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Summer Programs at WRA

This summer I’ll be teaching 7th and 8th graders in Hudson as part of Western Reserve Academy’s Summer Program. I’ll be offering full day, week-long Reading and Writing workshops. Each week will focus on a different genre, such as Sci/Fi, Fantasy, Adventure, Personal Essay, or just straight forward great fiction. Here’s a more in-depth look at the course particulars:

20th Century Reading and Writing Workshops for the Precocious 21st Century Middle Schooler

This full day, week-long course will consist of two key structures: reading workshop and writing workshop. Class will begin with reading workshop, which will continue until lunch, and will continue with writing workshop until the end of the day. Two 20th century young adult literature novels (~200 pages each) will be read during each week-long course, and one piece of high quality writing will be produced.

Reading workshop consists of reading the assigned text in the library (or outside, when weather permits) and then journaling a reading response, which may be prompted by questions from the instructor, followed by an in-depth discussion about the text. Discussion will recount the action of the story, unravel important themes, explore character development and reactions to conflict, explain unfamiliar vocabulary, and connect the story to our own lives. Students may continue to read the text and/or work on their story at home, though no homework will be required.

Writing workshop is a structured time to brainstorm, write, and revise an original story, similar in genre to the text we are discovering in reading workshop, with one-on-one advising from the instructor. Writing workshops will begin with a spring-board exercise (eg. draw a map of the world you are creating) to help students develop their story. Student work will be reviewed by the instructor on a regular basis, and will include line-edits and constructive criticism appropriate to the end goal, which is to produce a high-quality original work. At the end of the week, students will have the opportunity to perform a selection of their story (about 15 minutes) in front of an audience, and will receive in-depth comments from the instructor.

Each week long course will focus on a genre, listed below with the accompanying texts, which students will keep.

Sci Fi
FEED, M. T. Anderson
The Giver, Lois Lowry

Fantasy
Redwall, Brian Jacques
Mort, Terry Pratchett

Adventure
Hatchet, Gary Paulson
Lord of the Flies, William Golding

Literary
Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson
or
The Chocolate War, Robert Cormier
or
Stargirl, Jerry Spinelli

Personal Essay/Nonfiction
3 minutes or less, Pen/Faulkner Foundation

Course Materials:
Text books will be provided at the beginning of the course, as well as a composition notebook and writing utensils. Computers in the Ong Library will be available for writing workshop, though students may bring their own laptops, if desired. Composing longhand is acceptable, though the final version will be typed.

To save written work, students must bring a thumb-drive, or have access to a personal e-mail account. With parental consent, the instructor can supervise the creation of a temporary g-mail account for the duration of the course.

Students are strongly encouraged to bring a good dictionary.

About the Instructor
Roman Sturgis (BFA Emerson College, MFA Boston University) has taught reading and writing at Boston Renaissance Charter School, Boston Arts Academy, and Thurgood Marshall Academy Charter School in Washington, DC, as well as Boston University. Before moving to Hudson, he worked as an editor and technical writer at Clemson University. His first paid publication appeared in Reader’s Digest when he was 15. Other fiction, non-fiction, and journalism has appeared in Emerson Review, 236, and The Weekly Dig. His BFA thesis Texas was awarded an Emerson Evvy for best prose. He lives on campus at Western Reserve Academy with his wife, daughter, and two dogs.

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