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Frequently Asked Questions | Cover Story Language Arts Curriculum

Is this a one-year program or does it cover all of middle school?

Cover Story covers one school year. Please note that Cover Story isn’t intended to give students everything they need over three years. Our suggestion would be to use the course for one year of Language Arts/English and in successive years, if students want to continue, use it as an elective or focus on areas that were difficult for them. It is not multi-year in design.

Does Cover Story count as a middle school credit?

Yes, it is one middle school English/Language Arts credit. To be eligible for 1 credit, a course must involve a minimum of 120 hours of instruction and activities. On average, a student using Cover Story will spend 1 to 1.5  hours on each lesson, including watching the video. There will be times, however, when the student will need more time for a writing assignment. We anticipate this, and we intentionally allow wiggle room in the traditional school year schedule for using an extra day here and there. Accounting for this, every student will meet the 120-hour requirement handily.

My student is in grade 9. Which of your courses should my student take?

We really encourage students who are “borderline” between our middle school and high school curriculum options to do Cover Story before taking Byline or The One Year Adventure Novel. This is especially true for grade 9 students who are not strong writers. Give them the gift of doing each program when they are ready. Tackling too much too soon does not build a young writer’s confidence, and sometimes they get frustrated and think the problem is with them as a writer rather than the course level.

Can this program be used for high school? If yes, does it count for high school credit?

Cover Story is appropriate for grade 9. We would not recommend using it for grade 10 or above.

If done in high school, the program counts for 1 English credit.

Is this program appropriate for students below grade 6?

We do not recommend using Cover Story for students below grade 6 level and/or under age 11. Younger students would probably enjoy watching the video lessons but some of the concepts might be too advanced and the work load might frustrate them.

Does this program include vocabulary and spelling, or do I need to supplement in those areas?

There is no formal vocabulary or spelling component to Cover Story. We suggest either supplementing the program with another program that focuses on these areas, or choosing a course with formal vocabulary and spelling for the following school year to make sure your student covers what they need to by the time they reach high school.

Does this program include literature?

Cover Story students read poems, short stories, and articles (printed in the Student Book), but the program does not involve reading any novel-length books.

If you would like to supplement with a reading list, one suggestion would be to look for books along a theme similar to the theme students pick for their magazine. For instance, if your student decides to write magazine content about gardening, assign books that involve a garden or farming in some way, or if the theme they choose is wilderness camping, assign books about outdoor adventures.

• The assigned readings/poems are:

The Ransom of Red Chief, by O. Henry
The Interlopers, by Saki
The Lady, or the Tiger, by Frank R. Stockton
The Information Conspiracy, by Daniel Schwabauer
The Most Dangerous Game, by Richard Connell
The Necklace, by Guy de Maupassant
An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, by A. Bierce
The Sniper, by Liam O’Flaherty
Waltzing Matilda, by Banjo Paterson
The Streets of Laredo
November Night and Triad, poems by Adelaide Crapsey
A few haiku by Soseki and Kato Shuso

Would Cover Story prepare my student for The One Year Adventure Novel course?

Cover Story is not a direct lead-in into our Byline and The One Year Adventure Novel (OYAN) courses, but we do see it as a good first step for young writers who are not yet ready for the high school courses. In fact, one of the reasons we created Cover Story was in response to the demand from parents, teachers, and students for a program for younger students.

If your student completes Cover Story during middle school, we still recommend that students wait until they turn 13 or 14 before trying OYAN.

Is the program suitable for a classroom or co-op?

Yes, we offer a licensing option for co-ops and classes. To read about using Cover Story in a group setting, check out the “Using Our Programs in a Co-op or Group” page.

What are the licensing terms?

Read about licensing terms »

Does this course involve an online forum, as The One Year Adventure Novel does?

No, this program does not include access to an online forum or contest (this is one reason why Cover Story costs less than The One Year Adventure Novel). The reason for this is the target age group. In our experience, middle-school-age students are not ready for online forums. If your student really wants an online, interactive experience, consider encouraging them to take The One Year Adventure Novel course after they turn 13.

It should be noted that the Student Forum is not a requirement for the high school course, but a support resource that you may or may not choose to utilize.

Can my student submit their completed magazine content to you for publication or sharing with other students?

There are many print and online magazines that accept submissions from middle school students. Some of them are even managed by young writers! You can find these by searching online. We do not run such a publication ourselves, however. This program also does not involve a forum experience for students to share their work (for more, read question above). We only offer a forum to high school students taking our flagship course, The One Year Adventure Novel.

Will my student actually create a physical magazine? Is layout software included?

This course is for writing magazine content—or “copy” as it is called within the magazine industry. It does not come with special layout software, in part because our customers vary in the type of technology they have access to. At the end of the course, the student is asked to compile physical copies of their writing projects and present them in a physical format. This can be as simple as a presentation binder. The goal is for the student to be able to share their writing with family and friends.

