Frequently Asked Questions

Notice: If you are using materials from the first printing of Cover Story, you will find two errors in the answer key for Unit Test 2.
• Question #7 should be D, not A. | • Question #9 should be C, not D.


Do you offer an online video streaming alternative to DVDs?

Yes! As of March 17, 2016, we offer a Cloud video streaming alternative to purchasing DVDs! There are benefits to choosing Cloud streaming. Learn more on our “Cloud Streaming or DVDs?” page.


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.


My student is in grade 8 or 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 8 or 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.


Can I purchase Cover Story at a convention or through another distributor?

We are the sole distributor of our curriculum, worldwide. We do attend several home education conferences throughout the year. Locations vary from year to year. View 2017 itinerary »


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


I would like to use this program for more than one student. Do I have to buy a set for each student or can I purchase consumables separately?

If you purchase a set of Cover Story licensed to your household, you can purchase extra student packets at any time. A student packet contains the two consumable books each student needs: the Student Book and The Mysterious Journal of Professor Gunther von Steuben. If you buy an extra student packet at the same time as you purchase the set itself, the packet would be $49; if you purchase a student packet at a later point, it would be $55.

If you use Cover Story under a Group Use license, you can purchase new consumables at any time (same pricing), but after your license expires, you would also pay a license renewal fee. See the licensing information for details.


Can I order Cover Story and other Clear Water Press products to be shipped together?

Yes; all of our products are listed in the same STORE. »


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.


Do you accept purchase orders?

Yes, Clear Water Press accepts purchase orders. Our payment policy is 30 days for remitment from the date of invoice. Purchase orders may be made by fax, phone, email, or mail.

How to place a purchase order »


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

Yes, we offer a license for co-ops and classes. To use the materials in a group setting, your set must be licensed for a group/co-op/classroom. The video lessons may only be shown in the group sessions (viewing by the teacher for planning purposes is fine); the video discs may not be loaned out to individual families wishing to share the discs. This means that all video viewing by the group must be done as a group.


How can I use this program through a charter school?

If your charter school processes orders for you but does not retain rights to the material, you should license your materials for your household, even though a larger organization is involved. But if your charter school retains the rights to the materials and considers them registered to you for a limited time only, the materials must be registered to the charter school under a Group License.

Read more about charter licenses »


My student is not part of a school, co-op, or charter school, but I plan to use the program for my student as well as one or more students who do not belong to my immediate household. Can I get a household license?

Any situation where students are not of the same household requires a group/co-op/classroom license, no matter how informal or small the gathering of students is. The only exception would be if each student’s family owned their own household license. Please contact us if you need more information about how this works.


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.

Visit the Design Tips page »


Do the video lessons offer closed captions or subtitles?

Cover Story video discs offer subtitles but not closed captions. Subtitles provide a text transcription of the instructor’s speech, but do not detail sounds in the background. We added subtitles to the videos to serve students and/or parents who are hearing-impaired.

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 Byline and The One Year Adventure Novel do not have subtitles at this time.)


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?

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 Lesson Planning Aid »

I can’t use this course at the pace you recommend. What should I do?

Please download and read this Lesson Planning Aid. The table details lesson topics and natural breaking points in the course. Study these natural breaking points to determine where it would make most sense to take breaks, and how to plan the writing projects to fit your schedule.

View the Lesson Planning Aid »

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 Lesson Planning Aid »

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.


How would my order ship? Can I pay for a cheaper shipping rate?

We always ship USPS Priority Mail (or First Class Mail for small items) so that we can offer tracking—a non-negotiable for material of value. This usually takes 2 or 3 days within the United States.

We can’t accommodate requests to mail an order by regular mail or media mail.


How fast will I get my order if it is shipping to Canada/an international destination?

Shipments to Canada or other international destinations often have to go through customs. We do not have control over how long the customs clearance process takes, but we mark international shipments as “Educational Material” in the hopes that it will be processed quickly.

The length of time a USPS Priority Mail shipment takes in transit varies by country. Transit for Canadian orders is typically 3 or 4 days besides the customs time.


Do you offer discounts on international orders to compensate for the expensive shipping costs?

As a courtesy, we cover $20 USD of the shipping costs on international orders of $100 USD or more.* For example, if a medium-sized box were to cost $40.15 USD to Canada, you would pay $20.15 USD. This $20 discount is included in the automated shipping calculations when you place your order.

* Does not apply to discounted or sale purchases.

If you wish to order with another person to save on shipping costs, please email us at info @ coverstorywriting.com.