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Building Blocks

Open To: Grades 3 and 4
Prerequisite: Qualifying Verbal Score
Challenge Level: Middle school
Course Format: Web-based
Recommended School Credit: One-quarter academic year
Course Length: Session Based: 10 weeks (Fall, Winter, Spring), 12 weeks (Early Summer), or 5 weeks (intensive Late Summer); Session Dates
Course Code: IRUL

Course Description

A deep understanding of grammatical structure allows students to make informed choices about style. Students examine the rules of Standard Written English and adapt these rules to develop a personal style. Working in an online collaborative community, students write analytically about grammatical usage and then apply the analysis to their own creative writing. Students emerge from these short courses understanding how their grammatical choices can affect the quality of their prose style.

In this course, students study language building blocks by exploring parts of speech and components of sentences. Students focus on making their writing more vivid, improving accuracy, and creating effective and interesting sentence combinations.

Screen shot showing a page from a typical lesson

Shows Non-Count Nouns: water, oxygen, and furniture

Grammar Note

Skilled, careful writers follow the conventions of Standard Written English, but writing is much more than mere adherence to convention. Instructors discuss grammar only when it affects meaning. Writing courses are not remedial. Students must already be proficient in Standard Written English.

Materials Needed

Students are not required to purchase any additional materials or texts for this course.

Detailed Course Information

Course Details

Lesson 1: Nouns

This lesson discusses the distinctions between concrete and abstract nouns, count nouns and non-count nouns, and how to tell if a word in a sentence is a noun or another part of speech. Students will practice replacing general nouns with more specific nouns in order to write more vividly.

Lesson 2: Verbs

Topics include transitive and intransitive verbs, action verbs and verbs of state. Students learn syntactic features of verbs and apply tests to determine whether the word in a sentence is a verb or another part of speech. Students practice replacing general verbs with more specific verbs in order to make their sentences more dynamic.

Lesson 3: Modifiers

As in lessons 1 and 2, this lesson discusses the complexities of these parts of speech, applying tests to determine features of each part of speech. As with verbs, a key topic will be how to replace general modifiers (like “good”) with more specific modifiers that create more effective descriptions. Adverbial and adjectival phrases will also be covered.

Lesson 4: Sentence Parts

This lesson focuses on the distinction between parts of speech and parts of sentences. Students transition from distinguishing classes of words to studying the roles that subjects, predicates, and phrases play in the construction of sentences. Students also examine the role prepositional phrases play in determining subject/verb agreement. A deeper understanding of sentence parts prepares students for further practice with complex sentence patterns.

Lesson 5: Sentence Patterns

The lesson discusses the structure of simple, compound and complex sentences. Students practice punctuating sentences correctly while focusing on using a variety of sentence patterns and rhythms in their writing.

Time Required

  • 3 hours weekly for 10-week or 12-week sessions (Fall, Winter, Spring, Early Summer)
  • 2 hours daily Monday - Friday during the intensive 5-week session (Late Summer)

Summer Session Daily Calendars

Summer Schedules

Up to two weeks of vacation is allowed in the Early Summer Session. No vacations are allowed in the intensive Late Summer Session.

Down to Late Summer Session (5 weeks)

Sample Early Summer Session June 4 - August 26, 2018 (12 weeks)

DATEEVENT
 

NOTES:

  • Work is due by end of the day, not start of the day. Students may use the due day to complete work due that night.
  • Workshop participation is required and is 30 percent of the final evaluation.
  • Vacations are allowed and must be negotiated at the start of the course with the instructor.
  • When a student takes a vacation, the schedule moves to later (#2 is due when #3 was due, #4 is due when #5 was due, etc.). Lessons cannot be moved out of sequence.
  • No textbook purchase is necessary.

Monday, June 5

Course begins:

  • Students download materials from the course access page
  • Post introductions to classroom
  • Begin Lesson 1 Readings
  • Instructors have contacted students by the end of the day

Tuesday, June 12

Lesson 1: Exercises 1-4 due

Thursday, June 14Lesson 1: Exercises 5-7 due
Monday, June 18Lesson 1: Final Writing Assignment (fwa) due
Tuesday, June 19FWA 1 Workshop begins

Thursday, June 21

Lesson 2: Exercises 1-3 due

Tuesday, June 26Lesson 2: Exercises 4-5 due
Monday, July 2Lesson 2 FWA due; FWA 1 Workshop ends
Tuesday, July 3Lesson 2 FWA Workshop begins
Thursday, July 5Lesson 3: Exercises 1-3 due
Tuesday, July 10Lesson 3: Exercises 4-5 due

Monday, July 16

Lesson 3 FWA due; FWA Workshop 2 ends

Tuesday, July 17Lesson 3 FWA Workshop begins
Thursday, July 19Lesson 4: Exercises 1-3 due
Tuesday, July 24Lesson 4: Exercises 4-6 due

