Though flexible and designed to be tailored to the student when possible, these tutorials have a few basic components that come with each course: reading, discussion, and writing. I’ve found these three components must be present in some form if a student is to improve their intellectual and analytical skills. However, developing and enlarging a student's mind, heart and soul (rather than assigning easy-to-grade busy work) is the focus.
By “reading” I mean the most fundamental source material for the course—the backbone. We will use only primary sources and texts. All assigned reading should be completed before class for the best experience for the student and that student's fellow classmates.
Next is discussion: primarily our face-to-face conversations during class and paper/project conferencing one-on-one with me. Students meet once a week for a live, interactive online class with their tutor and classmates. The class format is a Socratic discussion, which means the conversation is guided by the tutor asking questions in order to aid the students to arrive at a better understanding of the material. Though tutor-led, lively student participation and responsibility is encouraged and required for a productive and meaningful discussion. These conversations often lead to unexpected insights and discoveries! Also, to ensure every student has space to discuss, each class cohort will cap at 12 students.
The final component is writing: students engage with their source material by 1) writing out their thoughts in their weekly notebook, which should contain their impressions and reactions, questions, analysis of the source material, etc, before class, 2) writing an argumentative essay on a topic of their choosing about the source material, and 3) working on a creative project inspired by/relating to our source material (which may or may not inclue actual writing, depending on the project).
During paper conferencing, I will work one-on-one with each student, guiding and helping them coherently develop their own ideas for a creative project and essay.
I prefer to call these courses “tutorials,” as I love the model of education that views the authority figure simply as a student who is still learning, but a little more experienced and further along in their academic journey. The goal is to tutor or coach the young person and guide them to a place of greater independence, maturity, and understanding in a topic or area of study. Each student should also view themselves as essential to the learning of every other student in the class. If they don't come to class prepared and ready to go, everyone suffers.
Can these tutorials count as English credit for high school students?Absolutely! These tutorials are rigorous, but in many ways more comparable to a college course in a Liberal Arts program (content-focused and flexible) than an AP class (test and skills-focused). Please contact me for more details!
How do I know if I'm a good fit for these tutorials (or if my child is a good fit)?I'd take a look at my "Why Exploration Tutorials?" section on the About page, but I think a few of the characteristics I see in students who do well with this type of learning method are persistent curiosity, the willingness to work hard, and an eagerness to be transformed and inspired by their studies. An open mind is essential, and passion and excitement goes a long way. The opportunity to become a better listener (of ideas and people) will be offered time and time again. Students must also be willing to tackle (though certainly not master) substantial amounts of reading, and engage in our discussions. If any of this describes you (or your child), or touches on the person you'd like to continue becoming, these tutorials might be a good fit for you!
Does Ms. Carr give letter grades?Strictly speaking, I do not use rubrics or letter grades; however, I will provide written evaluations of in-class engagement and assignments. Every aspect of a student's engagement in my tutorials will be assesed and is open to constructive critique. Essays/projects will be graded on the following scale: Excellent, Very Good, Good, Satisfactory, and Poor. Student evaluations will be given at the end of a given course, evaluating a student's overall performance, including papers, creative projects, notebook and class participation. Parents can then translate these evaluations into letter grades. I have high standards both for the quality of students' written work, as well as their behavior and interactions in class discussions, but it's important to understand that I will evaluate each student's abilities independently and not in reference to any scale or curve. Please contact me with further questions!
What's your perspective on plagiarism?I like the way my high school Great Books teacher, Mr. Hinrichs, describes it: “Plagiarism is best understood with the following analogy: adultery/marriage = plagiarism/writing.” I take plagiarism seriously, and will gladly and promptly address it when and where I find it. When you plagiarize, you don’t just cheat others; you also cheat yourself. Any form of stealing from others—using others’ ideas and attempting to pass them off as their own, copying and/or pasting content from books, Internet sites, blogs, or even student-help sites like SparkNotes or Shmoop, etc—is plagiarism. First offences will show up on a student’s evaluation and they will receive zero credit for that work; further offenses will result in forced withdrawal from the course. At the college level, plagiarism often results in expulsion from a university, and beyond this, careers are ruined for life. Trust me—getting a lower grade is always preferable to trying your hand at plagiarism.