High School Writing

by Kim Ooms
Topics of Interest
       By high school, students should have learned the basic components of writing, and have a pretty good understanding of the structure of grammar. It may be time to go beyond the textbooks and really develop the skill of communicating on paper. Choose a broad topic that interests your child, and develop a semester or year-long writing curriculum based on that topic. For our middle daughter, we chose music.
       Throughout the year our daughter searched for Bible passages that mentioned music, made notes stating the circumstances, methods, and purpose in each case. Then she summarized her findings.
       Our daughter also studied the four major eras of classical music—Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and Contemporary. For each era she chose at least three composers. For each composer she researched and wrote about his life, his music, his relationship with God, his country, and his time in history. She listened to at least three selections of music from each composer, noticing similarities, style, and the mood conveyed. She drew or painted a picture inspired by the music. Then she attempted to sketch the composer. When possible, she learned to play a composition on the piano.
       At the conclusion of our daughter's study of each era, she wrote a general description of the similarities in style, the prevailing philosophy behind music at that time, changes in history that might have influenced changes in music, as well as her own reflections.
       Other assignments included researching music careers; the effect of different styles of music on our bodies, minds, and emotions; classification of instruments; and music from the non-western world.
       We used each paper as a tool to discuss grammar and better wording options as needed. I'm sure our daughter learned much more than she would have from writing assignments that were less interesting to her.



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