Units 1 and 2: Note Making and Outlines/Writing from Notes
Isn’t it hard to believe that summer is over and a new school year has begun? We hope you are starting off your new school year with enthusiasm and excitement! When diving into writing, here are a few things to consider as you work your way through Units 1 and 2.
Note Making and Outlines – Unit 1
The purpose of Unit 1 is for students to begin communicating main ideas from something they have read. We refer to this process as creating a “key word outline.” This is an important step, as our program continuously builds off this concept. To create a key word outline, students might circle three important key words from their source text and then copy the words into their outline. Encourage students to use symbols and abbreviations, but only allow three words to be chosen. The goal is for students to draw out the key information from each sentence. Once students create their outlines, have them retell the source text to you or someone else.
If your student is having a difficult time with key word outlines, it is always acceptable to give him as much help as he needs. Short paragraphs (4–5 sentences) will help students grasp the skill without being overwhelmed by reading something long. For extra practice, we recommend using kid-friendly sources, such as Usborne books, Eyewitness books, short Aesop fables, and short paragraphs from children’s magazines or encyclopedias. Although it is fine to reinforce Unit 1, move on within one month, even if students have not mastered creating outlines.
Remember, Parents and Teachers, you can never help your students too much. If they need help choosing key words, absolutely help them! As you progress through the course, students will become independent, but that does not need to happen immediately, especially in Unit 1.
Writing from Notes – Unit 2
Once you have moved into Unit 2, your students will begin writing from their key word outlines. It is important to remember that the goal is not for students to copy the original source, but to rewrite it using their own words. However, if your student remembers most of the original source, making his version very similar, it is still okay. At this point, the goal is to grasp the skill.
In 2009, U.S. and Russian satellites collided. With so many collisions, a lot of debris was orbiting the earth. In 1980, five thousand pieces of debris were tracked. In 2010, over fifteen thousand pieces were tracked. To stop collisions, engineers will build a tracking system called the space fence. The space fence can detect, track, and measure debris as small as a softball. New data can redirect satellites to avoid collisions. Construction began on the Marshall Islands in 2014 and will end in 2017. Amazingly, the new space fence can detect up to two hundred thousand pieces of debris.
Discovering and Ruining the Americas by Adriana Baniecki, age 11
Throughout the 1400s, many Europeans yearned for the spices, perfumes, and gold of the East Indies. Christopher Columbus guessed that if he sailed west, he could reach the East Indies and the riches that were in such high demand. Columbus coaxed Spain into sponsoring him three ships. The Nina was flanked by the Pinta and the Santa Maria as the ships set sail into the Sea of Darkness. People warned Columbus that the voyage was extremely far and that he would be eaten by ferocious sea monsters. But on October 12, 1492, Columbus’ sailors shouted, “Land ho!” They excitedly rowed to shore, expecting to find gold and jewels piled on the sand. Instead, red-skinned people emerged. Columbus called them Indians because he thought that he was in the East Indies. Columbus was in the New World, however, a land that was entirely uncultivated and unexplored by Europeans.
After Columbus’ accidental discovery in 1492, numerous countries sent explorers to claim the land for Europe. This changed the land forever. Many explorers were led askew by greed and the thought of riches, so they treated the natives brutally. The Spanish were searching for El Dorado, a city where the streets were paved in gold, and the natives lived in prosperity. Some also searched for the mystical Fountain of Youth. While nobody ever found either El Dorado or the Fountain of Youth, the Spanish did claim most of the southwestern United States. Sadly, Indians were pushed off their land by greedy and murderous Europeans.
Fearless Heroes by Levi Smith, age 12
When a fatal disease swept through rural Alaska, hordes of innocent people were helplessly dying because they did not possess the antidote for the fatal sickness. At that time, the only way to transport cargo through the snowy and dangerous terrain was by dog teams. A few courageous mushers accepted the perilous task through frozen forests and wretched winds to reach the tiny towns. Thankfully, warm insulated boots were provided for the dogs to keep their feet from freezing. Sadly, this did not keep the unrelenting wind from nearly freezing their overworked lungs. Eventually against all odds, they triumphantly delivered the medicine and saved countless lives. The townspeople relentlessly praised the audacious dogs for making the admirable journey. However, had this cataclysmic epidemic happened today, the medicine could have been transported by swift planes in a few meager hours instead of by these fearless teams of heroes.
Student’s Key Word Outline
Eggplants Are Awesome by Katherine McKettrick, age 13
Many picky eaters loathe the unique taste of the lovely eggplant, but many others find it quite delicious and appealing. The eggplant tastes similar to a turnip, with the qualities of squash. Despite what most may think, it has many vitamins and minerals including vitamins C, E, K, and B. In 2012, China was the main producer of eggplants. One hundred and twenty days of sultry weather is required for the ripening of this magnificent plant. In the right conditions, one could grow eggplants in a greenhouse, and they would be just as happy as if they were on a farm in China. Upper class chefs have made glorious delicacies out of this grandiloquent vegetable that finicky eaters would find abhorrent, distasteful, and particularly noisome. Its leathery skin, which contains “nasunin,” a potent antioxidant that protects cell membranes from damage, has a deep majestic purple hue that is a popular color in women's clothing. If overcooked, the eggplant may take on a bitter flavor. This is more than likely the reason that is not very much of a crowd pleaser. Regardless of its sometimes acrid taste, it is always quite palatable when deep fried in peanut oil and drenched in ranch dressing.
Music, Jefferson, and the Declaration of Independence by Bethany Johnson, age 16
Entrusted with the responsibility of writing the Declaration of Independence, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Thomas Paine agreed upon the basic points of their first draft of the Declaration, yet they knew that the official draft must be artistic and refined as well as explicit. Due to Adam’s coarseness, Franklin’s ill health, and Paine’s controversial nature, the undertaking was delegated to Jefferson, who, as reported by his landlady, struggled immensely in completing this task. After days of continuous pacing and negligible progress, Jefferson summoned home for his violin. Once the instrument arrived, Jefferson could be heard overhead alternately pacing and performing on his violin. Serenity descended upon the house. Within just a couple of days, this task was concluded, and the significant document was ready to be presented to the committee. Possibly helping to liberate Jefferson’s semantic intelligence, the violin played a noteworthy role in the institution of our nation.