Our latest TOS Review is for a fantastic online writing course by Fortuigence, called Essay Rock Star. (Doesn’t the title alone make you want to check it out?) We received Fortuigence’s Essay Rock Star: The Personal Statement Course to use and review.
Fortuigence is a program of highly effective online writing courses, founded by Lily Iatridis. Its aim is to build writing mastery in middle school and high school students. Fortuigence offers the Essay Rock Star writing courses for four different types of writing: The Personal Statement; The Persuasive Essay; The Expository Essay; and The Textual Analysis.
How simple do you find teaching writing to your homeschool students who are ages 12-18? We have always enjoyed our writing assignments and have used a variety of curricula for writing. And we are definitely a word- and story-loving family. However, I was quite thrilled for Jackson to have someone else teach him writing in an enjoyable yet precisely taught course. I was hoping for: a teacher who could clearly teach different components of writing; someone who could plainly but gently correct and encourage; and for a course that would be both appealing and interesting. Essay Rock Star provides all of these, and more!
We were offered our choice of one of the four courses listed above, and Jackson selected Essay Rock Star: The Personal Statement Writing Course. A personal statement essay is one that you’ll often find requested on college applications, or perhaps on applications for volunteer positions or jobs. The college, or the volunteer coordinator or employer, wants to know why your child is so amazing and why he should be accepted or hired. The personal statement essay gives the opportunity for the student to compose an inviting account of the qualities or experiences that make him special and unusual; or that would make him the ideal prospective student. How does a young person tell his story in ways that are both fascinating and compelling?
Essay Rock Star: The Personal Statement Course instructs the student in accomplishing this goal throughout a 5-step process (brainstorming, organizing, free writing, revising, and editing), which is covered in 7 online lessons. Upon purchasing the course, the student is granted access to the online classroom where both video lessons and assignments are located. Founder Lily Iatridis teaches each lesson, then gives the student an assignment to complete. The student completes the assignment and uploads it to the online classroom. Then, Ms. Iatridis reviews the assignment and returns it to the student, along with any remarks or corrections she recommends. The process is interesting and enjoyable, as well as challenging in a very positive way.
Lily Iatridis is quite adept at teaching different components of the essay. In each video, she breaks down the essay components into bite-sized segments, then carefully instructs the student on the work he’ll be doing. In addition, each video lesson also has the entire script printed below the video box, so that the student can follow along as Ms. Iatridis teaches or can refer back to it as needed.
Jackson took about a month to complete all 7 lessons in the course. First, we watched the video for each lesson. (I watched it with him, so that I had a sense of what he’d be working on.) Next, he would complete the assignment for that lesson. Since we would be uploading each completed assignment to the online classroom, Jackson wrote his assignments in Word then entered them into the Fortuigence website. Ms. Iatridis reviewed his work, on the average, in about a day or so. She included remarks about his assignment then instructed him to move on to the next lesson. At the end of the course, we received a certificate of completion. We appreciated that for many reasons, not the least of which is that by completing Essay Rock Star: The Personal Statement Writing Course Jackson actually received .125 credits of high school coursework!
In addition to the online class work that Jackson did, we also received an excellent online reference: Essay Rock Star Writing Tips. This included such helps as words and cliches to avoid; correct comma usage; proofreading and editing guidelines; and other useful writing tips. During The Personal Statement Writing Course, Lily Iatridis provides examples of both mastery- and competent-level writing, which are downloadable for reference. The Fortuigence website also includes a wealth of free resources for the homeschooling parent or child. On its Blog tab, you’ll find videos and ideas for all kinds of educational games, designed to increase students’ knowledge and abilities in fun ways. When you click on the Free Resources tab, you’ll find an excellent (and again, free) interactive course for parents called Top Teach, in addition to two free writing e-books (Grammar Baseball and End Blank Page Terror). I encourage you to follow those links and utilize these quality resources. If you do, I believe you’ll get a taste of some of the qualities that make the Fortuigence courses so exceptional!
Jackson’s experience with Essay Rock Star: The Personal Statement Writing Course proved to be quite profitable. The lessons led him through each portion of the 5-step process carefully, and he was able to accomplish each section well. I’d say that he did find this the most challenging writing program he’s ever done, although it was definitely not beyond his reach or ability; it just caused him in many ways to step up to the next level. His teacher had great comments for him on his work. He really loved the interaction and feedback from her. And, he crafted a remarkable personal statement–even though he’s had only 12 years of life experience!
I am so impressed with both Fortuigence and Lily Iatridis. The online writing courses enable students to learn to write crisp, interesting work. The instructions are complete and clear, yet easy to follow. In addition to these essentials which you’d want in a stellar writing program, Ms. Iatridis’ personal style with the students is truly wonderful. She gave good instructions while encouraging Jackson and helping him discern the experiences and interests which would make for fascinating personal statement reading. I couldn’t have been happier with this course, and I hope we’ll be able to take more Essay Rock Star courses in the future. (There are, after all, three others that Jackson hasn’t experienced!)