Writing the Constitution

Announcing Writing the Constitution

Writing the Constitution is an online program that teaches basic composition. Each unit of the program is eight weekly one-on-one Oxford-style tutorials. The program incorporates regular individualized direct instruction in writing. Weekly writing and reading assignments relate to the content focus of the program: the United States Constitution.

Weekly Oxford-Style Tutorials

The key opportunity of online learning is one-on-one instruction, and Writing the Constitution takes full advantage. Students select weekdays and times for tutorials and must submit writings the day before each tutorial. During tutorials students discuss their writings, obtain individualized direct instruction in writing, and review assigned readings.

Direct Instruction in Writing

The writing instruction is based on time-tested methods used at great independent schools.

We start with sentences. Students learn the function of sentences, how to write grammatically correct sentences, how to expand sentences using conjunctions and appositives, and how to move beyond declarative sentences to add more variety to their compositions.

Next, we learn to extract ideas from texts and record them using a note taking system. We also practice translating ideas from our note taking syntax into grammatically correct sentences.

Now we turn to planning paragraphs. We learn about topic sentences, single paragraph outlines, supporting ideas, and concluding sentences.

We are now ready to learn and practice an efficient four-step writing process: plan, draft, revise, and edit.

Multi-paragraph compositions follow. From Strunk and White, we learn “to create a suitable design for our writing and hold to it” and “to make the paragraph the unit of composition.” We also learn “to omit needless words”, “to use the active voice”, and other classic elementary principles of composition.

Weekly Writing Assignments

Weekly writing and reading assignments all relate to the content focus of the program: the United States Constitution. Writing assignments include summaries, analyses, and interpretations. Instructors match the challenge and length of assignments to students’ levels. Most weeks students will write a new paper and revise an old paper. Reading assignments include primary sources (every student reads the Constitution!) and secondary sources.

Content Focus: The U.S. Constitution

Central to the program is understanding and writing about the textual meaning of the Constitution. Students engage directly with the original text of the seven articles and twenty-seven amendments.

Students also explore the Constitution in the context of United States history, including competing interpretations of the Constitution during the Antebellum, Progressive, and New Deal eras.

Another way that students learn about the Constitution is by reading and writing about landmark Supreme Court cases. Readings include the original decisions of the Supreme Court and secondary sources.

Other reading and writing assignments concern the Constitution and the protection of civil liberties during the Early Republic, Reconstruction, and Civil Rights periods.

About The Instructor

Steven Nossal founded Fairfax Collegiate in 1993. Last year he taught over 60 students in an online writing program about American history, Write | Discuss | Revise. Mr. Nossal earned a B.A. in Economics from Yale University.

Next Steps

Please submit the inquiry form below. We will contact you to discuss your child's participation in the program.

The tuition for each 8-week session is $400.