Sunday, February 1, 2009

The One Year Adventure year of highschool credit wrapped up in a writing adventure!

“What makes a story a story? Why do we look for truth in books? Could it be that our hunger for story and our thirst for meaning are somehow related? Or do these merely point to something else? What if purpose is just another word for adventure?”

And so begins each DVD video lesson of the amazing, exciting, creative, enriching, well-organized, inspiring, wonderful One Year Adventure Novel curriculum. Author/Publisher Daniel Schwabauer has thoughtfully designed his 26 week/ one school year curriculum to help student’s write "the adventure of a lifetime". His use of humor, video, text, and gentle instruction are wonderfully balanced creating engaging, interesting and inspiring lessons. I am convinced that Schwabauer’s OYAN offers a way to inspire and draw out the story in every young adult. It provides them the impetus for accomplishing the Herculean task of writing a twelve chapter novel in the span of a school year.

The One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) consists of 78 DVD lessons; 3 lessons for 26 weeks. It is written and designed for maximum independent study, a great appeal for my highschool aged son who prefers to work without the “interference” of his mom. Students and parents can begin the course with virtually no preparation. For those feeling faint of heart in regards to teaching creative writing to their teenager, Schwabauer provides a short seven and a half minute lecture for teacher/parents on disk one of the 8 DVD’s included in the curriculum, plus a brief yet informative 72 page teacher’s guide complete with grading tips and record sheets. I found the video lecture extremely encouraging leaving me with a “We can do this!” attitude.

OYAN is very well organized and easily followed. In addition to the DVD lessons and teacher’s guide the course consists of a student workbook “The Map”, a textbook “The Compass”, a copy of Anthony Hope’s classic adventure novel The Prisoner of Zenda, and a resource disk filled with 46 video FAQ lessons, one 10 min. "Frequently Made Mistakes" lesson, 26 quizzes, 15 adventure novels in e-book format and a partridge in a pear tree. I’m just kidding about that partridge, but kids and parents will not be able to think of one item NOT provided by Schwabauer’s comprehensive package. The curriculum sells on the OYAN website for $199 and includes free shipping! Extra student workbooks are available for $25.00 as well as snazzy t-shirts for $18.00 to advertise to the world your student’s success as a writer.

The OYAN website, as comprehensive as the curriculum, provides a student forum, student writer’s contest, and one click access to the author’s blog, “One Year Adventure Novel: Blog the Adventure”. For those still in shopping mode, sample lessons, parent and student testimonials, and reviews of the curriculum are also available. If after perusing the site you wish a test drive of your own, a FREE demo DVD is available to order.

A typical day with OYAN begins with a brief 10-15 min. engaging video lesson. My fourteen year old son and I watched his lessons on my MAC book since it had a DVD drive, but any DVD player could be used. Schwabauer provides all lectures sprinkled with video clips of movies to reinforce important points. He draws his audience into each lesson with a visually appealing set and thrilling introduction accompanied with music. He is usually dressed in a khaki cargo shirt and khaki pants sitting or standing in a library with a large globe, books and safari hat casually placed on a shelf behind him. This visual reinforcement of adventure works as I found myself believing Schwabauer had as much adventure experience to share as "Indiana Jones".

After viewing the lesson, students read through “The Compass” textbook reinforcing the video lecture provided on the DVD. Occasionally the textbook will require a brief reading from an adventure novel followed by a few questions to be answered. I had Jonah keep track of his answers for later discussion with me in a notebook. Once the textbook assignment is complete, students are asked to continue with questions in their student workbook, “The Map”. During the 1st semester these questions are designed to help create the framework or outline of the novel. Beginning at week 14, students will use these answers to write their rough draft of their novel. Student grades for the course are determined through point values awarded for “Map” questions and weekly quizzes. To ease grading time, the quiz is administered on the computer and graded immediately by the computer program. Schwabauer loves teachers!

My son Jonah, self-professed creative writing hater, said the following about OYAN. “I think the One Year Adventure Novel is more interesting than any other writing curriculum I have ever had to use. It’s not like dissecting sentences or other boring things. It involves more thinking and originality. It’s not easy, in fact it’s kind of difficult, but I think I will be able to finish it because I have finished the first few lessons successfully. Overall I think this is a good curriculum and parents should consider buying it for their kids”.

I have been on a 12 year quest for a high quality, engaging, well-organized and simple to implement English curriculum. Teaching creative writing to my children has always been a thorn in my flesh. I can write, but I have never had the ability to translate what I know in an organized and thoughtful way to my children. Ironically, my love of story telling has not inspired my children, and my inability to effectively teach and encourage this art form has discouraged them to create with the written word. They enjoy reading adventure, but have no unique stories burning within. The quest has ended. The One Year Adventure Novel is a treasure chest of inspiring education waiting to be opened.


pammylbear said...

We also purchased the OYAN curriculum after going through about half a dozen writing programs. I will admit, I wish the opening sequence to each lesson did not include the repeated use of the digging-up-treasure motif, but we fast forward through it now. After receiving the materials and having my boys go through it, I saw a lot more applications than just writing your own adventure novel. What you learn here can apply to business and personal writing (on a smaller scale!), analysis of literature you read (my older son made the comment that he can't read books the same way any more), and even report writing to some degree. We haven't gotten to the point where the kids are actually writing their novel (or video game background story in the case of my younger son), but I love the preparation they are going through to get to that point. I'm learning to appreciate the writer's craft even more myself.

Jenn @ Spejory said...

This is an excellent curriculum. I bought it for my 8th grade aspiring writer, but for some reason he couldn't get into it. I know everyone loves OYAN, but be advised it isn't for everyone. Unfortunately, I can't re-sell it due to the licensing agreement. Knowing this, I hope to use it myself to jump start my own novel.