What’s Wrong with My Summer Essay?

Okay, this sounds a lot harsher than it actually was…sort of.

Over the summer, my Honors kids were to read a biography/autobiography of their choice and write a paper demonstrating their understanding of the book and reflecting on how dramatic events often change a person’s life.

The essays, to be frank, were poor.

Given that, I decided to make a document that would help articulate what Mrs. Stanton (my cooperating teacher) and I wanted out of the students for revision. I wanted to make the document light-hearted and fun, but also focus in on the major deficiencies we saw in their writing. I also wanted it to be an interactive way for students to see our expectations and help to teach revision skills in a different way.

Whats Wrong w My Summer Essay

This is a screenshot of the document that I created and showed to my students.

To open the class, Mrs. Stanton and I discussed what we saw in the papers and how we felt, overall, about them. We talked about some of the terribly awful things we saw in papers too, such as ‘LOL’ or ‘b/c’ or ‘i’ instead of the capital ‘I’! (Yikes! Seriously!?)

We explained our expectations for tenth grade students at the Honors level. Then I showed my word document on the screen which incorporated all these ideas and went a little deeper.

As you can see from the screenshot, I used examples of poor paragraphs to have the students figure out what needed to be corrected. These are examples that I modified and changed so they are not and do not include any student words

This was great because it allowed the students to be interactive and work with us (live on the screen!) to fix the problems. I have included the entire document here: What’s Wrong With My Summer Essay?

The document included citation examples (as seen above) where the students had to correctly introduce and cite quotations. The document also featured two of the best (anonymous) student examples to emulate what we, as teachers, were looking for.

This, as we hoped, turned out to be an interactive way of teaching revision strategies.

We then spent the remainder of the period in peer-revision and answering individual essay questions, allowing for even more individualized learning experiences.

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