Why We Changed the WriteAtHome Curriculum



As you probably know, this blog is affiliated with WriteAtHome.com, our program offering online writing courses to students in grades 5-12. Recently, WriteAtHome announced some broad changes to the curriculum we offer, and I thought I might take a moment to explain that here (Video added 3/27).


What We Did

We made things simpler. We used to recommend that students follow the Composition 1 annual course with a combination of Composition 2, semester, a research paper, and an essay workshop. We called that a bundle. Well, we realized that because we usually recommended a bundle, we almost never recommended Composition 2, annual. Same went for Comp 3 and 4. Why, I thought, do we offer classes that we don’t recommend? So, we bundled up the bundles into a single course and now call them Composition 2, 3, and 4.

In other words, Composition 2, 3, and 4 now include a Research Paper and an Essay Workshop. This means that folks who take our courses year after year don’t have to follow a confusing Suggested Course Sequence. They can just follow the numbers — Composition 1, followed by Comp 2, etc. And this plan will get students sufficient instruction in the two areas colleges care about most — research papers and persuasive essays.

We replaced all our semester courses with shorter (8-week) workshops. That means customers have only two course types to choose from: 32-week annuals and 8-week workshops. This doesn’t limit folks, though. Because we added almost two dozen workshops, it just means that families looking for a half-year of writing instruction can custom design their semester. They can choose from the following:

Middle School Workshops:

  • MS Narrative Writing 1 & 2
  • MS Descriptive Writing 1 & 2
  • MS Expository Writing 1 & 2
  • MS Research Paper (informative)
  • MS Research Paper (persuasive)

High School Workshops

  • HS Creative Writing 1, 2 & 3
  • HS Expository Writing 1, 2, & 3
  • Short Story Writing
  • Essay Writing 1 & 2
  • Literary Analysis
  • Research Paper

Two Approaches

Basically, our new curriculum design leaves families with two ways to use our program. They can take a sequence of annual courses that are time-tested and designed to get kids ready for college level writing, or they can choose any number of short courses when they like. There’s an Annual Plan and an A La Carte Plan. And it’s easy enough to shift from one approach to the other from year to year.

Middle School Changes

We also changed the names of our middle school annual courses. No bid deal, but we now refer to them as Middle School Composition 1, 2, and 3, instead of 6th Grade, 7th Grade, and 8th Grade Composition. We like that our middle and high school courses are now numbered in a similar way. We also like that students in 7th or 8th grade who would benefit from starting at a more basic level can enroll in MS Comp 1 instead of a class called 6th Grade Composition. That can be discouraging.

We didn’t change anything about the content of the middle school courses — just the names.  We did, however, add all the middle school workshops. Previously, only high schoolers had the workshop options.


If you have any questions about these changes, please use the comments below to ask them. We also explain our curriculum redesign on our web page, if you want more information.


About the Author

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

Leave a Reply

If you like a post, please take a second to click "like," and comment as often as you like.
We promise not to correct your grammar!