Hope Jahren's award-winning memoir Lab Girl is equal parts biography and biology. Through a close, fascinating look at the lives of plants, Jahren weaves beautiful and poignant metaphors about her own life as a scientist with bipolar disorder. 

We'll read the book with reading guides to help closely examine how Jahren's ideas come together on the page. 

We'll also be writing four, multi draft papers to practice academic writing skills. 

Gain Key Academic Writing Foundations

Students will learn foundational academic writing skills including brainstorming, organization, revision, formatting, and proofreading. 

Meet Live Weekly

This is a live class, which means we meet weekly to discuss the reading and explore writing tips. Learners can also interact with each other and the instructor between class meetings on our class discussion boards.

Provided materials include reading guides and activities to help with vocabulary and comprehension as well as writing tips to apply to short, informal writing assignments.

Practice Writing as a Process

Most importantly, students will compose four multi-draft papers with individual video feedback on rough drafts and the opportunity to revise a final draft.

Class Details

Age Range: 13-18

Class Size: 3 - 10 learners

Dates: January 29-April 28, 2024 with Live Meetings on Thursdays from 11-11:45am Eastern/10-10:45am Central/9-9:45am Mountain/8-8:45am Pacific

Spring Break March 11-17 (no meeting on Thursday, March 14)


  • A copy of Lab Girl by Hope Jahren (ISBN: 978-1-101-87372-4) (used copies are fine; borrowed/library copies are acceptable but it’s preferable for learners to have their own copy so they can take notes in it)
  • Microphone and camera for in-class participation
  • PDF Reader
  • Zoom (free account)
  • Discord (free account — can be installed on phones or computers)
  • Learners will submit work through Google Drive (a Google (Gmail) account can be acquired for free)

Select a pricing plan and sign up

Meet Dr. Michelle Parrinello-Cason

Dr. Michelle Parrinello-Cason is the founder of Dayla Learning. She has a PhD in rhetoric and composition, a passion for helping students find their writing voice, and two homeschooling children of her own.

Michelle has taught in a wide variety of settings including six years as a full-time college professor. She has been teaching virtual and in-person homeschool writing and humanities classes for more than five years.

Michelle believes in meeting students where they are and — as any of her previous students will tell you — believes deeply that there is no such thing as a bad rough draft!

Is this the right fit for your learner?

This class is the most challenging of the High School level writing classes (High School Writing Level 3). It’s designed for learners who have experience with academic writing and want to stretch their skills for college preparation. Learners will do best if they have the following skills: 

  • Can write about 1500 words (about 5 pages double spaced) on a single topic
  • Confidently reads texts at or above 1200L on the Lexile rating
  • Has practice analyzing metaphorical language
  • Has practiced academic writing with citations

This class is a good fit for high school learners who want to expand their writing skills in a supportive environment that will address their individual writing needs through personal feedback.  

Skills Gained

Students will read the entire book (with the assistance of reading guides and discussions) and complete four multi-draft papers themed around the topics.

All students will learn about the following:

  • Develop their own meaningful and productive writing process
  • Reflect on the connection between reading and writing practices
  • Practice strategies for approaching nonfiction text to discover meaning
  • Practice note-taking strategies that allow for productive learning
  • Write in a way that meets the needs and expectations of an academic audience
  • Produce cogent, organized writing in multiple paragraphs
  • Polish final drafts to meet Standard Academic English conventions

Individual Support

All students will receive individualized video feedback on all rough drafts that specifically addresses their rough draft submissions.

My teaching philosophy very much focuses on starting with students’ strengths to build confidence and using them to work on improvements over time.

Feedback is tailored to each student’s individual needs and goals. I also encourage a lot of self-reflection and provide opportunities for students to directly communicate their challenges so that facing them with strategies becomes a normal part of the writing process.

Select a pricing plan and sign up