The instruction does include a very basic introduction to layout principles. If your student would like to present their work in a magazine layout, there are many easy-to-use programs for this out there, including online services such as (We have no affiliation with this service.)

Visit the Design Tips page »

Do the video lessons offer closed captions or subtitles?

Cover Story Cloud video lessons offer English closed captions. (Closed captions provide a text transcription of the instructor’s speech and detail sounds in the background.) We added captioning to the videos to serve students and/or parents who are hearing-impaired.

To view closed captions: You must select subtitles in media player menu. On a computer, you may need to turn subtitles on in the player settings.

Cover Story DVD video lessons offer English subtitles but not closed captions. Subtitles provide a text transcription of the instructor’s speech, but do not detail sounds in the background.

To view subtitles: You must select subtitles in the DVD player or media player menu. On a computer, you may need to turn subtitles on in the player settings.

(Video lessons for the Cloud versions of The One Year Adventure Novel and Byline do have closed captions.)

Does my student have to write by hand? Is typing an option?

We actually encourage students to type their writing projects if they would like to, because this makes it easier for them to track their word count. However, the questions in the Student Book and the journal entries are designed for handwritten answers. We don’t offer digital or online worksheets or journal pages. Students can still type their answers and entries, of course, but they would have to refer to the books themselves for direction.

Can I get digital files of the Student Book and Journal so my student can complete the work entirely on the computer?

As the Student Book states, it is fine for students to type instead of writing by hand, but we do not offer online or digital worksheets for this purpose.

How long is each lesson? What is the schedule for this program?

Including the unit tests, journaling, and time spent on written projects, Cover Story takes about 4.5 hours per week to complete. Schedule about 45 minutes to 1 hour for individual lessons, including watching the video, and another 20 to 30 minutes daily for journaling and completion of the written projects. This will vary week to week, but averages out during the course of the school year.

Please download and read this Lesson Planning Aid for information about the course schedule and a table that details lesson topics and natural breaking points in the course.

View the Syllabus with Lesson Table »

Why are the grammar lessons optional?

Cover Story includes a disk of optional grammar lessons you can use to supplement the writing training. There is no additional charge for it and it comes with the set. These lessons are optional because some people already have a grammar-heavy curriculum and are looking for something to supplement in the creativity and writing areas, whereas others want a comprehensive Language Arts curriculum.

How do the grammar lessons fit in with the rest of the program?

The 12 grammar lessons can be done at any point after Lesson 8 in the course. They should be done in sequential order, but it is up to you whether you would like to intersperse them throughout the course or do them as a separate unit.

View the Syllabus with Lesson Table »

Is this course for students who enjoy writing or is it suitable for reluctant writers?

This course was designed with reluctant writers and bored writers in mind. Our goal was to produce a curriculum exciting enough for strong writers who might be bored by the writing assignments in their life, but also create a program practical and interesting enough for those reluctant writers out there who want to know why they should care about improving their writing skills.

Cover Story is humorous in tone and focuses on breaking down the creative process into manageable steps. Daniel Schwabauer is candid with students about the writing process. He harnesses their personal interests and things they are passionate about to help them discover that the point of mastering skills such as grammar or choosing precise words is communicating with others about what matters to them.

Is this program a good fit for students who are not American?

We have many non-American students in our programs, especially Canadians. This course does not teach American history or require knowledge of American history and culture. The spelling and grammar is American, but there is no formal spelling or vocabulary component to the program, so the spelling should not be a problem for you if you use British spelling. The grammar covered in this course is basic grammar that is shared between English communicators.

Should my student write their journal entries from the perspective of Professor Gunther von Steuben or can the entries be from my student’s perspective?

Some students are interested to try writing their entries from the perspective of the fictional Professor Gunther von Steuben. This is fine, but not necessary. The entries made by the professor are intended as inspirational and to provide an example of the type of entry the student could make.

Is this course approved for purchase with government funding?

Cover Story is published by Clear Water Press. Please contact your educational representative to find out if Clear Water Press is an approved vendor in your area or program. Qualifications for government funding vary. If we have not yet been considered as a potential vendor, your representative will contact us directly.

We do accept purchase orders.

Does this course contain religious material?

Cover Story is non-sectarian, and is approved for purchase with public funding. It is a writing program, not religious instruction. However, the instructor himself is a Christian, and everything taught in the course is compatible with a biblical worldview.

Most of the families who use our programs are Christians, but we also have families who are secular or of a different faith.

Can I purchase this curriculum from another distributor?

We are the sole distributor of our curriculum, worldwide.

If you have questions about Cover Story, please don’t hesitate to get in touch! We are happy to chat with you!

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