SmartStart ELA: Tech-Powered Learners Ready for Middle School

$35.00 / week

Designed to equip students with essential technology competencies to have success in English language arts, this class focuses on cultivating learner independence as they prepare to navigate secondary ELA with skill and confidence.

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Students gain a solid foundation in everything TECH!

Addressing the challenges of ever-changing technology and our dependence on it for online learning, our SmartStart ELA course provides a strategic solution. Many students find themselves navigating a digital world without the essential technological skills needed for success. Recognizing these gaps as we’ve been teaching, our course is designed to empower students by not only addressing these technological challenges but also ensuring they acquire fundamental English Language Arts (ELA) competencies. We equip students to navigate the demands of a modern academic landscape. We fill those gaps in this course, preparing them for the rigor of on-grade-level work in our rigorous ELA semesters.

Through carefully crafted modules, we tackle the nuances of online learning etiquette, providing strategies for effective problem-solving and resource utilization. Simultaneously, we cultivate a genuine love for reading and build a strong foundation for essay writing. In this process, we employ tech tools to enhance grammar, style, and overall written expression. It’s crucial to note that technology does not substitute for ingenuity, creativity, and proficiency in reading and writing; rather, it serves as a valuable aid to students as they embark on the journey of essay writing, critical reading, and literary expression.



The Week of June 2–Navigating the Digital Classroom: Middle School Online Etiquette
Discover the essential skills for online success in middle school! Students will learn the norms that ensure a positive and engaging virtual learning environment.

  • the importance of keeping cameras on
  • how to customize Zoom and Zoom norms (no primping, full face in the camera, backgrounds, lighting, etc.)
  • how to stay engaged (using the chatbox and emojis for good)
  • e-mail, chat, and communication norms
  • showing respect with your face and voice
  • learn in a quiet environment


The Week of June 9–Habits for Success: Smart Strategies for Learning

Students are equipped with valuable problem-solving skills, resilience in the face of challenges, and effective resource utilization. This module focuses on fostering learning habits crucial for success in and out of the classroom.

  • how to deal with frustration
  • how to use resources to solve your own problems
  • how to be an independent problem-solver
  • how to communicate with a teacher, coach, or someone in authority


The Week of June 16 & 23–Dive into Reading: Cultivating a Love for Books
Students not only discover the joy of reading but also master essential skills. From obtaining a library card and using the online library app Libby to participating in book clubs, this module enriches the reading experience and encourages a lifelong love for books.

  • how to pick a book to read for pleasure
  • get a library card and use the free online library
  • keep a Must-Read list
  • Present a Book Talk
  • How to participate in a book club by participating in a book club


The Week of June 30 & July 7–Tech-Infused Writing Mastery: ELA with Digital Tools
From learning to type to harnessing the power of Google tools, this module guides students in navigating the intricacies of MLA rules and formatting essays seamlessly. Students rapidly gain skills, ensuring that their work is not just effective and polished but also efficiently crafted.

  • learn to type 26 lowercase letters
  • Learn to type numbers, punctuation, and upper-case letters
  • Google Drive and staying organized
  • Google Docs and MLA formatting
  • the anatomy of a paragraph
  • using Google Docs for editing and revising

The week of July 14 – July 28: Tech-Infused ELA Projects
Students master the art of creating and presenting projects using various platforms, including physical projects, Google Slides, Canva, and other innovative tools. This module is designed to enhance digital literacy and presentation skills. Students create 3 projects and give 3 class presentations.

  • Quality physical projects and presentations
  • Quality Google Slide presentations
  • Quality Canva projects and presentations


The Way We Roll:

Student Motivation & Accountability–Learners participate in interactive lessons during their homework time, which includes quizzes on their reading. We use “workshop time” in class so students will write while the teacher “visits” them on their Google Document. Once we started using this method, we saw nearly a 100% completion rate in student writing! We implement other measures to hold them accountable for their learning, like asking them to verbally give answers if they stop using the chatbox, or telling them to send an “IDK yet” (I don’t know yet) in the chatbox if they can’t yet answer a question. We want to honor the investment parents make in this class and the time students spend. The goal is to build skills and learn! That means students are working, thinking, and writing. Active engagement is the key to success in this class.

Public Speaking & Cameras–The instructor intentionally teaches communication skills and norms. For example, the “dominator” will learn to give others a chance to speak and will even learn to involve others to help bring forth their ideas. The quieter students learn to take risks and put themselves out there because they have good ideas and important things to say. These skills are taught through various methods, including speeches, presentations, and Socratic seminars, which often become the favorite for students. We also talk about how an online community is established, and students keep their cameras on. This helps all students feel connected to each other as a community of learners. It also helps the teacher picture their faces when reading their writing. They naturally get more attention from their teacher when their camera is on because the teacher’s eyes are drawn to faces, not empty black boxes. In fact, students who don’t have their cameras on are sorted last in the list of students and sometimes, Zoom even hides them! Keeping the camera on is a learning strategy and improves engagement. Also, we feel closer to each other when we see each other. Trust us. ?

Student Mastery–Each class includes explicit, direct instruction with teacher modeling. Students are guided toward mastery of multiple writing skills and understandings so that they grasp the concepts and become independent. Students are held to a high standard of academic writing, including the use of grammar and the construction of sophisticated sentences.

Teacher Feedback–The back-and-forth work between a student and teacher significantly benefits a student if it is done well. We follow best practices in this area with how we design class time, assignments, and routines. According to Pennington Publishing, effective writing feedback (or grading) is:
• Specific, not general
• Immediate, not postponed
• Routine with a revision / feedback cycle
• Explanatory
• The right amount
• Targeted to the most critical issues
• Varied (written, audio, and video comments)
• Holding students accountable

Get to know Mrs. Lemons and the Lemons-Aid Team a little more.

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Our mission is to equip the minds and shepherd the hearts of learners. We want them to have saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ and then to develop a biblical worldview. This means they view their world, themselves, and God in a way that aligns with what the Bible teaches. This brings great peace and understanding to the believer because we serve a good God who is sovereign.

Check the offerings of this course on Outschool. Courses on Outschool are secular.

The Lemons-Aid Way: Our Approach to Teaching and Learning is Explicit!

Explicit teaching is a method of instruction students desperately need! It is the opposite of a constructivist philosophy whereby students try to construct meaning themselves.


Instead of leaving students to magically figure out how to write an essay or read or do a geometry proof, we teach explicitly, which is backed by a large body of evidence, and it’s how Mrs. Lemons teaches her undergraduate and graduate teacher candidates in college to teach! We do it this way because it’s how kids learn.

Explicit instruction is “a structured, systematic, and effective methodology for teaching academic skills. It is called explicit because it is an unambiguous and direct approach to teaching that includes both instructional design and delivery procedures. Explicit instruction is characterized by a series of supports or scaffolds, whereby students are guided through the learning process with clear statements about the purpose and rationale for learning the new skill, clear explanations and demonstrations of the instructional target, and supported practice with feedback until independent mastery has been achieved.”
-Explicit Instruction: Effective and Efficient Teaching by Anita L. Archer and Charles A. Hughes.

Anita Archer trained Mrs. Lemons in workshops, and it changed her teaching. Read a little more about the research behind explicit teaching here and here.

To read more about your teaching and learning methods, read Mrs. Lemons’ blog.

We have adopted The Master’s Seminary Doctrinal Statement.

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