Thursday, July 26

Lesson 4 FWA due; FWA 3 Workshop ends

Friday, July 27Lesson 4 FWA Workshop begins
Tuesday, July 30Lesson 5: Exercises 1-3 due
Thursday, August 1Lesson 5: Exercises 4-6 due

Tuesday, August 7

Lesson 5 FWA due; FWA 4 Workshop ends

Wednesday, August 8Lesson 5 FWA Workshop begins
Tuesday, August 14Makeup Lesson due

Friday, August 24

Makeup Lesson due
Course ends
No work accepted after today

 

2 to 3 weeks after the course ends, students receive:

  • Certificate of Participation
  • Detailed, one-page course completion document

 

Sample Intensive Midsummer Session: July 2 - August 5, 2018 (5 weeks)

DATEEVENT
 

NOTES:

  • Work is due by end of the day, not start of the day. Students use the due day to complete work due that night.
  • Vacations are NOT allowed. Any short absences must be negotiated with the instructor at the start of the course.
  • Workshop participation is required and counts as 30 percent of final evaluation.
  • No textbook purchase is necessary.

Monday, July 2

Course begins:

  • Students download materials from the course access page
  • Post introductions to classroom
  • Begin Lesson 1 reading

Thursday, July 5

Lesson1: Exercises 1-7 due

Monday, July 9

Lesson 1 Final Writing Assignment (FWA) due

Tuesday, July 10

FWA 1 Workshop begins

Thursday, July 12

Lesson 2: Exercise 1-5

Monday, July 16

Lesson 2 FWA due
FWA 1 Workshop ends

Tuesday, July 17

FWA 2 Workshop begins

Thursday, July 19

Lesson 3: Exercises 1-6 due

Monday, July 23

Lesson 3: FWA due
FWA 2 Workshop ends

Tuesday,July 24

FWA 3 Workshop begins

Thursday, July 26

Lesson 4: Exercises 1-6 due

Monday, July 30

Lesson 4 FWA due
FWA 3 Workshop ends

Tuesday, July 31

FWA 4 Workshop begins

Thursday, August 2

Lesson 5: Exercises 1-6 due

Sunday, August 5

Lesson 5 FWA due
FWA 4 Workshop ends

Course ends
No work accepted after midnight (except workshop comments)

FWA 5 Workshop opens on Tuesday and will remain open one week.

 

2 to 3 weeks after the course ends, students receive:

  • Certificate of Participation
  • Detailed, one-page course completion document

Sample First Assignment

Demo

Technical Requirements

This course requires a properly maintained computer with high-speed internet access and an up-to-date web browser (such as Chrome or Firefox). The student must be able to communicate with the instructor via email. Visit the Technical Requirements and Support page for more details.

 

 

Reviews

"Before this course, I hated writing. Now, after the course, I love to write!"

"I think these CTY online courses are a great idea. The course really helped me understand and learn more about the subject I was studying: Language.
What I really liked about the course was that you get to share your opinions about other people's work and also meet new people. I have a strong feeling that this is really going to help me in school."

"I enjoyed doing this Language Course with Mrs. S___. When I needed help, she was available. I hope, if I do Language at CTY again, that Mrs. S___ will be my teacher!"

"User friendly, easy to follow course."

"The course was strenuous and challenging which as a parent what I expected and desired from CTY Online Programs. The instructor had a very high expectations and pushed the student to work hard."

"We were very pleased with the course and the content in the material. It was a lot of work though, more than we thought it would be. Our son enjoyed it and really did learn a lot."

"This course was very organized, very challenging, and increased my son's interest in writing."

"Wow ... what a learning experience our whole family had! My daughter was challenged and is now lightyears ahead of where she was with grammar. As a parent, I, of course, made it my business to read all the materials and sharpen up my own skills in grammar after my daughter would go to bed. I have to say I was challenged as well! My daughter and I are now having a great time copying pages from classics, and highlighting modifiers, verbs, phrases, etc. We discuss how the writer used grammar to convey a story, and what a different story it would be without that style. My hats off to Mrs. S___. Her comments were thoughtful, helpful and always encouraging."

"Mrs. B___ was a wonderful instructor. We truly appreciated the personalized critiques and encouragement she shared with M___. Even though this was an online course, she personalized instruction and really got to know our son as a writer. Establishing this type of rapport with M___ made him more receptive to his learning experiences. He really enjoyed this course and learned a lot."

"This class was excellent. It started out with an opportunity to write a nonsense sentence. My son had so much fun, it spilled over to the rest of the semester. This is a lot to say for a math kid. Thank you so much for the infectious enthusiasm and encouragement that was modeled by the instructor."