Monday, September 5, 2011

Openings in Composition 2

The shiftings of enrollments at Veritas Press Scholars Academy have resulted in my having openings in three of my course sections, at 8:00 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 2:00 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays.  We do not begin our first class until this Wednesday, so I'd love to see your enrollment if you'd like to join me!  Chris Finnegan also has openings in her sections on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Visit here to read more and to enroll:  Secondary Classes 2011-2012.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Partial Discount Extension

I've decided to offer a 10% discount on new orders through August 10, so you didn't miss yesterday's deadline altogether. :-)  Please email me at if you have any questions.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Today's the Last Day!

Today is August 1, the last day to get a 20% discount on orders for the new school year!

Go here to learn more:  Writing Assessment Services

Friday, July 22, 2011

Great Advertisement Language

We surf the Internet.
We swim in magazines.

I saw this ad in a magazine and tore it out, but the online version is more accessible to my students and readers here.

Here you go! 

Isn't this a good extended metaphor?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Little Testimony

One of my almost eighty students at Veritas Press Scholars Academy online this past year wrote me a very sweet thank-you note at the end of the year, accompanied by a great handmade card. She gave me permission to share it here, the student's view of the value of Composition 2.  (About four of the six sections for 2011-2012 are full, but a couple of them still have seats.  My colleague Chris Finnegan made this course a great experience, and we're hard at work now making THIS year's class even better!)

Dear Mrs. Marsch,
. . . Thanks so much for teaching comp. class. I really enjoyed it! I have learned so much from the Lively Art of Writing. It didn't just say what to do, but she would tell how most students would do something then she would tell how to change it. I know I don't remember everything from the book but it still was very beneficial.
     You presented the material very effectively and I really loved your slides and polls.
     Thank you so much for taking the time to check papers and giving helpful feedback. Probably my favorite things was how we wrote the papers. We would start about two weeks before it was due. We could take it at a much slower pace and not feel rushed. So by the day it's due all we'd have to do was proof read it. I had never written a paper starting so far in advance before!
     The last paper (the one about math) I felt it was my best paper, even though it wasn't my best grade. :-p  I knew about the subject and could make my thoughts clear (that's always really hard!).
     Thanks again for teaching, helping me become a better writer, and using LAW. Really wish I could have met you at the end of the year gathering.
     Lauren Carmody
P.S. Sorry if there are grammatical errors :-p . . . it's a letter not an essay :-)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Discounts for Summer!

Register for a course or evaluation account at Writing Assessment Services by August 1 and enjoy a 20% discount!  I am free to work with students over the summer, too--get a jump start on your school year!

Ask yourself about your home school or even your own writing goals . . .

Do we want to get started in the fundamentals of rhetoric to improve writing, practicing skills as basic as writing a narrative or discussing the meaning of a proverb, or as complex as comparing two heroes or villains or arguing before a legislative body?  Take a look at Proymnasmata Tutorials, Beginning to Advanced.

Do we want a way to enter The Great Conversation by writing about the Great Books we're reading?  Consider your own customized course from among over thirty assignments in Great Books Writing Workshop.

Do we want to experiment with sophisticated writing tasks modeled on the work of writers/speakers like Cicero and Sojourner Truth, Thomas Aquinas and Ernest Hemingway?  Browse the Gregory Roper text, The Writer's Workshop, and the course Apprenticeship Writing Workshop.

Do we want a way to get feedback on the things we're writing in our curriculum through the school year, making history and literature and even science essays become part of a robust writing program? Or are we registered for an online tutorial that does not provide feedback for the essays submitted? Enroll in an Evaluation Account and let me serve you according to your individual needs.

Finally, do we just want access to a lot of great writing material so that we can create our own course of study and evaluate it ourselves?  Register for a Resource Membership in any of the courses offered by Writing Assessment Services.

Visit the website, drop me a line, and let's see how I can help!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Christopher Hitchens and the KJV

Vanity Fair has an article by famous atheist Christopher Hitchens celebrating the King James Bible.  Thanks to for pointing it out.  An excerpt:

Tyndale, incidentally, was generally good on the love question. Take that same Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, a few chapters later. For years, I would listen to it in chapel and wonder how an insipid, neuter word like “charity” could have gained such moral prestige. The King James version enjoins us that “now abideth faith, hope and charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” Tyndale had put “love” throughout, and even if your Greek is as poor as mine you will have to admit that it is a greatly superior capture of the meaning of that all-important original word agape. It was actually the frigid clerical bureaucrat Thomas More who had made this into one of the many disputations between himself and Tyndale, and in opting to accept his ruling it seems as if King James’s committee also hoped to damp down the risky, ardent spontaneity of unconditional love and replace it with an idea of stern duty. Does not the notion of compulsory love, in any form, have something grotesque and fanatical about it?

