Co-op Writing Courses Now Available via E-Mail

NOTE: While these classes have been taught at Heritage Christian School of San Diego's co-op Class Days since 2004 (with several revisions since then), I can teach these courses via e-mail. 

Please e-mail me at if interested. 

These classes are intended for high school juniors and seniors only as a course to prepare students for college-level composition courses.   

Over the course of Expository Essay I and II courses (formerly Intermediate Writing and Advanced Writing), we will write expository essays, compare/contrast essays, definition essays, literary analysis essays, literary compare/contrast essays (Expository Essay II only), poetry explication essays, persuasive essays, and an MLA-style argumentative research essay. These assigned essays constitute the equivalent of two to three years of essay assignments in a public high school English class.

Both Expository Essay I and II are based on the Writing 110 (five-unit “Freshman Composition”) and Writing 116 (MLA Research) courses I taught at Point Loma Nazarene University. My goal in teaching these classes to high school students is to prepare them well for writing at the college and university level, to challenge and improve their writing skills and abilities, to assist them in transitioning to a college mindset regarding due dates and the quality of their work, and to challenge the assumptions and thinking behind their writing.

We will be writing at least one five-paragraph in-class timed essay (Expository Essay II students will write two timed essays), eight five-paragraph essays written outside of class, and a 5-7 page (Expository Essay I) or an 8-10 page (Expository Essay II) argumentative research essay in the Modern Language Association (MLA) format. All essays will be submitted via e-mail so that they can be graded and returned before the following Class Day so that the students can apply my comments to the next essay due.

One-on-one teaching occurs in my commentary and suggestions on each student essay. I encourage parents to read my commentary on all returned essays and to discuss my suggestions with their students before starting the next assignment. I spend approximately an hour grading each five-paragraph essay (3-4 hours on MLA research essays), not only pointing out grammar, punctuation, and spelling errors but also encouraging clear, concise sentence structure and a logical progression of ideas, teaching student writers to use the given format to the best advantage, and nudging each student forward in maturing his/her overall writing skills and abilities.

On each essay, I note not only the elements that need improvement, but also the areas in which the student has excelled. Writers need to know what they are doing well almost more than what they’ve done amiss. If students know that they’ve written an excellent thesis, then they know to continue writing each thesis in that manner, and etc. Encouragement is easily as important in grading essays as marking areas for improvement. I take the time to provide both in each essay I grade.

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. All work submitted must be the original work of the student. The student may not consult with past or present students of these classes regarding assignments nor may the student review the work of past or present students. Parents and others may assist students in the revision stage of the writing process once the student has composed a rough draft of the assigned essay. With the exception of the research paper, the Internet may not be consulted in the writing of any essay for Class Day courses. Plagiarism will result in a zero on the assignment in question and a report being filed with the school office for further review.

Grades are given as follows:
A = excellent
B = good
C = average
D = below average
F = failure
Inc. = incomplete

If an essay receives the grade of Incomplete (Inc.), the essay must be rewritten according to the assignment parameters and resubmitted by the following meeting unless other arrangements are made in order to receive a grade other than zero. If an essay receiving the grade of Incomplete (Inc.) is not submitted by the following Class Day (unless other arrangements are made), then that assignment will receive a zero. Grades will be available at any time via the student's Engrade account which I encourage parents to check regularly. I recommend that the grades I give for the writing component of high school English be averaged with literature grades the parents give in order to obtain meaningful and accurate semester grades for English. The Expository Essay II course, as an Honors class, receives a 5-point A, 4-point B, etc., when grade point averages are calculated.

I expect students to turn in their best work for each assignment. I suggest that a first draft be completed the Friday before the next Class Day meeting, thus giving students an additional week to adequately revise and edit the essay before submitting. Students should work approximately an hour each school day on the assignments for this class between class meetings as these assignments require adequate time allotted for pre-writing, writing, revision (lots of revision!) and editing. I expect all spelling, grammar, and punctuation conventions to be correctly observed as well as the directions for the assignments to be followed to the best of each student's abilities.

Essays receiving a grade under 70% must be resubmitted by the next meeting as a complete revision. The grades of both the original and the revised essays will be averaged to gain an accurate grade for the assignment. Any essay receiving less than 85% may be resubmitted once; submit both the original essay with my markings and the revised version to be graded. All resubmitted essays will be graded accordingly, and the grades of the two essays will be averaged and the assignment grade revised.

