So they handed me their rough drafts some time in the middle of last week, and here were some of the issues/postitives that I noticed.
Let’s do the good stuff first.
Well, for the first time all semester I noticed they had picked topics that they were excited and passionate about. It was great to seem them taking more time to think about what they wanted to write about versus them trying to please me. While I enjoy being pleased, I think what students don’t realize is how much better papers turn out when there is passion and excitement behind them. I couldn’t care less about the topic; regardless, my students (and I don’t think this is exclusive to my classroom) tend to try and please me, which ends up resulting in papers that lack any excitement for them or myself.
The second and final positive I noticed with their rough drafts is the attempt to find something to prove to me. The entire program is based on essays that essentially require the students to use the text as evidence. While this is good practice for future writing, I do think they would benefit from some self reflection (which I make them do anyway) and learning other types of writing besides, here’s a topic, pick a side, prove to me you’re right.
Okay, so there are some negative or rather not so great moments to this experiment.
While the writing, overall, was well done, I did not notice that they are still struggling with the concept of writing a thesis statement. I don’t understand why this is such a difficult concept to grasp for many of my students, I do spend a lot, maybe too much, time trying to get them to write thesis statements that aren’t overly general and do pick a side with out pushing their opinion on the reader. Even though, I continue to show them what not to do and what to do using student examples they STILL make the same errors. Suggestions on how to fix this or teach the thesis statement are more than welcome, they are needed.
The other issue I had was the outlining. My students HATE outlining, and I don’t understand why. You student readers out there PLEASE tell me, what is the problem with outlines? We even did an outline on the board and I required it, still I had students not complete the assignment. It seemed so simple. Take the four or five big picture goals and apply them to an outline, find quotes from the text to prove your point, bing bang boom your paper is essentially written for you!
Finally, as mentioned above, the writing is improving still I’m getting overly general papers that have no point or organziation and it seems to me the reason for this is because the prompt is still being misunderstood. I don’t know what else I can do to make these students understand it.
I’ll be collecting their final drafts this week and after discussing the issues I have mentioned above, I’m looking forward to some decent papers. While I don’t except Shakespearean quality work from them, I do expect them to be creative, and proofread. I don’t think that is asking too much…but then again, maybe it is.
Please feel free to leave some suggestions for getting students to write about topics they are passionate about and hwo to write a thesis statement these are the two issues I am having a difficult time with and welcome some veterans to pass along some wisdom. I’ll keep you posted on the final drafts.