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Celebration of Words

This year is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible, and I invite you to celebrate with me by reading this delicious essay, "In the Beginning Was the Sound," by Ann Wroe, from Intelligent Life, a division of The Economist online. Here's a taste:

English, of course, was richer in those days, full of neesings and axletrees, habergeons and gazingstocks, if indeed a gazingstock has a plural. Modern skin has spots: the King James gives us botches, collops and blains, horridly and lumpily different. It gives us curious clutter, too, a whole storehouse of tools and knick-knacks whose use is now half-forgotten—nuff-dishes, besoms, latchets and gins, and fashions seemingly more suited to a souped-up motor than to the daughters of Jerusalem:

The chains, and the bracelets, and the mufflers,
The bonnets, and the ornaments of the legs, and the
headbands, and the tablets, and the earrings,
The rings, and nose jewels,
The changeable suits of apparel, and the mantles, and the
wimples, and the crisping pins… (Isaiah 3: 19-22)

Thanks to Joe Carter of First Thoughts, at FirstThings.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irony and Romance

A student in one section of Composition 2 at Veritas Press Scholars Academy (enrolling now, by the way!) today asked if the typical romantic comedy is ironic, and, if so, what kind of irony it represents—dramatic, verbal, or situational. (This question comes from our current assignment in irony, Chapter 13 in The Lively Art of Writing).  I’d say it’s dramatic irony in that we the audience know from the beginning that the couple will get together, or at least that A couple will get together, and we get to enjoy watching that happen through the movie or play. But it’s also situational irony in the end when they do get together, because we find out, as in You’ve Got Mail, that the bookstore rivals are actually reconciled in the most lovely sort of way.

This got me to thinking, though, and that set me to doing a bit of research, and I found a great little movie review from 2004 that addresses this subject nicely.

Romance is the genre that dramatizes our dreams of ideally effective action against the forces of evil . The white knight learns from his tutelary figure how to defeat the black knight, the ogre, the dragon, and the sorcerer in defense of the damsel and in doing so revives the entire community. He fights for the values that bind the community, earning the deepest gratitude of everyone in it who identifies with the forces of good. This gives dimension to his heroism and explains why he has been a focus of projection for boys since forever.

Irony is the genre that slaps us awake in the middle of those dreams. It apes the structure of romance but fills it in with realistic details that won't cooperate with the fantasy--e.g., Don Quixote tilting at windmills. Irony presents stories based on our lowest estimates of ourselves, saying to us, in effect, "You can fantasize all you want, but you're no hero and your plans never work out as satisfactorily as you hope." (Critics who complain that ironists look down on their characters manage to be correct and to miss the boat at the same time.)

. . . In practice, however, irony and romance aren't so cleanly antithetical. There's often a breaking point at which irony turns into romance. It can be a drag, for example, in the Robin Williams or Jim Carrey comedy that goes soft, "redeeming" the character whose outrageousness has been our main source of entertainment. . . .

Napoleon Dynamite . . . is . . . a deadpan parody of a romance. The title character is a gape-mouthed, drowsy-eyed high-school kid in small-town Idaho who longs for the kind of skills that he imagines will make him popular with girls. (Among the things he considers "skills" are having a "sweet" bike and being able to grow a mustache.) To compensate for his lack of skills he fantasizes, exaggerates, and lies, and it isn't clear that he knows the difference. (He covers notebook pages with drawings of the "liger," a hybrid of lion and tiger "bred for its magical powers," and he talks about this beast not only as if other people could have heard of it but as if it were real.) Napoleon is a loser by most external standards and we're free to laugh at him because he's not even loveable. He has the petulance of an adolescent who's always ready to snap at people because they aren't able to guess what he's thinking. They actually have to ask him questions to find out. Idiots!

Jon Heder gives a classic slapstick performance, something along the lines of the silent great Harry Langdon, that sleepy-headed weirdo baby, after a hormonal growth spurt. You have to see Heder move; he runs, dances, and even swallows in gangly character. And he never appeals directly to the audience but understands that irony is a form of identification with character, with Napoleon's very awkwardness and preposterousness. . . .

Tina Majorino is nearly Heder's equal as the shy but enterprising girl who loves him. A gravely self-serious photo-i.d. photographer and lanyard artisan , she's got her own absurd dimness, an independent source of comedy.

( From “Irony and Romance: The Sliding Scale,” by Alan Dale, October 4, 2004 )

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Article on Teaching/Learning the Progymnasmata

Hot off the presses, the Spring 2011 issue of Classis, the journal of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools. It's a great issue all around, with the theme "Words and Writing," but I am honored to have my Progymnasmata instruction mentioned in the piece by Amy Kim, "Pro-gym-nas-what? . . ." A couple of years ago I helped develop the writing curriculum for Amy's school in Spokane, Washington, The Oaks: A Classical Christian Academy.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Successful Student!

Boy, it's dusty in here, mostly because I've been working on other things, like teaching eighty students online six hours two days a week. Yeah, and homeschooling a seventh grader.  One day I want to write more, like a former student who took my Progymnasmata course just to get some writing practice and consider whether she might want to teach high school writing.  But then Lisa Ohlen Harris decided she just wanted to write, and look here! 

Author Will Vie for an Oregon Book Award