The study of humanities helps children understand others through languages, histories and cultures while building writing and critical reading skills. Finding a quality curriculum that engages kids in humanities can be difficult. The self-paced version of Dayla Learning’s 12-week integrated high school reading and writing humanities class is full of real legal cases with puzzling dilemmas.
Readers are asked how they would rule before reading the actual outcomes and an analysis written by law professor Daniel Park, Chief Campus Counsel at the University of California, San Diego.
“My class has students read several chapters from this book with reading guides, comprehension checks, informal writings, and, most importantly, four formal writing prompts,” said Michelle Parrinello-Cason, founder of Dayla Learning. The class also includes a facilitator guide with rubrics to help give meaningful feedback on rough and final drafts.
Parrinello-Cason created Dayla Learning to help homeschoolers searching for an engaging and informative way to teach humanities. We asked her to give parents and teens a glimpse inside how the course came to be as well as tips on how to best use the detailed curriculum.
What was the inspiration behind starting this writing course?
Communication is one of the most valuable and versatile skills that human beings can develop. I have more than a decade of teaching experience (including six years spent teaching remedial writers in a community college), and I’ve met so many profoundly talented writers. I’ve also met many students who’ve told me they “can’t” write. I wanted to develop courses that felt empowering, interesting, and engaging for writers at any confidence and skill level.
Can you break down how the courses work?
I have three different self-paced courses available. Two of them are full-semester (12-week) integrated reading and writing classes. I use nonfiction books that are really interesting because I know that writing is easiest when writers have something meaningful to say.
These classes include reading guides for the entire book, comprehension activities, informal writing prompts, and four multi-draft paper prompts. There are also detailed rubrics and feedback advice for parents. One is themed around Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, a book that tackles the myths surrounding success and the American Dream. The other is Hope Jahren’s Lab Girl, a memoir of a botanist that looks at the passion of being a scientist and honestly examines mental illness.
The third class is designed to provide an overview of nine major academic writing skills including brainstorming, outlining, citing sources, proofreading, and more. Each lesson includes a video, a comprehension check, a guided activity, and a handout to keep for future reference. It would be excellent as a standalone brush-up or to take alongside a unit including academic essay writing. Writers could take this course as quickly or slowly as they like. An estimated 2-3 weeks is a good goal.
What makes this course valuable for parents? For kids?
It’s really important to me that writing isn’t intimidating. I focus on setting priorities in writing, finding strengths (because everyone has them), and making revision a normal part of the writing process rather than something that signals weaknesses.
I believe that writers will leave these courses with more confidence in their skills and specific strategies for improving their writing.
I’ve designed these classes to be clearly organized with busy parents’ schedules in mind. I’m a homeschooling mom myself, so I know how important it is to have materials that are easy to use.
How does it help students who struggle?
In the full-semester classes, there are instructions included for how to make a class more or less difficult to address learner’s individual abilities and experiences. Most importantly, all of my writing classes focus on revision and setting priorities in the writing process to adapt to different learning needs.
What are some tips you can offer parents who would like to use this course?
These courses use the Teachable platform, so they’re really easy for learners to follow along from section to section. I would recommend that parents of learners in the full-semester classes read the parent section with rubrics, feedback guidance, and advice on making the class more or less difficult to meet their individual learner’s needs.