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Cover Story takes middle school students on a guided tour through the universe of Story. Through the process of creating the content for their own magazine in a single school year, students are led, step by step, on a fun, thought-provoking journey of exploration and creation. They write poems, short stories, non-fiction articles, letters, and many other short pieces. They also learn to journal every day by following the creative structure of The Remarkable Journal of Professor Gunther Von Steuben. Along the way, they study not just a story’s form, but its execution.

Award Winning author Daniel Schwabauer, creator of the One Year Adventure Novel, opens up classic short stories, historic letters and poems, and his own insight into the writing life to reveal the process behind the page.

Your student will write

• creative non-fiction articles
• letters
• poetry

• short stories
• blog posts
• and much more

. . . and likely enjoy doing it!

About Cover Story - Middle School Writing Curriculum for Homeschool

Course Philosophy:

Reluctant writers like to ask, “What’s the point of writing?” Parents and teachers sometimes answer pragmatically, with statements like, “Writing is an extension of thinking,” or “Writing is a skill that will serve you your whole life,” or “Good writing skills will help you get a better job.”

Mr. S. prefers to answer that question with a question: “What do you think the point of writing should be?” Or, to put it another way, “What do you want to write about?”

The question is not whether or not students should be required to write. The question is why they should care. Cover Story turns the question around and lets students discover the answer.

Students are far more motivated to write when they choose their own subject and goals. Rather than assign topics a child has no interest in, (“Today we’re going to write a five paragraph theme about mollusks! isn’t that great?”) Cover Story allows students the freedom of choosing a theme for their magazine, and a subject for each assignment. This approach gives the structure and guidance they need to understand the principles in each lesson, but allows them to create from passion rather than pressure.

Creating content for their own magazine gives students:

Short-form writing, including entries in a daily journal, helps students to master the basics of writing more quickly. This in turn makes creative writing more and more enjoyable.

Short-form creative pieces (short stories, letters, poetry, etc.) and frequently changing units keep students engaged in the process of learning.

Cover Story challenges students to think deeply about what they read and write.

Lessons draw on the student’s own interests.

We don’t want to reveal ALL the surprises, but rumor has it that Mr. S. smashes a tomato on-screen, sentences himself (while dressed as a judge), and generally assaults the idea that English is the exclusive domain of the pompous.

Your student will end the year with a greater understanding of writing concepts, new tools to use in writing endeavors, and an impressive array of magazine content.

Curriculum Includes:

Video Lessons


Teacher’s Guide

+ The Journal

Included in the kit is a copy of The Remarkable Journal of Professor Gunther Von Steuben. This is the book in which students will write journal entries every day. But it is no ordinary book! Copied on its pages are the handwritten notes of Professor Von Steuben himself—a man of mystery, intrigue and profound insight into the nature of the world and its inhabitants. Students are encouraged to complete what Von Steuben began, and answer the questions that linger since his inexplicable disappearance….

Grammar Component

Twelve additional video lessons on grammar are included in the set. The grammar component is optional, and designed to be used as needed to supplement the other instructional materials.
Cover Story‘s approach to grammar de-emphasizes memorization of latinate terms and emphasizes true comprehension.

Mr. S. teaches the practical application of grammar as a tool for self-expression and a necessary part of communication. Grammar isn’t the point. Story is the point. When students understand how grammar can help them achieve their own goals, even things like direct objects and predicates become more interesting.

Sample Lessons


  • Students create their own magazine content
  • Taught by an award-winning writer
  • No prep work required for parent or teacher
  • Class is taught for you through video
    (DVD or Cloud streaming)
  • Humorous skits illustrate concepts
  • Self-motivating materials
  • Step-by-step, easy-to-follow lessons
Syllabus with Lesson Table
About Cover Story - Middle School Writing Curriculum for Homeschool

Lesson Titles:


Tell Me a Story
The Journal of Prof. Gunther Von Steuben
Personally Placed Things
Painted Personally Placed Things
Explosive Words
Wildly Explosive Words
Fightin’ Words
Super Guaco Taco


Dear Mr. President
Dear Editor
Dear Reader
Short Change
Short Heroes
Short Outlines
Showing Character
Showing Problems
Showing Change
Ramping Up
The Moral of the Story


Hard Questions
Inside Your Head
Slice n Dice
Story Patterns
Human Heroes
Dropping Eaves
Dueling Words
What’s a Meta For?
Great Openings
Zap Pow
Parting Words

Grammar Lessons

Kinds of Sentences
Subjects and Predicates
Run Ons and Fragments
Parts of Speech
That was Tense
Subject/Verb Agreement
Subject Pronouns
Comma Chameleon
Quotation Marks


The Poetry of Poetry
Haiku Too
The Limerick
The Five W’s Everyman
Astounding Strategies
Astounding Outlines
Astounding Paragraphs


The First Two Layers
The Third Layer
The Fourth Layer
What You Know
The Truth about Truth
Blog O’Sphere
Steampunk Gun
Cinnamon Popcorn
Going Places


Found Me a Poem
The Chains of Free Verse
What’s a Ballad?
Ghosts n Heroes
Story Poems
Call to Action
Revising for Theme
Putting it Together

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