number of words in the essay times $.03 (3 cents per word, excluding the student's name, essay title, date, and notes for me). 

If you wish to have your writer revise the essay and re-submit it to be graded again, I charge half as much the second time around.

Then you may remit via PayPal, and I'll give you the e-mail address to do so when I return the essay. I definitely prefer to grade the essay first and then receive payment. 

So just send along the essay when you're ready, and we'll go from there. 

Please let me know if you have any questions; I'll be happy to answer them!

Writing with you,

Monday, August 15, 2016

2016-2017 Brave Writer Teaching Schedule

Although I just finished the 2015-2016 school year with Brave Writer a week ago with the summer Fan Fiction class, I'm now gearing up for the 2016-2017 teaching schedule.

I am so excited about our new Brave Writer Classroom for teaching our Online Classes that will debut this September. Julie showed us a mock-up of the classroom at June's Brave Writer Staff Retreat and Training, and it's simply gorgeous with very clean lines, more images, and more visual appeal...and a lot easier for us teachers to use. I can't wait!! :)

Now that I am no longer teaching my Expository Essay and other courses at Heritage Christian School's co-op Class Days, I'm taking on one more Brave Writer class this year (for a total of ten classes!), plus I've been receiving a steady stream of requests for essay grading through this site, so I should be plenty busy.

And here is my Brave Writer Teacher page although it needs a smidge of updating for this fall...Susanne Barrett at Brave Writer

So here's my Brave Writer Schedule for 2016-2017; follow the links for a complete course description, recommended student ages, and cost per course. Fall Registration opened on August 1; Spring Registration opens December 5, and Summer Registration should open around June 1.


Groovy Grammar Workshop: September 6-30 (4 weeks)

Shakespeare Family Workshop: September 6-October 7 (5 weeks)

MLA Research Essay: October 3-November 11 (6 weeks)

Playing with Poetry Workshop: November 14-December 13 (4 weeks + a couple days extra for Thanksgiving holiday)


Groovy Grammar Workshop: January dates TBA (4 weeks)

MLA Research Essay: February dates TBA (6 weeks)

Playing with Poetry Workshop: March-April dates TBA (5 weeks)


Shakespeare Family Workshop: April-May dates TBA (5 weeks)

Literary Analysis: Shakespeare's Macbeth: May-June dates TBA (4 weeks)


Fan Fiction: July dates TBA (4 weeks)

Please feel free to post below or e-mail me (see sidebar) if you have any questions about Brave Writer and/or Brave Writer online courses or if you're interested in my e-mail grading service.

Writing with you,

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Shakespeare 400!

On Friday evening, I was skimming through Pinterest and saw the above image--and immediately loved it, pinned it to my "Bardilicious" Board, and "favorited" it...and then noticed my name below the image!!

The amazing graphic artists at Brave Writer designed this incredible Shakespeare 400 collage image to accompany my post for the Brave Writer blog which happened to be from my current online Shakespeare Family Workshop at Brave Writer. So here's the rest of my post on Shakespeare 400:

William Shakespeare: 23 April 1564-23 April 1616

To mark William Shakespeare's 452nd birthday this week, (he was baptized on April 26, 1564, and children at that time were usually baptized three days after birth) and the 400th anniversary of his death, celebration is going on in the United States as well as in Stratford-upon-Avon.

In fact, yesterday, April 23, 2016 was World Shakespeare Day!!! 

When I was in a Shakespeare class in high school, we had a HUGE birthday party for Shakespeare with British food and drink (rather like a high tea). A month beforehand, we had each drawn the name of a fellow student for which we were to make a handmade gift. I remember hemming handkerchiefs in pink embroidery thread with the initials “M.A.” for one student, and I still have the floral wreath strung with ribbons (meant to be worn on the head) hanging on my bedroom wall…although I don't remember which young man made it for me (or more likely, his mother made it on his behalf, LOL). 

So how is the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard being celebrated?