It is the responsibility of the parents to enforce all policies and deadlines for this class. It is the responsibility of the students to submit their best work, to meet all deadlines, and to apply information from class lectures and my comments and suggestions on their returned essays to their future work.

If there are any questions regarding the policies and guidelines for Expository Essay I or II, please do not hesitate to contact me via the “Contact Susanne” e-mail address in the sidebar, and I will be happy to discuss any issues with you.

Syllabus for Expository Essay I

Semester One:
All essays, except the first (Keen Observation), must be a minimum of 1000 words in length

Class 1: Elements of the Paragraph: Keen Observation paragraph assigned

Class 2: Five Paragraph (5/P) Expository Essay Format Introduced – 5/P Biblical Impact assigned

Class 3: 5/P Contrast Essay assigned

Class 4: 5/P Comparison Essay assigned

Class 5: 5/P Definition Essay assigned

Class 6: Intro to Short Story; Discuss Literary Terms – Read “The Most Dangerous Game” (provided)

Class 7: Story Elements discussed in class; Literary Analysis Exploratory Essay (“Most Dangerous Game”) assigned

Class 8: Intro to Poetry; Discuss Poetry Terms – Read Poetry Packet (provided)

Class 9: Poetry Discussion; Poetry Explication Essay assigned

Semester Two:
All essays, except the MLA Research Essay, must be a minimum of 1000 words in length.

Class 10: Present 5/P In-Class Timed Essay Technique

Class 11: In-Class Timed Essay – Complete Revision of a Previous Essay assigned

Class 12: 5/P Persuasive Essay assigned

Class 13: Intro to MLA Research Paper (5-7 pp)

Class 14: 5 Source Cards and 20 Notecards Due

Class 15: MLA Outline Due

Class 16: MLA First Draft Due: Peer Evaluations and/or Draft Conference with Susanne

Class 17: MLA Paper Due/Short Oral Presentations

Class 18: MLA Paper Returned–Final Notes on Writing

Syllabus for Expository Essay II

Semester One:
All essays must be a minimum of 1500 words in length.

Class 1: Introduce Five Paragraph Paper (5P); Assign 5P Spiritual Autobiography Essay

Class 2: Discuss Spiritual Autobiographies; Introduce and Assign 5P Compare/Contrast (C/C) Essay

Class 3: In-Class Timed 5P C/C Essay; Assign additional 5P C/C Essay

Class 4: Introduce Literary Analysis; Assign reading of short story: “The Cask of Amontillado”

Class 5: Analyze “Cask” in class & cover elements of the short story; Assign 5P Literary Analysis
              Exploratory Essay on “Cask”

Class 6: Discuss “Cask” essays; assign the reading of “Revolt of Mother” and 5P Literary Analysis
              Exploratory Essay on “Revolt”

Class 7: Introduce 5P Literary C/C Essay; Assign 5P Literary C/C Essay based on home study

Class 8: Discuss 5P Literary C/C Essays; Assign reading of short stories: “The Necklace” and “Gift of the Magi”

Class 9: In-Class Timed 5P Literary C/C: Characters in “Necklace” and “Magi”; Assign complete revision of a previous essay for a new grade

Semester Two:
All essays, except the MLA Research Essay, must be a minimum of 1500 words in length.

Class 10: Introduction to Poetry: in-class discussion of Poetry Elements; Assign poetry to       read and analyze at home from provided Poetry Packet

Class 11: Analyze assigned poems in class; Introduce 5P Poetry Explication Essay; Assign 5P Poetry Explication Essay (Frost – “Stopping by Woods” or Donne –“Holy Sonnet 10”)

Class 12: Continue analyzing poems from the packet in class; Assign 5P Explication of Poem: student’s choice

Class 13: Introduce 5P Persuasive Essay; Assign 5P Persuasive Essay: student’s choice of topic

Class 14: Introduce MLA Research Paper: student’s choice of topic; Assign 8-10 page MLA
                Research Essay, including notetaking; Assign 5 source and 20 notecards

Class 15: Check source and notecards; Introduce and Assign MLA Outline

Class 16: Check Outlines; Introduce and Assign Rough Draft of MLA Essay

Class 17: Rough Draft of MLA Essay (8-10 pages) Due; Peer Evaluation and/or Draft Conference

Class 18: 8-10 Page MLA Essay Due! (Essays will be graded and returned by mail within two weeks of due date)

Please contact me at if you have any questions regarding my writing classes that may be taught via e-mail.