Thursday, August 3, 2017

Fall 2017 Brave Writer Courses

This school year marks 15 years of teaching and working at Brave Writer. Julie Sweeney Bogart started Brave Writer in January 2000, and I joined the Brave Writer team (of four other employees) in 2002.

Over the past few years, I've settled into a great schedule at Brave Writer; I'm teaching 48 weeks a year now, with some overlap of classes. I love teaching kids and families, mostly homeschoolers, via these online classes. I've written most of the materials I teach; the only class I teach that I haven't written is Groovy Grammar; the rest I've either overhauled and rewritten or have written them from scratch.

So here are the classes, with dates and links, that I'll be teaching this fall at Brave Writer:

The Groovy Grammar Workshop: August 28-September 22 (4 weeks). This family workshop turns grammar on its head! Rather than relying on boring workbooks and grammar rules that no one can keep straight, we explore how words work together to create clarity and meaning. We "collect" words, play games with them, make up words by creating a "fictionary," and then explore how words work together in Lewis Carroll's poem "Jabberwocky." We conclude the class with writing our own Jabberwocky-style poem using nonsense words. Much family fun is in store in Groovy Grammar!!

The Shakespeare Family Workshop: August 28-September 29 (5 weeks). In this family workshop, we explore Shakespeare's life through a scavenger hunt, draw or create models of the Globe Theatre, and examine the language of Shakespeare's time. Then we'll have an informal study of Shakespeare's sonnets before we explore Shakespeare's plays, spending a week each on comedies (focusing on Much Ado About Nothing), histories (focusing on Richard III), and tragedies (focusing on Hamlet). So if you want a fun and extensive exploration of Shakespeare and his works, this family workshop is ideal!

The MLA Research Essay: September 25-November 3 (6 weeks). This class is intended for high school juniors and seniors only, with a small class size of only ten students to provide maximum teacher-student interaction. Using the college textbook The MLA Handbook, 8th Edition (2016), students will research and write a 5-7 page college-level persuasive research essay using the most recent format of the Modern Language Association (MLA). Students do not need to purchase the textbook; all posts will include materials from the text, and students may contact the teacher with additional questions. Students will finish this course with a college-level essay and much knowledge of how to do academic research.

Playing with Poetry Workshop: November 6-December 12 (5 weeks). This family workshop class focuses on writing many kinds of poetry: free verse, visual poetry, Japanese poetry, traditional rhymed verse, and alternative poetry forms. We'll also explore reading and analyzing poetry, and there are several fun optional activities such as song lyrics as poetry. This workshop is a wonderful way to introduce families to the fun and games of writing poetry, providing a solid foundation in poetry analysis and the history of poetic form. So much fun!!!

I'll be teaching the same courses in the spring, with the addition of a high school literary analysis course on Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. More on that class in December when I post the spring schedule!!

Fall registration began on Monday, July 31, so please enroll as soon as possible since all of our classes were full for the entire 2016-2017 school year!! Be inspired!! Write bravely!!

Writing with you,

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!