Celebrations in Great Britain:

At Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington, DC):

In New York City:
Here in San Diego at the Old Globe Theatre:

So let’s celebrate Shakespeare's birthday/deathday this week in our homes. Here are some ideas: 
  • Shakespeare Teatime/Meal! Gather around the table with scones and jam and some Earl Grey tea (or, if you want to prepare authentic Elizabethan fare, check out this site: and read some of Shakespeare’s sonnets aloud. You can find Shakespeare sonnet apps for your smart phone or check out this site: (Parents may wish to pre-read the sonnet choices beforehand as some get a bit too, um, romantic....) 
  • Shakespeare Character Party Game! Write the names of famous Shakespeare characters on 3X5 cards with a Sharpie (pick characters that the kids know) and without letting the person see, tape a card to each person's back. Then each person asks "yes-no" type questions of other players to try to determine which character's name is on his/her back. When someone guesses their character, tape a different character to his/her back. Several rounds may be played, depending on the number of players. (Sample questions: Am I male or female? Is my father dead? Is a play named after me?)
  • Shakespeare Copywork with Quills! Make quills from feathers (either dip feathers into ink or insert the innards of a ball point pen into the bottom of a feather and wrap with florist tape if needed; see this link: Instructables) and copy some favorite Shakespeare quotations or insults onto parchment (or regular) paper. (Barnes and Noble carries a good selection of quills and calligraphy ink.)
  • Shakespeare Trivia! Play some Shakespeare trivia games on SporcleShakespeare Trivia Home Page such as "Shakespeare vs. Batman Quotes," "Shakespeare Threats & Insults," and "Complete the Shakespeare Quote." (Note: these quizzes are *challenging*--I missed quite a few!)  
  • Shakespeare Monologues! Read some of Shakespeare’s famous monologues aloud dramatically, perhaps even in costume. Here’s a site with a listing of some of the best single-person speeches, one list for men and one for women: Try performing them for family members and/or friends or at a co-op! 
  • Shakespeare at the Movies! Watch your favorite Shakespeare play on film (mine is Kenneth Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing).  Check your local library or Netflix for some excellent titles, and the International Movie DataBase ( includes some helpful parents guides with advisory content for you along with ratings and information on most film versions. 
  • Shakespeare Documentary! For older kids, check out Michael Woods’ in-depth documentary In Search of Shakespeare which first aired on PBS in 2004 ( Both the DVD and the companion book should be readily available through most public libraries. 
  • Shakespeare Live!! Best yet, see a live Shakespeare play as soon as possible. Check out college/university performances near you as they’re usually much less expensive than professional productions.  
How are you planning to celebrate??? 

So, Happy 452nd Birthday (and 400th Deathday)
William Shakespeare!!

“So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.”
~Sonnet 18 by William Shakespeare

Wishing you a Bardilicious weekend,

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Price Change for Grading Service: Effective September 1, 2015

In an effort to be more fair and to erase all ambiguity, I have changed the cost for my Essay Grading Service from $10 per double-spaced, 12-point font page/part page (which can be a bit confusing and can vary according to font used, plus that part-page thing is also troublesome) to:

 $.03 (3 cents) per word.

This change is effective as of September 1, 2015. 

Although I will most likely be making a bit less per page, I feel much better knowing that there is no ambiguity at all about how much an essay will cost to be graded. When an essay arrives and is downloaded, I will jot down the word count and multiply by 3 cents. Easy-peasy, no matter how many words I write in my comments. And those of you who have used my essay grading service before know that I often have to adjust the pages so that all of my comments in the margin show without being truncated.... In other words, you'll definitely get your money's worth in corrections, suggestions, and encouragement from me.

Wishing you a wonderful 2015-2016 school year!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

2015-2016 Teaching Schedule

In addition to my Online Essay Grading Service, I'm starting Year 19 of home education and am also teaching writing and literature classes at our co-op Class Days and online at Brave Writer.

Here's the scoop for the 2015-2016 School Year....

This school year, which for us will start a week from today, will be the first time that I've had only one student in our home school since 1999. In June we graduated J, and E and T graduated in 2010 and 2013 respectively, so now it's just B and me at home doing school. It's also Year 19 in my homeschooling journey.

Heritage Christian School

B will be a high school sophomore this year, and here's our plan through Heritage Christian School of San Diego:

Bible: Book of Common Prayer 2011, Lectionary Readings and Morning Prayers (ESV Scriptures); The Story of Christianity by Price and Collins for Church History.

English 10: Masterpieces from World Literature (ABeka); Easy Grammar Ultimate Series Grade 10; Spelling Power; Copywork; Editor-in-Chief B-1; Star Wars Mad Libs; Brave Writer Assignments

World History: World History and Cultures (ABeka)

Biology I: Exploring Creation through Biology (Apologia Biology) with Lab at Heritage Christian School East County II Class Day

Geometry I: with Saxon Algebra I (with Geometry), tutored by Julie Brennan

Elective: Chess and Games at Heritage Christian School East County II Class Day

I'll also be adding in some art assignments throughout the year, probably a semester's worth by the end of the year. I'd love to have him take some art classes, but they just aren't in the budget this year.

