To make sure students include all needed elements in their essays, we review grammatical structures we have studied today.
I post three sentences on the board as students enter the room, each including a different trick (appositive, preposition at start of sentence, present participle). I ask students to identify the trick used.
After attendance, the crickets chirp. Students are unsure of how to proceed. I remind them that they have notes on each grammatical trick we have studied, resulting in a flurry of paper-flipping. Now we are in motion.
"Number one is an appositive!" How do you know?
"Beast describes tiger!" Yes.
And so on. Once students know where to look, they are able to quickly identify the tricks.
After, I ask students where I should next see these tricks. Only a few can answer, "essays." I remind students that they should include at least one example of each trick in their essays.
On our final day in the lab to type rough drafts, many students are near completion upon arrival. No fear, though, as I have a second task designed to aid our upcoming peer revision activity: annotation.
I ask students to annotate their own essays after they finish their rough drafts. They should:
- underline claim and evidence in red
- underline details in blue
- underline explanation in green
- circle appositives
- star prepositions
- box present participles
I post these instructions on the board in the lab. If students are not done by the time the bell rings, they can take a picture of the board to complete the annotation at home.
Today, I finally get to see the results of this essay--and the joy that comes with them. Students are proud of their work. When they finish their essays, they parade them by their friends and by me.
"Look at how much I wrote!"
"I should send this to someone!"
"Dude, check this out!"
Writing about topics of personal interest has sparked students' joy. I cannot wait to check out their work in more depth.
It may seem silly to celebrate "look how much I wrote" (length, after all, does not equal quality) but for some of my students, that IS a big deal. We have to remember that our students all bring unique strengths--and weaknesses--to their writing. For some, writing a single sentence is a challenge. An entire essay? In the past, that may have seemed impossible. In theory, students should have written many essays before arriving in my class, but the truth is that through points averaging or online classes that didn't have the most rigor, this isn't always true. So I celebrate with them, knowing all the while that I may have to critique a lot (gently).