Writing the Constitution


Writing the Constitution is an online program that teaches composition skills in the context of the United States Constitution. The program contains eight lessons, each with a one-on-one half-hour tutorial with an instructor. Writing and reading assignments for each lesson relate to the Constitution and require students to think critically and analyze this document.

Oxford-Style Tutorials

The key opportunity of online learning is one-on-one instruction, and Writing the Constitution takes full advantage of this. Students select weekdays and times for their tutorials, allowing flexibility with other extracurricular activities. During tutorials students discuss their writing and reading assignments while obtaining individualized, direct instruction in writing.

Direct Instruction in Writing

Writing instruction starts with sentence improvement. Students learn the function of sentences, how to write grammatically correct ones, how to expand them using conjunctions and appositives, and how to move beyond declarative sentences to add more variety to their compositions.

Next, students learn to extract ideas from texts and record them using a note taking system which can lead to outlining longer essays. Students also practice translating ideas from this note-like syntax into grammatically correct sentences.

Students write a single-paragraph essay before each tutorial. Throughout the eight lessons, students learn about topic sentences, single-paragraph outlines, supporting ideas, and concluding sentences.

Students also follow the writing process during the course. For their single-paragraph essays, students create a plan, translate that to a draft, revise the draft, and edit it to create the final copy.

Students learn new writing concepts in each lesson to understand what they should look out for as they revise and edit their work. Examples include using the active voice, writing concisely, understanding punctuation usage, and avoiding common errors.

Writing Assignments

Writing and reading assignments for each lesson all relate to the content focus of the program: the United States Constitution. Writing assignments include summaries, analyses, and interpretations in the form of single-paragraph essays along with short exercises to gauge students’ understanding of new writing concepts. Most lessons provide students with the opportunity to revise and edit their work so they become accustomed to the writing process. Reading assignments come directly from the Constitution.

The Constitution

Students engage directly with the Constitution through this course, giving them opportunities to expand their critical thinking and analysis skills. Students understand the textual meaning of the Constitution, and they discuss the historical context as well as contemporary interpretation of its clauses.

About The Instructors

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.

James Miller is a graduate of TJHSST and UVA, and he has worked with Fairfax Collegiate in a variety of roles since 2012. He has taught several online courses, primarily in argumentative writing and presentation through debate courses.

Next Steps

Writing the Constitution is intended for 6th through 9th grade students, to prepare them for high school English classes. Students in this grade range can also understand the Constitution and discuss it critically with their instructor.

Please submit the inquiry form below if you are interested in more information. If you determine that Writing the Constitution is a good fit for your child and space is available, we can set up a schedule for tutorials; you will then be billed the cost of tuition ($400).