Heritage Christian School East County II Class Day

While B is taking his double-period Biology Lab and his after-lunch chess and games class, I'll be teaching Expository Essay I and II at East County II Class Day. Over the course of 18 meetings, I'll have my class of twelve students writing ten essays, plus a college-level research paper:

  • Keen Observation (descriptive paragraph: 500 word minimum)
  • Biblical Influence Essay (five-paragraph, 1000 word minimum)
  • Contrast Essay (five-paragraph, 1000 word minimum)
  • Comparison Essay (five-paragraph, 1000 word minimum)
  • Definition Essay (five-paragraph, 1000 word minimum)
  • Literary Analysis Essay (five-paragraph, 1000 word minimum)
  • Poetry Explication Essay (five-paragraph, 1000 word minimum)
  • Timed In-Class Essay (five-paragraph, 1000 word minimum)
  • Exploratory Essay (1000 word minimum)
  • Persuasive Essay (five-paragraph, 1000 word minimum)
  • MLA Research Essay (five-seven page minimum; minimum five sources)

Brave Writer

My Brave Writer schedule is lighter than last year with only one literary analysis class which are the most intensive classes I've taught online; my last literary analysis class generated more than 1,100 posts over four weeks! I especially love teaching three of the Family Workshop courses in grammar, poetry writing, and Shakespeare!

Fall Term:

Groovy Grammar Workshop: September 8-October 2

MLA Research Essay: October 5-November 13

Playing with Poetry Workshop: November 16-December 15

Winter Term:

Groovy Grammar Workshop: January 4-January 29

MLA Research Essay: February 1-March 11

Playing with Poetry Workshop: March 14-April 8

Spring Term:

Shakespeare Family Workshop: April 11-May 13

Literary Analysis: Shakespeare's Hamlet: Dates and Description TBP

Summer Term:

Fan Fiction: Dates TBP

So here are our homeschooling plans for the 2015-2016 school year! I think they'll keep us fairly busy...but I hope with some room for writing for me...perhaps even NaNoWriMo in November??

Have a wonderful school year!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Teaching 2014-2015 Courses at Brave Writer & Heritage Class Days

This fall will be a very busy one for me. In addition to homeschooling our two high school boys (a freshman and a senior—our other two have already graduated high school), I will be teaching writing and literature classes at Heritage Christian School’s East County II Class Days Co-op as well as online writing and literature courses at Brave Writer.

I’ve taught at Heritage’s Class Days since 1997 when we officially started homeschooling our four children. This year I will continue teaching Expository Essay I (formerly Intermediate Writing) to fifteen students. This class is based on the Writing 110 (freshman composition) courses I taught at Point Loma Nazarene University (PLNU) before we started our homeschooling adventures.

We will be covering the descriptive essay (Keen Observation from Brave Writer's The Writer's Jungle), the personal essay, the comparison and contrast essays, the definition essay, the literary analysis essay, the poetry explication essay, the in-class timed essay, the revised essay, the persuasive essay, and the MLA research essay over the school year. We meet in class only eighteen times over the school year, so the students usually have two weeks in which to write and submit their essays via e-mail; I comment and grade their essays, returning them before the next essay assignment is due so that they may apply my suggestions to their next assignment.

This year I am also preparing a new class: Discussing Shakespeare. This class is based on the many Shakespeare plays I have taught online through Brave Writer. No written work will be submitted; this course focuses on reading and discussing the comedy, history, and tragedy plays of Shakespeare, including clips from filmed performances (either actual movie versions or films of stage plays), reading certain scenes aloud, discussing the background, characters, poetry, and themes of the plays, etc. We will start with a look at Shakespeare’s life, times, and writing style and the Elizabethan Theatre scene, and then we’ll explore three comedic plays (Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night, The Merchant of Venice), two historical plays (Henry V, Richard III), and three tragic plays (Romeo & Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet). Before each class meeting, I’ll e-mail links to audio versions of the plays, film recommendations, humorous links regarding the plays, etc., to the students to help them to thoroughly enjoy the plays.

