CAMPFIRE’S LANGUAGE ARTS APPROACH!
We also have a podcast on this over HERE if you would prefer to listen!
Here’s the rundown of this post:
1. Our overall approach for all
2. Spiral vs. Mastery
3. Our high school approach
4. What we do NOT include
Campfire Curriculums has an in-depth language arts approach for those utilizing our Core Connections. We focus on different levels of skill for different age groups. So for instance, Campfire has some units that teach on adjectives and nouns, predicates, verbs, etc for the younger students. Meanwhile, the older students are focusing on finding and fixing run-on sentences (in ways that college students often miss). Still, all students are focused on the same topic.
We don’t just say, “Fix this sentence,” or “Write a better essay!” We actually teach how to do it and why there is an error in the first place. Usually, this task is completed by utilizing something directly from the unit (IE: Ben Franklin’s newspaper writing in the Independence Day unit).
There is another unit that focuses on public speaking—another element of language arts. Again, we don’t just say, “Make a speech!” Or “Create a report as if you are a journalist!” We lead them through it, day by day, building upon the day prior. Each new lesson they are learning a different element of public speaking (etc), so that on their final day of the unit they can make their presentation.
Another unit focuses on the skill of communicating well and how to summarize, or learn the skills of having bedside manner, etc. These are all skills that are required for standardized tests, as well as excelling in real life and actual careers.
There are other units that teach how to write an evidence-based research papers or how to excel in creative writing. All of our units bring in reading comprehension and note taking, as well as include book lists (optional).
Language arts, for Campfire, is more than just knowing parts of speech (though we also cover that). It’s more than what public schools even teach. It’s about learning language arts to the point you can be proficient in it—in any skill, career, or point in life. It’s about being a good communicator, developing original thought, examining one’s own work for creativity, and knowing how to revise and make better.
Do we lead the student through it in a “textbook” format or pound them with 25 different examples in each lesson? No. Our Core Connections approach is very similar to the approach we use in our main guidebooks. It is unique, and it leads to memory retention and lasting skills. There is not a simple, “Fill in the blank.” It requires thinking, learning, and building upon each day.
For those who use Core Connections every other day (some parents alternate days), then you would do your “reading” and note taking on the in-between days. Correct your student’s writing or grammar (or reading, etc) as you go along.
Of note, we also incorporate spelling words and/or bolded words throughout the unit to be used as spelling, as well!
SPIRAL VS. MASTERY
In different units, we go through different parts of the writing process from original writing, the mechanics of writing, and then writing projects (mini reports, etc). Some of the units have a specific grammar or parts of speech focus; some have a focus on speaking, researching, or writing persuasive essays. Some have picture studies; some do not (etc, etc).
However, the units also REVISIT concepts, so there is some overlap in different units.
We make sure to create each unit so that the language arts portion can be done regardless of which other units have been completed.
The unit itself will help you to master the predominant skill being taught. Meanwhile, it will also often incorporate other skills that helps concepts to be revisited again and again. You will often see units re-teach concepts from another unit. Again, it is a dual spiral and mastery approach. We might be using adjectives in one unit to master the skill of presentation, but we will also be re-emphasizing adjectives in another unit for a creative writing project (etc).
If your younger student has fully mastered the particular skill, they can easily “bump up” to the next level (middle or high school options). If your older student has fully mastered the skill, then you require the same task, but with a higher standard.
Keep in mind with any unit study, you cannot complete one unit and think that language arts is “complete” any more than completing one month of a language arts class in public school and calling it quits (LOL). It’s an ongoing skill that is continuously built upon and also revisited. The language arts skills in these units are made in a way that is very applicable to the real world and will actually serve to help students excel in universities, careers, job shadowing, or just in life.
In high school specifically, students usually take language arts classes that range from classic literature studies to the history of linguistic form (etymology), analysis of poetry or themed literature (author’s purpose, central ideas, arguments, syntax, in-depth literary analysis, etc), to public speaking, etc.
At this age, a lot of the “basics” (sentence structure, grammar, etc) are already learned in earlier grades and merely reviewed and built upon (whether in public school, private school, or homeschool).
Campfire Curriculums teaches on all of these topics except themed classic literature (though poetry is taught). We leave it up to the parents to allow their child to read the classics they desire and analyze them as they wish.
**The exception to this will be the Charles Dickens unit that will come out which will be a literature study.**
In Campfire units, you have a consistent crossover and spiral/mastery approach to language arts with public speaking taught in multiple capacities (as an individual speaker to an audience, as a professional to a non-professional, and as a teacher/student setup, etc). You will review and analyze sentence structure, better vocabulary choices, etc. You will be studying and writing poetry and iambic pentameter and Shakespearean sonnets, as well, and also dive into etymology, deeper understanding of literary devices, and more.
WHAT IS NOT COVERED
1. As we already mentioned, there is an aspect that IS offered in public school (high school) that is NOT offered with Campfire (because it’s just not Campfire’s approach), and that is the classic literature study. The exception will be our Charles Dickens study, but aside from that Campfire merely doesn’t use full units to address classic literature analysis. Not all students take classic literature in high school, but if they desire to do so, they can also read the classic literature on their own from home. If this is not something of interest to you or your child, then you would skip, anyway.
2. We do not cover the most primary language arts. This is what we would consider language arts for first graders (etc). A lot of parents do not wish to utilize a curriculum for their younger students when teaching simpler things like, “This is a period.” or “This is an exclamation point!” or, “This is how you write a letter A.” They often choose to teach such concepts through reading with the child and pointing it out as they read along.
Other parents, however, prefer to have a guided language arts for these earliest of stages (for their children that are approximately 4 – 8 years old). If you have a very young child and you wish for them to have a very primary language arts curriculum, then we would suggest supplementing until the basics are learned. If you have a very young child and you prefer to teach them the basics through reading alone (and having them practice writing via copywork), we encourage that, as well! In any case, such a primary level of language arts will not be included in Campfire.
3. One other point to reference is that our older units do not have quite as much explanation or “hand holding” in the language arts sections. Originally our Core Connections approach was much simpler, when we were predominantly an extracurricular approach. Each unit’s description on the product page will detail what language arts is included and if it is a newer or older unit. The older units still have language arts (in fact, some of our favorites!), but it’s just a less guided approach.
I hope that helps!