While the courses at ECII Class Day will extend all the way to the final days of May, the classes I teach at Brave Writer are of much shorter (yet far more intense) duration. On September 2, I’ll start teaching a four week high school class entitled Literary Analysis: A Tale of Two Cities. We will read and discuss this Dickens novel for three weeks, and then finish the class with the students choosing one of the four options for their Final Writing Project: 1) writing a letter from one character to another; 2) writing a formal review of one of the several recommended film versions of the novel; 3) writing a comparison/contrast essay on two characters from the novel; or 4) writing an exploratory essay on a theme from the novel. After completing the class, students will receive a Brave Writer High School Transcript form detailing their final course grade, the contents of the class, and the high school credits earned.

Literary Analysis: A Tale of Two Cities will be followed by the five-week Literary Analysis: British Poetry which will provide a survey of British poetry as well as in-depth analysis of nine poems (three per week) following a week of learning how to analyze a poem. The Final Writing Project will entail a poetry explication essay on one of four British poems not yet studied by the students. Poems for analysis and explication are still being chosen but should cover the major movements of British Poetry (Medieval, Renaissance, Neoclassical, Romantic, Victorian, Modern, Post-Modern).

Following the two Literary Analysis courses at Brave Writer will be one of my favorite courses, the six-week MLA Research Essay. Using the seventh edition of the Modern Language Association Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, students will be taught how to select an appropriate persuasive topic, how to locate sources and create source notes, how to take notes from these sources, how to write and format an outline, how to draft an MLA research essay using parenthetical citations, how to revise the first draft (with feedback from other students and the instructor) in a virtual read-around, how to format a Works Cited and create a Title Page, and finally, they will submit their final draft, including Title Page, Outline, 5-7 page Research Essay, and Works Cited to be graded by the instructor and returned via e-mail with comments, a grade, and a Brave Writer High School Transcript form detailing their final course grade, the contents of the class, and the high school credits earned.

In Brave Writer’s winter term, I will be teaching two family workshops: the Groovy Grammar Workshop and the Playing with Poetry Workshop. Both workshop classes are set at one price for the entire family, and activities are provided for students ages 6-18, rather like a buffet in which families choose which activities will be most valuable for their students. Parents are also encouraged to do these activities along with their students, and I’ve received some amazing poems from parents in past years. In addition to the two workshop classes, I’ll also be teaching Literary Analysis: Rebecca. Daphne DuMaurier’s wonderfully Gothic mystery will be a delight to discuss and analyze, and the same four options for Final Writing Projects as we saw with A Tale of Two Cities will be required of students. All three courses are four weeks in length.

In the spring term at Brave Writer, I’ll be teaching another family workshop class, the Shakespeare Family Workshop. A five-week workshop, we’ll explore Shakespeare’s life and times, the Elizabethan theatre scene (Week One), Shakespeare’s writing style and his sonnets (Week Two), and then we’ll spend the final three weeks on Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies, one week on each. As with the other two family workshop courses, a variety of activities will be made available, and each family may choose the activities that will work best for their family learning style, ages, interest levels, etc. Lots of fun links are provided to charm the least-eager fan of the Bard.

And finally, we’ll end the spring term with Literary Analysis: Twelfth Night. Set up similarly to the Literary Analysis courses on A Tale of Two Cities and Rebecca, we’ll explore Shakespeare’s life and times, the Elizabethan theatre, and Shakespeare’s use of language (Week One) before reading and discussing the play in-depth for two weeks, and then complete the class with the same Final Writing Project options as the other two classes.

In the summer, I hope to teach the Fan Fiction class again. This course allows creative writing—writing stories based on popular books, movies, video games, TV shows, etc. With students already knowing their characters well from the original works, story writing becomes much more exciting as we learn to extend our favorite characters into new adventures. Fan Fiction is a wonderful way to keep kids writing over the summer without realizing that they are actually writing; it’s that fun!

Plus I have essays being submitted for comments and grading through this website. Homeschooling families from across the US send me their junior high and high school essays, and for $10 per double-spaced, 12-point font page/part page $.03 (3 cents) per word, I offer copious commentary, suggestions for improvement, encouragement, and a letter grade for the assignment. To read more about my online essay grading service, check out Susanne Barrett: Online Essay Grading Service. Sample graded essays are also available for review above. 

So these courses are my teaching load for this year. I’ll definitely be quite busy, but I’ll also be having so much fun teaching on and writing about British literature and many more of my favorite topics.

Have a wonderful fall,